Executive Director and Staff Attorney
In 2014, Gail celebrated her 30th anniversary at the Watershed Council. She has served on a variety of state and local policy making boards and commissions along with several boards of directors of related non-profit organizations. Her organizational management advice is sought after from non-profits across the region. Gail received her Bachelor of Science from Central Michigan University and a Law Degree from University of Oregon. She is a member of Michigan and Washington State Bar Associations. Gail lives in Harbor Springs with her husband Wil Cwikiel and their two daughters Kate and Sadie. She loves and enjoys the region's waters and beaches whenever her busy summer schedule allows. The winter season finds her in the woods on skis or snowshoes.
Lynn D. Buffington
Financial and Operations Director
Lindy owned and operated her own public accounting service, LDB & Associates, from 1981 to 2002 and provided services to many non-profit and for-profit businesses in northern Michigan. Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council became one of her clients in 1984 when Gail Gruenwald hired her to take on the accounting work of the organization. In 2003, she joined on as a full time employee at the Watershed Council as Business Manager. She has taught Personal Finance and Computer Accounting classes at North Central Michigan College. She often gives assistance on Peachtree software to other non-profit organizations.
Growing up around Lake Erie, the pristine lakes of Northern Michigan were a welcome surprise to her. Working for the Watershed Council helps Sandy feel that she is in some small way not only helping to make people aware of their beautiful natural surroundings, but also helping to preserve them. Sandy is an avid Red Wing hockey fan and has a passion for animals, especially her two dogs and one very frisky cat. She has lived in Petoskey since November 1984. She has one son, Daniel, who lives in Colorado.
Grenetta Thomassey, PhD
Dr. Grenetta Thomassey joined Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council in June 2005. As Program Director, she works on matters related to implementing the Great Lakes Compact and statewide water use policy; Great Lakes Restoration; and a variety of local issues in our four-county service area. Prior to this, she taught Political Science and Environmental Policy at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She also taught at Northern Arizona University, where she earned her doctorate in 2003. Dr. Thomassey’s research is focused on state and local government policy; specifically interest groups and fresh water concerns. She has worked on issues related to the expansion of locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers, as well as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program. Her dissertation was a unique examination of groundwater management policies across the entire US, called “A Comparative Analysis of US Groundwater Management Regimes: Testing an Ideal Type.” She has published several articles and book chapters, and is the primary author and researcher for a book called Fresh Water Issues, published in 2003. The book has companion articles that are regularly updated and included in an online database of Contemporary World Issues. She is also developing a new book on Chesapeake Bay, Everglades, and Great Lakes Restoration policy processes.
Jennifer McKay joined Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council in May of 2005. As Policy Specialist, Jennifer is responsible for working on federal, Great Lakes Basin-wide, and state policy initiatives to improve the level of protection to water resources. She is currently working on invasive species, hydraulic fracturing regulations, pipelines, and Great Lakes Restoration, among many other issues; and is the coordinator of the Watershed Council’s Pharmaceutical and Over-the-counter Drug Drop-off Program. Before joining the Watershed Council, she worked for the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan and the State of Michigan Senate and House of Representatives. She graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Studies and Political Science.
Watershed Projects Director
Jen joined the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council in 2003 shortly after moving to Northern Michigan. As the restoration ecologist with the Watershed Protection Team, she works on shoreline, streambank and wetland restoration projects among other "Restoration Remedies" services. Her education and professional experience have been valuable to her role with the Watershed Council. After earning her Bachelors of Science in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan, she assisted with research projects in forest ecology with the University of Michigan and later as an aquatic ecologist with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor. In 1999, she earned her Masters of Landscape Architecture from the Ohio State University. Following graduate school, Jen spent three years in Columbus working for both a landscape architecture firm and a restoration ecologist. Jen is happy to share her love of nature with her junior naturalist son, Simon.
Monitoring and Research Coordinator
Matt joined Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council in January of 2014 as the Watershed Protection Technician through the Huron Pines AmeriCorps program. He now serves as an employee of the Watershed Council. Growing up in Southern Michigan, Matt always dreamed of living “up north.” He got his chance, attending Northern Michigan University in Marquette to pursue a degree in Environmental Science and GIS. While in school, he interned with the Marquette City Zoning Office and worked at the local ski hill as a ski instructor. Upon graduation, Claucherty was hired by the U.S. Forest Service as a seasonal fisheries technician for the Ottawa and Hiawatha National Forests. He was also an Eagle Scout and volunteer stream monitor with MiCorps. Matt lives in Petoskey and loves every minute of it. He enjoys exploring his natural surroundings through paddling, mountain biking, and snow sporting.
Water Resource Education Director
Maria started her work with the Watershed Council in 2014 as an Education Consultant, helping to develop and implement the Watershed Academy in area high schools before becoming a staff member. She taught middle and high school science in a local school for 17 years and worked as an environmental educator at a local land trust prior to teaching. Maria received her teaching certificate and B.S. in Science and English from Western Michigan University and her Masters in Science Education from Northern Michigan University in Marquette.
Education and Outreach Specialist
Eli joined the Watershed Council in 2016 after serving as a volunteer through the Huron Pines AmeriCorps program. Elis primarily responsible for working on the Watershed Academy project, the Michigan Shoreland Stewards project, and other educational and outreach opportunities within our service area. Eli went to Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he graduated with a degree in Elementary Education. He then interned at the AuSable Institute of Environmental Studies where he taught natural history as well as Michigan history. He grew up in Grand Haven, Michigan where he spent his summers working on his family’s blueberry farm. He loves fishing of any kind, but fly fishing in Northern Michigan’s waters is his favorite pastime.
Kristy has been utilizing her creative talents for the Watershed Council since 2008. She has over 20 years of graphic design/marketing experience and holds an Associates Degree in Marketing and Advertising from North Central Michigan College and a certificate in Promotional Strategies for the Gaming Industry from University of Nevada, Reno. Beyer served as secretary for the Rotary Club of Petoskey for 13 years, is a member of the West Michigan Advertising Club, and the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. In her spare time she enjoys serving the community and capturing the beauty of Northern Michigan through photograph, painting and crafts.
Development and Communications Specialist
Kate grew up in Harbor Springs, MI and has spent every summer swimming, boating, sailing, and kayaking on small inland lakes and Lake Michigan. Kate joined the Watershed Council staff in 2015 after completing her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan. Kate now works with both the Development and the Communications teams updating the membership database, planning events, and learning the ins and outs of photography and videography. During her time in school, Kate was able to participate in two study abroad programs which fueled her love of travel. When Kate is not in Northern Michigan, she can be found traveling the country (and the world!) visiting friends and family.
Debbie joined the team in January 2014. Debbie’s primary focus is to catalog all of the information that is collected through our water quality surveys and other fieldwork into one comprehensive database. She also puts her data analytical skills to work updating membership database so that all of our information on file is as recent as possible. Outside of the Watershed Council, Debbie and her husband, Michael have two daughters. Her hobbies include trail running with her dog Solo, spending time outdoors, and keeping up to date on the latest baseball and soccer games and statistics. Debbie’s favorite water related activities are boating, fishing and swimming.