Michigan State University's 'Michigan Political Leadership Program' names 24 new Fellows

Michigan State University’s newest class of Michigan Political Leadership Program (MPLP) Fellows hail from communities large and small, with diverse backgrounds in nonprofits, businesses, public service and law enforcement.

Local 2020 MPLP Fellows include:

• Mitchell Moore of Lansing, legislative aide to state Rep. Michael Webber, R-Rochester Hills. He has served as an intern with the U.S. Department of State, working at the U.S. Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia in Africa

• Micah Babcock of East Lansing, director of government operations for the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) and an appointee to the 2020 U.S. Census Complete Count Committee.

Three of the MPLP’s 24-member Class of 2020 are military veterans — one from the U.S. Navy, one from the U.S. Army and another with service in the U.S. Marines.

“This is a class with experience in manufacturing, in law, in work as legislative aides or as executive staff to congressional, legislative and city leaders,” said Matt Grossmann, director of MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, or IPPSR.

MPLP trains 24 specially selected Michigan citizens — equal numbers of men and women from communities across the state, who spend 10 months learning about how to govern, lead in public service and run for elected office.

Currently 17 MPLP alumni serve in the Michigan House and Senate. Three serve on statewide courts and Jocelyn Benson is Michigan’s current secretary of state. Scores more hold offices at the township, city, county, school board and precinct levels. MPLP alumni also lead in nonprofit and for-profit organizations and tribal governing bodies.

MPLP makes its campus home at IPPSR, which specializes in public policy, political leadership and survey research, as a unit of MSU’s College of Social Science.

This year’s Fellows were publicly named Jan. 3.

“We continue to be impressed by MPLP applicants and by our graduating MPLP Fellows,” said Steve Tobocman, MPLP co-director who is a former House majority floor leade and is a national leader in immigrant economic development.

As co-director, he works alongside Susy Avery, a former Republican Party director and executive in the administration of Republican Gov. John Engler.

The new MPLP class meets for the first time later this month, and spends a weekend each month in specialized curriculum that takes them through campaign, organization and budget workshops and skill-building exercises.

Among the more than 600 MPLP alumni, at least half are currently serving or have served in elected or appointed offices.

Other 2020 Fellows include:

• Anuja Rajendra of Ann Arbor, founder of BollyFit, a health and fitness provider. She ran for state Senate in 2018 in a contested, three-way primary election

• Laurel Abraham, East Grand Rapids, director of development for the Liberty Justice Center, a nonprofit litigation firm.

• Amanda Brand, Rockford, manages sales and marketing for MINDSCAPE website development firm.

• Former Albion mayor Garrett Brown, chief of staff to state Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit.

• Robert Carlin, Owosso, resource manager with US Ecology and Shiawassee County grain farmer, and a Shiawasssee County Farm Bureau Board director.

• Attorney Ponce Clay, Detroit, founder and principal of The Clay Group, LLC, and a past chair of the Detroit Board of Ethics.

• Scott Czasak, Macomb, working in quality control for the U.S. Census Bureau in Macomb County and a former legislative aide in the U.S. Congress and Michigan House.

• Erin Gianapoulos, of Detroit, in her 2L year at Wayne State University Law School, and serves on the Habitat for Humanity Detroit board of directors.

• Joe Greene, Rochester, legislative aide working for State Rep. Andrea Schroeder, R-Independence Township.

• Bilal Hammoud, Dearborn Heights, public engagement associate for the Michigan Department of State.

• Mary Catherine Hannah, Harbor Springs, Executive Director for two senior living properties in Presbyterian Villages of Michigan.

• Lindsay Kronemeyer, Dorr, a commercial risk advisor and chair of Kent County Young Republicans.

• Ernestine Lyons, Detroit, is a business opportunity coordinator for Detroit.

• Jennifer Miles, Rochester Hills, lieutenant in the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and first female operator on the Oakland County SWAT Team.

• Todd Mutchler, Northville, director of Northville Township public safety and township manager and a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

• E’yandra Otis, Detroit, works in community relations for Detroit City Council member Roy McCalister, Jr., and is an elected precinct delegate.

• Mariah Phelps, Kalamazoo, legislative director with state Rep, Jim Haadsma, D-Battle Creek, and previously worked with the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

• Martha Potere, Detroit, senior small business strategy manager for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

• Zach Rich, Farmington Hills, caseworker for U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Michigan.

• Madeline Watts, Troy, policy advisor for the Michigan Senate Majority Policy Office.

• Donald Whitley, Farmington Hills, a labor relations representative with the Michigan Department of Civil Service Commission.

• Amanda Wright, of Metamora, chief of staff for Sen. Kevin Daley, R-Lum.


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