History

On Feb. 1, 1898, officials representing 16 Michigan counties gathered in the Senate chamber of the Michigan State Capitol to form the State Association of Supervisors: Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Eaton, Gladwin, Gratiot, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Monroe, Montcalm, Oakland, Ottawa, Saginaw and St. Joseph.

Over the next 17 years, the vast majority of counties joined the organization, with 69 counties recognized as members by 1915.

Incorporated on Jan. 24, 1940, the organization’s first permanent home was at 335 Hillcrest in East Lansing, where it would remain until 1956.

The State Association of Supervisors became the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) on July 17, 1969, in conjunction with the state’s move to directly elected commissioners from geographic districts. In 2017, MAC left its longtime home on Washington Square in Lansing to an office suite on Michigan Avenue just steps from the State Capitol.

Leadership

In 1955, W. E. Dennison became the association’s first full-time executive director, a role he would hold until 1967.

During the Dennison years, the association would move three times: to 20-22 Kellogg Center in East Lansing (1956); to Quonset Hut 31 on the Michigan State University campus (1958); and to 319 W. Lenawee in Lansing (1962).

The next four executive directors would serve at the Lenawee Street address: Jack Merelman (1967); Horace Hodge (1967-1968); Barry McGuire 1968-1984; and Jim Callahan (1984-1992).

In 1992, Timothy McGuire became the association’s sixth executive director, serving until the end of 2016. Stephan Currie became the seventh executive director in January 2017.

MAC’s executive director reports to a Board of Directors, whose members are county commissioners elected by their peers at elections held at MAC conferences.

Forty-eight of Michigan’s 83 counties have had at least one of their commissioners (or supervisors prior to 1968) serve as president of the MAC Board of Directors. Kent and Oakland counties have combined to offer 21 of the 114 commissioners who have served in the president’s role, or 18 percent.

Images

Services

Throughout its history, MAC has demonstrated its commitment to the counties of Michigan and their residents. In 1979, the association created the Michigan Counties Workers’ Compensation Fund, which assists counties in providing their employees with workplace safety and injury insurance services, as well as claims servicing and loss control services to help counties handle risk management. The creation of the Michigan Association of Counties Service Corporation in 1986 further expanded services to county governments, creating cost-saving partnerships with providers in telecommunications, health care and disability benefit services.  

MAC brings together county leaders every year through their two major conferences, where they discuss trending public policy issues and hear from state policymakers and officials. The conferences have been held throughout the state, including in Grand Traverse Bay, Kalamazoo, Port Huron, Frankenmuth and Mackinac Island.  

Today, one in every four bills introduced in the state legislature affects county government. Each year, MAC’s six standing policy committees draft legislative platforms indicating MAC’s position on key county issues for review and approval by the MAC Board and membership.

With 125 years of service representing the counties of Michigan, MAC is the oldest organization representing local governments in Michigan, and one of the oldest in the country, according to the National Association of Counties.

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