Andy Gillman and his wife, Anne Hooghart, are shown here with their daughters Kasey Gillman, 15, left, and Cassidy Gillman, 13, at the Itsukushima Shrine near Hiroshima, Japan. The shrine is located on Itsukushima, an island commonly known as Miyajima.
(Editor’s Note: Andrew B. Gillman, a longtime Mackinac Center supporter and Legacy Society member who lives in Ypsilanti, shares his thoughts on the challenges facing Michigan.)
Q. Tell us about your background and career.
I was born and raised in Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree, with a focus on Asian studies. After graduation, I worked for a while in Japan, where I could refine my Japanese reading and speaking skills.
Returning to Michigan, I started my own company as a translator and interpreter. For a time, I hired and dispatched other translators and interpreters, but I found that the various regulatory requirements diverted too much of my time.
I now serve as a solo bicultural consultant to the automotive industry; my primary client is Toyota Motors North America R&D. This involves not only translating technical and engineering materials, but also developing executive presentations to meet the needs of a multicultural workplace.
I also serve as the president of the Hinoki Foundation, an all-volunteer nonprofit that promotes Japanese-English bilingualism among schoolchildren. With my wife, also a native of Michigan, I have raised my children to speak Japanese. They are two of only a handful of students with no Japanese ancestry among the 1,000 or so students at the Japanese School of Detroit.
Q. How did you come to your free market beliefs?
Home life and childhood entrepreneurialism primed me to support free markets and limited government, which is just another way of saying “freedom from others.”
I have worked in one form or another since I was 11, when I got up at 4:30 a.m. each day to deliver the Detroit Free Press. This formed in me, at an early age, a sense of responsibility and contributing to society. Every morning, I walked or biked five miles or so, where my only companions were my dog, Snoopy, and an occasional police car on patrol.
Sadly, this type of business experience for youth is rare today. My four brothers and I also made various crafts and goods that we sold to neighborhood kids. All of us ended up being self-employed as adults.
My formal education in the value of markets probably started when my older brother Steve, now deceased, introduced me to books like “The Incredible Bread Machine.” The principles it describes seem so obvious and sensible now but were a revelation at the time.
Government growth has the effect of not only taking resources, but also stifling their creation. There are empty buildings in my town that an entrepreneur, in the past, could have turned into a business overnight. Now, zoning rules, licensing, labor-related mandates, and sundry fees set high and often insurmountable hurdles to entry.
Q. What do you see as the biggest challenge we face in Michigan?
Education worries me the most. People act on their ideas, and my sense is that schools now focus less on basic civics, history and economics. And many students, especially children who are Black, Indigenous or people of color, are denied higher-quality education due to the outmoded and anti-competitive manner in which education is provided.
These populations overwhelmingly want greater school choice, in the form of charter public schools or vouchers for private schools, so that they, too, can build a strong academic foundation. The COVID situation has only shown how vested interests oppose change.
Q. What led you to support the Mackinac Center and join Legacy Society?
I chose to support the Mackinac Center because it avoids hyperbole and is willing to publicly recognize positive acts by people anywhere on the political spectrum. I particularly appreciate its work in the area of education — the databases it creates and maintains and its analysis of education policy.
I am also glad for its role as a watchdog over legislation; as government becomes more complex, the average person cannot keep up with all the shenanigans. I am not certain that free markets and limited government will prevail, but I know that a core of people educated in these ideas is the precondition to keeping the United States prosperous and its people free.
This is why I included the Mackinac Center in my estate plan. We all have benefited from the work of those who came before, and I feel a duty to share that benefit with the future. The work of the Mackinac Center will safeguard the principles that make prosperity possible and is a bulwark against many of the destructive philosophies of today.
How to Join the Mackinac Center Legacy Society
An old adage says, "The shade we enjoy today comes from trees planted by others long ago." This simple yet insightful passage speaks to the impact of acting today to preserve the ideals and institutions that will benefit future generations.
When you make a gift to the Mackinac Center through your will or estate plan, you automatically become a member of the Mackinac Center Legacy Society and help ensure that there is a strong, clear voice to speak for free enterprise and individual liberty for years to come.
There are many ways to make a legacy gift to the Mackinac Center, including your will, living trust, charitable gift annuity, life insurance policy or endowment.
Our Legacy donors receive special benefits, including:
- Special seating at Mackinac Center events
- Being honored at a special dinner each year
- A special thank-you delivery during the holiday season
But the main benefit is the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your hard-earned assets will be used in support of the values you cherished during your lifetime — liberty, self-reliance and limited, accountable government.
If you have any questions about joining Legacy Society, please don’t hesitate to contact Lorie Shane, senior director of advancement, at 989-698-1909 or firstname.lastname@example.org.