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.


Hire an MPP: Elizabeth Raczkowski

Many of Michigan State University’s second-year Master of Public Policy students graduated this May. They have a wealth raczkowskiE15of 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 graduates so you can get to know them—and maybe find the next addition to your firm or organization!

Name: Elizabeth Raczkowski

Ideal Job Location: Southeast or Lansing, Michigan

Ideal Job: “By combining policy research with organizational or communication activities, I would like to enter into the government or nonprofit sector, ideally working on local-level policies.”

Elizabeth is especially eager to work in collaborative environments that seek to improve the public welfare. Furthermore, she hopes to compound on her experience as a graduate assistant for the public policy program by developing a sense of community in her new environment. She would also be interested in exploring the field of government relations.

Work Experience: Elizabeth is a triple-threat of work experience, having completed three internships during her time in the program. As a research associate, she learned valuable research, project management and communication skills, as evidenced by her exemplary administration of this very blog. While interning for the City of East Lansing, she gained valuable insight into the inner-workings of a local government. Finally, working with the Wayne County Treasurer through the InnovateGov internship program, “was helpful for learning how to collaborate with different stakeholders, resolve conflicts, and analyze a difficult policy problem”. Extrapolating on this experience, she completed her capstone project on tax foreclosure law and practices in the Detroit area and even proposed effective changes based on academic literature and best practices employed by other governments.

Academic Training: Having completed all available quantitative methods courses offered to MPP students, Elizabeth is veritable expert in the methodology required of accurate and unbiased data gathering and analysis. She notes that it was important for her to understand what goes into a balanced and complete policy review process and, unsurprising given her communication skills, is keenly aware of how best to convey her findings. Finally, she points out that “one of the most important skills I’ve learned are synthesizing information from a lot of different sources and balancing different viewpoints and needs with objective information”.

Elizabeth would be a strong asset to any organization in both policy and government spheres. Please reach out to us for further information on her or any of our fantastic graduating candidates!


MPP First-Year Students Begin Summer Internships

This summer, eleven MPP students will take the skills learned in the first year of the Michigan State University Master of Public Policy program and apply them to summer internships. The students will be interning all over the world, including Detroit, Washington, D.C., China, and Africa. Internship sites include United States Department of Commerce, Governmental Consultant Services, ITC Holdings, the Citizens Research Council, Community Development Advocates of Detroit, the City of Detroit, and YouThink. Throughout the summer, our student interns will be profiled on their experiences and what they’ve learned through their internship. Good luck to our students!

Faculty/Instructor Profiles

Faculty Profile: Professor Ronald Fisher – Expertise in Public Finance

fisherMaster of Public Policy faculty Professor Ronald Fisher has had a distinguished career during his time at Michigan State University. His professional highlights include serving as Dean of MSU’s Honors College, Chairperson of the Department of Economics, Deputy Treasurer for the State of Michigan, and as a Visiting Professor and Fellow at a number of universities and institutions in the United States and abroad. He has traveled extensively and given many presentations to share his expertise in economics, particularly government finance issues.

He has also received a number of awards, including the 2014 Stephen D. Gold Award from the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. This award recognizes outstanding achievements through contributions to “public financial management in the field of intergovernmental relations and state and local finance.”

Professor Fisher earned his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry with high honors from Michigan State and his PhD in Economics from Brown University. His textbook State and Local Public Finance is highly regarded and used in universities across the country.

He has taught numerous courses at Michigan State. He notes, “Each class is unique because of the different set of students in that class. It is the students (rather than the course, location, time, [or] semester) that make it a favorite.”

His research has frequently focused on state and local government debt, government borrowing and infrastructure investment, and the effect of perceptions of government financial information on attitudes and behavior.

His recent article with Robert W. Wassmer, “Does Perception of Gas Tax Paid Influence Support for Funding Highway Improvements?” in Public Finance Review (2016) addressed these three issues. Fisher and Wassmer found that likely voters in both Michigan and California consistently overestimate the gasoline tax and that this affects their support for highway infrastructure investment. They recommended that proponents of investment proposals address voter misconceptions, which are a common problem for policymakers working in public finance.

Other major challenges he observes in public finance are determining suitable and effective funding systems for elementary and secondary education, achieving sufficient revenue generation at both the state and local level, and encouraging infrastructure investment. Last year, he highlighted the importance of appropriate infrastructure investment in a Detroit Free Press article addressing the role lack of such funding played in the Flint water crisis.

Professor Fisher advises public policy students to determine what their goals are and take the time to design an effective plan to reach these objectives.

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.

MPP Speaker Series

MPP Students Learn About Public Budgeting, Engagement From Experienced Practitioners


Linda Teeter

Last Thursday, Master of Public Policy students attended a presentation by Rebecca Fleury, City Manager of Battle Creek, and Linda Teeter, Executive Director of Michigan Citizen Action. Both Fleury and Teeter have extensive experience in Michigan government at multiple levels. They shared their collective experiences and insights with a special focus on the importance of public budgeting.

Throughout her presentation, Fleury emphasized how budgeting and financial issues


Rebecca Fleury

underpin nearly all public decisions. Public finance affects all levels and types of policymaking. Financial information usually plays a key role in determining what policies are adopted and if and how they can be implemented.

As Fleury and Teeter noted, the resources available to local governments have been particularly strained in recent years. This presents a challenge to local officials as well as citizens. Both Fleury and Teeter work to increase public awareness of the budgeting and decision-making process.

fleuryteeter1Fleury considers providing relevant and accurate budgetary information to public officials one of her most important responsibilities. Although it takes place behind the scenes, this work is vital to the success of any government project.

In Battle Creek, Fleury’s financial team updates elected officials on a quarterly basis. This helps the team avoid surprises. By finding out about significant changes in earlier quarters of the year, officials and staff can better plan for future needs and make important changes. Major activities include revenue forecasting and legacy cost planning.

As an example, Fleury explained that she and her staff had determined not to presume reimbursement from the state for the loss of the personal property tax when planning the city budget. As it turned out, the City did receive reimbursement, but by not counting on this money, it was in a better financial position. She noted that planning like this involves a lot of strategic decision-making. Planning for future decisions by means of methods like reserve funding for capital investments is essential. It can also mean increasing reliance on revenue streams like the income tax.

Fleury noted that expenses related to personnel take up the biggest portion of any local budget. This is especially true for police and fire. Staffing and union negotiations are especially significant in determining local expenses.Picture1.jpg

Following Fleury’s presentation, Linda Teeter emphasized to students the importance of being involved in their communities, particularly at the local government level. However, she also emphasized the importance of being aware of state and national policies. She noted there is a great need for engagement, especially among young people.

Teeter explained how attendance at a local government meeting at first inspired her to get involved. Since then, she has worked as a Legislative Aide in the Michigan House, served three terms as a City Commissioner for Kalamazoo, and has lent her expertise to getting the public more involved in policy through MCA.

Together, Fleury and Teeter made a strong case for the importance of public finance and citizen involvement in government.