Date & time

Sep 30, 2016-Jun 15, 2024, 12:00 pm EDT


Weill Hall, Annenberg Auditorium
735 S. State Street Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Free and open to the public. Light lunch will be served.

Join the conversation: #policytalks


Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz (AB '84) returns to the University of Michigan to chair a panel of public servants from rebounding Midwestern cities: Detroit, Michigan; Gary, Indiana; and Youngstown, Ohio. Each provides an example of the Obama Administration's "place-based" approach in action.

The panel will feature communities embracing a collaborative eco-system, relying on partners across local, state and federal government, and other institutions to make progress on long-standing issues such as pervasive blight, crime, poor community trust in law enforcement, chronic homelessness and more.

Muñoz taught at the Ford School in 2007 as the Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence.


From the panelists' bios:

Colonel Kevin C. Riley

Colonel Kevin C. Riley is the former Commander, 910th Mission Support Group, Air Force Reserve Command, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, having recently retired from the United States Air Force. He currently serves as the Commander's Special Assistant for Community Partnerships, expanding beyond the highly successful Youngstown Blight Removal partnership. Colonel Riley was responsible for the equipping and training of over 800 citizen airmen whose mission is to provide peacetime and wartime mission readiness support of the Air Force Reserve Command and the Air Mobility Command. He received his commission as a graduate of Officer Training School at Lackland AFB, Texas, after earning a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Temple University, PA.


Abigail Beniston

Abigail Beniston is the Code Enforcement and Blight Remediation Superintendent for the City of Youngstown, Ohio. She is responsible for managing the demolition of hundreds of vacant structures and inspection of thousands of occupied and vacant structures. Over the past four years, Abigail has played a critical role in developing the necessary resources, partnerships, policy changes, and business practices to increase the impact of the City of Youngstown’s blight elimination efforts. These efforts have included: developing one of the first community partnerships in the country with the 910th Air Reserve to demolish blighted housing, working with the City’s administration to develop the first environmental sanitation fund in the State of Ohio to provide a long term financial resource for demolition and blight elimination, and facilitating community partnerships and collaboration with neighborhood action teams, block watches and community organizations across the city. These efforts have led to the demolition of approximately two thousand vacant structures and brought approximately three thousand units into code compliance. Abigail is committed to the revitalization of Youngstown and lives on the city’s north side with her son Benjamin and dog, Stanley.


Arthur Jemison

Arthur Jemison is the Director of Housing and Revitalization for the City of Detroit, Michigan. Most recently he was the Deputy Undersecretary of Housing for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Deputy Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Before joining the Patrick Administration, Jemison spent 18 years in the public and private sectors, in both planning and development consultant roles in Boston, the District of Columbia and Miami. Jemison has a BA in Social Thought and Political Economy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and a Master of City Planning degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Kerry Duggan

Kerry Duggan is Deputy Director for Policy in the Office of the Vice President, providing routine direct advice to Vice President Biden on a range of issues, including energy and environment, climate change (and its impacts on national security and energy infrastructure), clean energy technology, finance and R&D, water, climate smart resilient cities, and Detroit’s revitalization. She also serves as Deputy Director of the White House’s Detroit Federal Working Group. Prior to joining the Vice President’s staff, Duggan served as the Secretary of Energy's Liaison to the City of Detroit where her key areas of focus were the street lighting conversion to LEDs, renewable power generation, manufacturing, energy efficiency and sustainable transportation.  Her previous roles at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) include Stakeholder Engagement Director, Director of Legislative, Regulatory & Urban Affairs, and Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. Ms. Duggan earned her B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont and her M.S. in Natural Resource Policy & Behavior from the University of Michigan. Duggan lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and two children. She is not related to the Mayor of Detroit, but does enjoy her enormous Irish-American family in Detroit.


Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson

Karen Freeman-Wilson was elected Mayor of Gary, Indiana in November, 2011. On December 31, 2011, Freeman-Wilson became the first woman to lead the steel city and the first African-American female mayor in the State of Indiana. She is the immediate past CEO of The National Association of Drug Court Professionals and Executive Director of The National Drug Court Institute based in Washington, D.C.  Freeman-Wilson has consulted with the Office of White House Drug Control Policy, the Department of Justice and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the creation and implementation of drug policy. As the twice-elected Gary City Judge, she helped pioneer the drug court movement in Indiana. While she was the Executive Director of The Indiana Civil Rights Commission, Indiana was one of the first states to pass legislation comparable to the American with Disabilities Act.


Co-hosted by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP).