Michigan Women’s Spotlight: Remembering Connie Binsfeld

Womens History - Connie BinsfeldDid you know that Connie Binsfeld was the first woman in Michigan to hold leadership posts in Michigan’s House, Senate and Executive Branch?

Born in 1924 in Munising, Michigan, Connie Binsfeld had an extraordinary career serving the state of Michigan in many different posts. After graduating from Siena Heights College, she married and settled with her family near Detroit, where she taught high school history and government. Soon after relocating with her family to Leelanau County, she headed a citizens’ council to assist in planning the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore. This was the beginning of a long career in public service.

Binsfeld was elected in 1974 to the Michigan House of Representatives, where she would serve four terms. She would go on to serve two terms in the Michigan Senate. During her time in the Legislature, she was known for tackling domestic violence and standing up for the environment.

During the 1990 election cycle, Senate Majority Leader and Republican gubernatorial candidate John Engler selected Binsfeld as his running mate. She would become Michigan’s 60th lieutenant governor in 1991. During her two terms as lieutenant governor, Binsfeld headed the Binsfeld Children’s Commission, which investigated issues related to adoption and the child welfare system. Her work on the commission resulted in 197 reforms and 20 laws relating to policy recommendations.

She earned many honors throughout her career, including Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters from Notre Dame, Northern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and other prestigious institutions of higher learning. In 1998, she was named to the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. Of all her accolades, she was most proud to be selected as Michigan Mother of the Year in 1977.

Binsfeld passed away on Jan. 12, 2014 in Glen Lake, Michigan. The positive effects of her long career in public service are still felt today throughout Michigan. From protecting the Sleeping Bear Dunes to fighting domestic violence, Connie Binsfeld left a positive mark on the state she served for generations to come.