Ford School Grads and Interns at Work in the World
In addition to the resources available in the Graduate Career Services library, the following handouts, forms, and links can assist you in accessing career information and assistance at any time. We encourage you to download these documents as needed.
The Ford School MPP degree provides an exceptionally flexible professional education, preparing students for careers in domestic or international affairs across a wide range of policy areas. Our MPP curriculum provides a set of research, analytical, and management skills that are widely transferable across sectors and issue areas, and graduates often move back and forth between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors over the course of their careers. In addition to the rigorous coursework, the Ford School curriculum provides students with hands-on, practical policy experience, in part by requiring a policy-related summer internship to give students the opportunity to develop and enhance their skills in a real-world setting.
Below is a map showing the locations of many internships and jobs held by Ford School students and alumni. Click on the student/alum name for complete details.
Browse the map above to read what Ford School alumni and students have to say about their work experiences and about the preparation provided by their Ford School education.
As vice president of public affairs for Best Buy, I?m responsible for the strategic direction and management of global government affairs and corporate responsibility and sustainability. I oversee the company's environmental strategy and programs, including advancing sustainable products and services, further reducing the company's carbon footprint, and complying with environmental laws and regulations. In this role, I work with stakeholders on public policy and broader business issues impacting customers, employees, shareholders, and communities. The goal: to reach the company's business objectives while mitigating risk and enhancing opportunities through responsible business practices.
The MPA program at the Ford School helped supplement my experience and further develop my analytical skills. I've always been interested in international public affairs, and the coursework at the Ford School helped strengthen my interest in working for a multi-national company. The Ford School was realistic about the intersection of public policy and politics- something I navigate every day in my current work. While at the Ford School, I had the good fortune of working directly with Professor Janet Weiss (later Dean of the Rackham Graduate School) on my final project which explored corporate responsibility and ethics in the private sector. Now, I'm involved in Best Buy's corporate responsibility strategy and implementation and can say that being a responsible corporate citizen is a top consideration in everything we do.
As a member of the United States Foreign Service, I help to represent America overseas. So far, I've served as a consular officer in Bangkok. Thailand, have helped re-open the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, and have had the chance to live as a U.S. diplomat in Sydney, Australia. My responsibilities have ranged from assisting Americans in foreign countries to preparing briefings for high-level officials, with rarely a dull moment in-between.
The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy allowed me to vault into the Foreign Service with a solid grasp of the international political arena and a fluid knowledge of the quantitative underpinnings beneath it all. Interactions with my professors and peers at the Ford School played a huge part in preparing me for the challenges of representing America overseas. The problem-solving-centric approach of the courses at Michigan continues to pay dividends, allowing me to confidently approach each day on the job.
Kate Cardamone Shouse
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Economics Branch analyzes the economic impacts of climate change and potential policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The branch advances the state of knowledge of climate change economics, develops and applies economic models for greenhouse gas emission projections, and conducts benefit cost/analyses of greenhouse gas regulations.
My portfolio includes benefits estimation, regulatory impact analysis, and international capacity building. In particular, I support efforts to quantify the economic benefits of greenhouse gas emission reductions by reviewing econometric studies and analyzing model output. I apply this information to benefit/cost analyses, which inform decision making about climate policy and EPA regulations. In addition, I am organizing an international modeling forum to strengthen economic modeling capabilities in developing countries. This capacity building project will produce economic analyses that inform the development of climate policies that reduce emissions growth while meeting economic development objectives.
The rigorous analytical training I received at the Ford School enabled me to secure this challenging and rewarding position in climate economics. I continue to use the skills and techniques that I learned in Ford School classes, such as Benefit Cost Analysis, Public Sector Economics, and Applied Econometrics, and the environmentally-focused courses at the School of Natural Resources and Environment. In addition to economic training, the Ford School classes provided me a practical framework to assess the political and ethical dimensions of policy issues. Finally, I continue to benefit from Michigan's strong alumni connections. Alums first helped open doors for me when I searched for a job after graduation and have continued to provide me with valuable career development advice.
This summer I interned for the Women's Human Rights Program at Amnesty International, USA. I learned a great deal about human rights issues through my own research and by attending expert panels, and I also worked on a variety of tasks; no two days were the same. What I loved most about Amnesty was the flexibility to pursue my own interests within the wider range of human rights, and the opportunity to practice a plethora of skills, such as managing social media, writing policy briefs, building political strategies, and editing grassroots advocacy materials. Working at Amnesty was exciting, and will, I hope, help open the doors for me to return to the field of human rights after I graduate.
The Ford School helped hone my policy writing and communication skills, and gave me tools to build better policy strategies. Being able to pare down a multitude of information into one page was really useful, and the critical thinking skills developed from writing memos helped me provide more meaningful work to Amnesty. Being able to meet short deadlines was also valuable in such a fast-paced environment. While I didn't use my quantitative skills extensively during the internship, knowing what the numbers meant as I encountered them in my research helped deepen my understanding of the subjects I was writing about. Overall, my internship was really illuminating as to where I want my career to go post-graduation.
My work at the Office of Management and Budget focuses on federal programs that either extend credit or guarantee credit to non-federal organizations or individuals. I work on a diverse set of issues including housing, community development, student loans, international food aid, and export financing. Under the provisions of the Federal Credit Reform Act, the total estimated present value of the cost of these programs must be appropriated upfront.
It is my job to explain the requirements of credit budgeting and assist in developing the models necessary to estimate costs over time. My coursework at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy gave me the background in economics and statistics I need to understand complex econometric modeling as well as the value of a simple historical average. Studying at the Ford School taught me to conduct concise objective analysis and helped place me in a position to apply those skills to issues that matter to me.
I am a senior consultant within IBM's public sector Business Consulting Services. We work with large federal clients in the areas of defense, intelligence, education, homeland security, and services to solve some of the more difficult technical, logistic, and policy-related challenges facing government today. I work primarily with the U.S. Postal Service on issues that span the quantitative/qualitative spectrum. They include: optimizing performance of mail handling networks, evaluating customer satisfaction data, evaluating strategic partnerships and providing the analytics to support strategies for making USPS viable in face of declining mail volumes and increases in electronic communication. I get great satisfaction in working for an organization that can bring the latest technology in world-class thinkers to bear on the problems facing government.
While there are a great number of things that I continue to appreciate about my education at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy (continued sense of community, accessibility of faculty), there are two that stand out most prominently. The first is the strength of the curriculum, particularly on the quantitative side. I left Ann Arbor well prepared to handle some of the more rigorous analytic exercises that have been assigned to me over the years. The opportunities available to me now are much more interesting and rewarding than they would have been without this training. The second is the opportunity to work on real-world issues alongside classroom learning. These exercises were a great way to augment our education and to provide an environment to apply our newly developed skills.
My tasks at DTE Energy Company range from building financial models for potential business combinations to preparing presentations on industry trends and corporate strategy for the company's Board of Directors. On any given issue, DTE will have multiple stakeholders weighing in and shaping business decisions - from environmental groups on potential CO2 legislation, to the Michigan Public Service Commission on utility rate-making, to community activist groups voicing concerns over a new credit reporting policy. The Gerald R. Ford School of Public policy provided the tools to analyze, comprehend, and take the appropriate actions in DTE Energy's dynamic business environment.
A dual Masters of Public Policy and Masters of Business Administration degree would be extremely useful in this type of position to assure that you have the requisite finance and accounting experience. More and more corporations are realizing that simply maximizing short-term profits does not lead to sustainable value creation. A policy degree from the Ford School provides the broad perspective and insights into the political process necessary to help corporations become more effective, socially responsible and profitable.
Dana R.H. Doan
The U.S.-Vietnam Council Education Forum (the educational affiliate of the U.S.-Vietnam Trade Council) helps to provide technical assistance to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on issues relating to international global integration. As an international trade policy analyst, my primary responsibilities include: 1)monitoring the political and economic relationship of the U.S. and Vietnam; 2)regularly communicating with member companies, U.S. government officials and other diplomatic representatives in Vietnam on issues affecting the bilateral relationship; and 3)organizing overseas and in-country studies of technical assistance programs for Vietnamese officials.
With a concentration in international economic development, at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy I developed a better understanding about the advantages and disadvantages of removing trade barriers and joining trade alliances, considering the impacts of the private sector and society as a whole in both developed and developing countries. The Ford School showed me how to use qualitative and quantitative data to assess government policies, an invaluable skill in monitoring implementation of the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement and evaluating expected impacts of Vietnam's accession to the World Trade Organization. In preparing policy papers and reports for my various courses, I improved my ability to communicate information and opinions on policy issues, which I am often asked to do when drafting talking points, memorandums, press releases, and reports.
Last, but not least, I am forever in debt to the Ford School for introducing me to my husband, Tom Doan, MPP '98, who supports me every day and often reminds me of what we learned at the Ford School!
I am a programme manager and senior evaluator with Khulisa Management Services, a local South African monitoring and evaluation (M&E) firm. I support organizations seeking to demonstrate the results of their programs and to use high quality data for decision making. With so much aid flowing into South Africa, our firm plays a key role in helping donors understand the value of their contributions. Khulisa works with a wide range of clients including local governments; international donors such as USAID, CARE, and the Centers for Disease Control; and a growing segment of corporate social investors such as The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and the Anglo American Chairman's Fund. Our firm specializes in education, health (HIV/AIDS and TB interventions), social development (orphans and vulnerable children), and economic growth (youth unemployment and the small business sector).
My work in education spans primary and secondary school interventions with a focus on improving math and literacy outcomes. In my day to day work, I develop programme logic models, design evaluation frameworks, and manage fieldwork. Donors and governments want to know: How is this intervention making an impact? Is it cost-effective? Should it continue to receive funding? The Ford School not only introduced me to South Africa through the Quantitative Social Research course, but gave me the rigorous quantitative and qualitative research skills needed to approach these questions. Still, at the end of the day, the 'numbers' are just a part of the story. To facilitate change within the donor space, one must have conviction as well as the ability to build consensus; the Ford School will give you plenty of practice.
For my summer internship, I worked for Innovations for Poverty Action (http://www.poverty-action.org/) in Malawi on a financial behavior and savings research study. Much of my work involved project management during the baseline survey and while the banks were offering accounts to local residents. I helped manage the field team, the data collection and input (in STATA), and the qualitative interview process. I loved seeing data collection on the ground, and getting to understand the complications and compromises that go into experimental studies. It was extremely valuable to be able to take part in conference calls with the principle researchers as the study developed (Dean Yang, Ford School; Jess Goldberg, a Ford School alum now with the University of Maryland; Xavier Gine, World Bank; and Lasse Brune, U of M) and to get to work with the local bank partners.
Several aspects of my first year at the Ford School were extremely valuable for my internship experience. My first day there I was already working with STATA (an elective course), setting up the randomized selection of project participants. Program Evaluation and Statistics were helpful in understanding why data quality mattered and how our survey design and data collection could influence final results. Economics of Developing Countries (another elective) helped provide context for the study we were conducting. In addition, a faculty connection whom I met with throughout my second semester was able to recommend me for the position. Overall, my internship experience allowed me to explore my interest in international economic development research, and emphasized the importance of disseminating that research to the policy arena.
After working for two years in Washington, D.C., as a policy analyst for HIV/AIDS Prevention for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), I moved to Atlanta to begin a fellowship with the Federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Associate Director for Management and Operations of the National Immunization Program. I analyzed policy options for areas such as vaccine stockpiles management. I also worked on workforce development with another office of CDC, and later went to Bihar, India, for three months as part of the global polio eradication campaign.
As part of the PHPS Program and CDC, I went on a two-year field assignment to New Orleans with the state health agency and a statewide non-profit, the Louisiana Public Health Institute. There I worked on a policy initiative regarding indoor air policies and tobacco prevention efforts.
I returned to CDC in 2001 and worked for two years with the CDC's Injury Center in the Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation. Currently, I work with performance management in CDC's Procurement and Grants Office, which awards approximately $5.5 billion annually.
The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy helped me develop many skills that I have used at different times during my career. I developed strong quantitative analysis skills, policy analysis skills, and organizational management skills. I was able to take classes at the School of Business and the School of Public Health. The opportunity to gain a Master Degree in Public Policy gave me the perspective and competencies I need to work in multiple sectors of public policy.
As the head of market-based approaches at the Clinton Global Initiative, I work with corporations, non-profits, government, private citizens, and family foundations that rely on the power of markets and market mechanisms to address social and environmental challenges. I work with member organizations on topics ranging from financial inclusion at the base of the pyramid, small-and-medium size enterprise growth and innovation, impact investing, and redefining the future of capitalism.
Previously, I was an assistant director at The Asia Foundation, designing, implementing, and monitoring programs for economic reform, women's empowerment, disaster recovery, environmental management, and more. Prior to The Asia Foundation, I worked with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation's Population and Development program; as a Presidential Management Fellow at USAID focusing on policy and strategy; and on and off Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
I chose the Ford School because of its strong reputation for quantitative economic skills, which I really felt I needed (to supplement my political science and Capitol Hill policy work experience) to advance my career. The fact that I could take graduate-level electives in the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business (this is true of all graduate schools on campus) was immensely helpful, too. Those courses have served me well professionally, preparing me to converse with the kinds of CEOs and corporate social responsibility teams I work with regularly at the Clinton Global Initiative.
I am an international trade economist and advisor to the Minister for Trade at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. As one of the world's most open economies, international trade is essential to Sweden's prosperity. The Ministry's areas of responsibility include, among other things, international trade policy, trade promotion, and the internal market of the European Union. In addition to analyzing and advising on matters concerning trade policy, I also manage a project which sets out to spur trade between Sweden and immigrants' birth countries by encouraging participation of immigrants in trade activities and networks.
My experience at the Ford School was invaluable in providing me with the analytical and practical skills needed for this position. International trade policy requires a deep understanding of a wide range of disciplines, such as economics, international relations, political science, and public management. I benefited greatly from the quantitative courses, as well as from the comprehensive training in practical aspects of implementation provided at the Ford School. The guidance of the prominent Ford School faculty was essential to the learning experience and the development of necessary policy skills. In this regard, my paper on migration and trade, which I developed at the Ford School, proved to be critical to the launch of the project I am currently managing at the Foreign Ministry.
Since I graduated from the Ford School in 2000, I have worked in the field of international development and have developed extensive experience designing, implementing, and managing international development assistance policies and programs involving decentralization, local government reform, and education decentralization. I am a member of DAI, a consulting firm based in Bethesda, Maryland. At DAI, I have particularly developed a keen sense of project management procedures through my experience working in Central and Eastern Europe and the New Independent States. I served as the Program Director in Macedonia during March 2006 to September 2007 where I managed an education decentralization project funded by the Government of the Netherlands. Currently I am in Belgrade, Serbia as the Deputy Director of a large USAID-funded program that helps businesses in difficult environments grow and provides employment opportunities for the country's most vulnerable populations and by helping municipalities be more resilient in times of crisis or disasters.
During the summer of 2013, I interned with Accenture's health and public service management division. As an advanced-degree intern, I worked closely with a large national health insurance company to prepare for operational changes related to the Affordable Care Act. My internship experience dovetailed perfectly with my previous professional experience at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where I helped implement health insurance exchanges. Accenture, a private consulting company, gave me a unique opportunity to see how the public and private sectors approach similar issues. This perspective is incredibly valuable, and one that will make me a more effective policymaker in the future.
I employed a variety of analytical skills during my internship- skills that I developed during my first year at the Ford School. When working with clients on operational issues, analytical thinking helped me find the most effective solutions. In addition to an analytical framework, the ability to clearly and concisely articulate a problem, and the potential options for addressing it, was also very valuable. Ultimately, my internship allowed me to explore the intersection of policy, operations, and the private sector. I really enjoyed thinking about these complex relationships, and understanding how effective policymaking needs to incorporate the viewpoints and needs of many stakeholders in order to be effective.
I have worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) since 2000, and am currently the Director of Alternative Development in Bogota, Colombia, where I manage the U.S. Government's program dedicated to providing alternative livelihoods for Colombians involved in the drug industry. Prior to my assignment in Bogota, I was USAID's Director of Economic Growth in Baghdad where I managed the U.S. Government's largest economic development portfolio, the Iraq reconstruction programs related to economic policy, private sector development, and agriculture sector rehabilitation. Prior to these assignments, I served in Jordan, South Africa, and Washington with USAID, was detailed to the State Department to assist in the creation of the millennium Challenge Corporation, and worked in the private sector with several multinational companies in the U.S., Asia, and Latin America.
The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy is by far one of the most flexible and dynamic public policy programs in the U.S. When I talk with other MPPs and MPAs with whom I work, they are all openly envious of my experience of being able to choose my own focus areas and courses beyond the relatively few required courses. Knowing that I wanted to focus on a profession that would help the private sector be a part of the international development paradigm, I did about half of my coursework at the public policy school, with the other half equally divided between the business and law schools. I have never heard of another program that would allow its students to do that, nor do I know of another university that has so many of its schools rated in the top ten nationally. The Ford School program also is small, so personal attention is equivalent to that of a small liberal arts school, and yet the University and Ann Arbor have so much to offer outside the classroom--art gallery openings, concerts, Wolverines football or a Tigers game, kayaking, or a 10k run were not impossible to cram into a weekend if you could get away from the books for a while. I truly felt that my academic options were unlimited at Michigan.
Bhavani Prathap Kasina
I am leading the research division at the Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) South Asia. J-PAL conducts rigorous evaluations in the field of international development and provides much needed objective evidence to several stakeholders including funding agencies and policy makers. For more information on our work visit www.povertyactionlab.org
"Objective evidence" is a really powerful tool in the hands of the right stakeholders and has the potential to steer vast resources towards anti-poverty programs that actually work thus catalyzing our fight against poverty. Working with J-PAL for the last 4.5 years has been the most rewarding phase of my professional life because I know for a fact that the work I do has a tangible effect on real people. J-PAL has thus far positively affected 63 million lives and I am proud to be a part of this movement of combating poverty with actual evidence.
Ford School rewards hard work and talent without fail, no matter your background. I came to the Ford School as a young engineering undergraduate from college. Not only did the Ford School introduce me to details of the world of public policy, it also gave me the tools and training to thrive in the policy world.
The graduate career office was instrumental in securing and funding my summer internship at the City of Ann Arbor. The alumni network is just terrific. I found my job in India through the DC trip organized by the Ford School when I connected with an alumnus.
Last but not the least; I strongly believe that my success in the evaluation world is a direct result of the economics, evaluation and STATA courses I took at the Ford School. I will remember my time at the Ford School and the people there with great fondness and enormous respect.
I chose to attend the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy for its national reputation, the curriculum designed for public leaders to develop and refine a set of analytical and communication skills applicable to any policy arena, and the prospect of interdisciplinary training with other schools such as Law, Business, and Social Work. A Master Degree from the Ford School afforded me the opportunity to work for the federal government in Washington, D.C.
After working in federal and county governments, I successfully transitioned my career into the private sector. I now serve as a corporate communications manager for Health Net, Inc. leading the company's community and business engagement effort. In a post-federal health care reform era, the health insurance industry is moving away from a traditional Business-to-Business industry to a Direct-to Consumer marketplace; thus, requiring business leaders to be nimble. In my capacity, I apply analytical, problem-solving, and management skills to pave a new community and business engagement path for Health Net and help build its brand visibility and presence in communities ripe for affordable health coverage under the state health insurance exchange and expansion of the Medicaid program. The Ford School prepared me with the necessary skills for redefining how we connect and engage with value-conscious consumers.
This summer I was the Migration, Environment and Climate Change intern at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Geneva, Switzerland. I worked with a small-but active and growing- unit in the organization that advocates for integrating migration into the discussion of climate change and environmental issues. My tasks included extensive research on food security and migration, editing publications, and participating in conferences. I loved the atmosphere in Geneva, both at IOM and in the United Nations system, and especially the quality and diversity of the talented people who work for international organizations.
My first year at the Ford School was vital to my internship experience. The background in human rights and international norms I learned in Susan Waltz's International Human Rights and Phil Potter's Politics of Public Policy courses helped me understand the workings of the UN system. The writing in first-year classes, including a seminar with the writing instructors, helped prepare me for the concise and clear style demanded by the organization. Also, because of the generosity of alumni donors, I was able to get a Ford School Partnership-an exclusive internship with a summer-long stipend- that funded my travel and living expenses in Geneva. Without this, I would not have had the opportunity to spend my summer abroad working for an organization like IOM.
Since I completed my MPP, I have worked with multilateral organizations and the Argentinean public sector. I covered different topics, focused mainly on monitoring and evaluation, performance management, and institutional analysis. I started as a junior professional associate with the World Bank in Washington DC, and later had several consultancies for both the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank. In addition, I have worked for the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Economy of the Government of Argentina.
My career as an independent consultancy is supported by a strong analytical approach that was in great part developed by the courses on policy analysis and international development I completed in the MPP. The MPP helped me develop my quantitative skills, as well as increase my knowledge of international development. I took advantage of the dual degree option, and enjoyed the combination of domestic and international policy analysis within the program. I had the chance to work closely with and receive excellent support from faculty members as a research assistant and a student instructor. During my three years at the Ford School (dual degree included) I also traveled abroad with school programs, participating twice in the International Economic Development Program (Venezuela and Cuba), and completing my 10-week summer internship in Montenegro.
As the public policy fellow at the Council of Michigan Federations, I am a liaison between the philanthropic and public sectors, facilitating networking and educational opportunities to discuss key issues, including education, prisoner reentry, Michigan's economy, aging and healthcare, early childhood, and land use. CMF works to showcase new models for reform introduced by member foundations, as well as provide early information about state-led initiatives to possible philanthropic partners.
Coursework at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy is instrumental in encouraging students to see the relationships between issues, from poverty and poor life outcomes to a struggling economy and inadequate social services. Beyond classes, the interactions with students and faculty from a variety of backgrounds and interests helps foster a deep appreciation for new perspective that translates into openness toward cross-sector work and a desire to seek mutually beneficial solutions to community problems.
Obtaining a policy degree has opened doors in every area of interest that I could have possibly dreamed. Both the private and public sectors seek after professionals with policy degrees for the critical thinking skills, written and oral skills and ability to understand the context in which policies that affect our public and private activities are shaped. These skills are invaluable to every type of employer. As a GAO analyst whom Congress heavily relies upon for expert policy analysis, I can definitely profess that the Ford School has equipped me with all of these skills. The Ford school provided the right balance of critical thinking, qualitative and quantitative research skills, written and oral communication challenges and political exposure. The school provides hands on experience for students to reinforce their education and training, such as sending students to South Africa to teach students and professionals how to use statistical analysis tools to develop their research. At GAO, I work on policies ranging from the viability of federal agencies, such as the Postal Service to evaluating the Department of Homeland Security's ability to protect our nation. I have the ability to work on such a broad set of issues because the skills that I obtained at the Ford school are so wide- reaching and applicable. At GAO and other agencies that I work with, the graduates from Michigan stand out as excellent analyst and professionals. This is why the public and private sector continue to come back to the Ford School for more.
Aiman F. Mackie
I am a part of the UNDP's effort to help build the technical capacity of Lebanese public policy institutions, amongst which is the Ministry of Economy and Trade. Lebanon is currently seeking to accede to the World Trade Organization, and to sign a number of regional and bilateral trade agreements. My contribution to this effort, as seconded staff to the Ministry, is in the preparation of impact assessments targeted toward official economic decision makers, as well as to coordinate the Ministry's reform and fiscal adjustment projects. I also serve as an economic specialist in the Trade Remedies Investigative Authority, which addresses injurious trade practices.
My Ford School experience has proved invaluable in equipping me with the host of analytical and project management skills required for this type of position. I benefited from a wide range of courses in quantitative analysis, as well as other forms of training that prepare a policy analyst to ask the right questions, to learn how to access the right tools to provide relevant answers, and to present them in an effective manner. I participated in the FSPP's international programs, which provided one of my first experiences of interacting with top policy makers and analysts. The University of Michigan's leading Arab and Middle East studies programs helped build my area specialization.
Founded in 1946, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally. As one of the largest behavioral and social science research organizations in the world (1,500 employees worldwide), AIR is committed to empowering communities and institutions with innovative solutions to the most critical challenges in education, health, workforce, and international development. AIR?s foundation is in education research, and the organization is a national leader in teaching and learning improvement, providing the research, assessment, evaluation, and technical assistance to ensure that all students?particularly those who face historical disadvantages?have access to a high-quality, effective education.
As a researcher at AIR, I conduct evaluations and work to provide useful and informative results to clients and the education community at large. My areas of interest and expertise are focused on technology integration and online learning. I am currently co-leading the evaluation of a National Science Foundation Informal Science Education Grant-funded after-school program seeking to engage students in cryptography and related mathematics. In addition to my research and evaluation work, I serve as the Bride Event Coordinator for the Regional Educational Laboratory of the Midwest (REL Midwest). In this role, I oversee the development of our Connecting Research to Practice events, which are geared at providing opportunities for experts to share evidence-based research with practitioners and policymakers. Through REL Midwest, I also provide technical assistance, outreach, and research to seven REL Midwest states and serve as the state liaison to Wisconsin.
I regularly employ tools from my education at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, including empirical analysis, study design, and program evaluation. My coursework allowed me to build and hone these skills while also providing opportunities to develop content knowledge in the School of Education. Perhaps most importantly, the policy perspective helps me to translate and communicate research to varied audiences, from educators and administrators to superintendents and state legislators. Since our work bridges practice, research, and policymaking, we strive to investigate what works and leverage results for policy change.
At AIR, we consistently seek out graduates of the Ford School because of the blend of analytic, communication, and content area skills that the Master of Public Policy Program cultivates. We provide the opportunity for our employees to directly apply and develop their policy school skills and pursue prospective job-candidates that possess an understanding of program evaluation, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis skills, and knowledge of current education policy issues.
As Chief Operating Officer of Direct Relief International, I am responsible for overseeing the day-to-day activities and strategic planning of the organization. Direct Relief is a nongovernmental organization that provides medical assistance to local health care providers throughout the world to improve the quality of life of people victimized by poverty, disaster, and civil unrest.
In 2005/2006, I was on assignment to the United Nation Office of that Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, led by Special Envoy President Bill Clinton. I focused my work at the UN on environmental issues and the role of NGOs in the recovery effort.
While I work on international issues, I focused my studies at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy on issues of equity in education in the United States. Making the "switch" from domestic to international was quite natural with training from the Ford School. While coursework does focus on substantive information about specific issues, the goal is to learn how to think about issues.
The Ford School gave a framework to critically evaluate the political landscape, including identifying important constituencies and their related issues, and a solid foundation in quantitative analysis. The school also sharpened my ability to present ideas clearly and concisely in both written and oral presentations.
In this position at the Center for Health Policy and Research, I provide assistance to state agencies in Massachusetts in developing and evaluating policies related to long-term care for elders and people with disabilities who are eligible for public services. Specific projects that I am involved with include an initiative to develop quality indicators across various settings of care, assistance with strategic planning for the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, and conducting data analyses related to Medicaid claims. I also assisted the state in developing a policy position report called "Transforming Long-Term Supports in Massachusetts," which is now serving to guide statewide policy decisions.
Prior to my current position, I worked for 2 1/2 years as the Manager of the Center for Community Performance Measurement at the Worcester Regional Research Bureau. In that position, I was responsible for developing and analyzing performance indicators related to the provision of municipal services in a mid-sized New England city.
The education that I received from the Ford School (and through a dual-degree program with the School of Social Work) has been invaluable in preparing me to undertake my professional positions. The most important aspect has been the portability of the quantitative and qualitative skills; I've been able to apply those skills to very different policy areas with great success. I've realized that you can learn the specifics of a policy topic area (such as long-term care) relatively quickly, but the skills gained from a Ford School education will follow you across all policy areas. This has allowed me maximum professional flexibility in the topics within which I want to work.
During the summer of 2013, I had the opportunity to intern with the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which studies the efficiency and economy of government operations; compliance and noncompliance with rules, regulations, and laws; and crime and lawlessness including syndicated crime, investment fraud schemes, commodity and security fraud, computer fraud, and the use of offshore banking and corporate facilities to carry out criminal objectives. As an aide to subcommittee staff, I produced in-depth research, including political and empirical analyses, for both ongoing investigations and potential subcommittee actions. I also worked with subcommittee staff members to craft letters of inquiry for top-level business leaders and administration officials.
In terms of the work products that were asked of me during the course of this internship, Public Policy 510 (The Politics of Public Policy) gave me a strong base of knowledge for evaluating policy options. This framework and analytical thought process was helpful but, more practically, this course also developed my writing skills, which proved critical. The Ford School's coursework, emphasis on real-world and team projects, and educated discussion with professors and classmates, all prepared me to formulate and communicate over the summer. These interactions allowed me to not only provide a better work product to the subcommittee, but also to get the most out of my internship experience.
As Director of Programs for the Disadvantaged for a newly established foundation in Bulgaria, I have the unique opportunity to help design strategies and establish indicators that will set the direction of our engagement in the years to come. The America for Bulgaria Foundation (ABF) was founded in 2008 subsequent to the successful conclusion of an U.S. investment fund begun in 1991. This $400 million foundation will address economic and social challenges in Bulgaria and will encourage efforts to enhance civil society, education, history and archeology, agriculture, and the arts. ABF's support for the disadvantaged will focus on Bulgaria's poorest ethnic group, the Roma, who face considerable challenges in the fields of education and employment.
One of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy's chief attractions was its dual degree program with the Center for Russian and East European Studies (CREES.) This three year program allowed me to contextualize and explore prior experiences I had had working with the Roma in Eastern Europe and deepen geographic expertise, while developing and strengthening analytical and program evaluation skills. Both professors and peers at the Ford School challenged and honed my speaking, writing, and quantitative facilities preparing me for later work with USAID and the Department of State. These experiences paved the way for my current work in Bulgaria and have given me the confidence I need to manage a large portfolio in a complex environment.
Fernando Mendoza Prada
PRODES in a USAID program aimed at supporting the decentralization process in Peru. Five years before the first election of regional authorities in 2002--the cornerstone of the decentralization process in Peru, the Peruvian government initiated a program of de-concentration of public sector programs in order to narrow the gap between citizens and their government. Recently, PRODES has initiated an impact evaluation program of the whole decentralization program, and as a first step, commissioned a series of background papers to design upcoming steps in the process.
My main duty working for PRODES was to research and write a background paper linking the scale of administrative units and the efficiency on the provision of public goods and services, including some research on how other countries have designed institutional frameworks to deal with the scale problem. As this was a research program, I worked mostly independently, though I had bi-weekly meetings with the PRODES officers. I also had the opportunity to give two presentations to the PRODES team in charge of the design of the program to generate a set of strategic lines and objectives to frame the evaluation of the program.
The primary contribution of my Ford School experience in my work at PRODES was that I found myself much more open to new perspectives when dealing with a particular issue. Though my background is specifically in economics, I was able to present a more multidisciplinary perspective that used concepts from political science, urban/rural policy classes, and institutional economics.
After accepting a position with USAID's Madagascar office, I was assigned to work with the Health, Population, and Nutrition (HPN) team at USAID Madagascar, which completes a wide variety of Health programming in Madagascar from HIV/AIDS to Child Malnutrition. My task over the summer was to research and provide policy recommendations on how USAID Madagascar can become more involved in water and sanitation programming. Another intern and I worked to develop a program evaluation study for USAID on treating drinking water in rural schools.
Basically, I utilized all of the policy skills that I learned during my first year of the MPP program, from quantitative analysis to cost-benefit (figuring out the cost-effectiveness of infrastructure building), to writing policy briefs. I also utilized a lot of program evaluation skills. Otherwise foreign language skills, and just understanding general development issues and public health programming were keys to my internship.
As a recent graduate of the Ford School of Public Policy, I have been impressed by the career opportunities and increased level of skill my degree from the Ford School has provided me. The Ford School gave me an opportunity to take classes focused on multiple levels of policy making, from international to municipal. I was able to supplement that knowledge with courses from the Business School, the Law School, and the School of Natural Resources, along with a summer internship partially supported through Ford School funding. That unique education, and the multiple perspectives it afforded me, improves my ability to effectively promote organizational reforms in my current job at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC).
The SFPUC is a department of the City and County of San Francisco that provides water, wastewater, and municipal power services to San Francisco. Through 28 wholesale water agencies, the SFPUC also supplies water to 1.6 million additional customers within three Bay Area counties. The organization has recently embarked on a comprehensive strategic/sustainability planning effort to improve its environmental, economic, and social performance. My current role is to help coordinate that effort and to push forward reforms along the ?triple bottom line? to increase the SFPUC?s effectiveness. Before coming to the Ford School, I worked on corporate environmental sustainability. My education at the Ford School enabled me to transfer those skills to a public sector context. I am excited to be working at the cutting edge of public management and municipal environmental policy, and I have no doubt that my Ford School degree helped me to secure this position.
The New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) is the largest school system in the country, serving over 1.1 million students.
As a part of the recent large scale Children First reform effort, the NYC DOE has re-envisioned how it holds schools accountable. My work has entailed the design and implementation of accountability measures and instructional supports embedded in the reforms. We have re-defined what it means to be a ?successful? school to include measures of student academic improvement or ?growth? from year to year, and not simply static indicators of achievement. Additionally, I have helped to design an ?inquiry? process by which teachers look closely at student achievement data to inform targeted instruction.
The Ford School prepared me well for my current role in several ways. While at the Ford School, I further developed my general policy analysis and critical thinking skills. In my current position, I frequently write policy memos about issues and proposed actions related to various aspects of our accountability program. I learned the discipline for this type of writing in my first-year coursework at the Ford School. My program evaluation classes proved helpful, as I currently oversee research and evaluation about our inquiry work. Additionally, while at the Ford School, I took several courses specifically focused on education policy issues. The content of these classes (federal legislation, school reform, etc.) provided important context for my current work.
The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) is a non-profit organization working to strengthen and expand democracy worldwide. In many countries, advocates of democracy lack experience with democratic practices and face weakened or non-existent democratic institutions. They have turned to NDI for assistance in building their democratic structures from national legislatures and local governments that function with openness and competence to broad-based political parties that are vehicles for public policy debates as well as non-partisan civic organizations that promote democratic values and citizen participation.
As Senior Program Officer based in Johannesburg, South Africa, my work focuses on strengthening the capacity of democratic political and civic actors to advocate for reform in southern Africa with a particular focus on the crisis in Zimbabwe. This includes increasing regional and international awareness of the situation in the country and region as well as providing assistance to domestic organizations to monitor elections to ensure that people have confidence in the political system.
To be effective, we need to operate at several levels simultaneously--not only understanding political dynamics within the country, but also in the region and internationally--and respond accordingly. This involves skills in policy analysis and program management that the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy provided through both coursework and engagement with faculty and peers in hands-on practical exercises. The MPP program provided me with these skills and, more importantly, an understanding of the context within which international policy interacts with issues at a national and local level.
As the South America Emergency Program Manager for Catholic Relief Services, I'm faced with complex, multi-layered problems on a daily basis. Whether it's developing a response to an earthquake in Peru or preparing an evacuation strategy for communities living in the shadow of a volcano in Colombia, I am confident in my ability to meet the challenge due in large part to critical thinking skills developed at the Ford School of Public Policy.
I am the Chief Financial Officer for the Colorado Department of Corrections. In this capacity, I oversee a wide range of administrative functions for the Department: the finance office (budget preparation, budget implementation, accounts and control, purchasing, contracting, and the warehouse), the office of strategic planning and statistical analysis, the office of human resources, the training academy, facility planning (capital lease and construction projects), correctional industries, legislative and intergovernmental affairs, public information office, victims? services, and information technology. As one of the Department?s three deputy directors, I provide policy direction and guidance for the administration of the Department.
Many of the skills I acquired at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy apply directly to my current responsibilities. Collectively, the curriculum at the Ford School helped me to understand the policy making process and the importance of quantitative and qualitative analyses in public policy decision making (e.g., statistics, economics, policy analysis, and benefit-cost analysis). In my current job, I have quickly learned the limitations of my own knowledge. As an administrator, I do not have the time or the ability to analyze the multitude of issues that arise on a daily basis. Knowing which questions to ask is every bit as important as knowing the answers to those questions. The skills I acquired at the University of Michigan have enabled me to quickly process information that is provided to me by others and to scrutinize that information for potential flaws, biases, or short comings. Through a wide range of courses at the University of Michigan, I acquired the ability to write succinct, cogent memos. I also acquired the ability to multi task and to make decisions with imperfect information. My participation in a wide variety of group projects at the University of Michigan has been extremely valuable for me now that I work for an agency with 6,700 employees.
The Ford School gave me the quantitative foundation necessary to pursue a career in data and analytics and put me in a position to use those skills for causes I care about. When I was at the U.S. Department of Labor, I created models to identify the unemployment insurance claimants most in need of reemployment services and designed performance management systems for job training programs. Then I worked for the White House and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, analyzing online traffic and building technological infrastructure. Later I worked for the Obama Campaign, where I built databases for polling data and targeted TV ads and direct mail. At Amazon, I use the same analytical skills to work on even bigger data sets--shoppers' behavior on Amazon and the performance of online ads.
Attending the Ford School kick-started my career, enabling me to jump to a job in government that gave me the flexibility to work on several types of projects. The coursework not only trained me to work with and analyze data, but also to communicate the results cogently. Gaining a broad base of experience at the Ford School was a huge benefit, especially when switching between roles and taking on new responsibilities.
I provide fundamental credit research in support of the firm's investment strategies. This means understanding the financial, economic, governance and legal aspects of prospective fixed income investments. Our decision to buy or sell is based on this fundamental analysis in conjunction with an understanding of current market valuations. The policy angle is vital given that our firm focuses on municipal bonds in which politics and policy decisions play a direct role in shaping investor sentiment and market returns.
For those interested in a career in public finance, the MPP is very well regarded. At the Ford School, I focused my coursework on economics and certain technical skills such as accounting, finance and spreadsheet analysis. Any public finance employer will value these important elements of a Ford School education. Equally important is a thorough understanding of the policy-making environment as epitomized in more qualitative Ford School courses. In other words, my job involves understanding the motivations of political actors, objectively assessing policy issues, predicting likely outcomes and interpreting the impact on the value of municipal bond investments.
Michael A. Thompson
I have worked in various capacities across the professional services sector since I completed my degree at the Ford School. My initial position was a client serving role that entailed performing economic analyses on cross border business transactions. I then joined my current firm as part of the Americas Strategy Group. In that role I provided performed analyses on issues related to our professional and competitive dynamics, markets and accounts, risk management issues and regulatory matters. From there I assumed a role in London with our global headquarters monitoring and responding to the changing regulations imposed upon our businesses by governments in the 140 countries in which we operate. A key aspect of this position was developing mitigating strategies to address the implications of potential business risks and regulatory scenarios. Recently, I assumed a leadership role in our Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA) business driving accounts and markets strategy. This is a true testament to the broad skills I developed while at FSPP. Not only am I crossing borders, I'm crossing organizational functions.
The Ford School education prepared me well for the demands of working for a heavily regulated, private sector entity. Having pursued courses broadly across UM, I recognize that I bring an international perspective and broader set of skills than many of my counterparts. I view the Ford School education as a competitive advantage, which has differentiated me from a sea of MBAs and lawyers.
After 10 years of diverse professional experience in corporate, government and not-for-profit settings, I joined the Global Marketing Team at McDonald's in 2012. In this role, I support the Family Team's Children's Well Being priorities through strategic Stakeholder Engagement and Issues Management to advance understanding and appreciation for the role McDonald's can play in balanced lifestyles for children.
My work includes identification and management of emerging key issues relevant to McDonald's family business and brand, such as advertising and marketing regulations, nutrition, menu labeling, etc. I also monitor and analyze external trends and research data. I then work with a team to use this information for the development and maintenance of relationships with key global external stakeholders.
As global consumers demand increasing amounts of corporate social responsibility, my policy degree uniquely equips me to analyze and identify opportunities for the business to grow by doing right by society. My Ford School experience prepared me with the balance of analytical skills, focus on inter-sectoral collaboration and understanding of complex social issues to make me successful in this role.
The Forum for Youth Investment is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit, nonpartisan "action tank" dedicated to helping communities and the nation ensure that all children and youth are ready for college, work, and life. Our areas of expertise are wide-ranging, focused on ideas and strategies that support communities and leaders as they support children and youth through the second decade of life and into young adulthood.
My role as a senior program manager at the forum is to connect policy makers, advocates, researchers, and practitioners to the information and tools they need to address complex issues facing children, youth, and families. I work with researchers interested in having an impact in the policy world; practitioners who lack the time to distill research and track policy; and policy makers seeking strategic advice on both policy development and implementation. Over the past ten years, I've developed content expertise in afterschool programs, post-secondary access and completion, and the use of research evidence in the continuous improvement of youth-serving systems.
I chose the Ford School for its national reputation, its interdisciplinary focus, and the opportunity to pursue a dual degree in public policy and social work. When I got there, I found a tremendous community with my peers and professors, in addition to a rigorous analytical program- which is exactly what I wanted out of a graduate experience. The Ford School prepared me well for my current role in a wide-ranging job that takes the developmental stages of childhood and adolescence themselves, rather than single issues, as its policy frame. I regularly use the tools gained from my Ford School experience, particularly policy analysis skills, the strong foundation in domestic social policy, and - yes - writing the policy memo.
Elisabeth Wright Burak
The Arkansas Department of Human Services serves Arkansans in a multitude of ways: administering Medicaid, protecting vulnerable children, administering the juvenile justice system, providing preschool programs, and promoting choices for senior Arkansans, just to name just a few. The Office of Policy and Planning aims to strategically ?connect the dots? between all of these efforts so we can more efficiently and effectively serve Arkansas families. We do this by coordinating the DHS policy agenda, anticipating state and federal policy trends, facilitating cross-system opportunities, and finding better ways to use data to inform our decisions.
My tasks range from problem solving on specific cross-system issues to more intensive work on DHS priorities that touch multiple systems, such as children?s mental health, responses to new federal regulations, or preparations for legislative session. We provide policy support to division staff, who do not always have the luxury to regularly consider how their work connects to that of their colleagues in other parts of the department.
I spend my time asking a lot of questions: Who are we serving? What does research tell us? What kind of outcomes do we want to see? What are the alternatives? What will it cost and what are the tradeoffs? The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy provided the policy lens to frame these questions. The dual Master of Public Policy/Master of Social Work program gave me a clearer understanding about the ways policies can help or create barriers to community efforts to successfully serve children and families.
For my summer 2013 internship, I worked for Mercy Corps, assisting with a final evaluation of a peacebuilding and development program in Ethiopia. The experience was priceless. Academically, I was given the space to apply the quantitative and qualitative skills I had learned over the course of the previous academic year. Professionally, the internship allowed me to explore a new field in international peacebuilding and development policy. On a personal level, the internship not only helped me understand the relevance and need for balanced quantitative and qualitative analysis, it also made me acutely aware of the tremendous responsibility policymakers have in shaping policy, which requires being cognizant of personal biases and motivations in relation to the communities we are tasked to serve as well as understanding how we can actively help empower marginalized communities.
My first year at the Ford School greatly contributed to a successful internship experience. Two courses are principally noteworthy. Of particular importance was the social activism course taught by Yazier Henry. This course helped me think about how I designed my evaluation questionnaires in order to have interviewees' voices heard. It also made me aware of, and sensitive to, the multiple interests held by the various stakeholders I was in contact with, regardless of whether or not they actively voiced them. The statistics course was also very useful for data analysis and in thinking about relationships between different groups. It helped me think of the various associations of interest between multiple factors and whether the relationships found were statistically significant. This skill was crucial in ultimately understanding and writing about peacebuilding program successes which were later synthesized into policy recommendations for political leaders.
I interned at the China Environmental Forum of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars over the summer of 2013. My job mainly included writing research briefs on environmental and energy issues in China, managing the program's social media channels, and providing support to the Center's environment-focused events. The internship gave me a chance to work with leading policy experts from the public, private, non-profit, and academic sectors to explore the most imperative environmental issues in China and examine the opportunities for collaborative efforts to find solutions. This internship showed me how real-life issues interact with public policy, and deepened my understanding of the whole process of effective policy development from formulation and implementation to evaluation.
I secured this internship by working proactively with the Ford School's Graduate Career Services (GCS) office. From the first day that I joined the school, I made the GCS office my second home. I visited the career library in the GCS office whenever I had time, participated in professional development programs and events as much as possible, and checked in with my career counselor on a frequent basis. I actually found my internship during the school's annual DC trip. The GCS office put together a "Think Tank Info Session" at the Wilson Center and shared the panelists' backgrounds with trip attendants beforehand. I prepared for the think-tank discussion, approached one of the panelists afterward for discussion, and made a connection. In the end, she became my boss.