Type: School event

Worldwide Ford School Spirit Day - A Ford School conversation with alumni about the Black Lives Matter movement: From understanding to action


Open to the Ford School community, including students, alumni, faculty, and staff. You must RSVP by 10am on Thursday, July 9 in order to attend.

Date & time

Jul 9, 2020, 4:00-9:00 pm EDT


Zoom webinar

The Ford School Alumni Board is pleased to invite the entire Ford School community to join them for the 10th annual Worldwide Ford School Spirit Day. 

This year's spirit day will take place virtually, and will be centered around a panel discussion on the Black Lives Matter movement and our work as a community to understand and take action on issues of racial justice. Dean Michael S. Barr will be in conversation with a panel of Ford School alumni talking about these issues with our community members. The panelists include:

  • Dr. Menna Demessie, PhD '10, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
  • Hardy Vieux, MPP/JD '97, Human Rights First
  • Melvin Washington, MPP '18, Vera Institute of Justice 

In the 30 minutes immediately following the panel event, attendees are invited to join small group discussions facilitated by alumni, such as Alumni Board members and current students from student organizations such as the Students of Color in Public Policy. Attendees will have an opportunity to discuss the topic in-depth with their groups and also put together recommendations that can be shared with Ford School leadership. These small group discussions are open to anyone who attends the panel event—please use the RSVP form to sign up.  

From the speakers' bios 

Dr. Menna Demessie is the Vice President of Policy Analysis and Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF). She leads the foundation’s research and policy initiatives that affect African Americans and the global black community in areas including education, criminal justice, economic opportunity, voting and environmental sustainability, and among many others. She will oversee CBCF’s National Racial Equity Initiative for Social Justice recently announced in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. She completed her joint PhD in public policy and political science at UM and went on to work for Congresswoman Barbara Lee as an American Political Science Congressional Fellow. She is in her second term and last year of service on the Ford School Alumni board and nominated to serve on the executive council of the American Political Science Association. She has worked on democratic governance and gender equality abroad and serves as an appointee of Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, on the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund Advisory Council.

Hardy Vieux is the senior vice president of legal for Human Rights First, an independent advocacy and action organization that uses American influence to protect human rights and the rule of law. Hardy leads and oversees management of the organization’s legal initiatives—including its pro bono legal representation, amicus brief, and legal outreach efforts. Hardy manages Human Rights First’s refugee representation work, which pairs lawyers at the nation’s top law firms with indigent refugees in need of counsel. Previously, he served as a policy fellow in the Middle East, where he worked at Save the Children International in Amman, Jordan. Prior to living in the Middle East, Vieux was in private legal practice in Washington, D.C., for over 10 years, during which time he also handled numerous pro bono matters, ranging from litigation stemming from the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to juvenile detention impact litigation and asylum representation. In 2010, the D.C. Bar recognized him as its Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year. Vieux serves on the board of directors of the National Military of Justice and the WISER Girls Secondary School. Vieux earned his MPP degree from the Ford School and JD from Michigan Law—serving as editor-in-chief of the Michigan Journal of Race & Law.

Melvin Washington II is originally from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Melvin is a proud Ford School PPIA alumnus who is passionate about supporting Black, Brown, and low-income communities. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in political science from Wake Forest University, he served as a political appointee in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area. He went on to become a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan where he earned a Masters in Public Policy from the Ford School. He is currently an Associate at the Vera Institute of Justice. At Vera, he works in counties across the U.S., on data-informed, innovative policy solutions designed to reduce the use of jail incarceration, increase community engagement, and improve racial equity in local justice systems. This has included designing and leading the execution of research projects as well as assisting the development of new projects by building relationships with governments, advocacy groups, and other organizations.

Students of Color in Public Policy (SCPP) is a student organization at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy that advocates for positive change for communities of color. SCPP works on special projects within the Ford School and the greater community. The main goals of SCPP include:
* Providing a venue for students of color to share ideas and work on issues that most directly affect communities of color
* Serving as a voice for students of color in the Ford School and within the community
* Actively participating in recruiting and retaining faculty and students of color
* Organizing events that promote greater cultural understanding and interaction

Questions? Please contact [email protected]