Ilitch School names Erb Family Foundation Chair John Erb as 2022 Michigan Executive of the Year

The Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business has announced John Erb, chair of the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, as the 2022 recipient of its signature Michigan Executive of the Year Award.

Established in 1999, the Michigan Executive of the Year Award recognizes an individual in a senior leadership position at a business, government or nonprofit organization that is based in or has a substantial presence in the state of Michigan. The primary criteria for selection of this award are recent or ongoing actions by the honoree and/or his or her organization that are likely to reflect positively on the state of Michigan and the disciplines researched and taught within the Mike Ilitch School of Business.

Erb began working at Erb Lumber as a stock boy at the age of 12, learning the family business from the ground up. After graduating from the University of Denver, he continued to impact all aspects of the business over his 38 years with the company. The breadth of experience and knowledge he gained throughout his career, including his role as vice president of operations for Erb Lumber, offer decisive strengths to the Erb Family Foundation’s outreach and allegiance to programs that harmonize economic, environmental, artistic and social interests in the Detroit area.

In 2019, Erb was given the Dr. Russell G. Mawby Award for Philanthropy by the Council of Michigan Foundations. The distinguished recognition reflects his dedication to community, as does his service on the boards of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Detroit Zoological Society and The Nature Conservancy. Erb shares his commitment to education by serving on the Board of Governors for Cranbrook Institute of Science. He also serves through the University of Michigan as a member of the Strategic Advisory Council for the Erb Institute for Sustainable Enterprise and the Advisory Board for the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute. Erb’s leadership is formed by these roles and by his past contributions as a board member for the Council of Michigan Foundations, Cranbrook Educational Community, Detroit Public Television, Stratford Festival and Bank of Birmingham.

Erb is deeply engaged in the Erb Family Foundation’s focus on improving watershed quality; promoting environmental health, justice and sustainable business; supporting the arts in metropolitan Detroit and advancing Alzheimer’s research. The mission of the Erb Family Foundation, a $300 million foundation headquartered in Royal Oak, is to advance environmentally healthy and culturally vibrant communities in the metro Detroit area and a flourishing Great Lakes ecosystem. Under his and his parents’ vision, the Erb Family Foundation has made more than $100 million in grants since its inception.

Erb will be honored at the Ilitch School’s 42nd annual Recognition and Awards Program on Thursday, Nov. 10, at the Roostertail. The Recognition and Awards Program is also where the Ilitch School celebrates the recipients of its Michigan Executive of the Year, Outstanding Alumni, Inspirational Teacher and Outstanding Student awards.

For more information on this event or to view past winners, please visit

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