The 16 People You Meet At The Mackinac Policy Conference

WDET guest contributor Rachel Lutz introduces you to some of the characters you encounter at Michigan’s annual fete


For over a decade, WDET has been covering the annual Mackinac Policy Conference hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber. Held on Mackinac Island, this three-day policy meeting is attended by hundreds of elected officials, business executives and other leaders from around the state. This year, we offer you some alternative coverage featuring fresh perspectives with a side of wit and irreverence. This piece comes from WDET guest contributor Rachel Lutz with illustrations courtesy of Dave Chow. 

Illustrated by Dave Chow


If you’ve been on “The Island” during the Mackinac Policy Conference, there’s a good chance that you’ve run into a few of the unique characters below. 

(Disclaimer: Any likeness, real or imagined, to an actual attendee is purely coincidental.)


Dave Chow

The Newbie

Didn’t book a hotel in time. Is either crashing on your floor or staying at the Inn at Stonecliffe because they didn’t realize it was on the other side of Creation. Did a horrible job of packing and needs to borrow your sweater. In bed either by 9:30PM or 3:30AM- there is no in-between.






Dave Chow

The Unimpressed Lifer

They’ve been attending for at least 10 years. Their only remaining form of entertainment is lurking in a bar by the ferry docks and cattily people-watching with a glass of wine in hand. Jaded but still dedicated.






Dave Chow

The Spouse

Trying their damndest to entertain themselves while you demolish every bar and buffet in your path network. Attended a few sessions but really just wants to finish their book. Told their friends they were getting a fabulous vacation on Mackinac Island but ended up aimlessly drifting from gift shop to gift shop. By Friday, finds themselves in a personal quest to try every single fudge flavor known to humankind.




Dave Chow

The Innocent Tourist

Accidentally booked the wrong week. They never asked to be woken up at 3AM when you, in a haze of bourbon, mistakenly thought their room was yours. Proper etiquette calls for you to leave an apology pound of fudge at their door the next morning.






Dave Chow

The Power Player

Arrived on their private plane, paid your bar tab. You later realize they paid the entire bar’s bar tab. After reading their business card several times, you still can’t figure out what their company does but it possibly has something to do with real estate. Or health care. Or arenas. Or funding. On a shared horse taxi ride, you earn an open invitation to enjoy carte blanche at their private resort but can’t afford the plane ticket and subsequent helicopter ride there.




Dave Chow

The Local

Desperately avoiding you after their shift. The smell of horse poop doesn’t phase them anymore.







Dave Chow

The Perennial Candidate

YES, thanks for asking, We DID see your billboard. And leaflets. And the invitation to your reception. And sidewalk chalk drawings. And personalized blimp. We had no idea you were as passionate about this office as you were about the last 17 offices you ran for but still never managed to win.






Dave Chow

The Wheeler-Dealer

Thrusting their business card at you but can’t remember your name, despite you wearing your large-font name tag credential at all times. Hounding you the entire week for a meeting with a vague agenda, to “just touch base” on their “next project”. Spends 80% of the conference on the porch at the Grand Hotel, 20% at the Pink Pony.





Dave Chow

The Handler

Trailing their boss, texting furiously (secretly using Tinder). Making a futile attempt to keep everyone on schedule.








Dave Chow

The Vain Politician

You probably think this conference is about you. Don’t you? Don’t you. 








Dave Chow

The Shellacked TV Anchor

Never a hair out of place. Master of the fake smile. They’ve perfected every possible nod, including the affirmative, skeptical, surprised, and slow knowing nod. Making a valiant attempt to be interested in you, while secretly thinking about the next interview and if they have a makeup stain on their lapel.





Dave Chow

The Non-Profit Executive

Doesn’t drink because they need to be 110% while pleading for funding crumbs. Or drinks heavily because the funding for their salary evaporates by the end of the trip if they don’t land that big grant.






Dave Chow

The Dude-Bro

You’ll find him at the Mustang, minimum three buttons unbuttoned. Swiping the aforementioned Handler on Tinder. Works for his inheritance-funded start-up.







Dave Chow

The Exhausted Reporter

Always creeping up on a deadline. Darting back and forth across The Grand like a squirrel, hoarding coffees and free food like acorns. Just wants to eat, sleep, and, well, just eat and sleep. Please just answer their question already.






Dave Chow

The Crasher

Also referred to as “undocumented.” Steals glassware from the Grand Hotel.








Dave Chow

The Housekeeper

She knows everything. Best to end the discussion there.









Who did we miss? Let me know in the comments below.


Views expressed in Rachel Lutz’s commentary are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of WDET, its management or the station licensee, Wayne State University.


  • Rachel Lutz
    Rachel Lutz is a Detroit resident and small business owner. Her boutiques, The Peacock Room and Frida, dress many of Detroit's working women. Rachel is an avid follower of news, politics and fun.