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.


MPP in the Summer: Warren Rothe

Warren Rothe is entering his second year in Michigan State University’s Master of Public Policy program and will complete his degree in 2018. He completed his undergraduate degree in political science at Michigan State in 2017. This summer, Warren interned at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in Washington, D.C. with the CBPP’s State Fiscal Project.

CBPP is a think tank that specializes in programs that reduce poverty at both the federal and state level. The State Fiscal Project specifically focuses on state policy issues, collaborating with a network of 42 state-level non-profits dedicated to informing and shaping policy developments Warrenprimarily through budget and tax policies.

During his internship, Warren worked on a variety of research activities, including planning and implementing a research study on the composition of state income taxes, tracking budget developments in every state, assisting the research staff with management of state legislative and financial data, and writing a report on fiscal policy decisions implemented by states during the 2017 legislative session.

This research has given Warren a broad and deep understanding of policy issues in state budgets and tax codes. Furthermore, working in the nation’s capital allowed Warren to attend workshops and meet experts in various policy fields from social insurance to economic and racial segregation. He looks forward to applying this experience to his upcoming coursework, especially his quantitative-heavy research courses.

Working in state policy, albeit from a distance, solidified Warren’s desire to bring his policy knowledge and analytical skills back to his home state of Michigan, where he hopes to take his talents to the local government level. Upon graduation, Warren will continue to pursue a career in local government with the ultimate goal of becoming a city manager.


MPP in the Summer: Alec D’Annunzio

Alec D’Annunzio, a native of Troy, Michigan, entered the MPP program as a linked-student. In May 2017, Alec graduated from MSU with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and another in PoliticIMG_5020al Science Pre-Law. In his first year of the linked program, Alec completed his MPP internship experience as a legislative fellowship position within the Republican Policy Office of the Michigan House, which analyzes and develops policy in accordance with state representatives within the Republican Caucus. The primary role of the Policy Office is to provide Representatives with information regarding the need for a potential policy as well as to examine its proposed efficacy, keeping in mind past attempts at similar policies or other states’ versions of such legislation. Combining all of this information, the policy analysts meet with Representatives and revise legislation accordingly, all in an effort to make it more practically and politically feasible.

Drawing on his interest in criminal justice policy issues and his varied experience at various levels of government, Alec worked alongside the policy analysts in reviewing and revising proposed legislation. One of Alec’s major duties at the Policy Office was to craft policy memos that provided representatives with a brief overview of a proposed bill, including its origins, proposed effects, and potential consequences. Additionally, Alec spent time researching state laws across varied policy areas to lay the groundwork for representatives to craft and introduce legislation. Alec especially enjoying determining which states enacted certain policies and how these policies have fared in practice as well as developing potential language to be used in Michigan legislation.

Most exciting to Alec was his opportunity to independently research, craft, and propose a policy of his own choosing. Recognizing that as of spring 2017 Michigan had no laws in relation to the burgeoning body-worn camera (BWC) technology utilized by law enforcement officers, Alec set out to draft a comprehensive policy to fill this controversial and complicated legal void. Of primary interest to Alec was ensuring the proper application of this technology by law enforcement officers and safeguarding citizens’ privacy rights when filmed. After meeting with stakeholders such as the ACLU and the Michigan State Police to assess the current climate surrounding BWCs, Alec compiled information on the status of BWC laws across the nation. From there, he drafted a policy that aimed to resolve all apparent conflicts and provide more certainty in the application of this technology. Alec drew on the skills he has learned in MPP program when crafting the succinct policy memos and maneuvering the political rhetoric when speaking about this issue area. During Alec’s research, State Representative Jim Runestad introduced legislation regarding release of footage from BWCs – and, naturally, Alec began working on the analysis of Rep Runestad’s bill. While Alec’s comprehensive policy is still a work in progress, Rep Runestad’s bill has been signed into law and will go into effect in 2018.

Perhaps the thing that is most clear to Alec after his time in the policy office is that he wants to be on the ground level of policy creation, affecting it before it becomes enacted. Alec is interested in working as a policy analyst in the future, as he appreciates that the job requires great versatility and the ability to research potential policies, draft bill language, analyze the effects of legislation, and provide political support to enact laws. Upon graduation from the MPP program, Alec plans to attend law school in order to further bolster his understanding of the legal process at all levels.