2017 Alumni Board Self-Nominations
Vote in the Ford School Alumni Board election! Check your e-mail for the link to the ballot, sent to you on November 15. Voting ends on Friday, November 30 at 5 p.m. EST. Read the candidates' statements below.
Cezanne Charles, MPA '15
Creative Many Michigan
I work on public policy, economic and community development initiatives, and design, technology, and social justice projects in Detroit, nationally and internationally. As Director of Creative Industries for Creative Many Michigan, I lead its research, programs, services and funding/investments focused on strengthening the creative industries in Detroit and Michigan. I sit on the Stewardship Board for the UNESCO Detroit City of Design initiative. I recently organized and moderated a set of “Universal Basic” policy dialogues about the future of work at the Saint-Étienne International Design Biennale in March 2017.
My work cross-cuts different sectors including urban policy, philanthropy, business development, technology, and social justice. My broad understanding of cross-sectoral policy impacts and fundraising expertise would add benefit to the board. I participated in the Ford School MPA happy hour, the networking simulation and the Detroit trip reception. Through these opportunities I engaged current students, identified interns for Creative Many, and remained a part of the important work of the Ford School. I would hope to further my engagement to benefit the school.
Menna Demessie, PhD '10
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
As a joint PhD “Fordie” who is VP of Policy at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and adjuncts for the Michigan in Washington Program in D.C., my personal and professional passion is to expand equity, access, and opportunity for students and underserved communities. I am running for re-election to continue building diverse pipelines of applicants, ensuring diversity stays true to its name and commitment at UM, and working with the board to keep a Ford School education in the top of its field. I’ve organized special forums, provided research opportunities, reviewed resumes, advised undergraduates, and co-hosted several events including outreach to students about pursuing a joint PhD at UM. I have served as a goodwill ambassador working with board members on our diversity recruitment strategy to increase minority applications/enrollment, spoken to SCPP students and undergraduate students about career opportunities, and spent several hours sharing with students about the value of having an advanced degree in public policy. I would be honored to have your vote of confidence to address your ideas, insights, and concerns.
Craig Diamond, MPP '93
CT Energy Efficiency Fund
I am an energy and sustainability professional with 24 years of management experience in both the public and private sectors. My career focus has been on corporate sustainability, climate change, and green energy. I have worked for diverse organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund, The Electric Power Research Institute, and The Climate Trust. Throughout my career, I have maintained a strong appreciation (which I gained at the Ford School) for objective policy analysis, and I continue to be a “policy wonk” at heart. I have been on several advisory boards, so I would apply that perspective and experience to the Alumni Board. I believe that the philosophy, approach, and skills taught by the Ford School are particularly important today in light of the unfortunate retreat from fact-based policy-making in the public sphere, and I want to do what I can to support the Ford School’s role as a leading public policy school. If chosen to serve, I would very much look forward to participating on the Alumni Board.
Kenny Fennell, MPP '17
On the Alumni Board, I would share my startup experience in social entrepreneurship to accelerate students’ careers. I would combine my professional experience with my personal. As a first-gen college student and American, I would like to support other students in their journey through these experiences from someone who has been there themselves.
Benjamin Morse (MPP ’17) and I used our time at Ford to cofound Caravan, a social enterprise that transported people living in economically depressed neighborhoods to and from work. Although we couldn’t find a viable business model in the five months after graduation, we engaged Mayor’s Offices, tech startups, automotive companies, nonprofits, and residents from Boston to Detroit to San Francisco. This experience taught us how to establish business models and create partnerships between business, nonprofit, and resident stakeholders to create financially sustainable social impact.
Although I started my career as a civil engineer, Ford enabled me to find my true passion: social entrepreneurship and city innovation. I would share my experience with Ford students to help them achieve their career goals.
Naomi Goldberg, MPP '08
Movement Advancement Project
For the past nine years, I’ve worked as a policy researcher focused on advancing equality for LGBT people and I now serve as director of policy and research for a national LGBT think tank. A focus of my work is to identity intersections between progressive and LGBT movements. I’ve worked on a number of issues impacting LGBT people from the criminal justice system to workplace issues to poverty and safety net policy to laws and policies focused on parenting and increasing data collection.
I believe the Ford School alumni, current students, and the school itself would benefit from increased alumni participation, connection, and opportunities to share knowledge and experiences. I would welcome the opportunity to build on the existing work of the Alumni Board to achieve these goals and others. Having just returned to Ann Arbor and working remotely, I am excited about serving on the board because it would allow me to reconnect with Ford School alumni, faculty, and staff. I’m an organized, proactive person who enjoys tackling big picture problems and discrete tasks.
Sean Jones, MPP '00
My time at Michigan prepared me for a career in public service that has taken me to half a dozen countries and now back to the U.S. after 13 years overseas. Living in Washington DC, this is the first time I've had the opportunity to express interest in serving on the Alumni Board, and it would be an honor to represent all of you and the Ford School. As an American diplomat and an international development professional, I've had the opportunity to truly master the skills I learned at Michigan and put them to use at the most senior levels of our country's engagement with the world. As your representative, I would employ the same commitment in support of the ambitions of Ford School students, alumni, and future Fordies. I would be an active champion at home and abroad for one of the best public policy educations you can earn. Again, it would be a sincere honor to represent all of you on the Alumni Board.
Kenneth McFarlane, MPA '14
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
I am equally proud to be both a Ford School alumnus (MPA ’14) and to serve the State of Michigan as the Deputy Director for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). At MDARD I oversee the operations and strategic direction of 450 staff focusing on achieving measurable outcomes in four key goal areas: 1) Food Safety, Human & Animal Health 2) Economic Development 3) Environmental Stewardship 4) Efficient Effective Government. The Ford School was instrumental in my transition to the public sector after 15 years in the private sector as a professional engineering consultant and business owner. I will be forever grateful and will continue to give back in any way I can. Since graduation, I have actively participated in multiple Ford School activities focused on assisting students in their career search, building networks, career guidance, and creating a better understanding of opportunities at the State of Michigan. Serving on this board would allow me to make a more significant impact in all of these areas.
Veronica Gonzales Stuva, MPP '13
Inter-American Development Bank
I have worked on development issues in emerging and developing economies for nine years including projects related to education, financial access, macroeconomic policy, and migration. I currently work at the IADB on designing financial solutions to help Latin American countries deal with climate risk. I have published in areas related to financial access, competitiveness, early childhood education and the “Natural Resource Curse.” As an international alumna and former GSI, I am proud of the talented and diverse faculty and student body that comprise the Ford School’s undergraduate and graduate programs. I am also keenly aware that in today’s social climate, the Ford School has an unique opportunity, and in my opinion, responsibility, to recruit students and thought leaders from different nationalities and backgrounds to work on globally relevant issues, as well as domestic ones. As a board member, I would bring insight on how to make the Ford School more inviting to international students and Ford School students more desirable to IGO’s, NGO’s, and other organizations working in the fields of international policy and development.
Lynn Vendinello, MPP '89
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
I served on the Alumni Board for a fabulous first term and am eager to do it all again. I am one of the few Federal government representatives on the board and was also a Presidential Management Fellow. I have had a long and varied career of 28 years at the Environmental Protection Agency, where I have held several leadership positions. I am currently a Deputy Division Director but aim to eventually enter the Senior Executive Service. I have also worked in the environmental non-profit community and at the local level. I also have a lot of on the job experience in program evaluation, cost-benefit analysis, and management. I want to continue to serve the Board because there are still so many wonderful students at the Ford School that I feel that I can help. In my past service, I have volunteered for everything that I can – resume reviews, office hours, Spirit Day, and the Alumni Admissions Ambassadors program. Through my service on the Board, I now have many lifetime mentees who I continue to follow and advise in their careers during and post Ford School.
Olushola Samuel, BA '10
University of Michigan Health System
I have experience in public health and health policy. I have helped to improve the overall health for vulnerable populations. I helped the elderly population in Taylor, Michigan obtain better access to community resources and clinical care with a brand new multidisciplinary care center, and I've helped pregnant women struggling with substance abuse obtain better access to clinical care through a public-private partnership. Health care policy issues are some of the most challenging we face today, and I have an acute understanding of how these decisions impact the local environment. Since I joined the Alumni Board, I have tried to contribute in every way possible, including serving as Vice Chair, participating on all of the committees, meeting with students, hosting Ford School Spirit Day, and being a strong advocate for the continued growth of the BA programs. I want to continue to serve on the alumni board so I can continue to help strengthen the Ford School community and help the Ford School continue its tradition of developing high character, future leaders of our communities.