Sterling Heights City Councilmember Barbara Ziarko has been named as the Michigan Municipal League’s 2021-22 President.
Ziarko was selected as President Nov. 12 by the 18-member League Board of Trustees during the group’s November meeting in Lansing. Ziarko replaces Monica Galloway as League President, who had to step down after not being re-elected as Flint City Councilmember in the Nov. 3 election. Ziarko had previously served as the Board’s vice president.
Ziarko said she was honored to be selected as the Board’s president and will continue the organization’s ongoing community wealth building and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
“I’ve long admired the League’s work, and to now help lead the statewide organization is truly an honor,” Ziarko said. “I am grateful that the Board has confidence in me to serve in this role.”
League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin said the organization and membership are in good hands with Ziarko at the helm.
“Councilwoman Ziarko has been a long-time supporter of the League and we’re fortunate to have her serve as League President,” Gilmartin said. “She’s also very knowledgeable on the role local governments can play in driving our state’s economy. I’m confident she’ll be a great leader in the next year as the League assists municipalities to build community wealth, emerge from the pandemic, and invest in the future in ways that enhance the human experience for everyone.”
Ziarko has served on the Sterling Heights City Council since 2001 and has been a resident of Sterling Heights since 1977. She holds an associate degree from Macomb Community College and is a retired bookkeeper for St. Blase Catholic Church in Sterling Heights. She is a graduate of the civilian police and fire academies and the Sterling Heights CERT program.
A past Athena Award nominee, Ziarko is a member of the Friends of the Sterling Heights Public Library, and volunteers for The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW), the Pope Francis Center in Detroit, and St. Jude Children's Hospital. She has served as co-coordinator for the Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team at St. Blase Catholic Community. She was a committee member of the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event in Sterling Heights (2005-2010) and served on the Regina High School Board of Directors from 2008 to 2015. She is also a member of the American Polish Century Club Ladies Auxiliary and the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees.
She married Tom Ziarko in 1977 and they had one daughter, Stacy. Barbara and Tom remained happily married until his passing in 2014.
Ziarko added she has been greatly influenced by the League and recalls a documentary film shown at one of the past League conferences about the importance of bringing people together following the 2016 Presidential election. She continually uses those lessons learned.
“My time with the MML and on the MML Board has helped me realize how different we are throughout the state and that our needs may not be the same,” Ziarko said. “But to thrive we must understand we’re also the same in a lot of ways. We need to bring people together and respect each other’s opinions even when they are different from our own.”