CMU alum named next Griffin Endowed Chair

Andrea LaFontaine will lead university's efforts to elevate political awareness and activity

| Author: Heather Smith

LaFontaine-mug2​Andrea LaFontaine, executive director of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, has been named Central Michigan University's next Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government. The Griffin Chair leads the university's efforts to elevate political awareness and activity among students, faculty and citizens.

As chair, LaFontaine will teach two university courses and host community forums on topics related to Michigan government and policies. She replaces David Rutledge, who has held the position since 2017.

LaFontaine has a strong connection to CMU. She completed a bachelor's degree in political science in 2009 and a Master of Public Administration degree in 2011. In 2014, she was recognized as a CMU 10 Within 10 recipient. She also was a student in courses taught by past Griffin Chair Bill Ballenger.

"I remember his class sparking a deeper interest, understanding and awareness for the political and legislative process in Michigan," LaFontaine said. "I also have a deep admiration for the Griffin family. The Griffin name is synonymous with integrity, and it is an honor to serve in a role associated with Senator Griffin's legacy."

LaFontaine spent much of the past decade working in the state Legislature, starting as an intern, then as a staffer and eventually as an elected official. She was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2010 and served three consecutive terms representing constituents in Macomb and St. Clair counties.

After leaving office in 2016 due to term limits, she worked for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and in 2020 became executive director of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance. She also has served as an election inspector and a parks and recreation commissioner.

"All of these experiences have shaped and continue to shape my perception and understanding of our democratic process," LaFontaine said.

Established in 2000, the Griffin Endowed Chair honors CMU alumni Sen. Robert P. Griffin, who graduated in 1947, and Marjorie Griffin, who graduated in 1944. LaFontaine is the seventh person to hold the position.

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