Alum becomes mayor

Alex Belz

The Midland City Council appointed an NMU graduate to become their first female mayor last week.

Maureen Donker, who majored in sociology and law enforcement and graduated in 1975, said being mayor is a good opportunity to serve her community.

“I think it’s an honor to be mayor, to be the first woman mayor just adds to that,” Donker said. “I think I’m like anyone else who has held this position. I’m happy to do it.”

Midland has a government system where mayors are appointed by the City Council. Donker, who won her second term as Midland City Council Ward 2 representative, was appointed to mayor with a vote of 4 to 1.

Donker was a resident advisor in Spalding for one and a half years while at NMU. She said that the experience was beneficial to her in her professional career.

“I learned skills I still use. You learn how to ask questions, how to listen. I learned about conflict management. That probably had the most impact on me. I use those skills all the time, in everything,” Donker said.

Besides being mayor, Donker is executive director of a non-profit organization called the Reece Endeavor, which works with individuals with disabilities.

“That’s again one of those things where you look at your life and things change. My husband and I have a child with a disability, with autism, and I needed to figure out how I could work and be a parent at the same time. This is perfect because I work part time,” Donker said.

Nicole Arbury, assistant dean of education at Saginaw Valley State University and also an NMU graduate, has known Donker for about 15 years. She said that Midland is lucky to have Donker as mayor.

“I think Midland will be very well served … She will give this 150 percent as she does to everything she touches,” said Arbury. “She is an incredibly good thinker, good problem solver and in tough economic times as we have now, I think she will do a fine job.”

Arbury, who majored in education while at NMU, said that Donker’s commitment to community service and working for the Reece Endeavor is an example of her dedication and passion for life.

“What makes Maureen so unique is her skills, experiences and talents and they really give her the opportunity to delve into many different pieces of work. She really represents that foundation very well,” Arbury said.

Donker is a good role model for people who aspire to succeed in multiple areas, she said.

“I’m convinced that somebody like Maureen Donker has more than 24 hours in one day. What that woman is able to accomplish each day, each week, each year, is absolutely remarkable,” Arbury said.

Donker said the key to life after college is having an open mind. She said that after college, she found job opportunities in careers she never expected to go into, but enjoyed doing.

“The important thing is being open to new experiences, especially in today’s world,” she said. “And to say, ‘oh what a great experience, I’d like to try that.’ I think the openness to try new things has gotten me to where I am now.”