Abess Makki, a first-generation high school and college graduate whose family hails from Sierra Leone, earned his bachelor’s in nutrition and food science at Wayne State University in 2014. Since graduation, he participated in the Summer Venture and Management Program at Harvard Business School and in a TechTown Detroit business incubation program for college students and recent graduates aspiring to launch technology startups. He is founder and CEO of CityInsight, LLC, which builds agile mobile applications for municipal governments to better communicate with their constituents and streamline their own operations. CityInsight’s first product, CityWater™, empowers residents of Detroit to track their water usage on a daily basis. As a student at Wayne State, he was president and co-founder of the National Student Water Association, which built a gravity water system for 100 homes in El Retiro, Honduras. His policy areas of interest include social entrepreneurism and information and technology management.
Mary Naoum is pursuing a dual-master’s degree in social work and public policy at the University of Michigan. As an undergraduate at the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, Mary focused her studies on arts for social change, dedicating her time to community arts empowerment initiatives in Detroit and facilitating arts workshops in various youth and adult detention centers in southeast Michigan. Before starting her graduate studies, she served as the southeast Michigan outreach coordinator for the Citizen’s Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending, coordinating educational events in Detroit and surrounding communities. As a social work intern for State Representative Stephanie Chang’s (a former Bohnett Fellow) district service center, Mary developed and facilitated a political leadership program to inspire high school girls of color to pursue careers in civic engagement and public office. Her professional interests include youth development, criminal justice reform, and policymaking for equitable community development.
Mariah Van Ermen earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in international studies and Spanish, with a focus on global environment and health. After graduation, she served as an AmeriCorps member at the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago. She worked to foster healthy food environments by coordinating nutrition education, healthy food access, and food waste reduction efforts for the Chicago public school system. Since 2014, she has worked as a wellness policy specialist at the third largest school district in the nation, Chicago Public Schools. For Chicago's nearly 400,000 public school students, Mariah developed and launched the district's Farm to School program, established two school-based farmers markets, increased summer meal participation, and coordinated accountability for district-wide student health and wellness policies. She has also served as a consultant with FarmLogix, winning a USDA grant to promote local food system technology. Her policy areas of interest include ethical food systems, sustainable food production methods, and urban agriculture. She looks forward to embracing her Michigan roots and learning from the people and city of Detroit.
From 2010 to 2011, Michael Auerbach served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency. While there, he compiled demographic data and established professional partnerships to launch a mobile farmer's market program, funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. He developed and implemented an agency-wide volunteer recruitment program, assisted with a number of grant applications for educational and supportive housing services, and provided horticultural support for more than 60 community gardens. Since 2012, Auerbach has worked with Detroit’s Gleaners Community Food Bank, where he has assisted with food drive coordination and the implementation of the USDA Summer Food Service Program. Michael Auerbach is a 2009 graduate of the College of Wooster, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in urban studies. At the University of Michigan, he is pursuing a dual master’s degree in public policy and urban planning.
Luz Meza immigrated to Detroit at the age of 13 and quickly became an active and engaged volunteer in political campaigns, city revitalization efforts, and the local immigration reform movement. In 2013, she earned her undergraduate degree in economics and international studies at the University of Michigan. During college, she served as a founding member of the Coalition for Tuition Equality, a member of Detroit’s youth-led immigrant rights group, a member of the University’s task force on undocumented students, and a leader in the successful movement for in-state tuition for undocumented students at U-M. Meza is now serving as a Teach for America Fellow and bilingual educator in Dallas, Texas and will matriculate at the Ford School in the fall of 2015 to pursue a master’s degree in public policy. Her hope is to expand the influence of Latino communities in policymaking circles. The goal: to positively impact the social, civic, and economic wellbeing of minorities in the United States.
Megan Bogaerts earned her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in history and English from the University of Illinois in 2006. After graduation, she completed internships with the Office of U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin and an architectural planning and preservation firm in Chicago where she researched, authored, and edited content for Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature by Doug Farr (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). From 2007-2014, Bogaerts worked as a neighborhood development program manager at the U.S. Green Building Council in Washington, DC. She generated technical content for the LEED for Neighborhood Development Green Building Rating System; provided in-depth technical assistance to communities; and provided editorial oversight for the most recent LEED reference guides. She also managed a committee of 15 internationally known experts in sustainability. At the University of Michigan, Bogaerts is pursuing a dual degree in public policy and natural resources.
Megan Foster comes to the Ford School from the United States Senate, where she served as a legislative aide for Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), supporting her work on a number of legislative issues and committees. Prior to this, Foster was development manager of the Women’s Campaign Fund, a nonpartisan organization that works to increase the number of women in elected office who support reproductive health choices for all. During her time at Georgetown, Foster interned for the chairman and executive director of the Democratic National Committee and worked as a field manager for Grassroots Campaigns. In 2010, Foster graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University with a bachelor’s in international politics. She is a member of the National Political Science Honors Society and the National Slavic Honors Society and originally hails from the Detroit metropolitan area. She is passionate about health policy, gender equality, and community development
Brittney Foxhall received her bachelor’s degree in international business with a focus on emerging nations from Howard University in 2013. As the 52nd executive president of the Howard University Student Association, Foxhall managed a staff of 50 students to organize programs and initiatives to enhance the student experience. Her activities included coordinating a university-wide Lobby Day on the Hill to engage students in the policymaking process as well as organizing a series of initiatives to generate student interest in the 2012 Presidential election (including registration drives that resulted in registering 75 percent of the student body). Foxhall graduated magna cum laude, and spent time in Shanghai, China, teaching English as a foreign language to middle and high school students. She is passionate about advocating for policy implementation that adequately responds to the needs of the low-income African-American community.
Zach Ormsby earned his bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Washington, Seattle. While there, he competed at state and national levels in speech and debate, consistently made the dean’s list, was a member of the Mortar Board Honor Society and the Young Democrats, and served as chapter president of his fraternity. Following graduation, Ormsby moved to Detroit, Michigan, as a Teach for America corps member, and taught 7th and 8th grade social studies. From 2012-2014, he co-led the founding of University YES Academy Elementary, a charter school with 25 staff members and 250 students. Ormsby served as manager of school operations, keeping the school and charter management organization in compliance with state and federal laws, overseeing internal and external communications, and planning and facilitating school events. Ormsby is passionate about U.S. politics, urban policy, and urban development.
Brian Garcia (MPP/MBA '16) came to the Ford School after serving as a community development team leader for the U.S. Armed Forces. In that role he planned community and economic development projects in Kandahar City, Afghanistan. He received the Bronze Star for meritorious service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Before receiving the Bohnett Fellowship, he served as a program coordinator at Racquet-Up, a Detroit-area youth develop served as a program coordinator for an organization that uses the sport of squash, in combination with fitness, academic tutoring, community service and mentoring to improve opportunities for Detroit youth.
Brian McMillan (MPP/MBA '16) received his bachelor's in government from Dartmouth College in 2008. Following graduation, he worked for BTS-USA, a global telecommunications operator, where he taught seminars to senior executives. McMillan left the corporate world to serve as a Teach for America fellow in Oakland, Calif. He came to the Ford School to pursue a dual-degree in business and public policy, with hopes of tackling educational disparities through policy. addressing domestic policy issues including education, healthcare, and Detroit revitalization. He is a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician.
Andrew DeLeeuw (MPP '14) came to the Ford School after serving as a senior program manager for City Year Detroit, an AmeriCorps program that provides in-school and after-school tutoring and extracurricular programing to help K-12 students in Detroit. At City Year, Andrew led service and outreach events, recruited and trained volunteers, and managed data collection. Andrew is currently a business analyst with the Washtenaw County Administrator's Office.
Adrianna McIntyre (MPP/MPH '15) received her BS in cognitive science from the University of Michigan in 2011, and served as a clinical research regulation coordinator at Children's Hospital of Michigan and the Waune State University School of Medicine. She has also participated in behavioral research on high-risk youth in the Bahamas. Adrianna edits The Incidental Economist, a blog on health care policy, and writes about health care policy for Vox.
Stephanie Gray Chang (MPP/MSW '14) is a candidate for State Representative in southwestern Detroit's District 6, where she has been endorsed by Rashida Tlaib, the departing current representative. Prior to this, she was a social work/community outreach intern with the James and Grace Boggs School in Detroit, and a research assistant for the University of Michigan’s Program on Intergroup Relations. She served as an organizer for Michigan United/One United Michigan, building local volunteer-led coalitions to mobilize voter opposition against Proposal 2 in 2006, and was president of Asian & Pacific Islander American (APIA) Vote-Michigan, which serves the APIA community through civic participation, advocacy and education.
Diana Flora (MPP/MUP '13) is a Detroit Revitalization Fellow at Data Driven Detroit. She received her BA from the University of Michigan in 2009 and has worked in Detroit as an AmeriCorps member for Gleaners Community Food Bank and then as campaign manager for State Representative Rashida Tlaib's 2010 re-election race. At the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Flora served for one year as the Detroit Outreach Chair for the Urban Planning Student Association board. Flora is specifically interested in the integration of social activism and policymaking to address urban challenges.
Julie Schneider (MPP '12) is a Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. She was the head softball coach at Cass Technical High School and has worked with Michigan AmeriCorps Partnership on Detroit's east side, as well as in donor relations with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Elizabeth Palazzola (MPP '12) is a Strong Cities, Strong Communities Fellow in Detroit. She moved to Detroit in 2007, after graduating from U-M's Program in the Environment, and has worked as a research technician at Wayne State University as well as a crew leader for Greening of Detroit.