(When people hear the phrase "think tank," they sometimes imagine a quiet, even sterile setting. But despite the fundamentally serious attitude of our staff, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy is, like any other workplace, rich in human events, humor and memories.

This dimension of the Center’s existence was captured perfectly by LeAnn K. Hadley, a Mackinac Center administrative assistant, in a Dec. 9 e-mail commemorating the 10th anniversary of her work at the Center. In her typically self-deprecating and colorful style, Hadley recalled some of the milestones that have formed the life of the Center during the years in which we grew from a staff of a few employees in rented office space to an establishment of 23 full-time employees in the Center’s own office building. We think that you, too, will enjoy these recollections, which LeAnn was kind enough to let us reprint below.)

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Hey guys, this is huge for me — HUGE! And while I may not be one of the thinkers or writers here, I do have some memories from over the years that I thought I might share. To keep it simple, I’ll just give you a list of some of my favorites. But I have to admit, it is intimidating for a nonwriter to write to writers. So please be kind.

In the early years

  • My first desk was an 8-foot folding table.

  • I shared one of the small rented rooms with three others.

  • This room also served as the mailroom.

  • In my first weeks here, our beloved Joe Overton decided to make me his student. He thought he could teach me supply and demand. Really early every morning, he’d take me to the white board and start frantically drawing charts and graphs and explaining how pizza shops stay in business. I tried so hard to stay focused. I think Joe was too excited about the subject matter to even notice how my eyes would glaze over. It was hilarious, just to watch him go.

Fancy Clips[1]

I can’t tell you how many hundreds of Fancy Clips I’ve made over the years. I’ve been making them for almost as long as I’ve worked here. I do feel this is one of my biggest contributions, since it is tangible work I do that thousands see, in mailings and on the Web. Each one is a creation to me, even though the words are someone else’s, because of the work that goes into making each one look just right. It isn’t always easy to make a sprawling article fit nicely on an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper.

The fire

One day I was looking for something in the furnace room, which also served as our storage closet. Smoke quickly filled the small room. Then it started pouring out everywhere. While a couple of us nervously pranced about trying to find the fire, most of the staff just casually congregated in the main hallway connecting the rented rooms to chit chat about how it smelled like there was a fire. Well, it was obvious to me we needed to get out. We couldn’t find the fire. Where was it? Finally, fire trucks came and found the source of the fire to be an adjoining neighbor’s trash can.

In the news

A full color photo of me working appeared on the front page of the Midland Daily News. No one at the time could recall any previous Mackinac Center for Public Policy mentions that were on the front cover with a color photo, so that seemed pretty special to me.

The new building

Since it was my idea for the staff to go watch the crews start working on the exterior brick of the new building, I got to be the first staff member to take a crack at it with a sledge hammer. It really surprised people, including me, that I actually took a chunk out.

Lasting impressions

  • I don’t think there is any other group on the planet that puts as much effort into celebrating Independence Day. We are true lovers of freedom.

  • I felt truly blessed to have had the chance to sing a couple times for the staff. See, I may not be very smart, but how many of you can sing? :o)

  • I was here when the victory came down in the MEA lawsuit.

  • I’ve had the pleasure of hearing some really great speeches, from Larry and Burt Folsom and others.

  • I never could have imagined getting to shake the hands of a governor (Gov. John Engler), a presidential candidate (Steve Forbes) and a prime minister. I've met lots of really neat political and media people.

  • I’ve been witness to the effect the Center’s ideas have had over these 10 years.

  • Of course, I've also enjoyed the opportunity to work with such incredibly smart folks here at the Center. I have learned so much.

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LeAnn K. Hadley is an administrative assistant for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.



[1] The news clippings sent to our friends and donors in mailings are often remastered versions of the originals, with the margins resized to fit 8 1/2 by 11 paper, and with publication flaws, such as inkblots, carefully removed. We call these "Fancy Clips."