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Posted on Thu, May 20, 2010 : 9:57 a.m.

John Hieftje, Susan Martin, others elected to Ann Arbor SPARK board leadership

By Nathan Bomey

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje and Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin are the newest members of Ann Arbor SPARK's board of directors.

SPARK announced this morning that Hieftje and Martin had been elected to the board for 2010-11 at the economic development group's annual meeting.

SPARK also said that chairman Stephen Forrest, the University of Michigan's vice president for research, would retain the title. Forrest assumed the role in spring 2009 when SPARK co-founder Rick Snyder resigned as chairman to seek Michigan's Republican gubernatorial nomination.

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Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje

Bank of Ann Arbor CEO Tim Marshall was elected vice chairman of the board. He replaces Bob Guenzel, who is retiring as Washtenaw County administrator but will remain on the board.

Laurel Champion, executive vice president of and former publisher of the Ann Arbor News, was elected as treasurer of the board. David Parsigian, managing partner of the Ann Arbor office of law firm Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, was elected as the board's secretary.

The changes come as SPARK is celebrating its fifth year in existence.

"Over the last five years, Ann Arbor SPARK has generated significant, positive results for our region through programs to attract, retain and grow businesses and talent,” SPARK CEO Michael Finney said in a statement.  “As we continue to serve as a catalyst for economic opportunities in the region, Ann Arbor SPARK’s board of directors plays an important role in supporting our work through their ideas, connections and guidance.”

SPARK also announced several new members to its executive committee: Arboretum

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Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin

File photo |

Ventures managing director Jan Garfinkle; new Washtenaw County administrator Verna McDaniel; former A123Systems executive Maria Thompson; Pepper Hamilton attorney Michael Staebler; Elliot Forsyth, senior vice president of human resources and operations for ProQuest; and Leigh Greden, EMU's executive director of government and community relations and a former Ann Arbor City Council member.

SPARK's board of directors meets annually and provides broad direction for the organization. The executive committee meets every other month and provides regular guidance and oversight. Several members of the board also serve on the executive committee.

Here's a list of other members of the board and executive committee.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.