Mackinac Center Board members Joseph and Beth Fitzsimmons were honored at a Dec. 8 dinner in Ann Arbor.

(The following article first appeared in the Winter 2005 edition of Impact).

The Mackinac Center examines law and public policy because improving them will enable the genius of free people and associations to flourish. Leaders of civil society do most of humanity’s real work, and the Center is always proud to honor them — especially when they are among our own.

Joseph and Beth Fitzsimmons, two of the Mackinac Center’s closest friends, were recently named the Washtenaw County Distinguished Citizens of the Year by the Boy Scouts Great Sauk Trail Council. The Trail Council feted the Fitzsimmonses at a special dinner, emceed by U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers, on Dec. 8 in Ann Arbor, where they were honored for their dedicated community service and support of scouting.

Joe and Beth rank among the Center’s most loyal supporters. Joe joined our Board of Directors in 2004, and both Joe and Beth serve on the Center’s Ann Arbor Board of Advisors. The Boy Scouts dinner honoring them was a truly special event, with around 200 people attending, including Mackinac Center President Lawrence Reed and Mackinac Center Advisor Steve Dobson, an Ann Arbor business leader.

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The Fitzsimmonses were “roasted” from the podium by their children and friends, and among the salutes was an eloquent and gracious tribute by Dobson, who hailed Joe and Beth for exceptional commitment to a wide variety of worthwhile community causes. Addressing Joe, he said, “In a time when we have far too few genuine heroes, and when most of those we do have soon prove to have feet of clay, you measure up in every sense of the word.”

Joe and Beth have assumed a number of leadership roles in addition to their work with the Boy Scouts and the Mackinac Center. Joe, who was named “Citizen of the Year” by the Ann Arbor News in 2001, is the former CEO of University Microfilms and past president of the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor. Beth was recently appointed by President Bush to chair the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, and she sits on committees and boards for the University of Michigan Libraries and the YMCA.