Hire An MPP, Student Profiles

Hire An MPP: James-Michael Laney

jameshmppMany of Michigan State University’s second-year Master of Public Policy students will be graduating this May. They have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion that will allow them to put the skills they’ve acquired to good use. We’re posting profiles of all our soon-to-be graduates so you can get to know them—and maybe find the next addition to your firm or organization!

Name: James-Michael Laney

Ideal Job Location: Lansing; Mid-Michigan

Ideal Job: “After graduation, I would like to work in a consulting role for nonprofit organizations that interact with state or local government agencies,” James says. He is also considering using his skills and experiences to become a policy analyst.

Eventually, James would like to run for elected office or start his own organization. In any role, he hopes to use the analytical abilities and policy knowledge he has learned in the MPP program to teach others and improve policymaking.

Work Experience: In the summer of 2016, James participated in the InnovateGov internship program. As an intern for the Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans & Community Wellness, he led a project to design and implement a program to improve service delivery and promote residents’ social, mental, and physical well-being. His research was important to the development of a business plan, which he and his fellow interns presented to the department’s director. Their plan included recommendations and suggestions that will assist the county in its ongoing efforts to address wellness issues.

James’s experience inspired him to explore this topic further for his MPP capstone project, for which he examined the program’s design and progress and proposed improvements.

James has also learned policy skills and gained legislative experience as an intern for the Michigan House of Representatives.

Academic Training: During his time in the MPP program, James completed the three-course series in Quantitative Methods.

“I learned how to apply different econometric tools and identify significant patterns in datasets of information.”

Additional courses of interest were State and Local Finance and Public Management; both sections of the 891 policy topics series. These courses helped James learn important concepts that have significant impacts on decision-making and policy implementation. He also explored courses related to the policy program during Grant Writing and Fund Development.

James was originally inspired to study public policy because he wanted to understand how to empower citizens in ways that can affect change. His own observations of politics and policy during his time in his biomathematics undergraduate program prompted him to explore a diverse range of related issues. He also credits the novels of Frank Herbert with inspiring him to think about the long-term importance of policies and the influence of the nature and the environment on the formation of societies and political power.

James’s appreciation for the interconnectedness of policy issues will serve him well in any position he holds. Because of this he seeks opportunities that will lead to more.

James concludes, “I want to always work in a role that allows me to learn and share what I’ve learned with others.”

Hire An MPP, Student Profiles

Hire An MPP: Hui Huang

Many of Michigan State University’s second-year Master of Public Policy students will be graduating this May. They have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion that will allow them to put the skills they’ve acquired to good use. We’re posting profiles of all our soon-to-be graduates so you can get to know them—and maybe find the next addition to your firm or organization!

huiName: Hui Huang

Ideal Job Location: Michigan; United States

Ideal Job: Hui Huang has flexible skills and is open to policy and data analysis work on many subjects. Her main interest, however, is in immigration and international education policy. She has had the opportunity to work on these issues at Michigan State University, which has given her a solid background in understanding how policy affects the lives of everyday people. She has also developed a strong interest in parental leave policies.

Hui’s skills in data collection, her understanding of sound research methods, and her ability to combine concern for the public with objective research and analytical skills will make her an asset to any organization.

She would most like to work in government, with an NGO, or at an institute of higher education.

Work Experience: Hui has engaged in several internships and jobs during her time in the MPP program.

She worked as a policy intern for the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness and also served as a Research Assistant for the Chinese International Students Research Group. These experiences gave her insight into diverse state, local, and international policy issues.

Currently, Hui works as a student assistant in Michigan State University’s WorkLife Office. In this role, she researches paid parental leave policies and performs essential data collection work for members of the Association of American Universities.

“Paid parental leave policy is an important topic which will need more attention in the future,” she notes.

Skills and Academic Training: “The MPP program is a great program to help us prepare for a career,” Hui says. She has completed all three courses in Quantitative Methods, which provide training in data analysis and statistical software. She also notes that the PPL 891 special topics courses, performance management and social policies, taught her important critical thinking skills.

“Public policy will make society better and it’s meaningful for me to change something in the world,” Hui says. In her future career, she plans to make a difference by applying her skills to critical policy issues. Her commitment and abilities will allow her to perform well in a variety of policy positions and organizations.

Hire An MPP, Student Profiles

Hire An MPP: Chunyu Guo

Many of Michigan State University’s second-year Master of Public Policy students will be graduating this May. They have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion that will allow them to put the skills they’ve acquired to good use. We’re posting profiles of all our soon-to-be graduates so you can get to know them—and maybe find the next addition to your firm or organization!


Name: Chunyu Guo

Ideal Job Location: United States

Ideal Job: Chunyu has a passionate interest in the environment and natural resources management. She plans to work in policy evaluation in the public sector or for a non-profit organization. Her ultimate career goal is to earn an executive position in an international environmental management and cooperation program.

Work Experience: For the past two semesters, Chunyu has been engaged in an internship at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). This internship has allowed her to explore numerous environmental policy issues in Michigan, from water sampling in Flint to brownfield redevelopment along the Detroit riverfront to understanding mercury pollution trends.

“These experiences have not only given me a greater understanding of practical policy implementation and internal government operations, but also make use of my knowledge in policy analysis,” she says.

This internship and work with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources inspired her capstone project, an analysis of recreational passport sales that has important implications for Michigan’s state park funding system.

Skills and Academic Training: As Chunyu notes, the MPP program gives students systematic training in policy analysis and evaluation. She has completed three policy- focused courses in Quantitative Methods and also elected to take rigorous courses in cost-benefit analysis and natural resource economics.

Her favorite courses include Policy Evaluation and Policy Development and Administration. As she puts it, “My eyes have been not only widely but also deeply opened by seeing policy issues in different areas.”

“I regard public policy as a trigger to balance the relationship between our nature and society. Sometimes our society cannot achieve the goals of economic development and healthy nature at the same time. I was born in a place where I’ve seen dramatic development, but meanwhile its environment deteriorated across the years.”

Chunyu shares, “To study in the program of Public Policy has not only enriched my knowledge in policy analysis, but also trained me with a critical and creative thinking structure when looking into different kinds of policy issues. I hope to devote myself to building up a better connection between people and nature in the future.”

Chunyu is well-prepared to take on the challenges of policy analysis and implementation.

Hire An MPP, Student Profiles

Hire An MPP: Xiao Niu


Many of Michigan State University’s second-year Master of Public Policy students will be graduating this May. They have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion that will allow them to put the skills they’ve acquired to good use. We’re posting profiles of all our soon-to-be graduates so you can get to know them—and maybe find the next addition to your firm or organization!

Name: Xiao Niu

Ideal Job Location: United States

Ideal Job: Xiao would enjoy working at a think tank or consulting firm because his ultimate goal is to perform timely research and give sound advice to enable policy makers to make good decisions. He is also interested in applying his skills to a policy research project, as he does at his current internship.

His studies and skill set enable him to do thorough policy work in a variety of topic areas, but he is especially interested in economic development strategies and higher education policy.

Work Experience: Currently, Xiao is completing an internship with the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. He is researching and writing a thorough literature review, performing data analysis, and conducting interviews for a project focused on dual enrollment policies. Dual enrollment programs allow high students to enroll in college-level courses that are often transferable to four-year institutions at no cost. This is also the topic of his upcoming MPP capstone project.

“This experience gives me a chance to improve my research skills as well as communication skills,” he says.

Skills and Academic Training:

Xiao has enjoyed the MPP program immensely. He notes that policy intrigues him because society and its needs are always evolving. He also appreciates the rigor required to perform sound, complex policy research.

The most valuable part of the MPP program for Xiao was the opportunity to engage and learn with classmates. He explains, “Your classmates are part of your education. We learn from each other, and realize that there are so many other perspectives on the same issue.”

For this reason, he has most enjoyed courses that involve discussion. This reflects his interest in the way policy findings and advice can be communicated to policymakers.

“In the near future, I want to learn from working. I want to learn more research techniques, learn more about the world and society, and learn more about myself. Then I may come back to the school to pursue a PhD.”

Xiao concludes, “My ultimate career goal is to become a successful policy researcher, whose insight and research could influence critical decisions.”

Hire An MPP, Student Profiles

Hire An MPP: Zach Polselli

Many of Michigan State University’s second-year Master of Public Policy students will be graduating this May. They have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion that will allow them to put the skills they’ve acquired to good use. We’re posting profiles of all our soon-to-be graduates so you can get to know them—and maybe find the next addition to your firm or organization!

blogzachName: Zachary Polselli

Ideal Job Location: Detroit, MI

Ideal Job: Zach aims to use his considerable knowledge of the policymaking process to improve program development and implementation in a large city or county in Michigan. Ultimately, he would like to become a city or county manager.

Through the MPP program and his experiences, Zach has developed the skills and understanding necessary for these demanding roles.

Work Experience: Zach has performed valuable policy work related to both program planning and legislative processes. Over the last three years, he has completed four internships with his state representative. As he explains, “I have seen all steps in the process of turning policy into law. This has helped me see what is politically feasible when trying to implement a policy. The policy content is as important as the political environment in which it is introduced.” He believes he could use his knowledge of the state legislator in his future policy work.

Last summer, Zach completed another internship in Detroit with the Wayne County Health, Veterans & Community Wellness as part of the InnovateGov internship program. This was one of his favorite and most valuable experiences in the MPP program because he was able to assist with policy from creation to evaluation.

Skills and Academic Training: Zach’s training in the MPP program has allowed him to combine analytical skills with his insights into the real world of policymaking, as he did when making plans to fulfill the needs of Wayne County’s citizens. He credits MPP faculty members Dr. Valentina Bali and Dr. Josh Sapotichne with inspiring and strengthening his knowledge and passion for policy.

His Policy Evaluation course was particularly valuable in helping him understand how to design and conduct sound program assessments. This type of work requires the thorough understanding of politics and policy that he has demonstrated in his previous roles.

Zach is well-prepared to take on the challenging policy needs of Michigan’s urban areas.

Student Profiles

Meet MPP IPPSR Fellows Abbey Frazier and Luke Allen

The Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) at Michigan State University conducts research on public policy and social trends and encourages the formation of relationships directed towards improved policymaking. Directed by Professor Matt Grossmann, IPPSR helps provoke discussion on important issues and offers a variety of programs related to policy and leadership.

Two first-year Masters of Public Policy students, Abbey Frazier and Luke Allen, are currently Policy Fellows at IPPSR.

Abbey Frazier

babb-175x250Abbey Frazier is able to explore some of her own policy interests through her work at IPPSR. Examining some of the current trends in food assistance caseloads in Michigan has allowed her to analyze the causes of these changes. As she is particularly interested in social welfare and economic policy, this is a great opportunity for her to learn more about these issues.

Abbey shares, “I’m hoping to use my IPPSR experience to become exposed to more areas of policy and from different perspectives. The work here involves input from not only university officials, but also from the broader policy community, so I think it provides more context and more time to really do an in-depth look at understanding what’s going on.”

Because she works in state government, Abbey has been interested in understanding the academic side of policy investigation. In particular, she would like to learn more about the research proposal and funding processes. She appreciates the relative freedom from immediate deadlines and narrow tasks that working at IPPSR has provided.

Abbey is currently working on labor force trends and helping IPPSR prepare for its next Legislative Leadership Program. This program helps newly elected state legislators ready themselves for their new roles in government.

allen-175x250Luke Allen

Luke Allen also appreciates the flexibility he has experienced at IPPSR. His policy interests include rural economic development and political geography. He has been able to research rural policy issues as well as the political behavior of small town residents.

In addition to performing his own research, Luke assigns topics to undergraduate researchers and edits and manages the IPPSR research database and blog.

“I’ve learned a lot of interesting things, but the clearest lesson I’ve taken away is that there is no real silver bullet for economic development in rural places,” Luke says of his research. “Policies that work in one geographic area can be catastrophic failures in another, and vice versa.”

He has noticed that academic research involving policy can be quite fragmented. “It’s a little disturbing how little cross pollination there is between political science and, say, psychology or sociology,” he observes.

Luke hopes that he can be involved in improving this situation. He notes that the election increased interest in political science and policy among outside groups. This illustrates how institutes like IPPSR can play a role in expanding interest in and understanding of policy to a wider audience.

After graduating, Luke plans to be involved in state policymaking. He believes that his time at IPPSR will help him develop greater expertise in his particular interest areas.

Student Profiles

MPP Student Profile: Claire Stevens

clairestevens.jpgSecond-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.