Giving thanks: Our staff’s gratitude

We all have our own family holiday traditions, and here at our League family, we have made it an annual Thanksgiving tradition for our staff to share their gratitude. While things look and feel a lot different than anyone could have ever imagined this year, you will see that our commitment to our work, the people of this state that we serve, each other, and you—our partners and supporters—is as strong as ever.

Gilda Jacobs, President and CEO: I am thankful for our big and small policy wins and our amazing staff who helped make them all happen during these most challenging several months. And I am personally very thankful for my incredible circle of friends and family who supported me during some very difficult times this past year.
Karen Holcomb-Merrill, Chief Operations Officer: Although 2020 has been a very difficult year and one unlike any other year of my life, I have tried to be intentional about focusing on gratitude. I am grateful for my youngest grandson, Jackson George, who made this year so much brighter with his birth in March of this year. I am grateful that for the first time in many years, all of my children and their spouses and their children are back here in Michigan. I am grateful that my mostly retired spouse finds preparing dinner every evening for the three of us to be the highlight of his day (and ours!). And I am grateful for my League family. I get to work with the best folks, who are all in the fight every day to make Michigan a more just and equitable state.
Phyllis Killips, Assistant to the President: After what has turned out to be a very difficult year, I continue to be very grateful for being able to work from the safety of our homes. I am also very grateful for my three children who mean the world to me, as well as my wonderful family and good friends. I try to count my blessings every day.
Tillie Kucharek, Graphic Designer: I’m grateful for my family and friends and a place to work that allows their team to work from home. And I cannot forget the front line caregivers who are working tirelessly to keep us all safe and healthy.
Emily Jorgensen, Communications Assistant: I’m thankful for my family, friends and incredible colleagues. I’m thankful for the helpers. I’m thankful for the everyday heroes who are getting us through this pandemic. And I’m thankful for the technology that enables us to stay connected as we physically distance.
Simon Marshall-Shah, State Policy Fellow: This year, I am especially thankful for my health and the health of my family and friends. I’m grateful for our team at the League that has continued full steam ahead since March, and to our leadership for ensuring we have what we need to do so successfully and sustainably. A few others on my mind include the somewhat-extended Michigan fall we had this year, which meant we could bask in November sun; comedians on Instagram who keep me laughing; my sweet cat Reggie for keeping me company; plus any and all of the silver linings folks have been able to find for themselves in the midst of an unprecedented year.
Amber Bellazaire, Policy Analyst: I’m thankful for the health of my daughter, my partner, parents and grandparents. I’m thankful that I have a job that I enjoy with coworkers I deeply respect. And as we approach the end of a trying year, I’m especially thankful for all of the people who work in the service and healthcare industries. To the nurses, child care providers, grocers, and many other essential workers: thank you!
Alex Rossman, External Affairs Director: These trying times have helped me focus on the positives in my life, including the importance of the League’s work to help people get through this crisis. I am forever grateful for my wife and twin toddlers, and all the extra time I have been able to spend with my daughters at an age where they’re changing so fast. I am thankful for all of my family and friends, including my amazing League family. I am grateful for all of our frontline and essential workers in our hospitals, restaurants, grocery stores, schools, child care centers and more. And I look forward to watching the Detroit Lions game and a great ‘80s twin-themed Thanksgiving horror movie, and fingers-crossed that the movie is the most gruesome of the two.
Brandon Betz, Policy Analyst: This year, I’m especially grateful for the groundswell of support for the Movement for Black Lives. It has been powerful to see my neighbors and friends become integrated in racial equity work in a serious way. Big systemic changes are coming that are rooted in the community and I am excited to see what the future brings.


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