Fund For Lake Michigan

"Water links us to our neighbor in a way more profound and complex than any others."
– John Thorson

Staff & Trustees

The Fund for Lake Michigan was established in conjunction with the resolution in 2008  of disputes concerning the Oak Creek Power Plant and Elm Road Generating Station in southeastern Wisconsin. The agreement establishing the Fund provides for payments of four million dollars each year from 2011 through 2035 to fund projects to improve the health of Lake Michigan. An Oversight Committee of Trustees manages the Fund, establishes grant-making priorities and guidelines, and makes funding decisions. Trustees of the Oversight Committee include utility representatives from We Energies, Madison Gas and Electric Company and Wisconsin Public Power Inc., and representatives from Clean Wisconsin, the Sierra Club, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation serves as our fiscal sponsor and grant administrator. This lets us avoid costs associated with establishing an independent organization. Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors provides strategic support to the Fund and houses the Fund’s staff.

Fund for Lake Michigan Staff

Vicki Elkin

Executive Director 

Under Vicki Elkin’s leadership, the Fund has invested over $35 million in 500 collaborative and innovative Lake Michigan watershed restoration projects. Previously, as Executive Director of Gathering Waters Conservancy, Vicki helped grow the state’s land trust community from a handful of mostly volunteer groups to over 50 organizations with a combined membership of 45,000 individuals and a portfolio of more than 200,000 acres of protected land. From 2006-2009, Vicki led Gathering Waters’ successful and bipartisan efforts to pass the sweeping Working Lands Initiative into law and to increase funding for Wisconsin’s nationally-recognized public lands fund, the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, to $86 million a year. Vicki was also Policy Initiatives Advisor to the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), where she led farmland preservation, renewable energy, water quality, and sustainability initiatives. Vicki holds an M.S. in Land Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. from Oberlin College in Ohio.

Casey Eggleston

Program Officer

Casey Eggleston has served as the Fund for Lake Michigan’s Program Officer since 2014, overseeing over 350 grants from Kenosha to Marinette. A native of Rio, Wisconsin, Casey has a particular fondness for conservation agriculture and projects that address nonpoint source pollution. Casey has a long history of working to protect natural resources in Wisconsin. From 2006 to 2014, he served as the Director of State Government Relations for the Nature Conservancy’s Wisconsin Chapter. During this time he played a lead role in the re-authorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, a highly successful public-private partnership that invests millions each year in the conservation of Wisconsin’s natural treasures. Prior to joining the Nature Conservancy he was a policy analyst for the Wisconsin State Senate. Casey holds an M.S. in Economics from the University of Essex (England) and a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Amber Meyer Smith

Program Officer 

Amber joined the Fund for Lake Michigan in 2021 and is responsible for the Fund’s grantmaking in urban areas – evaluating projects related to flooding, shoreline erosion, polluted runoff, green infrastructure and riverfront/waterfront revitalization. Amber will also be exp0lring opportunities for the Fund to have a greater impact in mitigating the effects of climate change in Wisconsin.

Amber has over twenty years experience working on environmental policy and projects. Prior to joining the Fund for Lake Michigan, she served for twelve years at Clean Wisconsin where she developed the organization’s direction and strategy as Vice President of Programs and Government Relations. She served on Governor Evers’ Climate Change Task Force and helped enact numerous policies to address water quality, water quantity, clean air and climate change. Amber also served as legislative liaison at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and as a policy analyst in the Wisconsin State Senate. Amber is a Fox Valley native who earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from UW-Madison.

Fund for Lake Michigan Trustees

                  Rebecca Fedak, Lake Michigan Team Supervisor, Office of Great Waters, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

                  Emily Green, Sierra Club

                  Tom Hanrahan, General Counsel, WPPI Energy

                  Jeff Jaeckles, Director – Safety and Environmental Affairs, Madison Gas and Electric

                  David Lee, Director – Water Quality, Environmental Department, WEC Energy Group – Business Services

                  Mark Redsten, Executive Director, Clean Wisconsin