Public Policy Associates (PPA) has established a new Center for Local Solutions to help cities, townships, counties, schools, and nonprofit organizations more effectively achieve public policy goals, company officials announced.

PPA’s new center will be led by a team of experts with decades of experience improving state and local programs, policies, and services. They are:

  • Larry Merrill, who is retiring as executive director of the Michigan Townships Association, on June 30. He will become a senior consultant at PPA.
  • PPA Senior Consultant Sam Singh, who was previously a leader in the Michigan House of Representatives, mayor of the city of East Lansing, and CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association.
  • PPA Senior Research Associate Nathalie Winans, who served as senior staff to the Michigan Sense of Place Council and leads the City of Lansing Historic District Commission.

“Sam, Larry, and Nathalie are a fabulous team for local governments and other organizations operating at the community level,” said PPA President Colleen Graber.  “They bring varied perspectives and a wealth of expertise to help solve problems that challenge our communities.”

PPA’s Center for Local Solutions will build on services provided by PPA in areas including healthy communities, justice, education, and workforce development.  It will also help local organizations improve their strategic focus and effectiveness.

“With the addition of Larry and Sam, we have dramatically strengthened our capabilities at a time when the challenges confronting the public and nonprofit sectors are becoming more evident at the local level,” said PPA Board Chair Jeff Padden.  “They can help clients resolve their most pressing challenges and capture emerging opportunities.”

Mr. Singh said that his experience with the nonprofit sector complements the work of Mr. Merrill with local governments and of Ms. Winans in research.  “We have a pretty unique set of skills and experiences to offer local organizations and associations.”

Here is a brief look at the Center’s leadership:

LARRY MERRILL, BA, MPA, C.A.E. joins PPA after successfully leading the Michigan Townships Association for 19 years.  He is one of Michigan’s foremost experts on public policy, governance, elected and staff leadership, financial oversight, and public safety services oversight.  He has advised local governments and other entities, taught seminars and written books on intergovernmental cooperation, effective governance, fiscal planning and oversight, public safety, and others.

He provided day-to-day administration and policy support to county commissions, served as an emergency medical services director, emergency management director, fire lieutenant, emergency medical technician, and planning commissioner.  Mr. Merrill’s elected public service includes seven years on the Grand Ledge Public Schools Board of Education, including three years as president.

SAM SINGH, BA, has been an effective leader in shaping state and local policies and programs as an elected official, association executive, and research consultant.  His areas of expertise include management, philanthropy, education, energy, and workforce and entrepreneurial development.  In the Michigan House of Representatives, his legislative colleagues selected him floor leader and caucus leader.

Previously, he served 12 years as an elected official in East Lansing—10 as a City Council member and two as mayor.  Mr. Singh was a senior consultant for the New Economy Initiative in southeast Michigan, a regional network supporting entrepreneurship and workforce development.  He was also president and CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association, a membership organization serving Michigan’s nonprofit sector.

NATHALIE WINANS, BA, MS, brings extensive experience in qualitative data collection, analysis, and reporting, as well as expertise in strategic planning and focus group coordination to the Center team.  She has an advanced degree in urban and regional planning with expertise in placemaking, historic preservation, sustainable development, and the arts.  Currently, through her work at PPA, she provides research and technical assistance for the evaluation of a nutrition and healthy lifestyles grant portfolio and conducts research pursuant to a strategic plan for a nonprofit education organization.  For five years, she served as senior staff to the Michigan Sense of Place Council.  Previously, she served as chair of the City of Lansing Historic District Commission, was co-founder of the advocacy group Preservation Lansing, and was a board member of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing.