Mackinac Center Welcomes James Barrett to Board

Past Michigan Chamber president brings public, private sector expertise to free-market think tank

Friday, May 12, 2017


Chantal Lovell
Communications Manager

MIDLAND — The Mackinac Center for Public Policy welcomes the newest member of its board of directors, James (Jim) Barrett.

Barrett — who was president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce for 32 years — joins the Center’s board, bringing a wealth of knowledge of both public and private sectors to the Midland-based free-market think tank.

“Jim is a respected pillar of Michigan’s business and government communities,” Mackinac Center Board Chairman Clifford Taylor said. “He built a great team of advocates for wise public policy choices in Michigan. Under his leadership, the Michigan Chamber became Lansing’s most effective lobbying organization, all while holding its position as the country’s most principled chamber.”

Mackinac Center President Joseph G. Lehman praised Barrett’s leadership, citing the Michigan Chamber’s support of the Mackinac Center’s “universal tuition tax credit.” That policy concept would allow corporations and taxpayers to pay for low-income students to attend their private or public school of choice. He also noted Barrett’s leadership of the Michigan Chamber in its opposition to corporate welfare. In this, it stood apart from most chambers of commerce but joined the Mackinac Center in opposing this ineffective and damaging confluence of government and business.

Barrett retired from the Michigan Chamber in 2008 and remains active in both government and community circles. He is vice chairman of the Michigan Civil Service Commission; chairman of the McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital board; secretary and board member of the McLaren Health Care Corporation; chairman of the Great Lakes Education Project; and a board member of the National Charter Schools Institute.

“I look forward to serving on the Mackinac Center Board of Directors and deeply appreciate the opportunity to work with an organization I admire,” Barrett said. “I’ve long shared the Mackinac Center’s vision of liberty and opportunity for everyone in Michigan and I’m honored to be a part of an organization that has such a positive and optimistic goal.”

In 2003, Barrett was named by the Michigan Political History Society as the most effective association leader in state politics over the last 50 years. In 2008, the Mackinac Center presented him with the Thomas Jefferson Award for a career marked by an exceptional commitment to protecting taxpayers, fostering enterprise and improving the quality of life in Michigan.

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