Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroiter Magazine > Leadership Profiles: Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids)

Leadership Profiles: Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids)

April 12, 2023 John Gallagher

John Gallagher | Author

The History-Making Senate Majority Leader From Grand Rapids

Winnie Brinks, a Democrat, is the Senate Majority Leader, the first woman to ever hold this position in the Michigan Senate. She is also the first woman to represent Grand Rapids in the Michigan Senate since Eva McCall Hamilton was elected in 1920.

Brinks graduated from Calvin College with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a concentration in sociology. She and her husband Steve, a Spanish teacher, live in Grand Rapids and are the parents of three daughters, Olivia, Annalise, and Emma.

Before being elected to the state House, where she served two terms, Brinks was a caseworker at The Source, an organization helping businesses and nonprofits improve workplaces and retain employees. She also worked as the director of a community-based corrections agency and as a school paraprofessional.

In addition to protecting Michigan’s clean water, her policy passions include improving equity in maternal health care, reproductive rights, reducing prescription drug costs, and helping uplift local communities and organizations.

“Our biggest challenges are our biggest opportunities.”

What is the biggest challenge facing Michigan?

We’re entering this year in a strong position and we intend to seize this opportunity to move Michigan forward. Our biggest challenges are our biggest opportunities and we’re laser-focused on how we connect more people with tools for success. That’s why in our very first days of session we passed bills to expand the Working Families Tax Credit and repeal the unfair retirement tax on seniors.

What is your top priority for this legislative session?

There’s lots to tackle and lots of opportunity in front of us. My top priority is setting a standard of honest, hardworking public service right from the start. Our constituents are counting on us to be partners in solving the problems they face every day and we’re already off and running. Democrats have passed bills to expand rights and keep more money in families’ and retirees’ pockets, and we’re going to keep moving forward with our deliberate agenda centered on the people of Michigan.

What is the key to accelerating economic growth in Michigan?

We have to be ready to meet the moment. That means making sure people have access to the education and skills training necessary to fill in-demand jobs, our infrastructure is shored up and able to support growing industries, and making sure small businesses have resources at their fingertips to open a storefront or expand their services. There’s no one policy but rather a host of bills that we can pass in concert with one another to make Michigan prepared for the economic demands of tomorrow.