Shirkey announces additional senior staff

LANSING—Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, today announced additional members of his senior staff.

“Our caucus has benefited from the expertise and knowledge of many experienced staff over the years. Retaining experienced staff brings the benefit of institutional knowledge and continuity for our new caucus,” said Shirkey. “We are pleased to bring new faces to the office and retain experienced senior staff. We are drawing on their strengths to continue to help us serve the citizens of Michigan.”

Darin Ackerman will serve as Senior Advisor and Director of Intragovernmental Affairs to the majority leader. Ackerman has over two decades of legislative and political experience in state government, most recently serving as former Governor Snyder’s Director of Legislative Affairs.

Ackerman was hired in 1995 as a legislative aide in the Michigan House of Representatives, first to Rep. Harold Voorhees and then Rep. Wayne Kuipers. Ackerman became Kuipers’ chief of staff in the senate in 2002, a position he held for the entirety of the senator’s eight years in office.

In 2011, then-Governor Rick Snyder appointed Ackerman as Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs where he served as chief liaison to the Senate for six years before being promoted to Director of Legislative Affairs in February of 2017.

Ackerman was born and raised in Wyoming, Michigan, and earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Calvin College. He currently resides in Mason with his wife Kara, and newborn son, Brayden.

Scott Hughes will remain in the majority leader’s office as General Counsel and Director of Strategic Affairs. Hughes came to the Senate from the private sector in 2015 and has been the lead senior staff person on major policy initiatives ranging from the reorganization of Detroit Public Schools to the reform of the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System and more.

Hughes was formerly with Mika Meyers PLC in Grand Rapids. He graduated top of his class from Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 2011 and is a member of the State Bar of Michigan. Hughes is also a graduate of Michigan State University.

Hughes is a former member of the Grand Rapids Economic Development Foundation and was appointed by former Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof to the 21st Century Education Commission.

Hughes resides in Byron Center with his wife Staci and their three children.

Dan Dundas will be Senate Majority Policy Director. Dundas has been on staff in the legislature for over 15 years working for legislators and caucuses. He was previously Deputy Policy Director for the Senate Majority Policy Office and the lead caucus staff person for Energy and Technology, Human Services, and Oversight issues.

Dundas is a graduate of Michigan State University and Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Juris Doctor and is a member of the State Bar of Michigan. Dundas was appointed in 2018 to serve on Governor Snyder’s Michigan Consortium on Advanced Networks, which was tasked with creating a roadmap to help strengthen statewide broadband access and connectivity.

A native of Lexington and Sterling Heights, Dan currently resides in Lansing.

Heading up the Senate Majority Communications Office will be newly appointed Director, Matt Sweeney. Sweeney served as Senate Majority Policy Director under former Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof.

Sweeney has held various positions in state government and the private sector. Sweeney was Legislative Liaison for the Department of Management, Technology and Budget and was a legislative staffer in both the House and Senate from 1999 to 2010. Following his time on staff in the legislature, Sweeney joined Beaumont Health as Director of Government Relations from 2012 to 2015.

In 2017, Sweeney was appointed by the senate majority leader to the Building the 21st Century Economy Commission charged with developing a comprehensive vision for Michigan’s economic future.

Sweeney is a graduate of Michigan State University. He resides in DeWitt with his wife, Evie, and their two children.

Jennifer Merchant will continue in her position as Legislative Director. Merchant has spent the last four years in legislative leadership offices in the Michigan House and Senate. Prior to that, she worked with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as well as in the office of State Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons.

Merchant graduated with honors from James Madison College at Michigan State University.

In her spare time, Jennifer is a highly decorated equestrian rider with a World Championship from the American Paint Horse Association and an avid lover of Michigan’s outdoors. She and her husband live in Lowell, Michigan and have four children, including their youngest child, Tatum, born in August.

Amber McCann will remain in the majority leader’s office as press secretary. McCann has been on staff in the majority leader’s office since 2006. McCann is a graduate of Western Michigan University and Oakland University. She resides in Troy with her two children, Adelaide and Briggs.