News & Resources

Faces of Leadership: Dale Stephenson J.D., Board of Trustees

Posted by lindsaybarden | Sep 07, 2017


What do expertise in Middle Eastern culture, international and environmental law, and educational leadership – combined with a passionate Christian commitment to care for God’s earth – have in common?  You can find them all residing in Au Sable’s newest Trustee, Dale Stephenson.

Visiting Dale in his quiet, north woods cabin home near the Au Sable Institute on Rainbow Lake, where he enjoys, among other things, making stone-over pizza with his wife Carol, you might not suspect that you are in the company of an individual known throughout the international legal community.  Such is the case, however, when you enjoy the fellowship of Dale Stephenson, former General Partner with the international law firm of Squire Sanders (now Squire Patton Boggs).  An expert in international environmental law with many years of experience, especially in the Middle East and Caribbean regions, Dale has, in his professional life, represented many foreign governments including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, as well as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), all as part of his larger work of helping to develop federal authorities and other initiatives in these countries.  In addition to drafting comprehensive environmental laws and regulations outside the United States, he also has been recognized as one of the leading U.S. environmental lawyers throughout his career.

No stranger to positions of leadership in educational organizations, Dale is currently Chair of the Board of Trustees of Spring Arbor University (SAU) in Spring Arbor, Michigan, and has served in multiple positions on the SAU Board since 1995.  SAU, a Christian liberal arts university that is also one of Au Sable’s Participating Colleges, named Dale Alumnus of the Year in 2015.  In addition to his work as Chair of the SAU Board, Dale also serves as a Director of the Spring Arbor University Foundation and on the legal advisory committees of FLOW (For Love of Water), a non-profit environmental organization working to ensure that the waters of the Great Lakes are protected now and for future generations.

Dale’s connection to Au Sable predates the Institute itself. A camper at the (then) Au Sable Trails Camp established by Au Sable’s Founder, Dr. Harold Snyder, Dale describes his first encounter with Au Sable as “an early opportunity for experiential learning that helped forge my life-long focus on the environment.”  Since returning permanently to northern Michigan in 2014, Dale and his wife Carol have become increasingly involved in Au Sable’s work, especially in its college academic program, where Dale has been a guest speaker with different Au Sable courses in the classroom and in the field, and in Au Sable’s Environmental Education Internship Program which provides education in environmental stewardship for K – 8th grade students from public, parochial and home schools throughout northern Michigan.

Dale looks forward to his new role as one of Au Sable’s Trustees for very specific reasons:  “After investing my professional career helping to protect and restore God’s creation, I am keenly aware of the critical need to further advance that cause through educating and equipping future generations of leaders that will pursue that same passion.”  And, as for the current Trustees, there is an attitude of excitement and anticipation toward working with Dale. Newly-elected Au Sable Board Chair Dr. Robert Zwier, formerly Provost of Roberts Wesleyan College, noted, "Dale will be a significant asset to the Au Sable Board of Trustees, and we eagerly look forward to his contributions. He brings an exceptional blend of experience in environmental law and Christian higher education, a strong commitment to the mission of the Institute, and a passion to make a difference.”

As Au Sable continues to move forward to deliver its mission to inspire and educate people to serve, protect, and restore God’s earth, we look forward to the many gifts and talents Dale Stephenson will bring to those efforts. Congratulations on your election as a Trustee, Dale, and welcome to the Board.