From a filmmaker to a police chief, the Class of 2021 Michigan Political Leadership Program Fellows begin 10 months of bipartisan learning together this February.
“There is no better time, than in these unsettling times of pandemic and partisan divide, for the Michigan Political Leadership Program to start a new year,” said MPLP Co-Director Steve Tobocman, a former state House Democratic floor leader.
MPLP, in Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, stands as one of the nation’s foremost organizations for training new leaders.
Since its 1992 founding, MPLP has selected nearly 700 people to take part in weekend training. More than 50 percent of MPLP’s alumni are serving, or have served, in elected or appointed office.
An increasing number have moved into executive positions in government, business or nonprofit organizations.
MPLP began as a kind of leadership talent scout as Michigan took its first-steps toward the toughest-in-the-nation term limits. Voters gave the nod to limit the time that all but a few statewide elected leaders could hold Michigan’s top offices.
It now recruits 24 people – equally divided between the major political parties – from around the state and sends them through training in leadership development, policy analysis and the complexities of good governing.
“The MPLP Class of 2021 represents rising leaders from across the state, men and women who aspire to leadership and who will build valuable new relationships through the year,” said MPLP Co-Director Susy Avery, a Republican who has held elected and executive positions throughout state government.
As MPLP co-directors Tobocman and Avery work – Democrat and Republican together – to keep curriculum fresh, inspire and mentor each new class and to learn from each other. “We may come from different political parties, but we both are passionate about leading MPLP Fellows through a year of unique learning experiences and successes.”
Throughout the year, MPLP Fellows spend nearly 48 hours together in policy-oriented workshops, discussions and hands-on exercises. To be selected, MPLP candidates must be at least 21, commit to attend each MPLP session, interested in running for office with a willingness to learn and explore different points of view.
MPLP applications for the Class of 2022 will be available online this spring and due Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. More information is available from MPLP Administrator Linda Cleary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New 2021 MPLP Fellows are:
- Virgie M. Ammerman, of Detroit. A Certified Public Accountant, is pursuing a Master’s Degree in political management from George Washington University. She previously worked with Gleaners Community Food Bank, and Hope Network.
- Bria Barker Lewis, of Canton. Lewis is a public policy advisor for a health insurance organization, providing policy analysis and advocacy related to government health care programs.
- Teddy R. Dorsette III, of Detroit. Dorsette is communications manager for Detroit Disability Power and a filmmaker and entrepreneur who co-founded Teddyboy Films & Entertainment LLC, and Def Lens Media LLC. He is MPLP’s first deaf Fellow.
- Jon Horford, of Lansing. Horford, a small business owner co-chairs Grand Ledge United. He also serves on the Governor's Black Leadership Advisory Subcommittee on Health and the Eaton County Parks and Recreation Commission.
- Lisa Hubbard, of Battle Creek. Lisa is an educator and Vice President of the Harper Creek Community Schools Board of Education and on a community-wide Joint Task Force for Educational Equity.
- Esmat Ishag-Osman, of Detroit. Ishag-Osman is a research assistant at Wayne State University where he is finishing his doctorate in political science. He is a member of Black Family Development, Inc.’s board of directors.
- Damon Jordan, of Allendale. He is campaign co-chair of the Ottawa County GOP where he was the 2018 Volunteer of the Year. He has campaign experience in California and Michigan.
- Marcus Keech, of Jackson. Keech serves as legislative director for state Rep. Greg VanWoerkom and has worked in the Michigan House and Senate. He was nominated nominee for the 2018 Jon Farley Exceptional Legislative Staff Award.
- Lindsay Kronemeyer, of Dorr. Kronemeyer is a commercial risk advisor and serves as the Chair of Kent County Young Republicans.
- Maggie Lenard, of Dewitt. Lenard is a legislative aide to Sen. Dale Zorn, and has experience working in the state House and Congress. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in political science in addition to a certificate in lawmaking and legal processes.
- Karen Moore, of Beaverton. She owns Indigent Defense Consultants and is chair of the Gladwin County Commission and president of Gladwin Rotary.
- Kelly O'Donnell, of Plymouth. O’Donnell is a business development, marketing and communications executive serving professional/financial service firms. She also serves as a Plymouth City Commissioner.
- Alex Porrett, of Lansing. Porrett is legislative director for state Rep. Roger Hauck. He also owns and operates a real estate investment company.
- Daniel J. Quinn, of Grosse Pointe Farms. He directs education policy at Public Policy Associates, Inc. He taught social studies for 19 years and chaired Michigan’s A-F Peer Review Panel.
- Anuja Rajendra, of Ann Arbor. A candidate for State Senate in 2018, Rajendra is a social entrepreneur who serves on the boards of APIA-Vote Michigan and Project Play: Southeast Michigan Task Force.
- Robbie Rankey, of Okemos. Rankey is deputy chief of staff to state House Speaker Jason Wentworth. He served as House Republican Campaign Committee executive director and is a member of the Ferris State Alumni Association Board.
- Brandon Reed, of Lansing. Reed is a policy analyst for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Policy-Advocacy Team. He’s also served as policy counsel for the Michigan State Senate Democratic Caucus.
- Theresa Rich, of Farmington Hills. She is attorney/owner of RichLaw, PLLC and a part-time faculty member at Wayne State. She is secretary of the Oakland Schools Board of Education and served on the Farmington Hills City Council.
- Sue Shink, of Ann Arbor. Shink is the chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, serving as liaison for the Environmental Council, Southeast Michigan Works! and the Agricultural Lands Preservation Advisory Committee.
- Sean Sorenson-Abbott, of Lansing. Abbott is Michigan Health and Hospital Association’s government relations manager. He previously worked with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s policy team and as a legislative assistant in the state Senate.
- Mike Sullivan, of Grand Rapids. He is political director of the Kent County Republican Party. He has previous experience working in the state Department of Attorney General, congressional and state Senate offices.
- Donna VanderVries, of Portage. VanderVries is equalization director for Muskegon County and assessor for 12 municipalities within the county. She also serves on the Portage District Library Board.
- Desire Vincent Levy, of Farmington Hills. She is Bayard Rustin Democracy Fellow with the Washington D.C.-based Democracy Initiative. Formerly, Vincent Levy was communications consultant for the MichiganVoting.org Election Protection Program.
- Craig Wilsher, of South Lyons. Wilshire is a Canton Police Department deputy chief. He holds adjunct teaching positions with Schoolcraft College and Ferris State University.
MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) is a unit of the College of Social Science. It is also the home of the Office for Survey Research, Public Policy Forums, Legislative Leadership Program, State of the State Survey and extensive databases of policy and research focused on laws and legislatures nationally.