2022 Alumni Board candidates statements

Graduate Candidates

Joanna Belyamani, MPP/SEAS ‘09
Washington, DC
U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, Director

As a Director at the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Joanna is responsible for risk management of international loans to financial institutions around the world. Previously, Joanna spent 12 years at the U.S. Export-Import Bank, where she managed risk of a multi-million dollar portfolio of complex project and structured finance, and sovereign loans; and worked on highly visible policy matters. Joanna's work took her to Africa, the Middle East, Mexico, and Australia. Joanna received an MPP in International Trade and Development from the Ford School in 2008, an MS in Sustainable Systems from the SNRE in 2009, and a BBA in Finance from Baruch College. She began her finance career on a trading desk at Bear Stearns in 2001. I would bring my international background and experiences to the Board. I am excited to support the students' internship and job opportunities, and to connect the Ford community with my extensive international trade and development finance network. I am passionate about public service and thrilled to give back to the Ford School community. 

Sheron Brown, MPP ‘21
Detroit, MI
Guidehouse, Senior Consultant

Since graduating from Ford, Sheron Brown has worked to build bridges between businesses and communities in Metro Detroit. Using a data driven approach, Brown has tackled issues including housing affordability and the social impact of discriminatory housing policy on the most vulnerable.

Brown has served as both a university educator and an operations director at a non-profit organization that worked in conjunction with state and local government entities to achieve mutual policy objectives focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. His passion for social policy has led him to work with community leaders to safeguard policy decisions that would negatively impact their constituents' lives.

I want to serve on the Alumni Board because the Ford School offered me the opportunity to connect with distinguished alumni which in turn inspired my love of public service. I am grateful that my work has been influenced by a robust alumni network that includes diverse leaders that are also grounded in service. This position would also allow me to support the Ford school's commitment to the public good and support a new generation of policy leaders.

Brenda Duverce, MPP ‘16
New York, NY
Morgan Stanley, Equity Strategist

Hi Everyone! My name is Brenda Duverce and I’m an Equity Strategist at Morgan Stanley within our Global ESG/Sustainability Research team. What this means is that I help investors make more responsible investment decisions while taking into account a company’s environmental, social, and governance profile (focus is on publicly traded companies -equities). Prior to Morgan Stanley, I spent 5 years as a management consultant (Strategy Manager) advising public sector and nonprofit clients on human capital, strategy, and tech challenges. Based on my professional experience, I hope to bring my problem-saving, analytical, project management, and critical thinking skills to the board to better support current and future students at the Ford School. I’m particularly interested in conversations on curriculum development, scholarships and awards, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and in making sure our students/classmates have the best opportunities available.

If not me, who do I endorse for the alumni board? Please vote for other amazing classmates who are doing good in the world with a particular focus on supporting/servicing marginalized communities and combating climate change. :)

Thanks for your time! Peace.

- Brenda

Bart Edes, MPP ‘87
Montreal, QC
McGill University

I launched my career in the US Department of Commerce and subsequently held senior roles at the OECD and Asian Development Bank. I have nurtured expertise in areas such as sustainable development, governance, international trade, knowledge management & communications, policy development, and strategic foresight. I research, train, write, advise, and speak on these topics. I would add to the substantive depth of the Board on global public policy issues. Ford’s student body and curriculum have become increasingly international, and this is likely to continue. I have extensive experience serving on committees and boards, including at an educational institution. If elected to the Alumni Board, I would seek to maximize synergies among colleagues and jointly explore innovation.  I’m excited how Ford has evolved and have enjoyed a meaningful career made possible in part by my education and relationships developed in A2. I’d be thrilled to have the chance to help Ford maneuver through its challenges and transitions to become even more inclusive, academically strong, globally recognized and committed to public service and policy engagement.

Grace Evans, MPP ‘16
Providence, RI
ONE Neighborhood Builders, Chief of Staff

I serve as Chief of Staff at ONE Neighborhood Builders, an affordable housing and community development organization in Providence, RI. With nearly a decade of experience working in and in service to communities, I’ve led strategy and special projects across philanthropic, nonprofit, and government sectors. I previously served as a Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab and earned my MPP from the Ford School in 2016 as well as a BS from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. I’m in my final year of a three-year term on the Ford School Alumni Board, currently serving as the board’s Vice Chair. I regularly volunteer my time conducting virtual office hours and mock interviews with current students, as I believe the Alumni Board’s primary mandate is to serve current students and alumni by fostering and strengthening relationships between each other and the school. Should I be elected to a second term, I aim to continue this work, and to use my position to strengthen this culture of service.

Scott Helfstein, PhD ‘08
New York, NY
Global X, SVP, Head of Thematic Solutions

My 20-plus year career spanned government, academia, and the private sector. During time in government, I served as Director of Research for the Army’s Combating Terrorism Center working across government offices in DoD, State, Treasury, the NSC, and Hill committees as well as collaborating with a international partners. My academic career began as a PhD student in the Ford School and continued as an Assistant Professor at the U.S. Military Academy, receiving recognition for research on issues such as illicit networks and nonproliferation. I started my career in global banking and later returned to finance where I now lead efforts on investment in thematic disruption. The experience and connections gained working across national security, international affairs, finance, and academia would provide support for board functions across career services, development, and recruitment. In the Ford School, I found a welcoming and engaged community. The school, faculty, and peers supported my development, and I would like to offer that same support to the next generation of students.

Gladys Mitchell-Walthour, MPP ‘02
Durham, NC
North Carolina Central University, Dan T. Blue Endowed Chair of Political Science

My career achievements include recognition as a leading expert on Brazilian racial policies and leadership positions. My policy areas of expertise are affirmative action policy and social welfare policy in Brazil. I am currently the Dan T. Blue Endowed Chair of political science at North Carolina Central University. I previously served as chair of the African and African Diaspora Studies department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I served as the Brazil Studies Association president from 2018-2020. I serve as the US Network for Democracy in Brazil co-coordinator (2019-present) which has a membership of 1,500. I would like to serve on the Alumni Board to recruit a diverse student body. As an Endowed Chair at a historically Black university, I am well positioned. I would encourage students to pursue an MPP. The Ford School allowed me opportunities to travel internationally. I am interested in others having similar opportunities. I would also like to work with Alumni to ensure, through our financial support, that future students can attend the Ford School.

Claudia Munoz, MPP ‘09
Alexandria, VA
Institute for Defense Analyses, Research Staff Member 

  1. I have over 24 years’ experience working on National Security Policy issues in support of the US Department of Defense.  My area of expertise is planning and implementing security cooperation programs worldwide. I am currently a Research Staff Member at the Institute for Defense Analyses, a Federally Funded Research and Development Center.
  2. I could add value to the alumni board by assisting other students and alumni by mentoring and supporting networking and recruitment efforts. I could also work with the Ford School’s Leadership Initiative so that the Ford School curriculum and alumni relations can support future leaders.  At IDA, I have worked on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion issues. I’d bring this experience to support Ford School DE&I.
  3. My family is very closely affiliated with the University of Michigan.  I was the 13th descendent from my grandfather to be a Wolverine.  As such, I’d like to work more closely with UofM, and especially the Ford School, to ensure that it educates leaders and best.

Jeffrey Pfeifer, MPA ‘22
Lansing, MI
Harbor Strategic Public Affairs, Public Affairs Manager

I would like to serve on the Alumni Board because my professional expertise can benefit the Ford School and “Fordies”. I have spent my entire professional career in the Michigan legislative arena, with experience in both the public and private side of the legislative process. As an undergrad at UM, I was heavily active in campaigns on the local, state, and federal level. This created a tremendous base for building political knowledge and starting to learn the greater political process. I comprehend the legislative process and policy making process and have created a robust network throughout my career. Additionally, I have experience as a University of Michigan student as both an undergraduate and master’s student. While earning my MPA, I continued to work full-time with my current employer, while taking a full course load of classes. I bleed maize and blue in every sense of the term and would like to give back to the institution that has opened so many doors for me, both in my personal life and throughout my professional career.

Eliza Pollack, MPP ‘10
Philadelphia, PA 
City of Philadelphia, Director of Innovation

In 2014, I joined the City of Philadelphia’s Innovation Management team as its first Program Manager, and have been privileged to serve as the Director of Innovation for the past four years. My work focuses on creating and sustaining a culture of innovation within municipal government, which is equal parts rewarding and challenging - and has truly put me on a career path that I could have never imagined while I was at Ford. It’s that experience that makes me want to serve on the Alumni Board – I want Ford to have a clear, current and honest picture of what it means to work for government (the good and the bad!) and how the public sector landscape is changing as things like innovation become more mainstream - and perhaps more importantly, I want current students to understand how important it is to keep an open mind, to be flexible, and to pursue their passions when considering their professional options. I would truly welcome the opportunity to join the Board and have a hand in shaping the future of Ford for the next three years.

Christen Richardson, MPP ‘21
Los Angeles, CA
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton

1. My career has been focused on using tax accounting to come up with creative solutions to solve some of the world’s toughest problems. Most recently, I’ve analyzed financial data to develop a deeper understanding of the fiscal health and challenges of local, city, and state governments.

2. After graduating from law school, I plan on living in Texas and would love to spread the brand of the Ford School of Public Policy in the deep South. Additionally, I can leverage connections from my previous employer EY to increase greater representation of Fordies in the govt. and public sector consulting.

3. Having gone to policy school and now law school, I am in constant awe of public policy students. The creativity, passion, and analytics skills that public policy school teaches students are instrumental in advancing the public good. If given the chance, serving on the Alumni Board feeds my soul that there is hope for a better tomorrow.

Dan Sheppard, MPP ‘90
Albany, NY
Brown & Weinraub, Senior Advisor

The MPP I received in 1990 opened up the door to a 32-year career in New York State government. At senior-level positions with the Division of the Budget, the State University of New York and Department of Health, I was deeply involved in healthcare system transformation at the policy, community and provider levels. After retiring from public service in 2019, I was a Senior Vice President with the Mount Sinai Health System and recently joined the health practice of a leading government relations firm in New York. From 2012 to 2017, I served on the Ford School Alumni Board; participating extensively in mock interviews, resume reviews, student mentoring, and as Chair of the Fundraising Committee, achieving 100% giving by Board members and eclipsing the dollar goals set for supporting student internships. Since leaving the Board, I have continued to actively participate in student advancement through the mock interview and “Office Hours” programs. I would look forward to rejoining the Alumni Board and recommitting my energy and professional experience to the School and its students.

Janani Yates, MPP ‘13
Detroit, MI
City of Detroit, Deputy Budget Director

As an executive with the City of Detroit, I lead a large, diverse team to develop, manage, and report on the City’s $2.5 billion annual budget. Previously, I was the Associate Budget Director in the Office of Budget and Performance Management in the District of Columbia, responsible for the strategic direction and management of an over $9 billion capital budget. In total, I have over 10 years of experience serving in budget and performance roles in federal, state and local government, and I am passionate about advising and mentoring students as an active alumni volunteer and guest speaker for PubPol 715: Budgeting & Financial Planning. I pride myself on never turning down a “cold” student or alum email! If elected, I would be the only board member currently working in local government, and I am committed to bringing that perspective to my service, as well as my experience establishing a successful talent pipeline between the Ford School and the City of Detroit budget office, and my personal lens as a child of immigrants and woman of color in public management.

Undergraduate Candidates

David Tannenbaum, BA ‘16
Washington, DC
Hughes Hubbard & Reed, Law Clerk

David currently works in litigation at a D.C. law firm. Prior to law school, he was an associate with Schrayer & Associates where he worked with clients on a variety of topics including gun violence prevention, foreign affairs, education, and public health. David would bring this wide-ranging background to the Alumni Board, and he would focus on creating connections between BA students and potential employers.

Alli Berry, BA ‘19
Arlington, VA
Deloitte, Consultant

As a higher education consultant with policy focuses in education, Title IX, and human resources, I work to ensure colleges and universities are equipped to manage their most complex people-related challenges. This includes effective management of misconduct, the transition to virtual teaching and learning, adoption of new technologies, and culture/HR transformation. I am committed to helping schools achieve their academic missions by integrating the processes and technology necessary to make the campus environment safe, equitable, and inclusive for all faculty, staff, and students.

I am interested in furthering my commitment to higher education and students on the FSPP Alumni Board because I am passionate about students having career development opportunities, guidance, and resources prior to graduation. I am well-positioned to support students with career-related mentorship and coaching because I currently help undergraduate and graduate students navigate the job search process and have done so for the past 3 years. I am excited to roll up my sleeves to make sure Ford School students have what they need to be successful as students and alumni.