I want to serve the public interest. Whether it be working toward a safer, more transparent healthcare system or developing programs to improve access, I want to become a leader who puts people first and gives back to the communities that have given me so much."Bilal Baydoun (MPP '17), the first Gerald R. Ford Presidential Fellow
About the fellowship
When Gerald R. Ford returned to Grand Rapids, Michigan, from World War II service, he chose to run for public office. It wasn't because he sought the limelight, but because he believed strongly in a bold, constructive vision for a globally-engaged post-war America—a vision diametrically opposed to that of his Congressional district’s five-term incumbent. The voters agreed, and for the next six decades, Ford never looked back, and never stopped leading.
In keeping with President Ford’s legacy, the Ford School seeks to inspire the next century of citizens, public servants, and leaders. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Ford School and the 101st anniversary of President Ford’s birth, we launched an effort to raise $3 million to permanently endow two full graduate fellowships for the most exceptional Ford School applicants. Gerald R. Ford Presidential Fellows:
- Exemplify the president’s commitment to bipartisan cooperation and civility,
- Are deeply and positively engaged in community service, and
- Intend to pursue a lifelong career in the public sector.
- Elena Davert (MPP/MS '23)
- Rebecca Ackerman (MPP '21)
Karl Hoesch (MPP '20), the 2018 Gerald R. Ford Presidential fellow, interned at the Office of Climate and Energy, in the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. The internship, along with Ford School courses nurtured his interest in energy justice, at the intersection of energy, housing and health policy. Hoesch is now pursuing a PhD at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability. Prior to coming to the Ford School, Hoesch taught high school Spanish for two years in Memphis, TN with Teach For America before joining the admissions office at Hope College, his alma mater.
Megan Nestor, the 2017 Gerald R. Ford Presidential Fellow, spent close to a decade working with non-profit organizations that combat the systemic inequities facing low-income students of color. Prior to joining the Ford School, she served as program director of The Opportunity Network, an organization that helps historically underrepresented students prepare for college and careers. During that time, Nestor also served as an avid volunteer for the Appalachian Mountain Club's Youth Opportunities Program, which works to introduce urban youth to outdoor adventures.
Bilal Baydoun, the 2015 Gerald R. Ford Presidential Fellow, is a policy and communications advisor for the Michigan Department of Attorney General. He has also served as a Foreign Policy Associate at the Clinton Foundation and a Government Innovation Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. Baydoun focused his Ford School policy education on government performance management, U.S. social policy, and international affairs. Baydoun was previously a business analyst at the Detroit-based Data Consulting Group, where he worked to deliver solutions in multiple corners of the healthcare sector. As a first-generation college student, he volunteered extensively for Doors of Opportunity, a student-led organization that provides financial aid and college admissions advice to secondary students in Dearborn's Arab community. Baydoun holds a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Michigan and a master's degree in public policy from the Ford School.