Michigan Political Leadership Program Welcomes Class of 2015

MARQUETTE, MI – Twenty-four Michigan Political Leadership Program Fellows are now hard at work in their 10 months of specialized training through one of the country’s top leadership programs.

Among them are attorneys, nonprofit executives, city, state and legislative aides, bankers, marketers and planning assistants. They come from all regions of the state, from Traverse City to Battle Creek and Detroit to tackle tours, hands-on activities and debate focused on policy analysis, media relations and practical politics.

During the year, weekend sessions will take MPLP Fellows from Lansing to Detroit and Grand Rapids to learn with economists, budget experts, media and business leaders.

The program, founded in 1992, makes its home at Michigan State University in the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) within the College of Social Science.

IPPSR specializes in public policy, leadership training and survey research. It is host to MPLP, Public Policy Forums, the State of the State Survey and the Office for Survey Research.

MPLP was founded to expand training opportunities for men and women of all political backgrounds at every level of public service, from volunteer activism to Congress and beyond. To date, half of MPLP’s about 600 graduates have served or are serving in elected or appointed positions.

In last November’s election, seven MPLP graduates were elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. Four now serve in the state Senate, a new record for MPLP graduates serving in the state Senate at the same time.

“It’s only a matter of time before an MPLP graduate is elected to Congress or sits in the Oval Office,” said IPPSR Director Douglas B. Roberts, Ph.D., a former Michigan Treasurer who plans to retire from MSU this summer.

“MPLP is a terrific program. I am proud to be associated with the program, its leaders and its Fellows,” he said.

Among notable MPLP graduates are two leaders of tribal governments, director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, a former state House speaker, a former Superintendent of Education, a former Detroit Mayor, a Macomb County executive, county commissioners, city officers, township and school board members and precinct delegates. A growing list about MPLP graduates serving in public roles is available online.

Each fellowship is valued at $12,000, and significant financial support comes from MSU, the annual fundraisers, grant funding from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation of Midland. Generous contributions from Michigan associations, corporations, labor organizations, MPLP alumni and individuals also make the program possible. Information about supporting MPLP is available at ippsr.msu.edu/mplp.

MPLP marks its calendar with a winter graduation, annual dinner and breakfast fundraiser and the start of a new class. Applications are accepted year-round, but generally due in May. Fellowship interviews are conducted during the fall and a new class is selected as the fellowship year concludes. Applications are available online.

MPLP’s 2015 class gather once a month and earn a certificate at the program’s end.

“This is a great group, diverse in their professions, their backgrounds, political outlook and home communities, said MPLP Co-Director Steve Tobocman, managing partner at New Solutions Group LLC and a former state House Majority Floor Leader.

“We had an extremely competitive and talented group from which to select the 24 Fellows, and we are expecting the sessions to be spirited and exciting,” said Fellow Co-Director Anne Mervenne. Mervenne is CEO of Mervenne & Company governmental relations consulting firm and former director of appointments in the administration of Gov. John Engler.

The 2015 Fellows are:

· Jordan Acker, of Huntington Woods, attorney and director of business development, Goodman Acker P.C.

· Donovan Asmar, of Washington, associate attorney, Bodman PLC.

· Erin Byrnes, of Dearborn, director of America Reads at University of Michigan.

· Jeff Connell, of DeWitt, executive officer to the adjutant general, Michigan National Guard.

· Charity Dean, of Detroit, community relations manager, Detroit Land Bank Authority.

· Ben Greene, of Grand Rapids, legislative aide to Rep. Chris Afendoulis.

· Ashley Ligon, of Almont, legislative affairs coordinator, Michigan Credit Union League.

· Michael Marzano, of Jackson, director of government relations for the Small Business Association of Michigan.

· Jeff Matis, of Rochester, vice chairman, Oakland County Board of Commissioners; attorney, Garan Lucow Miller, PC.

· LaToya McBean, of Royal Oak, deputy corporation counsel, Wayne County Corporation Counsel.

· Reggie Miller, of Van Buren Township, township trustee.

· Megan Noland, of Rochester, state and federal coordinator, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

· David Nyberg, of Skandia, associate legal counsel and tribal liaison and director, northern Michigan office, executive office of Gov. Rick Snyder.

· Jennifer Oram, of West Bloomfield, sales representative, 5 Star Outdoor Media.

· Sylvia Santana, of Detroit, micro-lending officer with Prosper US Detroit.

· Kirstie Sieloff, of Traverse City, legislative director for Rep. Al Pscholka.

· Jake Smith, of Battle Creek, senior operations specialist with Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health.

· Andy Steenstra, of Grandville, Grandville city councilman.

· Samantha Troutman, of Battle Creek, recruitment specialist for Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan.

· Edgar Vann III, of Detroit, district director of government relations at Wayne County Community College District.

· Adrienne Wallace, of Grand Rapids, director, 834 Design & Marketing.

· Maria Willett, of Rochester Hills, community planning assistant for the city of Auburn Hills.

· Matt Williams, of Ann Arbor, fiscal analyst, Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED.)

· Sherman Williams, of Pontiac, director of communications, Diamond Communications.


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