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Julia Roberts becomes second executive director in WAVE history

Western-Washtenaw Area Value Express (WAVE) welcomed a new executive director on Monday, Sept 14.

After being at the helm of WAVE since its inception, Michaelene Pawlak plans to retire on Oct. 30 and is helping with the transition of Julia Roberts as the second director in the transportation provider’s history.

Roberts previously worked for TheRide, also known as the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. She has a 10-year history leading in the local nonprofit and transit sector and has a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from University of Michigan.

“Her leadership specialization is within public transport grants management, shared mobility innovation, and industry civil rights alongside procedural policy for regulations in this field,” according to a press release from WAVE about her hiring.

Courtesy photo.

“We are very lucky to have been able to land a new Executive Director of Julia’s caliber,” said Jim Carson president of the WAVE Board of Directors. “We were concerned when we entered the search process, mostly because of Covid19, of what we may encounter along the way.  We soon discovered that because of the amazing position that Michaelene Pawlak raised us to — in relation to other small public transit agencies — a candidate like Julia would be interested in taking over this position.”

According to WAVE’s mission statement: Western-Washtenaw Area Value Express (WAVE) is a non-profit service organization that exists to provide affordable transportation to older adults, persons with disabilities, and other transit-dependent individuals in western Washtenaw County.

Among the transportation programs that WAVE offers:

  • A door-to-door bus program for Chelsea area travelers
  • A door-to-door bus program for Dexter School District travelers
  • An interurban express route called the Community Connector which links Chelsea with Dexter and Ann Arbor
  • An interurban express route along the Jackson Road corridor
  • The LifeLine Community Van program that provides rides to western Washtenaw County traveler to locations anywhere within the county
  • Group trips for MDOT approved groups
  • A free Chelsea business district shuttle

“Julia will lead the WAVE team and be responsible for supporting our board of directors in guiding affordable community transportation services,” according to the press release, she will serve as the main public contact and spokesperson for the organization.

Roberts has lived in the area for 15 years and enjoys biking on the border-to-border trail, reading a variety of books, and traveling in uniquely different places when it is safe to do so, the press release states.

In her spare time, she volunteers with young adults who have experienced foster care and homelessness, the press release states.

For more information about WAVE, please click here.


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