Hire An MPP

Hire An MPP: Vinny Szczerowski

MPP photo.pngName: Vinny Szczerowski

Ideal Job Location: Michigan; especially Traverse City, Detroit, or Grand Rapids

Ideal Job: Vinny has a passion for health policy and is deeply engaged in how different entities are involved in its development.

“I would ideally like to work in the government relations branch of some health related entity, whether it be a hospital, insurance company, health-related association, or any other provider or deliverer of health care services,” he says.

Vinny is interested in working for an organization as a health policy lobbyist or advocate. He would also enjoy using his statistical skills and substantial knowledge of the field as a health care policy analyst. Ultimately, he hopes to become head of a lobbying firm or another association that serves clients in the health care industry.

Work Experience: Last summer, Vinny excelled at an internship with Northern Strategies 360, the government relations consulting firm for Munson Healthcare. He examined laws and regulations affecting the Munson system. As he explains, he also “crafted policy briefs and whitepapers that could be presented to both the administration of the healthcare network and the general public.”

Vinny has also contributed to the Michigan Policy Network, an online research and reporting center at Michigan State University. In this role, he was able to further develop his understanding of Michigan health policy and politics.

“This opportunity allowed me to learn a great deal about current topics being discussed and debated at the state level,” he says.

Skills and Academic Training: Vinny developed his interest in health policy as an undergraduate. He has directed his analytical MPP program work towards gaining a deeper understanding of this complex topic. Combined with his internship and work experiences, this has enabled Vinny to learn to effectively analyze issues, but also importantly to be able to clearly communicate them to his audience.

Vinny has the skills, knowledge, and communication expertise to assist any organization involved in the health policy field.

Student Profiles

MPP Student Profile: Lauren Fecko

feckolaurenLauren Fecko is one of several Spartan alumni pursuing their Masters of Public Policy degree while working in the policy arena. Lauren’s experience in state-level policy analysis and administration complements her classroom experiences. The MPP program is flexible enough to allow students like Lauren to continue their full-time work while also providing solid training in multiple aspects of the policy field.

Lauren already possesses valuable insight and skills thanks to her position. After graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in International Relations and Spanish, she began her work with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as a contractor. This experience led to a greater interest, as well as a full-time position, in state government. She currently works as a Departmental Analyst within HHS’s Medical Services Administration.

The Medical Services Administration has a vision of improving the quality and affordability of health care in Michigan. Ultimately, they aim to improve the health status of Michigan’s citizens. The administration works with a variety of partners, including hospitals, HMOs, and local health departments.

As an analyst, Lauren works on a variety of projects within her department. This allows her to continually expand her knowledge of public health issues and improve her understanding of policy.

“There is always something new that you learn every day,” Lauren says. Reflecting on the complexity of large public health programs, including Medicaid, she notes, “[S]o many decisions require the involvement of many different units.” This means that there is almost always competing viewpoints for any given decision. This has an impact on what decisions are made, and how.

The MPP program incorporates just this type of problem into its lessons for students. Lauren has found that the program teaches students to look at issues from more than one perspective. As an example, she cites the differences between how a legislature may view or approach a problem compared to relevant interest groups.

“I think the ability to view issues from different angles will help to predict how different players may view a decision,” she says. Lauren believes that this type of understanding can prepare those who work in policy to accomplish objectives. It gives her the chance to practice working with the variety of actors whose input may influence decisions.

Given her enjoyment of her current position, Lauren would eventually like to take on a more advanced role within state or federal government. She plans to graduate from the MPP program in the spring of 2018. As she continues on her career path, Lauren’s work ethic and appreciation of the complexities of her job will help ensure her success.

Internships, Student Profiles

InnovateGov Service Learning Internship Featuring James Laney

james-laney-photoJames Laney is a second year Master of Public Policy student, and one of the five MPP students that participated in the InnovateGov Service Learning Internship program this summer. James attended Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomathematics. Before arriving to East Lansing, he was a math and science tutor at his university and privately around the city. He also led the tutors at the university tutoring center and graduated as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar.

Upon arriving to MSU, James was a grassroots coordinator for the Climate Reality Project and a legislative intern for Michigan House Representative LaTanya Garrett. This summer, he was placed with the Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans, and Community Wellness (HVCW), where he worked in a team of three interns to design a method of optimizing service delivery to county residents. Wayne County HVCW was established to coordinate and administer health, educational, youth, veteran, senior and social services to residents and communities in Wayne County in order to address the social determinants of health and community wellness. Their vision is to reduce and ultimately eliminate disparities and inequities related to social and environmental justice by focusing on financial education, healthy living and healthy neighborhoods.

james-laney-photo-2During his internship, James had two main projects. The first was designing a method of service delivery in the parks, which the intern team dubbed a “Wellness Zone.” The system developed required a comprehensive health needs assessment of the communities surrounding all the Wayne County Parks as well as an assessment of park resources that counter the negative trends in health in the host communities. These park resources may include a community garden to provide physical and social wellness, walking trails, and park-based festivals and farmers markets to specifically provide any dimension of wellness that may be lacking in the host community. After spending the summer researching and visiting the various parks in Wayne County, James and the other interns created a business plan and presented it to the Director of HVCW, Dr. Mouhanad Hammami. The business plan has now come before County Executive Warren Evans for final approval.

The second project James was tasked with was working in the community garden and beautifying the campus of the Health Administration Building. James found working in the garden to be one of the most satisfying experiences of his internship, and he enjoyed the days where they spent the entire day in the gardens.

According to James, his participation in InnovateGov was a defining experience and one that he will continue to look back on and draw inspiration from. Through his internship, he learned how to share his ideas and better manage his time. Professionally, he learned how to delegate responsibility more efficiently and tactfully resolve conflict before it arises. He also discovered a connection between what he is learning in the MPP program and the work he was doing through his internship, which was a great moment of insight for him.

Adaptability is a strength of James’, and he is open to all opportunities that are available. When he graduates, James would like to work for a local government or a think tank. He is also interested in teaching, and giving students a different perspective to public policy analysis. He does have political ambitions, but ultimately, wants to help organizations that are doing good in the world continue to do so.

Internships, Student Profiles

MPP in the Summer, The Places They’ll Go: Vinny Szczerowski

Northern Strategies 360 photo (2)

Vinny Szczerowski is a linked-student in Michigan State University’s Master of Public Policy (MPP) program who will complete his degree in 2017. Being a linked student, Vinny graduated in December 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy while concurrently working on his master’s degree.

Vinny has spent this summer interning at Northern Strategies 360. Located in Traverse City, Michigan, Northern Strategies 360 offers consulting services to clients throughout Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. The mission of the firm is to provide strategic, pragmatic, results-driven consulting services to their clients with a focus on business and economic development and governmental affairs.  According to Vinny, what sets Northern Strategies 360 apart from other consulting firms is their desire to form a close relationship with their clients to effectively and efficiently act as a liaison between business and government.  Being the first of its kind in Northern Michigan, he was especially enthused about working for the firm.  Vinny was born and raised in the small town of Hawks in Northern Michigan and has seen firsthand the difficulties businesses and other entities face when trying to procure adequate representation for government affairs.  Northern Strategies 360 offers this close-to-home representation for any interested clients.

With his interest in health policy, Vinny has been primarily working on projects directly related to the Munson Healthcare System.  As the firm’s biggest client, Munson Healthcare is a nonprofit rural regional health system made up of nine community hospitals that deliver a broad array of healthcare services to the nearly 500,000 residents of 24 counties across the 11,000 square miles of rural Northern Michigan.  Some projects that Vinny has been working for them include crafting advocacy updates on current legislation pending at the state and national level that directly affect the system, writing policy briefs on specific proposals already enacted and how they will impact the hospital network, and communicating with local, state, and federal lawmakers on behalf of Munson Healthcare.  Two major projects he has focused on involve constructing whitepapers on veterans’ access to healthcare services in Northern Michigan and the status and trends of educational attainment levels for nurses.  While the nursing paper is still being formulated, the veterans’ access to healthcare piece has been presented to and referenced by the CEO of the Munson Healthcare System when addressing local interest groups.

Through his internship, Vinny has learned that healthcare policy is even more nuanced than he had previously thought.  One rule set forth by a state or federal agency can have enormous ramifications on the operations of a hospital or healthcare system.  Going forward, he believes this lesson will greatly help in his pursuit of working within a healthcare system as a government affairs liaison or consultant.