Student Profile: Meg Turner

Meg Turner.JPG

Meg Turner, a second year Master of Public Policy student, spent her summer interning in the Michigan House of Representatives for Representative Donna Lasinski. Meg worked on a wide variety of legislative issues, such as electric vehicles, drone policy, puppy mills, marijuana policy, and wage laws. Her main responsibilities were re-election campaigning, responding to and tracking constituent correspondence about current legislation, and drafting policy memos.

Meg believes in the power of networking and staying in touch with former cohort members; she found this summer internship through a former MPP student who now works in the Michigan House of Representatives.  Meg advises students to follow her example and use their connections through the MPP program to find future internships and jobs. After this internship ended, Meg was offered a new position for the Michigan House Democratic Caucus Office in the Research Division. Meg advises interns to always leave a positive impression and make sure people know your name, as personal connections are key to successful networking.

After graduation, Meg would love to work for the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer. She is well versed in international issues, and has traveled around the world; her favorite place traveled was Cairo, Egypt to attend a Model U.N. Conference (she was one of the youngest delegates to ever be invited!). Meg is passionate about international issues, women’s policy, and criminal justice. She also loves reading and traveling to new places. Her favorite part of the MPP program is getting to know all of the people in her cohort, both in and out of class.


Student Profile: Dean Martin

DeanDean Martin, a second year Master of Public Policy student, spent his summer interning in the Environmental Affairs division of the City of Detroit Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department.

During his internship through the InnovateGov program, Dean created a database to store and easily locate environmental site assessments for Freedom of Information Act requests.

Dean advises students to not settle for an internship experience that they are unsatisfied with and believes internships should be focused developing one’s own skills as a professional. Ideally, Dean stated, you should feel like you are walking away from the summer with something you didn’t know before. During his internship, Dean felt there was always work to be done, people who needed help, and new skills to learn.

Dean is interested in community development, recreation, land use and housing policy and plans to stay in Michigan after graduation. He explained, “Michigan has all the resources and features I dream of in calling a place home, so staying and contributing my talents here would be my primary plan.” Dean plans to work in program administration or evaluation for a municipality after graduation. He was first inspired to seek a degree in public policy after having lunch with a city manager who urged him to consider a Master’s degree to make himself appealing to government employers. Dean took the advice to heart and entered the MPP program as a linked student during his senior year at MSU.

Dean likes cooking, reading, biking, and playing tennis and ultimate frisbee. His favorite summer memory was camping with his family along the Au Sable River in Oscoda, Michigan. 


Speaker Series: Paul Elam, Michigan Public Health Institute

Paul Elam, Chief Strategy Officer from the Michigan Public Health Institute, spoke and inspired MPP students on Thursday, September 13. Elam’s talk covered his career trajectory, advice for future policy makers and analysts, and his own interests, which center on criminal justice issues, public health, and juvenile justice. Elam advised students to focus on building meaningful relationships with mentors, as mentorship was very influential on his own career. Elam emphasized that when he entered Michigan State University in 1991, he did not dream of working in public policy. He did dream of making change, however, and this passion led him to earn degrees in criminal justice, criminology, family and child ecology, and urban studies from MSU.

Working with public policy has allowed Paul Elam to be a creative problem solver. His role with Public Policy Associates focused on using data driven evidence to advise clients on policy decisions through rigorous research and evaluation, insightful interpretation, strategic planning and consultation, technical assistance and training, and program management. 

Elam explained that public policy can be viewed as an intersection of working with academic theory, private or public sector practitioners, and community members. When working with a local community, it is key to have a community liaison who understands the cultural context and history, Elam advised. A key factor to successful, culturally responsive policy work is ensuring it offers a diversity of perspectives; Elam noted that he strives to always embed and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in his work. He encouraged MPP students to identify what they’re passionate about, as their interest will reflect in the quality of the work. Paul Elam also shared his opinion of the most important traits for public policy work: strong writing, the ability to work with diverse teams, critical thinking, and solid research skills. Elam encouraged the MPP students to work on these qualities and consider about the change they wish to see in the world.

The MPP Program thanks Paul Elam for generously sharing his time and knowledge.

Student Profiles

Student Profile: Alex Stegbauer

Alex Stegbauer (MPP ‘19) spent his summer outside the classroom, learning valuable skills and assisting local Detroit residents in navigating tax policies in his internship with Quicken Loans through the InnovateGov Internship program. Alex, a second year Master of Public Policy student at MSU, is passionate about public policy because he knows how closely it can affect every aspect of our lives; over the summer, Alex saw first-hand the positive impact public policies can have on local communities.

Alex was found his internship through the InnovateGov Internship program. During his time with the Quicken Loans’ Community Fund Housing Stability team in Detroit, Alex helped 20 community groups run workshops to assist Detroit residents applying for property tax exemptions. Alex enjoyed the real world experiences his internship provided and feels more aware of the issues facing Detroit residents. Alex’s most important advice for those entering a internship or new job is to always make yourself available and willing to help, even if it falls outside of your specific job responsibilities – you might learn new skills and strengthen your working relationships in the process.  He advises first-year MPP students to begin researching and applying to potential internships early in the year to find the right fit.

Alex’s main policy interest is election policy, with a specific focus on voter ID requirements and how these may affect voter behavior. He hopes to eventually work in policy evaluation to measure the effectiveness of policies and to one day have a positive influence on future policy. Alex loves nature, and enjoys hiking in his spare time and playing with his cat. In the future, Alex would like to live out west, near the Rocky Mountains. His most memorable trip was to Isle Royale National Park, where he studied the local wolf and moose populations. Alex is on track to graduate this spring from the MPP program.


How Policy Really Works: Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative Architects Walk MPP Students Through the Process


Pictured left to right: Paul Elam, Dennis Schrantz, Jeffrey D. Padden, and Alma Wheeler Smith.

Last Thursday, March 15th, both Master of Public Policy cohorts were treated to a panel presentation examining the policy development process from start to finish. The topic at hand was the Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative. This was an eight-year, public-private, evidence-based program that sought to overhaul Michigan’s parole and prisoner re-entry apparatus to address Michigan’s then-skyrocketing prison population, with the prison population peaking in 2006 at 240% of its 1980 level.

MPRI’s goal was to support returning citizens and prepare them for life outside of prison in an effort to reduce recidivism and crime rates overall. The development of the program began in 2003, saw pilot implementation in select counties in 2005, and then expanded to a full statewide implementation in 2008. According to Michigan Department of Corrections reports from the time period of 2006 to 2016, Michigan saw a decrease in the prison population of 20%, a 37% reduction in the index crime rate, and a 35% reduction of parolees returning to prison. Furthermore, 26 prison facilities and corrections camps were closed, leading to savings of $392 million due to closures and operating costs.

2The initiative had a diverse set of stakeholders, including the Michigan Department of Corrections, the National Institute of Corrections, the National Governor’s Association, the Center for Effective Public Policy, the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, Public Policy Associates (whose current President, Paul Elam helped coordinate and facilitate the event), a number of national, state, and local philanthropies, and Michigan’s major universities. Spearheading the initiative’s development were Dennis Schrantz, Jeffrey D. Padden, and Alma Wheeler Smith.

Mr Schrantz, now the Director of the Division of Training, Research, and Consultancy Services for the Center for Justice Innovation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was the chief deputy director the Michigan Department of Corrections at the time. He wore many hats during this time, working in concert with Mr. Padden to design, implement, monitor, and evaluate the program.

Mr. Padden is the founder of Public Policy Associates and is considered a national leader on strategic planning, performance benchmarking, and evaluation, skills particularly useful when he helped establish the MPRI with the MDOC and the MCCD. In addition to his private sector experience, Jeffrey also served for 10 years as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives, where he chaired the House Corrections Committee. Mr. Padden’s primary focus during the development of the initiative was to improve public safety in Michigan, and by all accounts succeeded.

Alma Wheeler Smith was most recently a member of the Michigan House of Representatives from 2005 to 2010, serving as the leader of the House subcommittee on corrections. Prior to this, she was in the Michigan Senate from 1995 to 2002. Her experience there proved especially useful when she later helped champion the budgetary needs of the MPRI, citing both improvements in public safety and an overall reduction in Michigan’s spend on corrections.

The event concluded with a question and answer portion with students showing particular interest in the political hurdles of the program. The speakers noted that by focusing on reducing the crime rate and costs through effective policy, they were able to gain buy-in from politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Hire An MPP

Hire an MPP: Violet Engeu Acumo

  • last - Violet Acumoviolet - CopyPolicy Interest(s): Gender and Social Justice Policy
  • Sector Interest(s): International Non-Profit / Private / Government
  • Location Preference(s): Local / International / No Preference
  • Ideal Role(s): Researcher / Practitioner / Administrator

Violet Engeu Acumo is a graduating Master of Public Policy and a MasterCard Foundation Scholar. In addition to her MPP training, Violet is armed with significant organizational, leadership, and policy development experience. She is actively seeking a position that will challenge her and require some combination of her extensive list of talents and the ability to be a force for positive change.

Violet has an undergraduate degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, training which proved particularly useful when in top-level leadership positions in multiple organizations in her home country of Uganda, and later during her incredible internship in Tanzania and Nigeria. She is particularly adept in the organizational and human resources realms, being very familiar with performance management systems, human resources management and development, organizational behavior and communication, and marketing and evaluation.

She is also an experienced conflict negotiator, proficient in the tenets of sustainable development, and gender and women’s human rights. She even has teaching experience in leadership, integrated learning, and feminist criminology. Building upon this and her graduate specialization in Gender, Justice, and Environmental Change, Violet’s capstone project is, in her own words, “about gender and social justice policy in Sub Saharan Africa. Particularly the criminology of intimate partner violence, the complicity of sub Saharan African governments in this crime, and its policy implications.”

Outside of her MPP courses, Violet is a member of the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, an initiative to educate and prepare young people – particularly from Africa – to lead change and make a positive social impact globally. Like most MPP students, Violet also participated in a summer internship as an avenue to practice some of what she had learned in the classroom. Speaking directly about her experience, she says that in the summer of 2016, she “was recruited into the Agrifood Youth Opportunity Lab Project, a $13 million research undertaking funded by the MasterCard Foundation in partnership with Michigan State University in Nigeria and Tanzania. As Associate Gender Lead, I specifically managed gender mainstreaming and policy development, with implications for recruitment and curriculum development for the project. I developed policy strategy memos for the different project partners, trained ground staff for partnering agencies, and developed psychometric tests for recruitment.”

Violet’s unparalleled drive toward justice and organizational excellence, coupled with her experience in the program, has facilitated her development as future actor for change and, in her own words, made her “set lofty goals” for herself. Violet would make a tremendous addition to any team.

Feel free to reach out to Violet by email or on her LinkedIn.

Check out some of our other graduating Masters of Public Policy!

If you have any questions about our graduating class, please contact Program Director Dr. Josh Sapotichne via email.


Program Alumni Return for Student Networking Event

network 1

This past Wednesday, the Master of Public Policy Program welcomed six alumni as part of a networking event designed to provide students with some vital soft skill experience, alongside valuable insight and advice in their program and career planning. Students were encouraged to prepare for the event by thinking about how to clearly articulate their policy interests and goals as, in addition to the professional experience they gained in the event itself, it has led to jobs and internships in the past.

network 3

The attending alumni came from a wide array of policy backgrounds, experience levels, and locations. Students were happy to speak with more recent graduates who offered early career advice and earlier alumni who could speak to the value of setting career goals and trends they saw in their fields. Students also said they were happy to interact with people from various geographic locations and policy realms, including government, the private sector, and more. Everyone was very grateful for the alumni volunteering their time to visit!

The attending alumni were:

Lienhardt, JJessica Lienhardt

MPP 2014

Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Officer, Office of the Consulate General of Canada

McGrain_2009Nov19_1413Brian McGrain

MPA 2000

Director of Economic Development and Planning, City of Lansing

JEN FLOOD 21Jen L. Flood

MPP 2013

Government Policy Advisor, Dykema

dougDoug Lynott

MPA 1998

Director, Economic Development Integration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration

DI-05732_DTMB-Jen_Kyle-001Kyle Jen

MPA 2000

Deputy State Budget Director, State of Michigan Budget Office

Juan_mppJuan Loaiza

MPP 2016

CST Manager, A.J. Boggs & Company