Pam Hoekwater appointed Executive Director of Legal Aid

(Photo courtesy of Legal Aid of Western Michigan)

On Dec. 17, 2018, the Board of Legal Aid of Western Michigan has announced the appointment of Pamela Hoekwater as the organization’s executive director, effective January 1, 2019.

Hoekwater succeeds Juan Salazar who is retiring after 39 years with Legal Aid – the last five as its executive director.

“Pam Hoekwater has been an integral part of our Legal Aid familia for many years and has strong relationships with both our client community and our partner agencies,” notes Salazar. “Legal Aid will be in good hands with Pam, who is a strong and competent leader.”

Hoekwater was born and raised in Grand Rapids, graduating from South Christian High School and Calvin College before moving to South Bend, Indiana, for three years to attend Notre Dame Law School. Upon graduating from Notre Dame in 2001, she took a position as a staff attorney at Legal Aid’s Grand Rapids office. Two years later, Michigan Lawyers Weekly recognized her as a Lawyer of the Year.

In 2015, she became Legal Aid’s Director of Community Collaboration. In this role, she developed new programs including Legal Aid’s Medical Legal Partnership with Cherry Health.

This partnership places a Legal Aid attorney at Cherry Health’s Durham Clinic to provide legal solutions to problems that adversely affect patients’ health.

Paul Vlachos, Legal Aid of Western Michigan’s board chair, is pleased to welcome Hoekwater as the new executive director, saying, “Her experience and commitment to equal access to justice will allow her to lead the program in the proud tradition of her predecessors: Juan Salazar, Mike Chielens and Bob Munro.”

“The staff at Legal Aid is a dedicated and brilliant team,” says Hoekwater. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to take on this new role to support their important work.”

Legal Aid of Western Michigan is a nonprofit law firm that helps persons in poverty by providing free legal representation in matters such as eviction, public benefits and consumer cases. Legal Aid also provides representation to low-income survivors of domestic abuse in divorce and custody litigation.

Its 50 employees assist clients in 17 counties from branch offices in Muskegon, Holland, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph.