Second-year Masters of Public Policy student Claire Stevens is currently the Strategic Alignment and Outreach Specialist at the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Executive Office. Like our other students who are engaged in full-time policy work, Claire brings varied real-world experience to the classroom while also further developing her own skillset.
Claire earned her undergraduate degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Resources from Michigan State University. She also completed a specialization in Natural Resource Management. Following a job with the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, she began working for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in roles related to real estate and land management planning.
Claire acts as a liaison between the Department of Transportation and private and public entities involved in its projects. These projects focus on improving trailways, increasing multi-modal transportation options, and attracting tourists.
An example of one such project is the Iron Belle Trail. When completed, this trail will stretch from Belle Isle in the Detroit River to Ironwood, a small city on the western edge of the Upper Peninsula. Claire helps ensure collaboration and coordination between the Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources. When completed, the trail will have more than one thousand miles for hiking and over seven hundred miles for biking.
Claire believes that the MPP program offers important technical expertise, including data analysis and program evaluation. As she notes, these skills can assist elected leaders and serve as a basis for sound policy. She hopes to use these skills to be a better leader, whether as a future agency director or a state legislator. Claire’s goals are beyond the personal, however, as she wants to continue her advocacy for gender equality and increase the number of women in positions of power. Claire herself serves as a great role model for women in policy and state government.
She attributes some of her success to engaging in meaningful activities outside of work. She recognizes community service as an important obligation as well as an opportunity for learning. Presently, Claire serves on the Marion Township Planning Commission. Previously, she was a member of the Marion Township Zoning Board of Appeals.
She has taken advantage of these and other opportunities to develop her leadership skills. She was a participant in the Leadership Advancement Program from Michigan State University’s Great Lakes Leadership Academy, where she worked with others to authentically bridge the divide on communication and understanding in areas of agriculture and food supply, natural resources and environment, and community inequity through immersion experiences in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and China.
These activities speak to both her passion for social equity and her interest in assisting others. She has also participated in the Quality of Life Leadership Academy facilitated by the DNR, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the Michigan Department of Agriculture.
Claire’s experiences have taught her the importance of networking and a relentless positive attitude. She advises people entering the professional world to continually meet others and maintain a sense of curiosity about the world around them. Claire’s success in a career field that speaks to her love of the outdoors and concerns for sustainable land use is an excellent example to future MPP students.