The Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities is excited to announce the following recent staff changes: Jim Bruckbauer has been promoted to Deputy Director; Meghan McDermott has been promoted to Food and Farming Program Director; Miriam Owsley has joined as Volunteer and Event Coordinator, and Jacob Wheeler started in October as Communications Manager.
“I am just thrilled about the makeup of our staff as we push our pro-environment, pro-economy mission forward into 2017,” says executive director Hans Voss. “The caliber and collaborative spirit of our team is as strong as at any point in our 22-year history. It’s a key moment in our organizational journey, and because of our exceptional staff, and the commitment of our growing base of supporters, Groundwork’s future is very bright.”
In his new role, Jim Bruckbauer will be responsible for Groundwork’s $1.5 million annual budget, which includes a combination of member donations and private foundation grants, as well as internal leadership development.
“I believe Groundwork is model of nonprofit efficiency and effectiveness,” says Bruckbauer. “We have a great young staff and my job will be to put the tools in place to help them become leaders in the organization and in the broader community.”
In Bruckbauer’s previous role as policy specialist, he promoted efforts to improve the state’s passenger rail efforts, regional transit and bike networks. He helped companies encourage their employees to carpool, bus, bike, and walk to work and played leadership roles for Transportation for Michigan (Trans4M), a statewide coalition that worked on reforms to Michigan’s transportation policy. Over the past three years, Jim was named by the Traverse City Business News as one of Traverse City’s 40 Most Influential People Under Age 40.
“After more than six years of exceptional work in our Strong Cities and Towns program which included launching our campaign to connect Traverse City and Petoskey to Ann Arbor by passenger rail, Jim has distinguished himself as a bright and visionary organizational leader,” says Voss. “In his role as Deputy Director, Jim will be in the center of the whole operation. It’s a big step up for Jim and he is already making us a smarter and more effective organization.”
Meghan McDermott has been promoted to Food and Farming Program Director, where she will oversee Groundwork’s Farm to School and Healthy Food for All programs, as well as the opening of our Petoskey office in early 2017. McDermott’s work focuses on ensuring all members of our community have access to healthful food, and local farmers are empowered to reach new markets. Groundwork’s food and farming program promotes community food security, strengthens regional partnerships, and connects classrooms, cafeterias and communities while advocating for local food and farming projects throughout Michigan.
“When I first moved to Michigan nearly four years ago, I could never have imagined the incredible, passionate community I would find here through my local food systems work at the Groundwork Center,” says McDermott. “I have seen communities throughout the region and across the state come together to ensure that everyone has access to the incredible bounty of fresh, local, healthful food our community so ably produces. In this new role, I hope to continue to support the great work happening here with the help of our many partners, and bring more healthful, local food to all.”
“We knew Meghan was something special soon after she started as a FoodCorps service member four years ago and showed a terrific ability to truly inspire kids to embrace healthy, local food,” says Voss. “After two years with FoodCorps we moved swiftly to recruit her to the Groundwork staff and she showed tremendous passion, creativity, and leadership. As we began to set the course for our multi-faceted Food & Farming program, which this year will include expansion to a new position working out of Petoskey, it was clear that Meghan was the perfect person to lead this dynamic work into the future.”
Miriam Owsley joins Groundwork as Volunteer and Event Coordinator. She grew up in Empire in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and is committed to protecting the world’s largest freshwater resource. Owsley studied at Northwestern Michigan College, Grand Valley State University, and abroad at EARTH University. Her love of the Great Lakes, good food, and good people compels her to combine community outreach and environmental stewardship to create positive change in northern Michigan.
“For some time now, we have been working to improve our volunteer program and increase the effectiveness of our public events,” says Voss. “When we made the move to create a full-time position, it was clear that Miriam was the perfect fit for the job. As a contractor last summer, Miriam blew us away with her amazing organizational skills and her thoughtful and personable way of activating volunteers as a summer intern and we are delighted to have such a smart and strong professional serving in this important new position.”
Jacob Wheeler joined Groundwork in October as Communications Manager. He oversees Groundwork’s website and media approach, from online blog posts, to social media strategy, to local and statewide media outreach. Wheeler is a native of Glen Arbor, where he publishes the seasonal Glen Arbor Sun newspaper. A seasoned journalist, he holds degrees from the University of Michigan and Goucher College. Wheeler has also been instrumental behind Groundwork’s New Economy project, a multimedia storytelling series that highlights talented young professionals in the Traverse City region, and raises awareness about their contributions to the local economy and community.
“The Traverse City region is a great place to be a farmer, an artist, a web developer or to own a tech company,” says Wheeler about the New Economy project. “Any Google search will yield ‘top 10’ lists showcasing a great place to visit, eat, drink, hike, swim, and attend summer festivals. But to those of us in our 20s and 30s who have chosen to settle here, this is much more. It’s a great place to call home. Barriers and challenges exist, of course. If we want to continue attracting talent, we need to address issues such as housing, meager tech infrastructure, and lack of diversity. This project aspires to fuel conversations that bridge that gap.”
“With a distinguished career in journalism, Jacob has stepped smoothly and confidently into his role Communications Manager,” says Voss. “He is a sharp thinker, a persistent researcher, and a natural storyteller. High-quality communications is a core value here at Groundwork and we are just ecstatic to have a professional of Jacob’s caliber leading the way. The regularity, diversity, and relevance of our content has already jumped up a few notches and, under Jacob’s leadership, the sky is the limit.”