Our Board

John R. Axe


Senior Counsel at Clark Hill PLC. In addition to his experience as a practicing bond attorney and financial consultant in municipal issues, John is a co-author of Michigan Municipal Law published by the University of Michigan. In 1992, he was appointed as a member of the Permanent Adjunct Faculty of the Wayne State University Law School where he teaches public finance. John also served a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Bond Lawyers (NABL), the first Michigan lawyer ever to serve in this capacity. John also serves on the boards of the Grosse Pointe Library Foundation, the Clements Library at the University of Michigan, and Covenant House. Board member since 2005.

Joan Bauer


Member of Lansing City Council from 1995-2006 and a member of the Michigan House of Representatives from 2007-2012. She graduated from Western Michigan University with a major in history and minors in political science and secondary education. Joan has been an active community leader for numerous organizations over the past 30 years and is a board member of the Lansing Rotary Foundation, the Lansing Rotary Club, the Junior League of Lansing, the Capital Regional Community Foundation, and the Capital Area United Way. Member since 2012.

Paul W. Brown

Ann Arbor

Managing partner at Michigan eLab, a venture capital firm. He has diverse experience as an entrepreneur and venture capital investor, previously serving as Vice President of Capital Markets at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation where he managed the bulk of the State’s $2 billion 21st Century Jobs Fund. Paul was co-founder and Senior Vice President of business development of Front Door Insights, a mobile technology company before its acquisition by Mobivity. Paul began his career practicing law in the Manhattan office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. He has a B.A. in History and an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan and received his law degree from Wayne State University. Member since 2009.

Don Cooper

East Lansing

Deputy Director for the Charter Schools Office at Grand Valley State University. He previously served as Vice President for Policy and Communications at the National Charter Schools Institute, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that supports charter school performance across the nation, and in policy positions for National Heritage Academies, where he led the organization’s national government relations team, and the Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University, and as a policy advisor in the Michigan House of Representatives. Cooper has a B.A. in economics from Hillsdale College and a Masters of Public Administration from Central Michigan University. Member since 2015.

Gail M. Ernstein

West Bloomfield

Former principal in the law firm of Manason and Ernstein, was in private practice for 17 years, and is the former president of the Southfield Bar Association where she previously served as the program director. For the past 18 years, she has been a Kids in Charge program volunteer teaching a drug, alcohol, peer pressure, and anti-bullying curriculum in the elementary schools. In 2014, she was nominated for and received a Community Service Honor Roll Award from the Greater West Bloomfield Community Coalition. She speaks Spanish, French, and Italian. Ernstein has a B.A. (Spanish Language and Literature) and a J.D. from the University of Michigan and was an Editor of the 1980 Law School Yearbook. Member since 2017.

Mark P. Haas

East Lansing

Vice president for finance and treasurer for Michigan State University. He previously served as chief deputy treasurer for the State of Michigan where he acted as chief operating officer of the State of Michigan’s $70 billion investments function. Mark serves as a member of the Michigan State University College of Law Foundation Board and the University Club Board. He received his B.S. in Business Administration and M.A. in Economics from Central Michigan University and did graduate studies in economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Michigan State University.  Mark completed the postgraduate State and Local Government program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and The Endowment Institute at the Yale School of Management. Member since 2010.

Sean Mann


Founder and CEO of Detroit City Football Club. He is currently spearheading efforts to take DCFC from semipro to professional status and build Detroit’s first soccer-specific stadium, a leap that demonstrates Sean’s passion for pushing boundaries and investing in the state. Sean is heavily involved in volunteer and recreational activities in the city of Detroit as a board member to the Clark Park Coalition, Sergeant of Arms of the Carbon Athletic Club, and he is a German Marshall Fellow, a Larson Leadership Fellow at Urban Land Institute and an Eagle Scout. Sean holds a bachelor’s degree from Kalamazoo College and a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Bristol. Member since 2015.

Patrice Rafail Merritt

Professional librarian and library fundraiser for over 35 years. She received her undergraduate degree from Clark University, Worcester, MA and her Masters Degree in Library Science (MLS) from Simmons College, Boston. Her professional career included service in corporate and academic libraries and archives and culminated as Executive Director of the Detroit Public Library Friends Foundation, a position she held for 15 years. A former resident of the city of Detroit, Ms. Merritt served on the boards of The Greening of Detroit, Pewabic Pottery, and the Michigan National Archives and Records Administration panel, and she is a former member of the Board of the Michigan History Foundation having served as its chair from 2007-2010. Ms. Merritt is the author of The Detroit Public Library: An American Classic published by the Wayne State University Press in 2017. She and her husband Grady presently reside in Rancho Mirage, CA where she serves as Chair of the Rancho Mirage Public Library Foundation Board of Directors. The Merritts continue their Michigan connection as they own a loft residence in Midtown Detroit. Member (second tenure) since 2017.

Dennis R. Pace


Chair of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, the statewide voice for non-motorized trail users. He formerly was President of Pace & Partners of Lansing, now known as Gud Marketing, a management consulting organization.  Member since 2012.

Daniel L. Papineau

East Lansing

Director of Tax Policy at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. He formerly served as Director of Government Relations at the Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers, a nonprofit trade association representing the grocery, convenience, and fuel retail industry, and as Chief of Staff and Legislative Director in the Michigan Senate. Dan is a member of the Grand River Connection and a board member of the Michigan Political History Society. He is also a 2014 graduate of the Michigan Political Leadership Program. He holds a B.A. in political science from Michigan State University. Member since 2015.

Andrew C. Richner

Grosse Pointe Park

A member of the Clark Hill law firm in Detroit, working in its government and public affairs practice group. Andrew earned both his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Michigan. He was an intern in the Office of the White House Counsel under President Ronald Reagan. His first experience in elected office was as a member of the Grosse Pointe Park City Council, and later as a member of the Wayne County Commission. He served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1997-2002. He was elected to the Board of Regents of the University of Michigan in 2002 and re-elected in 2010. From July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, Richner chaired the board. Member since 2007.

John J.H. "Joe" Schwarz M.D.

Battle Creek

Served as a combat surgeon for a Marine battalion in the Vietnam War. Joe served as a Battle Creek City Commissioner, as mayor of Battle Creek, and as a member of the Michigan Senate, where he was president pro tempore. He served in the U.S. Congress from 2005-2007. Joe was appointed by the Secretary of Defense to the independent panel investigating conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC. Joe serves on the Board of Trustees of the Altarum Institute, a nonprofit health policy research institute based in Ann Arbor, and teaches at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Degrees. Member since 2004.

Arlene Sierra

East Lansing

For nearly four decades, Arlene has been a prominent, productive and decisive educator at Michigan State University. Her career has encompassed every aspect of the university’s mission: teaching, research, service and administration. With teaching appointments in three different colleges, she most recently has served as director of Clinical Services in the Department of Radiology of the Colleges of Human and Osteopathic Medicine at MSU. She is a Member of the Board of the Advisory Council for the Wharton Center there. Degrees. Member beginning in 2000.

Brook Simpson


A Trustee of the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners and a retired Pharmacia executive. He is a Certified Public Accountant who holds three degrees from Western Michigan University. Member since 2015.

Edward R. Surovell

Ann Arbor

Founder of Edward Surovell Realtors, a regional real estate firm in Southeast Michigan, and a history lover and rare book collector. He has generously offered his time on numerous state and local boards including the Library of Michigan Foundation, the Historical Society of Michigan, and the Michigan Historical Commission where he served for several years as president. He is vice president of the governing board of the Ann Arbor District Library and its longest serving member. Ed is also a member of the prestigious Grolier’s Club which limits its membership to 800 and promotes books worldwide. He is a graduate of Columbia University. Member since 2007.

Judith L. Tappero Norwick

Bloomfield Hills

A former member of the Michigan Historical Commission from 2007-2009. As a commissioner she also served on the Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee and was responsible for the project that designed the uniquely powerful Michigan CWS logo. She is a graduate of the College for Creative Studies and past member of the board of trustees. Her cultural and business experiences include: president of New York Contact , one of the first art leasing companies in Michigan; president of Great Escape Travel Corporation, a luxury and incentive travel agency; president of Two Works Worldwide LLC, a patented hospital gear manufacturer. Member since 2017.