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Emily Finnell

Great Lakes Senior Advisor and Strategist

As the Great Lakes senior advisor and strategist in the Office of the Great Lakes (OGL) within the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), Emily Finnell defines vision and provides strategic direction on policy and program development to protect, restore, and sustain the world’s premier freshwater system.

Emily has more than 20 years’ experience leading and implementing strategic initiatives related to the Great Lakes, conservation, and water-related issues. She specializes in developing collaborative partnerships and programs to ensure ecological, economic, and community sustainability across the Great Lakes basin.

Emily is an expert in building common vision and implementation strategies in pursuit of a healthy and vibrant Great Lakes system. She enjoys working with communities to build the capacity of individuals and organizations to unite around a shared vision and developing and executing revitalization strategies to improve their community well-being.

Among her many projects, Emily is co-creator of the From Students to Stewards Initiative, a collaboration with MiSTEM Network, the Michigan Department of Education, and the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity that integrates Great Lakes literacy into K-12 education statewide. She also led the development and implementation of the Michigan Water Strategy, a 30-year plan to protect, restore, and sustain Michigan’s water resources.

She previously served OGL as acting director, acting deputy director, director of special projects and strategy, Great Lakes policy specialist, acting program chief for the Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program, and senior environmental quality analyst. She currently co-chairs the Water Use Advisory Council’s Water Conservation and Efficiency committee.

Emily earned her Bachelor of Science degree in environmental biology and botany and plant pathology from Michigan State University. She enjoys spending time with family, hiking, gardening, cooking, fitness, travel, and spending time in the woods and along the shores of the Great Lakes.