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Michigan Municipal League

Press Release


Matt Bach
Director of Communications
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317; C: (810) 874-1073;


William Mathewson Receives Honorary Life Membership

Michigan Municipal League Celebrates Long-Time League General Counsel

LANSING, Michigan — The Michigan Municipal League awarded long-time employee William Mathewson with the League’s highest individual honor—the Honorary Life Membership Award. The award was given during the League’s annual Capital Conference Awards Gala March 20 in Lansing.

Mathewson began with the League as an intern in 1977 and spent his entire 40-plus year career with the non-profit organization. He’s planning to retire as the League’s long-time general counsel at the end of June.

“Bill is the consummate professional,” said League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin, who presented the award to Mathewson. “His work at the League, for its length of service and its quality, is unmatched. Bill really personifies what makes the League great.” 

After joining the League as an intern, Mathewson began his career as a fulltime employee on February 1, 1978. Over the next several years, he worked in many different capacities, including as a legislative advocate in the League’s State Affairs department, focusing on legal and fiscal issues. Throughout his tenure, he was closely affiliated with the Information and Research service, leading and advising the inquiry team on legal-related questions.

He has served as General Counsel to the organization and the League’s Board of Directors for the past 20 years. He conducted his duties and commitment to the Board as its attorney with the highest degree of professionalism. His decisions and legal opinions have always been based on careful consideration of the applicable law, recognizing that the League is a unique institution within the state, Gilmartin said.

Mathewson also was recognized for his work in the municipal attorney field in general, including receiving the National League of Cities’ John G. Stutz Service Award in 2002 and being inducted into the Academy of Municipal Attorneys (AMA) in 2016. He has provided service to Michigan municipal attorneys on an individual basis and in his role as secretary to the Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys (MAMA).

“Bill demanded of himself a high ethical and intellectual integrity and expected the same of others,” said John Schrier, current MAMA president. “Bill has provided thoughtful guidance and insight to many municipal attorneys, which will be missed.”

In addition, as fund administrator of the Legal Defense Fund, Mathewson worked with the Fund’s Board of Directors to select an attorney to prepare and submit an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in those cases affecting municipal interests in the state and federal judicial systems. Amicus briefs are significant in presenting and outlining issues, and, in these cases, municipal issues to a court. In that process, it has been Mathewson’s role to follow through with amicus counsel once selection of cases has been made by the Legal Defense Fund Board. His attention to that process has always been thorough and timely. There is no question that the Legal Defense Fund, through Mathewson’s efforts, has had a significant and positive impact on issues affecting municipalities in the state of Michigan, Schrier said.

Mathewson, who lives in Ann Arbor with his wife Cheryl Cunningham, said he was truly surprised by the honor given to him at the conclusion of the Awards Gala March 20.

“It was never my intention to always work at the same organization, but I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work for the League in so many different capacities over the years. It’s been my honor to serve this organization for so many years,” Mathewson said. “The people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve built have meant everything to me.”

Mathewson graduated from Bloomfield Hills-Lahser High School. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science and the Arts with a major in economics. He has a master's degree in urban planning from the University of Michigan's College of Architecture and Urban Planning and earned his juris doctorate at the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law in Lansing while working for the Municipal League in the early 1980s.

About the award: The Honorary Life Membership, first awarded in 1932, is the League’s highest individual honor, reserved for the most active and inspiring leaders dedicated to the League and its mission.

For photos of Mathewson receiving the award go to this Michigan Municipal League “Award Recipients” album on flickr: Photos can be downloaded from the League’s flickr page for free. We just ask that the following photo credit be given: Flickr Photo Michigan Municipal League/

For additional information, contact the League’s Matt Bach, director of communications, at (734) 669-6317 (office) and

About the League: Michigan Municipal League is dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at




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