Alumni to assume state Supreme Court justice, departmental leadership positions

The carillon is seen with red and orange leaves in the foreground.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

Two Lakers are among those who will start top state government positions in January following appointments by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Kyra Harris Bolden, '10, was appointed as the next Michigan Supreme Court justice. When Bolden takes her oath in January, she will be the first Black woman to serve on the state's high court.

And Shannon Lott, '00, will serve as acting director of the Department of Natural Resources as part of leadership changes for state departments and state agencies for Whitmer's second term. 

Bolden is an attorney who most recently served as a representative for Michigan's 35th House District. As a state House member, she also served as the assistant Democratic leader and as a member of the House Judiciary and Insurance committees.

One person stands at a podium with three people standing nearby. The American flag is in the background.
Kyra Harris Bolden, standing far left, earned a degree in psychology from Grand Valley.
Image credit - Courtesy photo

Criminal justice reform was a focus of Bolden's work in the House, Whitmer's office said. Before her election to the state House, Bolden served as a law clerk and litigator.

Bolden earned a bachelor's degree in psychology while at Grand Valley. In a recent Alumni story, Bolden praised the support she received at Grand Valley, including some fateful advice from a faculty member who suggested that Bolden, who was unsure about her career direction, attend law school. She graduated from University of Detroit Mercy Law School.

"GVSU promotes a strong sense of volunteerism and community," Bolden said in the story. "There are many organizations to get involved with that support an inclusive environment. This focus on volunteerism and community is the perfect preparation to lead in public service."

Lott's selection as acting director of the DNR comes after more than 25 years with the department, most recently as natural resources deputy, Whitmer's office said. She also has worked in the Forest Resources and Wildlife divisions.

A person smiles while posing for a posed photo.
Shannon Lott earned a degree in wildlife biology from Grand Valley.
Image credit - Courtesy photo

Other responsibilities for Lott have included leading DNR teams on issues such as renewable energy, climate change mitigation and the use of mass timber in construction. Lott also co-leads a forest bioeconomy partnership with Finland.

Lott said her time at Grand Valley provided a strong foundation for the career that followed her degree completion.

"The degree I earned in wildlife biology from GVSU prepared me to handle tough resource issues as well as complex stakeholder interactions surrounding natural resource management," Lott said. "The critical thinking skills I learned have been crucial to my success along the way to this current position. The variety of classes I was able to take and topics I was exposed to really helped me secure a well-rounded degree that has served me well."


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