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Posted on Tue, Jan 1, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

6 newsmakers in Ann Arbor who are worth watching this year

By Staff

The only certainties in life may be death and taxes, but 2013 promises to add another given to the list: Change.

The Ann Arbor region is emerging from the recent recession as a bright spot in Michigan - but that still presents challenges for Washtenaw County.


Matthew Alruda, one of's 'Ones to Watch' for 2013.

Daniel J. Brenner |

Our top employers will be positioning themselves for surviving health care reform. Our universities will grapple with their own versions of higher ed funding crises. Our schools and municipalities still fight fiscal battles as their respective customer bases - students, staff and residents - expect services. And we all seek a stable economic base, with jobs and what we like to call "quality of life."

Amid all of this, is naming six people to our first "Ones to Watch" list.

This region has many people who will generate news this year. But we believe these six people will continue their steps on paths that carry significant impact for the Ann Arbor area (and beyond):

Ones to Watch 2013

Six profiles of people to watch in the upcoming year

  • Matthew Atruda topped the Ones to Watch in 2013 poll and says the city's music scene is getting stronger, with more local support. In addition to curating the annual Sonic Lunch summer music series and hosting the Tree Town Sound radio show, he's getting ready to launch a monthly arts variety show that will be a mash-up of live theater, poetry readings, comedy and maybe even hip-hop music.
  • Dave Brandon is overseeing the University of Michigan's $133 million athletics budget and says he wants to bring a "wow factor" to every Wolverines sporting event — all while making U-M one of the top sporting universities in the nation. The former Domino's Pizza CEO isn't satisfied with the status quo, and he has an ambitious wish that touches everything from lacrosse to softball and field hockey.
  • For years, Amy Cell proved her worth working on entrepreneurial education and addressing issues of talent recruitment for Ann Arbor SPARK. Now she's using those same skills in Lansing, where she's focusing on matching residents' skill sets with available jobs or entrepreneurial opportunities as senior vice president at the Michigan Economic Growth Corp.
  • Mark Bernstein struck a chord with voters with his message of finding ways to make college more affordable to students and families. As he begins his eight-year term as a University of Michigan regent, Bernstein says he knows he'll need time to figure out how to be effective from the inside. But don't think for a second he's lost his focus on his signature issue or lacks concrete ideas for how to boost affordability.
  • Ora Pescovitz, in her fourth year of leading the University of Michigan Hospitals, faces what certainly will be her most challenging: Pescovitz will lead approximately 26,000 faculty and staff through myriad uncertainties with federal funding sources, a recently downgraded Moody’s Investors Services bond rating and a growing gap in its $3 billion annual budget. The fate of one of Southeast Michigan's largest employers rests in her hands.
  • Yousef Rabhi, at 24, is entering his second term on the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. He's a likely candidate to become chairman and will have to lead it through a $10 million budget shortfall and decisions that should position Washtenaw County as a top entity amid the rest of Southeast Michigan's bodies of government.

Today's edition of presents stories on each of these newsmakers and why they'll impact this region in 2013.


Nancy Corfman

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

What about Ypsilanti? Nancy Corfman, Founder, Owner of Geez Lueez Remodeling, LLC has been named Executive of the Year by Covington's Who's Who of America for 2012. She was chosen based on her accomplishments, demonstration of leadership and achievement in her chosen profession. She has not only accomplished many things with her company, but has also given of herself to many organizations by volunteering countless hours for SOS Community Services, the American Cancer Society's Ypsilanti Relay For Life and others. What a shame thinks only people in Ann Arbor should be one's to watch for 2013. Shame on you!!!

Larry Eiler

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.

The region needs a few more Any Cell's -- behind the scenes knowledge for contacts, direction and making it through issues with little funding, grit and determination and a get it done attitude. Well Done, Amy. Larry


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

Doc Ora should be on Cramer's 'wall of shame' for taking her high salary at the same time she lacked the management skill to control costs. She strongly shows that she does not have the skills nor experience to lead this fine institution.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

Why do we have to brag about ourselves? Why don't we let the world brag about Ann Arbor instead? Go figure!