Email Component Libarary

Letter from the Director

Welcome to the Leadership Initiative’s inaugural newsletter! Our team is excited to share these periodic updates with you about the activity and outcomes of the Leadership Initiative. And we hope you will also see this as an invitation to get (further) involved.

All of us have the capacity to lead—to make a positive impact on our organizations, communities, and the people around us. Yet, we know that leadership doesn't "just happen." Leadership is a behavioral process and learning it is a critical part of the preparation the Ford School offers students.

The vision of the Leadership Initiative - “to equip students with the tools they need to become agents of positive change in the world” - helps students realize their potential as visionary leaders ready to address, head-on, the biggest challenges we face in modern society. Integrated across the curricular and co-curricular student experience, this includes developing the requisite skills, knowledge, and leadership presence - an embodied belief in one’s capabilities to confidently bring their voices to the table and show up as their best selves.

Portraits of Morela Hernandez and Jennifer Niggemeier The Leadership Initiative offers a growing suite of evidence-based programs (including assessments and leadership coaching) and courses that build on and complement our longstanding strengths in rigorous data and policy analysis and effective communication.

Thank you all for your generous support and active involvement. We are grateful for the many faculty and staff and our team of leadership coaches who have not only contributed to the establishment of our leadership offerings, but also continue to build, innovate, and expand our reach in important ways. And a special thank you to the many students who fully engage in our programs and courses, provide valuable feedback on our pilot offerings, and are authentically and intentionally becoming ‘leaders and best’.

Please reach out to us at [email protected] or check out our website if you’d like to learn more. We look forward to partnering with you.

Signature of Morela Hernandez
Morela Hernandez, Faculty Director, currently on leave
Signature of Jennifer Niggemeier
Jennifer Niggemeier, Managing Director

Portraits of Claire Lowande and Cat Owsik
Welcome to our two new colleagues who joined the Leadership Initiative team this year. Claire Lowande, our Program Manager, comes to us with extensive program development experience at the Sanger Leadership Center at Ross. Cat Owsik, our postdoc, joins us from the University of Virginia where she recently completed her Ph.D. focusing on leadership and sustainability. Cat is teaching the new undergraduate Intro to Leadership course (PubPol 475.004) and is also affiliated with the Erb Institute.
Leadership News
Photo of Leadership students adventure
Returning students practice leadership skills
Over two days in the Dixboro Woods, returning MPP students reconnected and strengthened relationships with their peers, practiced self-awareness, and enhanced team communication skills.
Photo of Ford School students discussion
Future of Work Institute
This month we hosted the Deloitte Future of Work Institute (FoWI), in partnership with Career Services and the Barger Leadership Institute (BLI). The program was open to Ford BAs, minors, students from Pub Pol 201 and BLI fellows. FoWI focuses on the human skills needed where advancing technologies are changing the nature of work, the workforce, and the workplace.
Photo of Ford School students discussion
In the classroom
A growing number of undergraduate and graduate courses focus on the fundamentals of leadership in the public sector, case writing, using behavioral science, and more. In future newsletters we will highlight classes where students can learn leadership skills from our amazing faculty.
Photo of Story Lab students
Students learn communication skills at LI programs
Communicating verbally with clarity and impact requires practice, intention, and feedback. This semester, the Ford School’s Leadership Initiative offered two opportunities for students to practice impromptu speaking and storytelling.
Upcoming events
Develop your vision for a better world. Apply to attend LeaderShape over Spring Break 2024 to spend the week at Camp Michigania exploring multiple aspects of leadership.
A community conversation on leadership with motivational coach Greg Harden
Feature story
Chart of Leadership growth 2019-2023
Summer Leadership Coaching Program
Real-time coaching helps students learn to navigate workplace challenges. All Ford School master's students have the opportunity to work with a certified executive leadership coach during their summer internship—a growth activity typically reserved for senior leaders and executives much further along in their careers.

Now in its 5th year, 74 MPPs completing their required internship participated in the Ford School’s innovative Summer Leadership Coaching Program. Working with our 21 executive leadership coaches in both group and individual coaching sessions, students focused on “showing up as their best selves” on their internships. Students also had access to a new series of coach-led workshops on common workplace challenges including navigating identities in the workplace, influencing when you are not the boss, giving & receiving feedback, navigating flex work, and more.

Coaching provides students with an intentional focus on growth as a leader in the workplace, characterized by students as confidence building, mindset shifts, self-advocacy, and defining values.

"Leadership Coaching helped me act intentionally during my internship. When things weren't going as planned, and I was stressed that I wasn't making the most of my time, it put me at ease to know I'd have a chance to discuss with my coach, Alan. He helped me reframe my problems, giving me the confidence and motivation to take action when I previously thought I couldn't in specific situations." Eddie Weber, MPP '24

Leaders dedicated to the public good

[email protected]

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy - University of Michigan
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
University of Michigan
Joan and Sanford Weill Hall
735 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109‑3091
(734) 764-3490
© 2023 The Regents of the University of Michigan