skip to Main Content




Merit Network Announces Southern Michigan Member Relations Manager

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Merit Network, Inc. announces today the transition to a new regional Member Relations model. The new model increases staff and expands Merit’s presence throughout Michigan, placing Member Relations Managers in six different geographic regions across the state. “I am excited to announce the new regional Member Relations structure,” says Elwood Downing, vice president of Member Relations, Communications and Services. “The geographic focus will bring Merit’s engagement and outreach closer to Merit Members and their communities everywhere in Michigan.”
Debbie DeSousa
Whereas Member Relations Managers previously focused their attention on Merit’s Membership by segment (K12, Library, Public University, Private College, Community College, Health Care, Non-profit, Government and Research), under the new model, Regional Member Relations Managers will act as point of contact and facilitator for all Member types located in geographic regions.

“I believe will provide us with a very strong opportunity to grow our community. By having staff based within every region of Michigan, they will be more closely involved with the community and the relationships, partnerships, and concerns of organizations in a geographic area. By having staff closer to their organization’s location, we can build a stronger relationship with them. Also, by having staff responsible for a region rather than a market segment, Member Relations Managers can build synergies between various types of organizations in a community more effectively,” stated Jason Russell, Director of Member Relations for Merit.

The new Member Relations Regions are: Upper Peninsula, Northwest Lower Peninsula, Northeast Lower Peninsula, Central Lower Peninsula, Southern Lower Peninsula, Southeast Lower Peninsula, and Governing Members (Public Universities) and National Members.

The Southern Michigan Member Relations Manager is Debbie DeSousa. Debbie will be responsible for Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Hillsdale, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lenawee, Monroe, St. Joseph, Van Buren and Washtenaw counties.

Originally from the Cleveland area, DeSousa currently lives in Gregory, Michigan. She has a degree from Indiana University, a MLS degree from Case Western Reserve University, and was trained in group facilitation at the Coaches Training Institute in San Francisco. DeSousa has extensive experience working with all types of businesses, including Fortune 50 companies, start-up ventures, and non-profit organizations, among others. She is an amazing networker, which allows her to help Members get in touch with the resources they need to function successfully.

DeSousa is excited about the expansion of the Merits’ network across the southern region of Michigan. Once in place, Merit can enable many new, high-quality connections to a large number of communities.

About Merit Network

Merit Network Inc., is a nonprofit corporation owned and governed by Michigan’s public universities. Merit owns and operates America’s longest-running regional research and education network. In 1966, Michigan’s public universities created Merit as a shared resource to help meet their common need for networking assistance. Since its formation, Merit Network has remained at the forefront of research and education networking expertise and services. Merit provides high-performance networking and IT solutions to Michigan’s public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations.

For more information: