I first heard of the Mackinac Center when I moved to Midland in 1989 to work as a reporter at the Midland Daily News. I was drawn to its message that fit in so well with my take on things — liberty, freedom, limited government and free markets. Through professional and personal encounters I came to meet what many consider “The Big Three” in the Center’s history: Larry Reed, Joe Overton and Joe Lehman.

My departure from journalism to work in politics brought me in even greater contact with the Center’s message, a message that at times has been ignored in Lansing to the detriment of the only state I’ve ever called home. In 2005, while in between jobs, I became aware that the Center was looking for someone to write and edit Michigan Education Digest, our weekly email compilation of education news, and Michigan Education Report, which at the time was a quarterly newspaper focused on education policy. I’d just finished a year as a substitute teacher, which gave me a better understanding of why it is so important to get education policy correct.

After a year in that role I joined the Center’s communications team and for the past year my main responsibility has been handling our media outreach.

As a native Michigander I was equally filled with pride and awe when we became the 24th rightto- work state. Growing up in a Reagan Democrat family in Macomb County whose economic fortunes were closely tied to the auto industry, I vividly remember when in the late 1970s and early 1980s bookstores and others in metro Detroit would advertise “We sell Sunday Texas newspapers.” Those newspapers were quickly gobbled up and discarded save the classified section. It was said at the time 1,000 people a week were moving from Michigan to Texas. It was my first realization that, as we like to say, policy affects lives.

There’s a large frame hanging in the Center’s lunch room with four yellowed newspaper stories dated March 23, 1997. They were written by Midland Daily News reporters, yours truly included, highlighting the Center’s move to our new headquarters and looking ahead to our 10-year anniversary. Soon we’ll start answering questions from reporters who are doing stories about our 25th anniversary.

But here’s the great thing about working for the Mackinac Center and the great thing about readers like you who support us — we’re already thinking about what reporters will say and write to mark the accomplishments of our 50th anniversary.