Helen Levy reflects on her time as an Obama White House advisor

March 5, 2012

Helen Levy, Ph.D., a research associate professor at the Ford School, is one of four active University faculty members who has served in an official advising capacity for the Obama Administration. She reflected on her time in public service for Concentrate, an online magazine covering Washtenaw County.

Levy, whose focus is health economics, served as the senior economist on the Council of Economic Advisers at the height of the healthcare reform debate. The CEA is an independent advisory body consisting of expert economists on leave from other institutions.

According to the author, "She describes her stint at the White House as being extremely fast-paced, a dramatic departure from the slow, careful pace of insular academia. Her experience in Washington forced her to think much more quickly on her feet. 'It was fun for a change but also very much validating as to how great it is to be here [in Ann Arbor] in every way.'"

Levy also discussed how her DC experience helped her gain a new perspective on health reform, and the challenges presented by misinformation and the "big disconnect" between what some citizens would like and what is considered politically feasible.

Most of all, Levy appreciated the chance to use her expertise to make an impact.

"There aren't that many opportunities in adult life to do something like that," she says. "It applies [our] learning but in a totally different, day-to-day way. This actually made it so much more concrete."