LANSING (AP) — A former state trooper and a Native American tribal leader takes office today as the new executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
Matt Wesaw was chosen for the position by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission on Oct. 7.
Wesaw fills the vacancy left by the retirement Daniel Krichbaum in July.
“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,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement. “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 is the first Indian to lead the Civil Rights Department. He said he plans to retire from his positions as chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and president and chief executive of the Pokagon Gaming Authority.
“I feel very privileged and honored to have been selected as executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights,” said Wesaw. “Having served on the commission for several years, 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.”
The civil rights agency is responsible for civil rights complaint investigations as well as outreach efforts and educational programs to promote voluntary compliance with civil rights laws.
Wesaw previously served 26 years as a state trooper.
Then-Republican Gov. John Engler named Wesaw as chairman of the Commission on Indian Affairs and appointed him to the Community Service Commission. Engler’s Democratic successor, Gov. Jennifer Granholm, appointed Wesaw to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. He chaired the commission in 2010 and 2011.