Mike Neller’s moved more than two-dozen times, but he’s staying put at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Beginning Dec. 1, he started his new role as director of the Remediation and Redevelopment Division (RRD). Here, he joins us for a Fast Five edition of MI Environment.
Share a bit about yourself.
I am a native of Lansing, Michigan, and I grew up here where I went to East Lansing High School. I attended college at the U.S. Naval Academy, where upon graduation I began serving as a nuclear engineer and submarine warfare officer. During my time in the Navy, I moved many times (28 to be exact) and I have lived all over the U.S. and overseas. I feel at home in Michigan and that is why I returned here after I retired from the Navy. I am married to my high school sweetheart and we have two adult children.
What drew you to environmental protection?
I have always felt a strong desire to serve and it has become increasingly important in my life to work at something that has meaning and is intended to do good. What better place to do that than at EGLE?
You previously worked as manager of the Radiological Protection Section at EGLE. How did this experience prepare you for your new role as director of RRD?
Working in the Materials Management Division has given me the opportunity to better understand how EGLE functions in its regulatory role and how it works with the legislative process. I have a lot of experience working with hazardous material and complying with environmental protection standards, so much of what we regulate is not new to me. Saying that, I still have a lot to learn and I will be relying on all the smart, dedicated members of RRD to help me better understand the programs we are responsible for.
What drew you to the military, and what was your greatest takeaway after 25 years with the U.S. Navy?
I really liked being part of a team that worked toward a common goal and had a sense of shared sacrifice. As far as my greatest takeaway, I often tell a bit a trivia about myself. I added it up one time and I have spent over 11 years living and working under water in a confined space with 150 other people. When I tell people that, they often respond with: “I don’t know what that qualifies you for.” My response is that it means I know how to get along with others.
What are your immediate goals for RRD?
My immediate goals are to meet as many people and to see as many areas of RRD as possible in my first month. I am praying for good travel weather.