Great Lakes Washington Program


Created to further the restoration and revitalization of the region, the Great Lakes Washington Program (GLWP) improves the Great Lakes ecosystem and economy through its relationship with the bipartisan U.S. Senate and House Great Lakes Task Forces of the Northeast-Midwest Coalitions, as well as its outreach and interaction with state, provincial, and federal agencies, experts, and stakeholders. By conducting and providing non-partisan federal policy research and background, and tracking legislation, the GLWP serves as a trusted source for the region on Great Lakes issues.

The Great Lakes are a world-class fresh-water resource shared by multiple nations, states, provinces, tribes, and local jurisdictions. At the U.S. federal level alone, 16 senators, 52 representatives, and more than 15 agencies hold sway over Great Lakes management decisions. The GLWP serves as an invaluable resource for all of these agencies, stakeholders, and constituents.

Key Goals

  • Inform and support federal efforts–including oversight, funding, and authorization of programs–to help achieve Great Lakes protection and restoration objectives;
  • Raise awareness and inform Congressional offices and Administration officials about Great Lakes and critical federal programs relevant to the Great Lakes; and
  • Build and cultivate bipartisan and bicameral collaboration and communication to create a state of readiness within the GLTFs to act effectively on behalf of the Great Lakes.

Key Activities

  • Providing research and policy analysis to policy-makers upon request;
  • Identifying and developing areas of collaboration for the bipartisan Great Lakes Task Forces (GLTF) and delegations;
  • Supporting the membership of the Great Lakes Task Forces with information and contacts within the region;
  • Keeping regional leaders and stakeholders aware of advances in policy and opportunities to weigh in on policy development; and
  • Serve as a trusted resource for Great Lakes Congressional offices on sensitive policy questions.

Recent News



The economic and environmental health of the Great Lakes region has an immense impact on the success of the nation at large. The GLWP program works to educate Congress on the importance of the region, and provides support for the need to continue or expand federal funding for key programs which benefit the region. Tracking the ebb and flow of federal funds to the region, facilitating the writing and distribution of appropriations letters to advance the region, and providing appropriations fact-sheets to aid congressional offices all serve to communicate the importance of Great Lakes federal funding, not just for the region but for the entire nation.

Water Quality

The abundance of safe, clean water is essential to the health and prosperity of the millions who inhabit the Great Lakes basin. Water quality crises in Flint, Michigan and Sebring, Ohio have demonstrated the challenge of overhauling drinking water infrastructure in the aging cities of the region and the immense cost to the health of those without access to lead and copper-free water. Harmful algal blooms–such as those suffered by Toledo, Ohio in 2014 and 2015–also pose a grave risk to safe drinking water, fisheries, and tourism. The GLWP works closely with the Northeast-Midwest Institute’s Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program to monitor risks to water quality and provide recommendations for regulatory bodies and legislators.

Invasive Species Control

Invasive species such as Asian Carp, Zebra Mussels, and the Spiny Water Flea adversely affect the environmental health and economic output of the Great Lakes region. Research and methods preventing the introduction of invasive species and eliminating established invaders is critical to containing the damage done to the region. The GLWP relays the latest breakthroughs and successes in these efforts to Congress, helping to further funds for research into invasive species and projects which stymie their spread.

Water Infrastructure and Transportation

Sturdy and well-maintained networks of dams, bridges, locks, and fish barriers are essential to keeping the region a focal point of maritime trade. The GLWP works to communicate the importance of trade in the region to the nation’s economy in order to secure funds to maintain, improve, and expand infrastructure throughout the Great Lakes.

Environmental Restoration and Cleanup

The Great Lakes are the center of an enormously beneficial network of maritime trade and agricultural interests, however these virtues need to be balanced with funding to research and prevent damage to the environment. The dumping of toxic chemicals into Great Lake waterways, agricultural run-off, and the destruction of essential wetlands ecosystems are all to the detriment of the region’s economic and environmental vibrancy. The GLWP is committed to studying effective programs to conserve and restore Great Lakes environments and to expand funding for these programs at the federal level–the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative being a highly successful example.


Briefings, Updates, Webinars

The GLWP partners with fellow advocacy groups, government agencies and task forces, and stakeholder organizations to make these briefings comprehensive and useful to all perspectives. GLWP collaborates with its many congressional contacts to secure reservations of Capitol Hill briefings rooms in order to make the briefings convenient and accessible to congressional staff looking to learn more about Great Lakes issues and connect with GLWP’s network of Great Lakes experts. Below is a list of briefings, updates, and webinars organized since 2015.

Reports (2013 – Present)

Supporting the Great Lakes Task Forces

The GLWP serves the House and Senate Great Lakes Task Forces in an advisory capacity by organizing meetings and policy education events, and providing timely research and analysis. For more information about the Great Lakes Task Forces missions, members, and leadership, click here.

Appropriations Tracking

Throughout the federal budget process, the GLWP creates fact sheets for regional stakeholders and congressional staff that can be found here. The GLWP also tracks changing funding levels for federal programs critical to the Great Lakes, which can be found here.

Convening Great Lakes Advocates, Stakeholders, and Lawmakers

The GLWP hosts several annual events that allow Great Lakes advocates, stakeholders, and lawmakers to be briefed on current policy issues, to extend their networks, and to exchange ideas on legislative priorities and strategy. Such events include:

  • The Great Lakes Environmental Summit
    The Great Lakes Environmental Summit is an opportunity for  Congressmen and lead committee staffers to address stakeholders regarding their legislative priorities in an off-the-record environment. Details of 2017’s Summit can be found here.
  • The Great Lakes Day Breakfast Reception
    Hosted on Great Lakes Day on Capitol Hill, the Breakfast Reception allows stakeholders from all over the region to gather and connect over breakfast while listening to remarks from Great Lakes lawmakers. The breakfast kicks off a full day of private meeting with lawmakers in their individual offices in honor of Great Lakes Day. Details of 2017’s Breakfast Reception can be found here.
  • The NEMWI’s Capitol Hill Reception for the Region
    Hosted on Capitol Hill, the Reception celebrates the work of the region’s many stakeholders and lawmakers. The Reception is an opportunity for stakeholders from all over the region to convene on Capitol Hill and connect with congressional staff. Attendees also have the pleasure of hearing remarks from the Northeast-Midwest Coalition’s leaders. Details of 2017’s Capitol Hill Reception can be found here.

The Weekly Update

The GLWP circulates a weekly newsletter, the Weekly Update, to almost 5,000 recipients including stakeholders and congressional staff. The newsletter includes a brief summary of policy happenings around Washington, DC that affect the Great Lakes region. An archive of current and past editions of the newsletter can be found here.


Policy Education

  • The GLWP has hosted sixteen policy education briefings, updates, and webinars on Capitol Hill since 2015 on diverse topics ranging from Asian Carp to nutrient trading to urban blight. Briefings provide Hill staff with important insights and research on upcoming and ongoing issues. They also provide regional leaders and stakeholders with an opportunity to make a direct link to Hill staff. The prospect of interacting directly with multiple policy-makers is a prime opportunity for a federal agency, a state or local office, or a non-governmental group. Given the often diverse portfolio of issues a staffer must address, the GLWP’s regular briefings provide a continual reminder of Great Lakes issues and needs.
  • The GLWP is a key contributor to the Northeast-Midwest Institute’s Notes to the Coalitions. These informational briefs on key issues of federal policy are directed toward the membership of the Northeast-Midwest House and Senate Coalitions, but also appeal to a broad regional audience of civil servants, NGO and corporate leaders, and elected officials. Most recently, the GLWP released a Note on the implications of VIDA for the Great Lakes.

Stakeholder and Congressional Outreach

  • The GLWP has regular meetings and correspondence with the Great Lakes Task Forces’ staff. The GLWP helps organize a monthly meeting between all four House-Chair offices to coordinate the Task Force’s efforts.
  • The GLWP works to bridge the gap between between Congressional staff and the Great Lakes region by maintaining a directory of major stakeholder groups and government agencies operating in the Great Lakes basin.
  • Convenes hundreds of stakeholders, government officials, and congressional staff every year through summits, receptions, and policy education briefings.
  • Weekly outreach to almost 5000 Great Lakes stakeholders, civil servants, and congressional staff through the Weekly Update newsletter since February of 2013. An archive of all Weekly Updates can be found here.


  • The GLWP has helped spearhead the  Great Lakes Task Forces’ letters to the Administration and to Congressional appropriators and authorizers in support of key regional programs. This support has resulted in programs such as the GLRI receiving funds at levels above the President’s budget request.
  • The GLWP has provided congressional staff with in-depth analysis of the President’s budget and the appropriations process so that both Task Forces and the Great Lakes delegations know where continued support is needed throughout the budget process.
  • The GLWP works closely with both the House and Senate Great Lakes Task Forces to make sure that federal programs critical of the Great Lakes receive the appropriate funding levels.
  • The GLWP provided an in-depth report on all the individual appropriations bills that contain annual funding for federal Great Lakes programs and provided Congressional Task Force offices and analysis of the Great Lakes provisions that were contained in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act that was passed at the end of 2016.


  • The GLWP has played and continues to play a pivotal role in connecting regional groups with federal policymakers to express the importance of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). In 2016, the full House approved a GLRI bill by a voice vote that not only authorizes GLRI for five years, but also includes language that creates a harmful algal bloom coordinator within the GLRI. This language included in the House GLRI bill reflects policy recommendations made by the NEMWI in its Lake Erie water monitoring study.
  • The GLWP took the lead in monitoring and tracking states’ efforts to pass legislation banning the use of microbeads in cosmetic products. As various states have moved forward with legislative proposals, Congress has taken notice, and at the end of 2015 passed a federal ban on microbeads that was signed into law by President Obama.
  • The GLWP has worked closely with Great Lakes congressional offices in crafting a federal response to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan and other Great Lakes communities. The GLWP has collaborated with NEMWI’s Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program to provide congressional offices timely water quality research, policy analysis, and policy education.

Participating in Regional Discussions

  • The GLWP worked with the USGS’s Great Lakes Science Center to provide a lawmaker with a tour of the USGS’s research vessel, the Sturgeon, at the Navy Pier in Chicago on August 18, 2016.
  • The GLWP organized a tour led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Chicago District of both the Brandon Road Lock and Dam and the Elective Dispersal Fish Barrier in the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) for Congressional staff and stakeholders on August 19, 2016.
  • The GLWP served on a panel during the Great Lake Observing System’s (GLOS) Annual meeting in Maumee Bay, Ohio entitled “a compelling case for sustained observing and data sharing” held on October 12, 2016.
  • The GLWP presented a legislative update on the Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) at the Great Lake Commission’s Ballast Water Workshop in Detroit, Michigan on November 16, 2016.
  • The GLWP also frequently participates in regional discussions hosted by fellow Great Lakes organizations, such as:
    • The Chicago Area Water System Advisory Committee
    • Maritime Task Force and Advisory Committee
    • The Great Lakes Legislative Caucus
    • The Great Lakes Commission
    • The Alliance for the Great Lakes
    • The Great Lakes-St Lawrence Cities Initiative.


Integral to the GLWP’s mission is a commitment to working alongside the region’s many stakeholders and advocacy groups to promote partnership, networking, and the sharing of research and analysis. Additionally, the GLWP works hard to maintain contacts with institutions and agencies across all levels of government, and bring them together with stakeholders to develop collaboration on legislative priorities, agendas, and messaging. The GLWP’s many valued partners in the region include:

  • Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
  • Council of Great Lakes Governors
  • Great Lakes Commission
  • Great Lakes Fishery Commission
  • Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition
  • Agencies within each of the 8 Great Lakes states
  • Alliance for the Great Lakes
  • Freshwater Future
  • Council of Great Lakes Industries
  • Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition
  • Lake Carriers Association
  • American Great Lakes Ports Association
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Federal Agencies:
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
    • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    • U.S. Geological Survey
    • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    • U.S. Department of Transportation – Maritime Administration; St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation
    • International Joint Commission
    • Ohio State University
    • University of Michigan
    • University of Toledo
    • Michigan Technological University
    • Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute
    • National and State Sea Grant Programs


The Joyce Foundation

The GLWP is proud to be supported by The Joyce Foundation, and works towards fulfilling their mission to advance policies which protect, restore, and conserve the natural resources of the Great Lakes region and protect the health of those millions which depend on them. By working with The Joyce Foundation’s network of highly effective advocacy and stakeholder groups, the GLWP helps the region speak to Congress with a single, well-informed message regarding the importance the Great Lakes and the cleanliness of its resources.

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

The GLWP is a proud to be supported by The Mott Foundation, and works towards its core values of securing clean, sustainable water for people of the Great Lakes basin; as well as advancing the basin’s resilience against the impacts of climate change. Working in conjunction with the NEMWI’s Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program, the GLWP also works to advance The Mott Foundation’s goal of tackling the Flint Water Crisis and protecting other populations living in areas of aging water infrastructure.


Matt McKenna — Director

Matthew McKenna is the Director of the Great Lakes Washington Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.  In his capacity, Matthew focuses on policy education and outreach on issues regarding the health of the Great Lakes and their surrounding communities.  He works closely with Congressional offices and administrative agencies on Great Lakes protection and restoration initiatives that are aimed at providing economic sustainability throughout the region.

Before coming to the Northeast-Midwest Institute, Matthew served as a Government Policy Specialist in the government relations shop of a large, Midwest-based law firm, where he focused on legislative and regulatory analysis and Congressional and administrative outreach.  He also served as a legislative aide in the New York Congressional delegation.

Matthew received a Bachelor of Arts degree from The George Washington University, where he majored in Political Science and minored in Creative Writing.

He can be reached at

Michael J. Goff — Management of Policy Education and Outreach

Dr. Michael J. Goff is President and CEO of the Northeast-Midwest Institute. A native of Philadelphia, he spent much of his career in Baltimore, and more recently in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Goff has three decades of senior executive experience in management, development, and communications, and a long-standing interest in government, public policy, and nonprofit institutions. From 2011 to 2015, he served as senior vice president and chief development officer at Independent Sector, a leadership organization representing and serving the nonprofit and philanthropic community nationwide. Dr. Goff also served for 21 years as vice president for development and college relations at Loyola University Maryland, from 1987 to 2008.

Dr. Goff earned a Ph.D. in Government at Georgetown University in 2002, specializing in American Politics, Public Policy, and Political Theory. He also holds an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Political Science from Saint Joseph’s University. His research on the impact of money and the media during the early stage of the presidential nomination process was published in 2004 in his book The Money Primary: The New Politics of the Early Presidential Nomination Process.

He can be reached at