Birkholz Institutes

Birkholz Institutes

The Birkholz Institutes bring together a small group of legislators to take a deep dive into an issue on the GLLC’s policy agenda and form a task force to lead the Caucus’ work to take coordinated regional action on the issue.

The members of the Caucus chose to name these biennial institutes in honor of the GLLC’s founder, the late Michigan Senator Patricia (Patty) Birkholz. Senator Birkholz’s vision for the GLLC was to “bring key Great Lakes lawmakers together regularly to share knowledge and hear other perspectives” for the purpose of “improving the impact and uniformity of practices established in statute.”


2023 Birkholz Institute on Climate Resiliency

The 2023 Birkholz Institute focused on Climate Resiliency in Great Lakes Communities. Legislators gathered in Detroit to learn about climate impacts, shoreline restoration, and flood mitigation. The Fellows then formed the Task Force on Climate Resiliency, which is currently meeting to refine policy recommendations. For more information about the Task Force, visit this page.

2023 Birkholz Fellows

  • IL Senator Laura Ellman
  • IN Representative Maureen Bauer
  • MI Senator Joe Bellino
  • MI Representative Jenn Hill
  • MN Representative Athena Hollins
  • MN Senator Karin Housley
  • OH Representative Daniel Troy
  • ON MPP Ric Bresee
  • ON MPP Jennifer French
  • QC MNA Joëlle Boutin
  • QC MNA Désirée McGraw
  • WI Representative Deb Andraca
  • WI Senator Kelda Roys

2023 Birkholz Steering Committee

  • IL Senator Laura Fine, Co-chair
  • MN Commissioner David Senjem, Co-chair
  • IN Representative David Abbott
  • MI Representative Rachel Hood
  • MN Senator Ann Rest
  • WI Senator André Jacque, GLLC Chair

If you have any questions, contact Jess Lienhardt at

Past Institutes

2019 Birkholz Institute: Nutrient Management

2019 Birkholz Institute in Detroit, Michigan

In October 2019, the Birkholz Fellows gathered in Detroit to focus on nutrient management. They learned about proper handling of wastewater and advanced agricultural techniques. Following the Institute, the Fellows for the Task Force on Nutrient Management and developed policy recommendations.

Task Force on Nutrient Management

Nutrient Management Policy Recommendations

Task Force on Lead

The precursor to the Birkholz Institutes was the Task Force on Lead in 2018. GLLC members formed a task force on lead in drinking water and developed a model policy:

Task Force on Lead

Lead in Drinking Water Model Policy