Admitted student activities

There are a variety of opportunities for you to spend time with and get to know members of the Ford School community. Visit us in Ann Arbor for Spring Preview Day, have coffee with our alumni, connect with current students, and attend our Future Fordies webinar series to learn more about resources within the Ford School.

We hope you will enjoy these opportunities to learn more about our community and academic offerings, and to ask questions about the program. 

An audience of students, alumni, and friends listen to a discussion between Dean Celeste Watkins-Hayes and Hardy Vieux (MPP/JD ‘97)


Admitted students can expect a rich array of opportunities between March 14 and April 12. Starting with a welcome webinar, these online events delve into getting to know our community, career services, academic support, and funding.

  • Kaltura Video

    Join Jenna Bednar, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dan Ellis, Assistant Director of the International Policy Center, current student Kathleen Bryant (MPP ‘24), and Paige Ziegler, Ford School Embedded Counselor through Counseling and Psychological Services, for a welcome webinar.

    This team will highlight our values, community, and support, including our research centers and the great ways our faculty and staff impact current policy issues.

    Kaltura Video

    Please register by EOD Monday March 18 to receive a copy of course preparation materials.

    Curious what a Ford School class is like? Wondering just what we mean by an emphasis on writing and writing support? Attend a preview course on "Storytelling in Public" exclusive to our admitted Ford students and learn first-hand what the Ford School is all about! 

    Join some of our Ford School alumni for an informal chat about their experiences as a student as well as post-grad. Get a better sense of your Fordie community! 

    Are you interested in pursuing a dual degree during your time at Ford? Have you already been accepted into another program and are on your way to becoming a dual degree student? Join some of our current Ford School dual students for an informal chat about their experiences. Get a better sense of your Fordie community! 

    Are you joining the Ford School but have never lived in Michigan before? Curious what life is like in Ann Arbor compared to San Francisco or New York City? Join some of our current Ford School students who hail from states outside of Michigan for an informal chat about their experiences. Get a better sense of your Fordie community! 

    Curious what life is like for our international Ford School students? Join some of our current Global Fordies for an informal chat about their experiences. Get a better sense of your Fordie community! 

    If you can only attend one event, this is it! Join us in Ann Arbor to hear from leadership, and attend student, faculty, career services, and alumni-focused panels. The night wraps with a dinner hosted by the Student Affairs Committee at Pizza House. Some supplemental funding may be available to offset travel costs. 

    Register here.

    Join staff experts from Career Services and the Leadership Initiative to learn about the many opportunities and resources available to Fordies that jumpstart their careers after graduation. 

    Kaltura Video

    Susan Guindi, Director of Student & Academic Services, and the SAS team are here to answer any questions you may have and to discuss services offered by Student & Academic Services, academic advising, and funding and financial support. 

    Register here.

    Got a last minute question before making your admission decision? Don't worry, Ford School Admissions is here to help! Stop by our drop-in chat at any point during the hour and we can help put your mind at ease. 

Detroit trip students pictures

Alumni chats

Join Ford School alumni for an informal conversation and refreshments where you can ask questions, get answers, and learn how the Ford School shaped and prepared these former students for their career and professional paths. Sign-up here! We can't wait to meet you.

  • Time: 5 p.m.
    Location: La Colombe, 6th and Eye, Washington, DC 20001


    Colleen Campbell, MPP/MA '14

    Colleen Campbell (they/them, she/her) is a program manager in the Next Gen Program Office (NGPO) at the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). Campbell first came to FSA to direct strategic communications for the Next Gen FSA initiative. After a detail in FSA’s Policy, Implementation, and Oversight Directorate in 2021, Campbell returned to NGPO. Campbell now manages implementation of the Unified Servicing and Data Solution (USDS), which awarded new, long-term contracts in Spring 2023. These contracts are designed to improve the borrower experience, bolster servicer accountability, focus resources on at-risk borrowers, and ultimately provide borrowers with a complete repayment experience on

    Campbell began their career as a financial aid administrator, which is an experience that still informs their work today. Prior to joining the federal government, Campbell was the director of the postsecondary education team at the Center of American Progress. Before that, they held roles in research and policy analysis at the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP).

    Campbell holds a Master of Public Policy and Master of Arts in Higher Education from the University of Michigan.

    Headshot of Sarah Destafano
    Sarah Destefano, MPP '23 

    Sarah DeStefano is an Attorney Advisor at the Economic Development Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce, providing legal and policy advice in support of the office’s implementation of the Distressed Area Recompete Pilot Program (more commonly known as Recompete). Authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, Recompete is a place-based economic development pilot program which aims to alleviate persistent economic distress in places across the United States that are challenged by high prime-age unemployment by using large, flexible investments to promote sustainable and equitable economic growth and job creation.

    The Ford School enabled Sarah to pivot her career and access many opportunities in support of her policy interests in economic development, rural policy, and state and local government by conducting research with the Center on Finance, Law, Policy (CFLP), the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), and as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomacy Lab program. She was also a Ross Leaders Academy fellow (a year-long leadership program offered to 50 graduate students across U of M) and interned in Summer 2022 at the Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development. Further, Sarah supported her studies and her peers by serving as a Graduate Student Instructor of a Ford core course and as a peer advisor in Career Services.

    Prior to attending Ford, Sarah worked for nearly a decade in the financial services industry as a compliance officer on anti-money laundering and sanctions issues and as an attorney in private practice. She also recently served as a commissioner on the Ulster County (NY) Commission on Reapportionment, redistricting the county legislature boundaries. She received a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School and a B.A. from American University and is admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey. 

    Time: 5:30 p.m.
    Location: The Social Study, 1795 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94115


    Headshot of Sophia Kittler
    Sophia Kittler, MPP/MBA '14

    Sophia Kittler is the Director of Innovation and the Deputy Budget Director for San Francisco Mayor London Breed. She has spent the last 5 years as a member of the mayor's senior staff in various policy and operational roles. Prior to joining San Francisco city government, Sophia held various roles at the intersection of finance, technology, and social impact, including work at an impact investing venture fund; product design at financial institutions; and research at TechCrunch. She lives in SF with her husband, her 2 year old son, and her 4 year old Alaskan Malador.

    Carmen Ye, MPP '18

    Carmen Ye is the Director of People and Culture at Action Network, which creates technology for the progressive movement. Previously she led People Operations at Make School in San Francisco and LaunchCode in St Louis, both non-profits creating alternative educational pathways to technology for underrepresented communities. During Carmen’s time at LaunchCode, the organization was a 2019 and 2020 honoree in the St Louis Women’s Foundation Women in the Workplace scorecard. This distinction recognizes employers who are committed to gender equity and initiatives to support women in the workplace. LaunchCode was also featured in Forbes’ 2019 Best Startup Employers. Carmen holds a Master of Public Policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She was also a 2011 Public Policy and International Affairs fellow. Her policy interests include diversity, equity, and inclusion, leadership development, and identity formation among Asian Pacific Americans. Her personal interests include traveling, baking, and learning new languages, with fluency in Cantonese, Spanish, and Mandarin.

    Time: 4:00 - 6:00 PM
    Location: Ground Central Coffee, 888 8th Ave., New York, NY 10019


    Headshot of Vanessa Kargenian
    Vanessa Kargenian, MPP '13

    Vanessa Kargenian serves as the lead thematic crypto researcher for Fidelity’s Center for Applied Technology, authoring original reports, advising senior leadership, and working closely with Fidelity’s blockchain incubator. She is fascinated with how blockchain technology, AI, and tokenized assets are reshaping business operations and global financial public policy frameworks. Prior to Fidelity, she served as a Cybersecurity Bank Examiner and FinTech Policy Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where she advised Federal Reserve executive management on the impact emerging technologies are having on financial industry operations, the regulatory landscape, and the U.S. economy. She holds a bachelor’s in economics and master’s in public policy from the University of Michigan. You can find her profile and external publishings from her work here.

    Time: 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
    Location: Convene Coffee, 311 W. Monroe, Chicago, IL 60634


    Headshot of Kevin Finnegan
    Kevin Finnegan, MPP/MBA '21

    Kevin Finnegan has spent his career working to close the gap between potential and prosperity, one student at a time. He began his career as an AmeriCorps member at a college access nonprofit supporting first-generation students on the path to and through college and has continued this focus over the last ten years running mentoring programs for students and young professionals. Kevin is a Senior Consultant in Deloitte’s Government and Public Service Practice, working at the intersection of business, education, technology, and people. Outside of client work, he plays a leading role in numerous initiatives including the partnership with nonprofit City Year Chicago, where he sits on the Associate Board. Outside of work, Kevin enjoys spending time with his wife Anna, son Henry, dog Barkley, and exploring the best food and drink Chicago has to offer. He holds an MPP from the Ford School and an MBA from the Ross School at the University of Michigan and a B.A. in Political Science from Macalester College, where he also sits on the Alumni Board.

    Alum Kaupa wearing a white shirt and black blazer
    Kristina Kaupa, MPP '18

    Kristina Kaupa is the Director of Policy for the Cook County Justice Advisory Council where she
    leads a team of legislative and policy analysts in actualizing Cook County Board President Toni
    Preckwinkle’s criminal justice reform priorities. Before joining the JAC, Kaupa served as Policy
    Advisor to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx where she developed and oversaw the
    office’s work to automatically clear tens of thousands of low-level cannabis convictions. From
    Fargo to Detroit, Chicago and Cook County, Kristina has spent her career in local government
    developing and implementing evidence-based, community-informed, and data-driven policies
    that work to build more equitable communities. Kaupa was a 2023 University of Chicago Civic
    Leadership Academy Fellow, holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan’s
    Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Environmental
    Policy from Concordia College, Moorhead.

    Time: 6:30 p.m.
    Location: Argus Farmstop, 1200 Packard Rd. Ann Arbor, MI 48104


    Headshot of Naomi Goldberg
    Naomi Goldberg, MPP '08

    Naomi Goldberg became MAP’s new executive director on March 1. Naomi started at MAP in 2010 as a junior policy researcher, directed the policy department and then the LGBTQ program, and most recently served as MAP’s deputy director. She is a trusted expert on the topics of LGBTQ data inclusion, laws impacting LGBTQ parents, and various federal policy issues. She’s published reports on LGBTQ families, the criminal justice system, economic security, and served as a co-author on several papers with data from the longest running longitudinal study of planned lesbian families. 

    Naomi attended Mount Holyoke College and received a Master of Public Policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. She completed a public policy fellowship at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. Naomi lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with her wife and son. 

    Time: 5:30 - 7 p.m.
    Location: Open City (Woodly Park) 2331 Calvert St. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (Right off the Woodley Park/Adams Morgan stop on the Red Line)


    Guy Packard, MPP '20

    As a Strategic Account Manager for Curtiss-Wright, Guy Packard is in charge of growth opportunities within the Southeast U.S. nuclear power market. Prior to this role, he served as the Business Development and Government Affairs Lead at X-energy, an advanced reactor developer. Guy holds his B.S.E in Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences as well as his M.P.P. with a focus on energy and sustainability from the University of Michigan.

    Time: 6:00 p.m.
    Location: Virtual, Zoom


    Headshot of Janani Ramachandran Yates
    Janani Ramachandran Yates, MPP '13

    Janani Ramachandran Yates is the deputy budget director for the City of Detroit. She has led efforts to rebuild the City’s program and performance based budgeting apparatus and to create a more transparent and inclusive budget process. Previously, Yates was the associate budget director in the Office of Budget and Performance Management for the District of Columbia, where she led the strategic direction and management of Washington D.C.'s $9 billion capital budget. She also helped lead the District's financial response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including the strategic allocation of once-in-a-generation federal aid packages totaling nearly $4 billion. Yates also served as a senior financial analyst with Arlington County, VA and held budget and operations roles with the federal government at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She holds a MPP from the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and a BA from Amherst College.

Public Events

Policy Talks and more

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April 2

Tour of Weill Hall

Join us for a LIVE, student-led tour of the Ford School's Weill Hall.
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