December 16, 2014 [DETROIT] - One of the key factors in the ongoing success the Conservancy has enjoyed over the last 10 years is the strength of its Board of Directors, representing a diverse mix of business, community and public sector leaders from throughout Metro Detroit.  This quarter, we are featuring Board members Penny Bailer and Kathy Wendler.


 As a 39-year resident of the Lafayette Park neighborhood and a founding Board member of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, Penny Bailer remembers when the Detroit riverfront was not a very welcoming place to visit.  Now, she absolutely revels in the success of the riverfront’s ongoing transformation.

“Our riverfront is such a source of pride for me,” Bailer said.  “The best part about this project is that we aren’t done, yet.  There’s still much more to come.  It’s an exciting time.”

Bailer, a co-chair of the Riviere 28 committee who also served on the Annual Campaign Committee, is keenly aware of the importance the riverfront plays in the way people think about Detroit.   “Our riverfront makes a grand statement about who we are and where we are going as a city,” said Bailer.  “People don’t use this word quite enough when referring to the City of Detroit, and they should, but the riverfront really is quite ‘elegant.’”

Bailer is known by her colleagues for the incredible amount of enthusiasm she brings to the Conservancy Board.  She says that level of enthusiasm is a direct result of her belief in the riverfront transformation project and what it is doing for the city she loves.  “I come to Board meetings and I just can’t stop smiling.  It’s been that way for me since my very first Board meeting more than a decade ago,” she said.  “This project is transforming the city.  It’s quite an honor to play a role in something that is having such a profound effect on the city I love.  I am fortunate to have that opportunity.”

A woman of many passions, Bailer says improving the lives of children and contributing to the revitalization of Detroit are very important to her.  As executive director of City Year, she has made a difference in the lives of thousands of school-age Detroiters.   As she prepares to retire at the end of the month, she is eager to dedicate even more time to helping the city she loves with a run at winning the vacant seat on the Detroit City Council.

Despite what promises to be a busy year in 2015 with her many commitments throughout the community, Bailer looks forward to another memorable year working on a riverfront project that she says is “helping redefine the great City of Detroit and improving the quality of life for its residents.”



Kathy Wendler is a born and bred Detroiter and self-professed “City Girl” who gains a lot of inspiration from the city, including its neighborhoods, cultural opportunities and especially from the people who call Detroit home. 

She has plenty of spots throughout the city that she loves to frequent, but the riverfront is one of her favorites.  “The riverfront is one of the truly special places we have in Detroit,” says Wendler.  “There is just something about the water that draws you in.  It can be calming and peaceful, but at the same time, it has this incredible energy that just makes people feel good.”

During her 10 years as a Conservancy Board member, Wendler has visited the riverfront countless times.  Her favorite locations to visit change as the riverfront evolves, but right now she is
enamored with the view from the hill at Milliken State Park and Harbor. “The vantage point looking east and west along the waterfront really is incredible,” she said.

As the president of the Southwest Detroit Business Association, Wendler was especially excited about this past summer’s opening of the West RiverWalk.  “Many people throughout the southwest Detroit community are looking forward to the westward expansion of the riverfront,” said Wendler.  “Someday hopefully soon, we will see families from throughout the southwest Detroit community enjoying beautiful afternoons along the west

Wendler is proud of her work with the Conservancy and finds it very fulfilling.  She brings many strengths to the table, including passion, dedication and energy.  Wendler feels that perhaps her biggest strength is the long-term relationships she maintains with residents and business leaders from throughout the community, especially those in southwest Detroit. 

“Our riverfront serves as a draw for people to not only live and work in the City of Detroit, but also to visit it as well,” says Wendler.  “The riverfront is uniquely ours and it is a wonderful connector for neighborhoods throughout the city.  I will never tire of being an advocate for what I feel is a tremendous asset for our community.”