DSA Bob Guenzel

Robert Guenzel
Bob Guenzel, Washtenaw County Administrator, Retired
Distinguished Service Award 
September 17, 2014

Past President Len Stenger took the podium for the Distinguished Service Award ceremony. He introduced Joe Fitzsimmons who made the following presentation: “It’s a great day to be a Rotarian and I am delighted and honored to present a Distinguished Service Award to one of our members. He joined Rotary in 2000; his sponsors were Jerry Prescott and Bob Buchanan.

He is very well respected throughout our community. He is a friend and has been and continues to be a trusted, beloved mentor for dozens and dozens of people in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County. He graduated from the University of Michigan with two degrees, one being a law degree and the other a business degree.

He became a trial attorney and being interested in politics, he almost ran for state representative but in 1973 a position as corporation counsel came up and he held that position for the next 22 years. Following that he became the Washtenaw County Administrator in 1994 and held that position until he retired in 2010. During that time he is largely credited with changing the county’s working culture to focus on and improve services to the community, and shifting the mindset to think progressively. He also focused on streamlining services, reducing redundancies, and improving accessibility to Washtenaw County’s unique resources. Soon they were winning national awards in technological innovation, environmental standards and overall efficiency. He aimed to be the best in customer transactions, while also leading discussions on how to change communities for the better. He helped county employees and programs meet their full potential. A good leader is someone who inspires the rest of the people in the organization to maximize their potential as they moved toward their goals. Despite his taste for politics he believes he’s had a positive impact driving policy through administrative means. The Washtenaw Literacy Coalition, Ann Arbor Spark and the county’s blueprint on homelessness are chief examples. The political career was of interest, but he believes you can do more being at the local level to make a significant difference. He likes to take action to make a difference and not be bureaucratic; to bring people together to solve problems and change systems for the better. He’s done that and the signature aspect of his career has been the renewal of the County’s mission to be a provider of world class public service.

His service to the community includes being active in the United Way, serving as Campaign Chair, Board President, and Advisory Committee Chair. He was co-convener of the County Task Force on Homelessness and the Blueprint to End Homelessness, including the development and construction of the Delonis Center here in Ann Arbor. In addition, his service includes Washtenaw Development Council – chair; The Ark – President of the Board; Washtenaw Housing Alliance – Chair; Washtenaw Health Plan initiative; Ann Arbor Spark – vice chair; Non-Profit Enterprise at Work; Chamber of Commerce; Success by Six; Wireless Washtenaw Initiative; Washtenaw Area Teens for Tomorrow; Literacy Coalition; and many more, all service above self.

Now that he is retired, he has more time to spend with his lovely wife, Pam. He has two daughters, one in Utah, and another in New Zealand, and three wonderful grandchildren. Please join me in welcoming BOB GUENZEL, as he receives our Rotary Distinguished Service Award.” Whereupon the plaque, pin and Paul Harris Fellow certificate were awarded to Bob who received sustained applause after thanking everyone for the honor.