When most people attend a Mackinac Center event, they can meet new people, have a good time and learn something. But that happens only after someone has planned the event and worked out dozens of details.
That’s where Sandra Darland comes in.
“As an event planner, I work on everything from small presentations with a few people to huge gatherings with hundreds of people,” she says. “There are a lot of details to make it successful – speaker, venue, catering, registration. These details help make it successful and enjoyable.”
Sandra, the youngest of seven children, has lived in Saginaw almost her entire life. Most of her siblings live close by. As is true of many large, blue-collar families, they have someone in almost every trade, such as construction and heating and air conditioning.
While attending Arthur Hill High School, Sandra began working for Saginaw Public Schools in a student co-op program. She stayed on full time for more than 30 years, picking up bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Saginaw Valley State University along the way.
“I stayed in the same department but did a bit of everything,” Sandra says. “Graphic arts, photography, district-wide event management, head of marketing, and I even oversaw the print shop the district owned.”
After retiring from the public school system, she started working at the MidMichigan Innovation Center, where she learned about the Mackinac Center as it was launching its VoteSpotter app. The more Sandra learned, the more intrigued she became. Soon after, the director of events position opened, and she jumped at the chance.
Outside of work, Sandra has many hobbies.
“I’m a big crafter,” she says. “I hold craft classes at my home and have taught some at Studio 154. I love the thrill of helping other people create things.”
She met her husband, Shaun, while they were in high school, and together they have two sons. Recently, Shaun retired from the family business of installing lockers, and the Darlands have taken up rock hunting across the state, finding rare Petoskey stones and others of interest.
“I had heard about the Mackinac Center here and there during my career and I was always aligned philosophically, but I never realized how much public policy affected me and my family until I started working here,” Sandra says. “Being a small business owner and now understanding how much they were fighting for me and my husband and hard-working Michigan citizens is so inspiring.”