2005-05-13 / People

George Goodman To Enjoy ‘Retirement’ With New Foundation Role

Michigan Municipal League President To Work From Island
By Ryan Schlehuber

George Goodman
George Goodman George Goodman certainly does not plan to lay back and take it easy in his retirement from the Michigan Municipal League, where he served as executive director for 22 years. He has plenty of work ahead of him. But now, he will be able to do much of his work at his summer home on Mackinac Island, instead of a downstate office.

“I’m in a new role now,” said Mr. Goodman, who was Ypsilanti’s mayor for more than 10 years before moving to the Michigan Municipal League (MML) headquarters in Ann Arbor.

Dan Gilmartin, the association’s former deputy director, has taken over as its executive director.

Mr. Goodman, a summer resident of Victorian Condominiums on Mackinac Island, is already eager to take on his new role as the Michigan Municipal League Foundation’s new president and CEO. The foundation is a fundraising organization for the league that was established in 1990. He is also chairman of the Star Commonwealth in Albion, a group that aids troubled youth, and he continues to be an active member of the International City/County Management Association, a professional association of city and county managers.

The MML is a state association of more than 500 cities and villages, including the City of Mackinac Island, which serves as an educational outreach for local government. Its central purpose is to encourage communities to cooperate and learn from each other and in finding solutions to local government issues by providing valuable information through conferences, training programs, and published information.

“If you’re a mayor or council member from St. Ignace, Mackinac Island, or Mackinaw City, if you are able to involve yourself in these programs and gain the knowledge they provide, you can go back with better ideas to solve problems in your local community,” Mr. Goodman explained.

In the past 22 years, Mr. Goodman has helped establish MML as one of the best municipal leagues in the country. In 1997, he was one of seven people in the United States recognized with a public achievement award from Common Cause, a nonprofit, nonpartisan citizens' lobbying organization promoting open, honest, and accountable government.

“My staff at the League excels in training and providing good information,” he said, preferring to give the credit to his staff.

“One of the most important things I’ve learned was having the important ingredients that make an organization run smoothly,” Mr. Goodman said. “Surrounding yourself with an excellent staff with talent and skills that I certainly don’t have really keeps the organization moving forward.”

Now as head of MML Foundation, Mr. Goodman is looking forward to establishing good business relationships with prospective donors to MML’s government education programs.

“I’ll be working mostly out of my home on the Island,” he said. “The pace is different from having to always go into work at a certain time.”

As the foundation’s president, Mr. Goodman’s immediate challenge is to ensure adequate resources to continue the MML programs already in place now. He emphasizes the importance of maintaining a strong financial base, a commitment that all local government in Michigan must make, as well, in these slumping economic times.

Local government today, he said, faces changes in its economic structure, and many municipalities are cutting programs and staff to trim budgets. The revenue sources today, he said, are not the same as they were four or five years ago.

Mr. Goodman believes cities and villages now need the Michigan Municipal League more than ever for its available resources and information that helps communities solve their problems without the need for expensive professional consulting.

“Communities can solve many of their problems by taking what other communities have done,” he said.

Mackinac Island, said Mr. Goodman, has improved its image over the last 25 years he has been visiting there.

“The places downtown have been fixed up, and the city has a good infrastructure in place, by fixing its street curbs and hanging flower baskets, for example,” he said. “Everything you need or would want is within close proximity. It’s a pleasant environment to live in. When you’re on the Island, it just sort of feels like you’re winding down in a good way.”

He plans to move back to the Island by late May with his wife, Judith, a retired assistant dean of admissions and student services at University of Michigan. The couple also has a winter home in Fountain Hills, Arizona, near Scottsdale.

Mr. Goodman admits he will enjoy his retirement on the Island in other ways than work.

“I like rollerblading, bike riding, walking, reading books, and just talking to people,” he said. “I really like talking to and meeting new people. Going someplace without any automobiles present sets a relaxing pace for people.”

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