Lana Pollack, Michigan LCV co-founder

member photo

To celebrate our organization’s ten-year anniversary, we honored Michigan LCV co-founder Lana Pollack this year at an exclusive event on the evening of our annual Earth Tones concert.  Lana Pollack has been a lifelong environmental advocate. From 1996 until December 2008, Lana served as president of the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), growing the organization exponentially and increasing awareness of key environmental issues in Lansing. 

Lana’s environmental work first captured statewide attention, however, in the late 1980s and early 1990s during her twelve-year tenure in the Michigan State Senate. During that time, Senator Pollack introduced legislation known as “Polluter Pay,” a law putting the responsibility for cleaning up polluted industrial sites onto the shoulders of the polluters themselves. (The law generated more than $100 million for the protection of Michigan’s environment before being overturned during Governor John Engler’s tenure.)
Before beginning her political career, Lana served as a teacher of dance and social studies. She also spent those years as a political volunteer, learning from the ground up before going on to manage campaigns and, eventually, chairing the Ann Arbor Democratic Party. Realizing that she would be in a better position to promote change as an elected official, Lana was elected in 1979 to the Ann Arbor Public Schools’ board of education.

In 1982, the voters of Washtenaw County sent Lana to the Michigan Senate, where she served with distinction on the Appropriations, Finance, Education, Criminal Justice and Urban Affairs committees. In 1988, Lana was the Democratic candidate for Michigan’s 2nd Congressional District, and in 1994 she ran a hard-fought battle for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate. Unfortunately for the citizens of Michigan and the protection of our state’s amazing natural resources, Lana found herself defeated in both races and chose, at that point, to retire from public office.

Upon her retirement, Lana co-founded Michigan Monthly–a statewide magazine focusing on culture, politics, places, and people–serving as the publisher until selling the publication in 1996.

Over the last many years, Lana has:

  • Worked as a consultant for the Washington, D.C.-based National Democratic Institute;
  • Participated as a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (1997);
  • Been inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame (2002);
  • Accepted a gubernatorial appointment to the Natural Resources Trust Fund Board (2005).

More recently, Lana has taught at the University of Michigan and has served on the boards of directors of national, state and local nonprofit organizations, including (but not limited to) the national League of Conservation Voters, the National Environmental Trust (now the Pew Research Group), the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, the Michigan Women’s Foundation, the Center for the Education of Women, and the Hillel Foundation at the University of Michigan.

Lana grew up in Ludington, Michigan, and attended the University of Michigan, where she earned a B.A. in political science and an M.A. in education. She has lived in the United States, England and Zambia, and has traveled in Africa, Europe, North and South America, Asia and Antarctica. Lana is married to Henry Pollack, a professor of geophysics at U-M and a member of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize–winning IPCC. Lana and Henry are the parents of an adult son, John, a talented New York-based writer.

Lana has spent her long and diverse career as an outspoken advocate for people and causes whose voices are often unheard in the halls of power. Our state and, indeed, Michigan’s natural resources, have been exceptionally lucky to have Lana as a fierce advocate for ensuring that our water, air and land are not only celebrated, but adequately protected.

> View photos from the event on Flickr