Solomon and McCauley receive awards and accolades for their work in communities

Within one week, two of our colleagues in northern lower Michigan were recognized for the work they do as Michigan State University Extension employees and as valued citizens in their communities. Dean Solomon, senior educator in the Greening Michigan Institute, received Special Recognition for Outstanding Leadership from the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA). NLEA is a collaborative organization, which provides resources that help entrepreneurs and communities to create and retain jobs in the counties of Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet. Dean was recognized for his service on the NLEA Board and his assistance with multiple NLEA projects. NLEA noted that Dean’s facilitation skills have been especially helpful in navigating often contentious issues related to natural resource based enterprises. His New Economy programs have equipped decision makers to work towards a balance between “place” and “jobs” that is so critical to Michigan’s emerging economy of the future.

 Dean was surprised to learn of his award at the annual NLEA luncheon held on May 4 at Boyne Mountain resort. Other than Dean’s recognition, my second favorite part of the NLEA luncheon was the opening. The Petoskey High School Marching Band had all 500 participants on their feet. And what I especially liked about the band was their steel drum corps. I’ve only seen one other high school band with steel drums and it was in the Caribbean. The eight Petoskey drummers transported me to memories of warm breezes and flowered shirts.

 Ranae McCauley, Extension program instructor in Kalkaska County, was recognized a week earlier by Athena Grand Traverse. She received the Athena award, which is based on efforts to advance women in leadership roles, along with professional excellence and community service. Ranae currently serves on several projects in MSUE including development efforts for the local food system along with Extension educator Rob Sirrine and the leading of two-county human services collaborative through our Kalkaska County office. Her tireless efforts in contributing to the Traverse Bay Area Poverty Reduction Initiative were highlighted in her nomination for the Athena award. She was described as “a cheerleader and challenger to the community for all things related to children, families and schools.” That is a GREAT honor for anyone, and we are fortunate to have Ranae representing MSUE in her efforts. You can read more about Ranae’s award at

 Congratulations to both Dean and Ranae for their recognitions and thanks to both for devoting so much of their efforts to people and communities in northern Michigan. We’re proud to call you colleagues and proud to have MSUE affiliated with your achievements. Thanks!

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