Love of Great Lakes inspires alumna to action
Originally from the Chicago area, Laura Rubin grew up a block from Lake Michigan and learned to love and appreciate the beautiful waters, recreational opportunities, and rich ecology of the Great Lakes. She has spent more than 25 years working on environmental protection, policy, and conservation issues.
Since 1998, Rubin has been executive director of the Huron River Watershed Council, a nonprofit that makes use of citizen science to inform water policy decisions, where she oversees a staff of 15 professionals and more than 500 volunteers dedicated to protecting and restoring the river for healthy and vibrant communities. The organization scored a major victory in December 2016 when the Washtenaw County Circuit Court granted its motion – along with those from the city of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County – to join the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality as co-plaintiffs in the longstanding legal case against Gelman Sciences, the company that polluted the area’s groundwater with dioxane. With Rubin at the helm, the council is now providing a voice for the river, aquatic life, and river recreation in the legal proceedings, meanwhile carefully monitoring the city’s threatened water supply.
A member of the SEAS Dean's External Advisory Board, Rubin has served as a board member or advisor to myriad local, state, and national environmental organizations. For her national leadership in river protection, she received the River Network’s 2013 River Hero Award. “I find working at the local and regional level to be very rewarding,” Rubin said. “The diversity of my work is deep, from riverfront redevelopment to lawsuits for clean-ups, from the installation of fish habitat to river snorkeling with teens. My colleagues inspire and challenge me and always find some humor in just the right moments.”
Starting in June 2019, Rubin assumed the Director position for Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition.