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Sandra Svoboda

Sandra Svoboda

Great Lakes Now Program Director

The Great Lakes region has always been home for Great Lakes Now Program Director Sandra Svoboda. Born in Chicago, college educated at Indiana University, and spending nearly her entire professional career in Michigan and Ohio, she’s traveled between Minnesota and Tadoussac, Quebec, both on the water and on land.

Sandra has been in the storm sewers of Duluth, hiked Isle Royale, watched freighters squeeze through the Soo locks, anchored in Door County harbors, motored on the flow-reversed Chicago River, relaxed in Georgian Bay, chronicled Detroit’s waterfront revitalization, kayaked the Maumee River as it empties into Lake Erie, guided a sailboat through the Welland Canal, toured Niagara Falls, cruised the Thousand Islands, docked in Old Montreal, and photographed whales in the St. Lawrence River. A competitive sailor, she sails hundreds of miles each season on the Great Lakes, including on Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River, and once threw out a pitch at a Detroit Tigers game as recognition of her win with her team at the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship. She’s also eaten Asian carp as part of her coverage of invasive species.

Her journalistic print, digital, broadcast, and community engagement work has won awards from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, Michigan Press Association, State Bar of Michigan, Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and Society of Professional Journalists-metro Detroit chapter, and in 2018 the University of Michigan-Dearborn named her “Mentor of the Year.” For her work covering Detroit’s bankruptcy at WDET-FM, Detroit public radio, she received numerous awards including the Distinguished Alumni of the Year from Wayne State University’s public administration program. She has had multiple fellowships from the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources and the Ravitch Fiscal Reporting Program at City University of New York. After a stint with FEMA where she supported disaster response and community redevelopment in Louisiana, she is keenly interested in how local governments can create sustainable, resilient communities in the Great Lakes Basin.

Sandra also teaches American Government at Wayne State University and strategic communication in the graduate public administration program at University of Michigan-Dearborn. She earned a bachelor’s in journalism from Indiana University and holds two master’s degrees from Wayne State, one in public administration and one in library and information science where she has been recognized for her research and writing.

She lives with her husband and too many rescue animals in metro Detroit just in earshot of freighters at the head of the Detroit River. Find her bicycling (road and mountain, but mostly road), shopping local farmers’ markets, browsing museums, and hiking Midwestern trails when she’s not on the water or working.

Sandra Svoboda's Recent Posts

The Suckers: Great Lakes’ “best supporting fishes” are important to the food web
- by Sandra Svoboda

Karen Murchie, director of freshwater research at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, talked all about suckers and what they mean for the Great Lakes in this Q&A with GLN Host Ward Detwiler.

Birds on Film: Filmmaker Bob Dolgan talks about Chicago’s piping plovers with Great Lakes Now
- by Sandra Svoboda

“The goal of the film was to show how people and birds can interact and co-exist,” Dolgan says in this GLN interview.

Anniversary Approaches: Celebrating Great Lakes Now’s monthly show as it nears its two-year mark
- by Sandra Svoboda

A two-year anniversary isn’t usually marked as a momentous occasion. But since half of our monthly shows have been produced in a global pandemic, the GLN team is looking back – and forward. Join us!

Triple Threat: GLN Show, Website and Facebook Events all honored with media awards
- by Sandra Svoboda

Great Lakes Now content and engagement work was honored in two statewide contests.