LEGAL AID APPOINTS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
After serving as Interim Director since November 2013, Juan Salazar has been appointed as Executive Director of Legal Aid of Western Michigan.
JUAN SALAZAR APPOINTED DIRECTOR OF LEGAL AID OF WESTERN MICHIGAN
The appointment of Juan Salazar as the Director of Legal Aid of Western Michigan was announced this morning by Board President Paul Vlachos. Salazar had served as Interim Director since November 2013, following the death of long-time executive director, Michael C. Chielens.
Legal Aid provides legal assistance in civil matters to low income persons and Seniors in 17 counties in southwestern Michigan. Making the announcement, Vlachos stated, “Mike Chielens left big shoes to fill. Legal Aid has a budget of $4 million with nearly 50 staff in 6 offices. For the last ten months Juan has stepped up and not only kept the wheels turning but moved the program forward.”
Salazar echoed that sentiment, “Successes for our clients at Legal Aid are a team effort. It takes everyone working together and moving forward. I see my role as making sure that happens.”
Salazar is a 1977 graduate of Central Michigan University and joined the staff of Legal Aid in 1980 as paralegal handling mainly Social Security Disability matters. While at Legal Aid, he has provided leadership in the community serving on the boards of Catholic Charities of West Michigan, RAVE (Relief After Violent Encounters), Kent County ARC, Citizens for Better Care, Michigan League for Human Services, and FSU Legal Studies program. In 2007 he was awarded the Liberty Bell award by the Grand Rapids Bar Association. This annual award is made to a non-lawyer who has contributed to the Justice system by volunteer activities in the community. He has also been active in the Legal Aid community serving on the boards of state and regional organizations such as the Committee on Regional Training and the Michigan Poverty Law Program.
The choice of Salazar was greeted positively by staff. Deputy Director Mary Ellen Drolet supported the decision wholeheartedly, “Juan has been doing a good job and I think that it is a positive thing for the program and the community to know that this is who is in charge for the long haul.”
Vlachos echoed that saying, “We could have taken more time to but Juan has proven himself as leader of the program and we, as a Board, felt that making this appointment permanent is the right thing to do.”