MPP Speaker Series, Uncategorized

MPP Speaker Series: Citizen’s Research Council of Michigan

20171113_162553The 2017-18 MPP Speaker Series continued with a presentation from the president of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan and MSU alumnus, Eric Lupher. Mr. Lupher began by describing the long history of the organization. Beginning as the Detroit Bureau of Government and Research, the CRC eventually evolved into one of Michigan’s foremost non-partisan and non-profit public policy research organizations, primarily focusing on issues facing Michigan local and state government. At its founding, the CRC represented some of the fundamental principles of the progressive era including the reliance on fact-based policy research and the professionalization of American civil service. The CRC was also instrumental in Michigan’s 1961 constitutional reforms as it produced a number of white papers advising the state government and Michiganders on the latest in policy research at the time.

Mr. Lupher then discussed some of the major policy projects that the CRC has studied or worked on in the last few years, including improvements to the Detroit Public Schools budget, tracking the teacher shortage that is developing in Michigan, state public health and Medicaid spending, property tax policy improvements, and a number of local governance issues. Of particular interest to students were improvements that could be made at the county-level, including consolidating administration of certain municipal services such as police and fire, while allowing for local units to maintain their identity, and improved coordination through broadband network penetration of all city services.

Finally, Mr. Lupher fielded a variety of questions, mostly related to health policy and ways to effectively disseminate the CRC’s findings in a cost-effective manner. More information on the Citizen’s Research Council and their white papers can be found at


MPP Speaker Series: C. S. Mott Foundation

mott 2Kicking off the 2017-18 MPP Speaker Series, MSU alumnus (MPA, 1997) Neal Hegarty came to discuss the role of foundations in the non-profit sector. Mr. Hegarty is the Vice President of Programs at the C. S. Mott Foundation, based in Flint, Michigan. He was also joined by Amy Hovey, the Special Projects Coordinator for the Flint Area at the Mott Foundation.

The Mott Foundation was established in 1926 with the goal of developing and caring for the welfare of Flint, Michigan. The founder, Charles Stewart Mott, believed in what was called “shoe leather philanthropy,” believing that the Foundation should listen to, learn from, and observe the people and programs it funds and impacts. Mr. Mott originally made his fortune working with the General Motors Corporation and decided to give back to his adopted community with an initial donation of $326,000. Today, the Mott Foundation’s endowment is roughly $2.7 billion. Over the past nine decades, it has donated $3 billion to organizations in 62 countries, with the most efforts focused in Michigan and the United States as a whole.

Mr. Hegarty and Ms. Hovey led a presentation on the basics of charitable foundations, the role that the rather unique American tax structure plays in charitable giving – including information on the topical Johnson Amendment, and the history and impact of the Mott Foundation. Beyond this, they shared their extensive experience in the non-profit and government sectors, including discussing effective public engagement and career advice to the students.

After the presentation, Mr. Hegarty and Ms. Hovey fielded a variety of questions from the students on a wide array of topics. Principally, the students were interested in the operations of the Mott Foundation, its coordination of relief efforts for the Flint Water Crisis, and the potential impact of legislative changes to the American tax structure being discussed in Congress.

More information on the Mott Foundation and its ongoing projects can be found on its website at

Student Profiles

MPP in the Summer: Mikaylah Heffernan


mikaylahMikaylah Heffernan, from Inkster, Michigan, entered the MSU Master of Public Policy program in the fall of 2016 as a linked student and completed her Bachelor’s in Political Science in December 2016. Prior to admission to Michigan State University, she obtained her Associate’s Degree in Biotechnology through Henry Ford College while enrolled in high school.

Mikaylah was placed this summer as a public policy intern with the Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) through the InnovateGov program with Michigan State. CDAD is a catalyst for community development and neighborhood improvement groups, enhancing the capacity and effectiveness of its members and Detroit residents through advocacy, training, technical assistance, information sharing, education, and facilitating common action.

Mikaylah’s main project while working at CDAD revolved around candidate accountability. CDAD recently released a city council candidate survey, in both English and Spanish, that had responses from 85% of candidates running for a city council seat, with responses from all incumbents. Candidates were asked to state their understanding of the role they are running for as well as their perspectives on social and racial equity issues concerning neighborhood residents. This project served as an opportunity to highlight overlooked matters that are significantly impacting Detroiters and to develop momentum for resident action and advocacy. The survey was a tool to inform residents, raise pertinent issues in the city, and to serve as a means to hold elected officials accountable to important issues facing the city and Detroit neighborhoods. Mikaylah helped draft introduction letters and methodology sections under the instruction of CDAD’s public policy manager, Latoya Morgan.

Additionally, Mikaylah worked on several smaller projects centering around affordable housing, equitable development, establishment of a housing trust fund, and other community development work for the city of Detroit.

Mikaylah reported that the time she spent in the city really highlighted the importance of community involvement in equitable development, and the creativity available from all areas of knowledge, including the place that imagery and innovation have in developing goals for a city’s growth and neighborhood health.

After graduating in the spring of 2018, she intends to seek employment with a non-profit organization or within a unit of local government, while preparing to further her education. Ultimately, Mikaylah would like to hold elected public office, in order to give back to the communities that have given back so much to her.

Student Profiles

MPP in the Summer: Kyle Goldstein

kyleKyle Goldstein, from Grand Blanc, Michigan, is a second-year student in Michigan State University’s Master of Public Policy program. He entered the program as a linked student in the Fall 2016 semester. Prior to his summer experience at ITC Holdings, Kyle has interned for Senator Tonya Schuitmaker and, through the InnovateGov program, the City of Detroit. He also served as a research assistant for the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations, and was a Learning Assistant for the College of Social Science.

Kyle was a Regulatory Affairs intern for ITC Holdings, an electrical transmission owner that works to provide power throughout Michigan and the Midwest. His department was responsible for ensuring that the company complies with all relevant federal, state, and local energy regulations. Kyle was tasked with summarizing roughly 100 documents in a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Court case against the Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator, a Midwest Regional Transmission Authority of which ITC is a member. It was his job to go through all the cases and summarize them in a way that could be quickly understood and referenced.

Another of Kyle’s projects involved looking at a form that all transmission owners like ITC have to complete and send to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission titled Attachment O. This form is used to calculate the energy rates for each transmission owner, and then is used in deciding how much to bill energy customers, and Kyle examined Attachment O forms for dozens of companies to determine whether they differed at all from ITC’s O form. He compiled all these differences into a 95-page compendium which will help ITC identify ways to improve its billing and Attachment O practices.

Kyle elaborated on his experience, adding that he learned, “a great deal about the utilities industry, specifically with regards to energy. I learned how to calculate and report rates, as well as a significant amount about the different laws and regulations energy companies must be aware of in order to conduct business. I further developed my research skills by becoming familiar with court dockets and how energy-related cases are decided in the federal government.  I learned how energy companies are taking steps to become more eco-friendly. Finally, I learned a great deal about the role the federal government plays in energy policy, and how energy companies and the federal government interact and coexist.”

Upon graduation, Kyle is interested in continuing to work in regulatory affairs in the energy or other public utility sector. He’s also interested in exploring government affairs positions in both the public and non-profit sector. Ultimately, he would like to have a positive impact on his community.

Student Profiles

MPP in the Summer: Xiao Xing

IMG_8625-2-175x250Xiao Xing, a second-year student in Michigan State University’s Master of Public Policy program, successfully completed an internship this past summer for MSU’s InnovateGov program in Detroit, Michigan. Originally from Beijing, China, she graduated in May 2016 from the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, China. She started in the MPP program in September 2016 and will graduate in summer 2018.

Xiao’s internship placed her with Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department. She followed up on the progress of the lead pipes replacement project, which is a city program aiming to replace all the lead pipes remaining in Detroit. She also researched background information that was integral to the implementation of this policy. Additionally, she had the opportunity to follow-up on several hearing cases that gave her the chance to think about the existing policy of administrative hearing procedures. Seeing an opportunity to improve communication at these hearings, Xiao drafted and proposed a pre-meeting procedure to better address citizens’ needs.

After graduation, Xiao plans on working for a non-profit organization or policy analysis think tank using her knowledge and passion for helping people.

Student Profiles

MPP in the Summer: Ian Magnuson

_MG_0734Coming from Battle Creek, Michigan, Ian Magnuson is a second-year student in Michigan State University’s Master of Public Policy program. Ian graduated from Western Michigan University with a double major in German and Global and International Studies, followed-up by a year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Germany.

As part of the program’s experiential learning component, Ian participated in MSU’s InnovateGov program, which combines an impact-driven internship with supporting class material to leave a lasting mark on the City of Detroit. Ian had the unique opportunity to intern with a state agency that has an office in the city, the Michigan Office for New Americans, or as it’s colloquially known, MONA.

Housed in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, MONA is tasked with promoting Michigan as a welcoming state to immigrant (i.e. New American) talent through economic empowerment.

Ian’s task was to evaluate the impact of the President’s executive action on immigration enforcement priorities on Michigan’s agricultural sector via the migrant labor population. In order to determine this, he interviewed stakeholders involved in Michigan’s $100+ billion agricultural sector, including MSU Extension, the Michigan Farm Bureau, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. After conducting the interviews, Ian synthesized his findings with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and MDHHS to create a report for the Deputy Director of MONA, and MSU alumna, Karen Phillippi.

Broadly speaking, Ian concluded that while it was certainly possible that the executive order had had some impact on Michigan farms, the effect was likely drowned out by much larger demographic shifts in the traditional migrant worker labor pool. With an aging population and improvements in educational attainment of migrant families, there are simply fewer people willing to do field labor than in prior decades. It was difficult to discern the exact status of 2017’s harvest as the report was conducted in the middle of the season but there were trends going back at least 10 years showing a significant shortage of willing labor, including domestic and immigrant populations.

Upon graduation, Ian aspires to be involved in local and state government, perhaps through a career in city management. In addition to internationalizing cities, Ian is passionate about developing and, more importantly, enacting climate resiliency and mitigation efforts in cities in the Great Lakes region. He is currently looking at a number of fellowships around the country that would give him leadership experience in the public sector that he could bring back to Michigan.


Student Profiles

MPP in the Summer: Chelsea Kazlauskas

_MG_0794Chelsea Kazlauskas, from Battle Creek, Michigan, is a Michigan State University alumna with a degree in economics. As a second-year student in the Master of Public Policy program, Chelsea successfully completed an internship at the Citizens Research Council of Michigan this past summer. The Citizens Research Council is a not-for-profit public affairs research organization that has the mission of providing factual, unbiased, independent information on significant issues concerning state and local government organization and finance.

Chelsea was tasked with researching and mapping the status of public health in Michigan. Primarily, she examined the myriad different services required at each level of government and their funding streams. At its core, the mission was to look at how Michigan spends money on public health and to determine if its organizations are receiving adequate funding, with the end-goal of making public health policy recommendations. Chelsea said that she welcomed the opportunity to see how research is done outside of academia and enjoyed the dynamism of such an organization.

Upon graduation, Chelsea is interested in working in research organizations or think tanks on either public health or her other passion, environmental policy.