A love of service and for Grand Lake has led Grove's Mike Lewandowski to accept Gov. Mary Fallin's appointment to the Grand River Dam Authority's Board of Directors.

Fallin made the appointment as Grove businessman Ed Townsend was ending his five year tenure on the board of directors earlier this month. 

Lewandowski will serve a five-year term effective Aug. 30, and ending Aug. 29, 2023. He will serve as an at-large member on board. No Senate confirmation is required.

In making the appointment, Fallin said Lewandowski's experience was key to her decision.

“Mike Lewandowski is a successful businessman who has always been engaged in his community,” said Fallin. “He will make an excellent and engaged board member at the GRDA.”

Lewandowski said Townsend encouraged him to consider the position.

"I love [the area]," Lewandowski said. "It's a great community and I have a passion about the lake and the environment."

Lewandowski said in the last 30 years, he's had an opportunity to watch members of the GRDA team as they've worked on a variety of issues surrounding wildlife and fishery management. 

“I admire the work that GRDA has done in the past with staff members and administration,” Lewandowski said. “They have displayed respect not only for the environment, but also for the people who live and work in this area we call home.”

Lewandowski said the opportunity for service came at the right time. He sold his four McDonalds franchises in 2017.

"When I retired, I made a commitment to myself and my wife [Julie] to take a year and enjoy life," Lewandowski said. "And that's what we've been doing."

Lewandowski said the couple has spent much of the last 12 months spending time around Grand Lake, as well as enjoying their new grandson.

Lewandowski said he loves all of the outdoor activities available to people living within the region.

"I not only love lake related things, but I also love to hunt and love to fish," Lewandowski said. "I love the rural environment."

Lewandowski said he loves go fishing with his son, for "whatever seems to be biting." 

"Crappie, catfish, white bass, I chase them all," Lewandowski said. 

Lewandowski, who earned a bachelor of science in wildlife management from Southwest Missouri State University [now Missouri State University], believes serving on the board will give him a chance to use all of his experiences to help enhance the work of GRDA.

He would like to see the organization's emphasis on economic development within the Grand Lake region continue, with boundaries.

"Growth for the good of the community and the people who live in it," Lewandowski qualified. "Not just growth for growth's sake."

Lewandowski said serving on the GRDA board is just one piece of his retirement. He plans to continue to enjoy his expanding family. 

More about Lewandowski

Lewandowski started working for the McDonald’s Corporation in 1980 in Neosho, Missouri as a supervisor for a licensee.

In 1986, he and his wife, Julie, became owner-operators of a McDonald’s in Grove. They owned and operated that restaurant for 31 years, as well as locations in Jay, Miami and near the I44/Highway 43 interchange, before selling the businesses in 2017.

Townsend completes service to GRDA

Ed Townsend, the founder, owner and chief executive officer of Bank of Grand Lake, was appointed to the Grand River Dam Authority Board by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin in Sept. 2013.

He served as GRDA Chairman in 2015 to 16 and throughout his tenure helped lead the board’s audit, finance, budget, policy and compliance committee.

Townsend’s leadership of GRDA took place as the organization enhanced its electric generation portfolio with additional wind generation, state-of-the-art emission controls on its Unit 2 coal generator and the construction of its new Unit 3 combined cycle gas plant.

In a written statement, GRDA President/CEO Dan Sullivan thanked Townsend for his service.

"I’ve told a lot of people that you are one the brightest people I know, with your ability to analyze issues on the fly," Sullivan said during Townsend's last meeting. "It’s truly an amazing gift and we are very appreciative of you sharing that gift with GRDA.”

GRDA Chairman Joe Vandevier echoed Sullivan’s sentiments about Townsend’s value to the board.

“Director Townsend brought a world of experience in the financial and operational areas,” said Vandevier. “We’ve really leaned on that experience and we thank him for his service.”

Did You Know?

The Grand River Dam Authority is governed by a seven-member board of directors comprised of representatives from each GRDA customer class (municipals, electric cooperatives and industrials) as well as the GRDA lakes area. Two at-large representatives also sit on the board.

Appointments are made by the Oklahoma Governor, Speaker of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives and President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma State Senate.

Two other board positions are ex-officio positions, filled by the general manager of the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) and executive director of the Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma (MESO) or by their designees.

Board members serve staggered, five-year terms, with one position opening each year, to ensure continuity.