Updates from the Alumni Board Chair

February 2020

Summer 2019 Updates

Dear fellow Ford School alumni,

The winter 2020 semester is nearing the midway point, with Spring Break and the Alumni Board Spring meeting approaching in the next few weeks. (It is hard to imagine “Spring anything” with snow on the ground!) Before we look ahead to the Spring meeting, I do want to provide a few highlights for you from this academic year, specifically the fall semester and our fall Alumni Board meeting.

The Alumni Board fall meeting took place on Thursday, October 3 and Friday, October 4, to coincide with the Ford School’s Reunion. While an abbreviated meeting due to Reunion activities, we had a jam packed agenda! Highlights of the meeting included learning more from Dean Michael Barr about the Weiser Diplomacy Center and its launch series events as well as the new Master of Public Affairs program and the new MPP concentrations. Paula Lantz, Associate Dean, and Jennifer Niggemeier, Director, Alumni Relations and Graduate Career Services, briefed the board on the new Ford School Leadership Initiative. The board also had the opportunity to briefly discuss important items led by the respective committees such as fundraising, nominations/elections, and alumni engagement/visibility - more details below.

Approximately 100 alumni came back to Weill Hall for the Ford School Reunion to reconnect and engage with Ford School faculty, staff, and students. We had the opportunity to attend sessions that focused on the Ford School in Detroit, faculty lightning talks, and student showcases. One of the very best sessions was the master class with former U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, titled “Democracy and America’s Foreign Policy Identity.”

During the Reunion, Paul Weech, MPP ‘81, received the Neil Staebler Distinguished Alumni Service Award. Last summer, the Alumni Board, Staebler Award committee reviewed nominations and selected Paul Weech, a worthy and deserving nominee. He has spent his career working in housing policy, while also serving the Ford School in a variety of ways, including chair of the Alumni Board. I would like to thank Alumni Board members Sam Geller, Veronica Gonzales-Stuva, Latesha Love-Grayer, Farah Mandich, Steven Reich, and Ian Swedish for serving on the Staebler Award committee!

During the fall, you voted in the Alumni Board elections and on January 1, 2020 six newly or re-elected board members began their three year terms of service, January 1, 2020-December 31, 2022. I am happy to introduce these six board members to you:

Grace Evans, MPP ‘16
Portia Hemphill, PhD ‘15
Sylvia Herzog, MPP/MBA ‘88
Omair Khan, MPP ‘18
David Leapheart, BA ‘10
Mellie Torres, MPP ‘97

Lastly, as part of the Reunion, the Ford School launched the Alumni Giving Challenge, with an alumni participation goal of 500 donors. The Ford School hopes to have 500 total alumni donors donate to any fund at the Ford School before Spirit Day 2020. As of January 24, the Ford School exceeded the halfway mark in its Alumni Giving Challenge with 264 alumni gifts and unlocked $25,000 in matching funds, provided by the Ford School Committee, and directed to the new Ford School Fund for Student Support. When the 500 donor goal is met, an additional $25,000 will be unlocked from the Ford School Committee and added to the same fund.

Be a part of the 500 donors and give your gift to support students today!

As always, I welcome your thoughts and ideas on alumni engagement, so please feel free to reach out to me.

Go Blue!


Olushola Samuel, BA ‘10
Alumni Board Chair
Summer 2019 Updates

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