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Employee Focus – Debbie Safian, Macomb County Michigan State University Extension

By Sarah Cormier, Macomb County Executive Office 

Her job title is administrative assistant, but that is just one of the many roles Debbie Safian performs for Macomb County’s Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) office.

It’s safe to say that, as someone who has worked for the department since 1994, Safian is an expert in pretty much everything MSUE related, which is a task in and of itself, as MSUE provides a wide variety of programs to residents in Macomb County. MSUE’s goal is to serve residents with programming that focuses on agriculture, natural resources, children, youth, families and community and economic development. As an employee for the county who works with MSUE to help facilitate and promote these programs, Safian must be aware of many different aspects of each program. 

“I’ve worked somehow in probably every different program area,” said Safian, laughing. “I know just enough to get myself in trouble.”

Interestingly, Safian started working for the department part time, just 15 hours a week, when there was a huge gypsy moth infestation and the county needed someone solely dedicated to answering residents’ concerns about the issue and developing areas that needed to be sprayed every year. In 2004, Safian began working full time and in 2010 she moved to the position she is in now. Without a direct supervisor from MSUE able to be in the Macomb County office full time, Safian is often in charge of supervising staff.

“I’m just doing my job,” she said. “I enjoy the variety of work every day. It makes the day go by so fast.”

Safian added that her job is made easier by the fact that she has such wonderful colleagues.

“I work with such supportive people. They become your family,” she said. “We have each other’s back. If they need help, you support them.”

Safian is a longtime Clinton Township resident. She moved her with her husband Jim in 1980. They have two grown sons and have been married for 35 years. In her spare time, Safian loves to go up north, where her and her husband own property and engage in outdoor activities such as boating. Around Macomb County, she has plenty to do too.

“I spend a lot of time at Metro Beach, often walk to Partridge Creek from my house and I have a lot of family and friends in Macomb County,” she said.  

Steve Gold, director of Health and Human Services for Macomb County, oversees the MSUE program. He said the work Safian does is invaluable.

"Debbie is the kind of employee who always seeks to do more. I can't tell you how many times she has anticipated a need I hadn't thought about yet, or suggested a better way of doing something.  She is a valued professional colleague."