The Great Lakes Protection Fund is a private, not-for-profit corporation. The governors of the Great Lakes states are the members of the corporation. The member governors elect the Fund’s board of directors, which oversees the investment of the endowment and determines how to use investment income to support project teams.


These current governors are the members of the corporation:

  • J.B. Pritzker
    Governor of Illinois
  • Gretchen Whitmer
    Governor of Michigan
  • Tim Walz
    Governor of Minnesota
  • Kathy Hochul
    Governor of New York
  • Mike DeWine
    Governor of Ohio
  • Tom Wolf
    Governor of Pennsylvania
  • Tony Evers
    Governor of Wisconsin

Board of Directors

The founding governors agreed that they and future governors “...shall select individuals with a regional perspective and shall seek to ensure that the Board of Directors is fully reflective of the diverse community of State and regional interests (such as academics, environmentalists, business, labor, local communities, and others) that use and benefit from the Great Lakes.“

(Affiliations are presented for informational purposes only. Directors serve in their personal capacities.)
  • Kate Bartter
    Columbus, Ohio

    Executive Director, Sustainability Institute , The Ohio State University
  • Timothy Bruno
    Erie, Pennsylvania

    Chief, Office of the Great Lakes, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
  • Joanne So Young Dill
    Barrington, Illinois

    Chief of Strategy and Engagement, Commissioner Marcelino Garcia, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago
  • Judy Drabicki
    Dexter, New York

    Retired, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Tim Eder
    Chelsea, Michigan

    Program Officer, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
  • Peter Gove
    St. Paul, Minnesota

    Retired executive, St. Jude Medical, Inc.
  • Richard Hylant
    Ottawa Hills, Ohio

    President, Sales and Innovation, Hylant Group
  • Howard Learner
    Chicago, Illinois

    President and Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center
  • Jill Spisiak Jedlicka
    Lancaster, New York

    Executive Director, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper
  • Andrew McElwaine
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Vice President, Sustainability, The Heinz Endowments
  • Don Ness
    Duluth, Minnesota

    Executive Director, Ordean Foundation
  • Laura Rubin
    Ann Arbor, Michigan

    Director, Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition
  • Demetria Smith
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    Executive Director, Kellogg PEAK Initiative


External Expertise

Activities affecting the basin’s ecosystem are becoming increasingly distant in space and time from the shores of the lakes. The problem-solvers and their solutions will be as well.

The Fund is always on the lookout for individuals who are willing to give the Fund strategic, tactical, and technical advice. We use external experts to improve the proposals submitted by prospective grantee teams and to vet ideas.

Technical Review

All proposals are independently reviewed by outside technical experts. Through generous donations of time and expertise, these reviewers provide valuable insight on proposed projects and help shape the work of project teams.

Reviewers offer suggestions to improve and strengthen a proposed plan of work. They also offer the Fund insights as to the ecological importance of the work proposed, the risks embedded in potential projects, the challenges teams might face, and ways the Fund can help teams overcome those challenges.

Typically, the Fund seeks three reviewers for each proposal. While reviewers often have different areas of expertise, they review, and where possible suggest improvements to, all aspects of the proposed work including:

  • the impact the work is likely to have on the health of the Great Lakes,
  • the technical and scientific adequacy of the proposed work,
  • the ability of the project team to work at the scale required to impact the basin ecosystem, and
  • the likelihood that the proposed plan of work will lead to the expected ecological results.

Reviewer’s names and affiliations are not disclosed to applicants. Similarly, reviewers are asked to hold their status as reviewer, their review itself, and their impressions of the proposal in confidence.

If you are interested in contributing to our technical review process, if you feel you have expertise that you are willing to share, or if you would like to know more about our review process, please contact us.

Technical Advisory Committees

The Fund uses expert advisors to identify opportunities to match key problems with ripe-for-testing strategies. Over the last six years, the Fund has involved over 100 external experts on strategies as diverse as the use of internet technology to protect the Great Lakes, reframing water conservation strategies, and using genetic tools to manage invasive species.

Often, these experts meet face-to-face; other times they conduct targeted research on contract to the Fund; and sometimes they are involved iteratively in developing and revising white papers, requests for proposals, or offering expert opinion.

Current topics for discussion include, but are not limited to:

  • Stopping invasive species and new synthetic life forms from entering the basin prior to approval.
  • Protecting water dependent natural resources from unsustainable water uses.
  • Creating economic tools to manage the basin’s water and related ecosystem services.
  • Discovering new ways to manage legacy issues such as contaminated sediments and outdated infrastructure.
  • Making restoration impacts transparent to actors throughout the economy and creating feedback systems that can drive ecosystem restoration.

If you are interested in putting your expertise to work for the Great Lakes, please contact us to discuss your areas of interest and our current needs.