Tom Watkins

Tom Watkins

Tom Watkins was deputy chief of staff to Gov. Jim Blanchard, director of Department of Mental Health and State Superintendent of Schools. He has also been president and CEO of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, Florida and is considered an expert on China.


Column: COVID-19 has closed schools. We’re not ready for online learning.

By: - March 18, 2020

Schools and universities are closing around the globe, the country and here in Michigan because of COVID-19. With actors Tom Hanks and Idris Alba being diagnosed with coronavirus and collegiate and professional sports being shut down in an attempt to contain the virus, people across the country are beginning to pay more attention, as the […]


Column: Michigan needs a ‘rural ombudsman’

By: and - April 17, 2019

Michigan’s official state motto is: “Si Quæris Peninsulam Amœnam Circumspice,” or, “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.” Michigan is a large state composed of great and struggling cities, sprawling suburbs and our often-forgotten rural communities. We are asking our new governor, Gretchen Whitmer, who visited all 83 counties during her campaign, to […]


Tom Watkins: Caro psychiatric hospital may be good politics, but it’s bad policy

By: - March 31, 2019

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is reconsidering the expansion of a state-run adult psychiatric hospital in Caro in Michigan’s Thumb. This is a wise decision. The decision to build these psychiatric beds in a Republican area by a Republican former governor, Rick Snyder, and a Republican-led Legislature was a good one — if the end game was […]


Tom Watkins: ‘Our Muslim Neighbors’ teaches us about humanity

By: - March 3, 2019

I knew Victor Ghalib Begg through various civic and public boards where we crossed paths over the years. On Sept. 11, 2001, we were together at a Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC) strategic planning retreat. Victor was sitting between Michigan’s then-first lady, Michelle Engler, and myself. At the time, I was Michigan’s state superintendent of […]


Tom Watkins: We must end mental health stigma to stop suicide

By: - February 15, 2019

The news hit me hard. There was another apparent suicide and my heart sank. I did not know Travis Weber well; in fact, I believe I only met him once briefly. That did not stop the tears from flowing when I heard the news. Travis Weber served as former Gov. Rick Snyder’s legal counsel and […]


Tom Watkins: Whitmer needs to prepare Michigan for the AI revolution

By: - January 9, 2019

Michigan’s new governor, Gretchen Whitmer, is smart, politically savvy and knowledgeable. She also has 10 million constituents to serve — many who want advise her about something they want or don’t want state government to accomplish. Voters expect her to address the problems that impact them today. Whitmer’s responsibility is to both anticipate these issues […]