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Native American Matt Wesaw becomes director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights

Lansing, Oct. 18, 2013: The Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC) today announced that Matt Wesaw will begin his tenure as Executive Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) on Monday, October 28, 2013. The Commission selected Wesaw at their Oct. 7 meeting in Lansing, filling the vacancy left by the retirement of previous MDCR Executive Director Daniel Krichbaum in July.  Wesaw will be based at the department’s Lansing office in the Capital Tower Building at 110 West Michigan Avenue. 

“Matt Wesaw brings a depth and breadth of experience and sound judgment that will be of great benefit to the Department of Civil Rights and the state of Michigan,” said Governor Rick Snyder. “I look forward to joining with him in the important work of ensuring that every citizen of this great state has the opportunity to live, work, and learn in an environment free from discrimination, ready to pursue the opportunities around them.”

With his selection, Wesaw will become the first Native American to lead the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Wesaw plans to retire from his current positions as Chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and president and CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority prior to his start with MDCR.

“I feel very privileged and honored to have been selected as Executive Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights,” said Wesaw. “Civil Rights is an area that I am very passionate about and I’m excited to focus on it in the final phase of my career.”

Wesaw began his career in public service in 1979 when he joined the Michigan State Police. During his 26 years as a state trooper, Wesaw served at the Jackson Post, Flat Rock Post, and Lansing Post prior to being promoted to uniform sergeant in 1986. 

He was then transferred to the Criminal Investigation Division, where he became Detective Sergeant and served in the Organized Crime and Auto Theft Units. In 1995, Wesaw became Vice President of the Michigan State Police Troopers Association (MSPTA), serving in that role until January of 2001, and as the Director of Government Relations for MSPTA until his retirement in March of 2008.

Wesaw served as a tribal council member, vice chairman and past chairman of the federally-recognized Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. He also served as chairman of the Commission on Indian Affairs under Governor John Engler. Wesaw was appointed by Governor Engler to the Community Service Commission. 

In 2004, Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed Wesaw to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, becoming only the second Native American to hold that position. He served as Chair of the Commission in 2010 and 2011.

In 2007, Wesaw was hired by the Board of Directors of the United Tribes of Michigan which is comprised of the federally-recognized tribes in Michigan whose mission is to support the mutual interests of the Native American community. He served in this position until his election as Tribal Chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in 2009. 

Wesaw also serves as the president and CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority, the governing body that oversees the Four Winds Casinos. In 2009, Wesaw was elected by the leaders of the Midwest’s 37 federally-recognized tribes to the position of Area Vice-President of the National Congress of American Indians, and in 2010 he was selected to the position of Recording Secretary for NCAI.

In January of 2011, Wesaw was appointed by Governor Snyder to the Council on Law Enforcement and Reinvention committee. The committee is charged with evaluating the efficiency of the delivery of law enforcement services to the citizens of the state of Michigan.

The MDCR Executive Director is responsible for implementing public policy set forth by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, including providing executive leadership for MDCR and its employees. MDCR is responsible for civil rights complaint investigations as well as outreach efforts and educational programs to promote voluntary compliance with civil rights laws.

It is also home to the Michigan Women's Commission, the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan, the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission, the Council on Arab and Chaldean American Affairs, and the Division on Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

For more information on the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, go to www.michigan.gov/mdcr.


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Revised: 10/22/13 06:20:54 -0700.




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