Al (Albert) McWilliams is founder of Quack!Media, an ad agency and multimedia firm located in downtown Ann Arbor. 

Al McWilliams at an October 2013 meeting of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board. (Photo courtesy of The Ann Arbor Chronicle.)

He was appointed to the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board in October 2013, for a term from Sept. 16, 2013 through Sept. 2, 2016. Nominated by mayor John Hieftje, he was confirmed by the Ann Arbor city council following two 6-5 votes, an opinion from the city attorney, and extended discussion of his qualifications at multiple council meetings. He was filling a position previously held by Newcombe Clark.

McWilliams launched Quack! in 2003. The business has served as a record label for bands like Tally Hall and Great Lakes Myth Society, and does event promotion and video/television production – for example, creating animated content for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Its clients include several public institutions, including the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, the Ann Arbor District Library, the city of Ann Arbor, and Eastern Michigan University. Corporate clients include the Detroit Red Wings, Cartoon Network, Disney and Warner Bros.

In addition to founding Quack!, McWilliams is a partner in FOUND Magazine. He was a competitive cyclist who took a 10-year hiatus and began racing again in 2014. He's a member of the Ann Arbor Velo Club.

According to a bio on the DDA website, McWilliams serves on the board of the Ann Arbor Club – a men's only group located on the third floor of the 103 E. Liberty building. His XBOX screen name is Turbo McAwesome.

McWilliams is engaged to Anna MacKinnon, who works for the Ann Arbor Art Center. The couple's wedding is on Dec. 5, 2014 at Cobblestone Farm in Ann Arbor.

DDA Appointment

McWilliams' appointment to the Ann Arbor DDA generated some controversy, with issues including possible conflict of interest because the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, which receives funding from the DDA, is a Quack! client. In addition, some councilmembers had a negative reaction to material on McWilliams' blog.

During deliberations about the appointment on Sept. 3, mayor John Hieftje withdrew the nomination because McWilliams’ confirmation that night appeared not to have sufficient support on the short-handed council. That gave rise to a technical procedural issue, because Hieftje’s subsequent request for confirmation on Sept. 16 appeared to be a fresh nomination. So it should have been subjected to the council’s rule that applies when the vote comes at the same council meeting as the nomination – namely, that the confirmation achieve an eight-vote majority. (For detailed analysis of the procedural issue, see The Ann Arbor Chronicle's “Column: How to Count to 8, Stopping at 6.”)

City attorney Stephen Postema was then directed by the council at its Oct. 7 meeting to produce a written opinion on the legal validity of the 6-5 vote, which he subsequently did. Later in the Oct. 7 meeting, Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) convinced his council colleagues to re-open the agenda to add a motion to reconsider the Sept. 16 vote on McWilliams. Warpehoski could do that as someone who voted on the prevailing side.

That motion for reconsideration was immediately postponed until the Oct. 21 meeting. The point of Warpehoski’s motion was not based on his desire to change his vote, but rather to eliminate the procedural question about McWilliams’ appointment. Voting against McWilliams’ appointment on Sept. 16 and on Oct. 21 were: Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Sally Petersen (Ward 2), Jane Lumm (Ward 2), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). Voting in favor were: Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), Margie Teall (Ward 4), Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), and mayor John Hieftje.


Quack!Media website:

Personal blog:


In the news

DDA Board Spotlight: Al McWilliams – Ann Arbor DDA blog, February 2014

Presentation at LA2M (video) – July 28, 2010

Know Y: Young and Entrepreneurial (a.k.a Doin' Stuff) – MetroMode, April 28, 2010

Ducks in a Row – MetroTimes, Nov. 11, 2009

Mastermind: Al McWilliams – Concentrate, April 2009

The "bumblefuck model" – MetroTimes, Jan. 16, 2008