Bill Ford, Ford Motor Co. chairman


Our staff amassed a list of the 150 Michiganians who most affected the news, history and our lives − for better or worse − in the 150 years of The Detroit News, ranked from 150 to 1 (Read the FAQ on our selection process here). Here are our picks, one a day through our birthday on Aug. 23.

55: Bill Ford, Ford Motor Co. chairman (1957-present)

Bill Ford, Jr. and the Ford F-150 Lightning.

Bill Ford is the fourth generation of his family to head Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co. He is the son of William Clay Ford Sr. and great-grandson of founder Henry Ford. On his mother’s side, Ford is also a descendant of Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. founder Harvey S. Firestone. Bill Ford joined the company in 1997, serving in a variety of executive roles before being named its board chair in 1999. From 2001 to 2006, he also handled chief executive officer duties. Ford kept the company out of bankruptcy during the Great Recession, and orchestrated its sustainability efforts. He is currently leading Ford’s electric vehicle transition. In 2018, Bill Ford championed the acquisition of the long-abandoned Michigan Central Depot in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, which is being converted into a hub for Ford’s mobility initiatives.

Ford Motor Co. Executive Chair Bill Ford Jr. announced plans for Michigan Central with Google CFO Ruth Porat in Detroit on Friday, February 4, 2022.

▶ About The News:About The News: 150 Detroit News facts in 150 days

56: Rick Snyder, Michigan governor (1958-present)

Mich. Gov. Rick Synder talks to attendees of a press conference announcing his proposed ideas for increasing recycling in Michigan. Photos of Rick Snyder at Clean Tech Inc., in Dundee, Mich., to tout his new recycling plans

Rick Snyder was the 48th Michigan governor, serving two terms from 2011 to 2019. The University of Michigan graduate was a businessman and venture capitalist before winning the governor’s race in 2010. It was his first elected office. The Republican focused his efforts on improving Michigan’s business climate, pushing through a number of tax and regulatory reforms designed to attract jobs and investment to the state. He guided Detroit through its bankruptcy, appointing an emergency manager and developing a plan to put the city on a solid financial footing coming out of the court proceedings. Snyder briefly tested a presidential run in 2016. But the Flint water crisis hit, and Snyder was tagged with responsibility for mismanaging the response to the contamination of the city’s drinking water. After leaving office, he formed a cyber-security firm.

57: Mike and Marian Ilitch, founders of LIttle Caesars, owners of Red Wings and Tigers

Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch gives a thumbs up to the crowd with his wife, Marian Ilitch at the Red Wings Stanley Cup championship celebration at Hart Plaza in Detroit on June 6, 2008.
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