Paul Haan

Paul Haan is dedicated to building community, protecting the environment, and preserving human health. With more than thirty years of experience building powerful communities, promoting human health, and restoring the environment, Paul is now committed to protecting, improving, and preserving quality of life in the Muskegon River watershed as MRWA’s Executive Director.

Paul grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York and was inspired at a young age by the environmental activism of Pete Seeger and those who built community as they restored the historic Clearwater sloop and brought the Hudson River back from the brink.

From there, he relocated to west Michigan to attend Calvin College where he obtained his BA in communications and philosophy. After college, he worked for and lead a number of nonprofit organizations dedicated to community organizing, community development, and environmental health. He was the founding Executive Director of the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan, where he served for fourteen years. Most recently, he worked in the City of Grand Rapids Community Development Department, an invaluable experience that taught him the inner workings of government.

Paul is rarely found indoors. He is an avid gardener (his veggie garden is nearly 1,500 square feet!), a serious hiker (Appalachian Trail thru-hiker in 2000), and newly addicted fly fisherman frequently found floating the Muskegon year-round. Paul is married to Julie Nietling. They live in Grand Rapids in a 115-year-old home Paul restored, complete with a native prairie in the front yard. They have two children, Benjamin and Abbey.