New members of the Ford School community

August 31, 2015

New Faculty

Paula Lantz is the new associate dean for research and policy engagement and a professor of public policy. She most recently was professor and chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. From 1994-2011, she was a faculty member at the University of Michigan with a primary appointment in the School of Public Health, and with affiliations at the Ford School and the Institute for Social Research. Lantz, a social demographer, studies the role of public health in health care reform, clinical preventive services (such as cancer screening and prenatal care), and social inequalities in health. She is particularly interested in the role of health care versus broad social policy aimed at social determinants of health in reducing social disparities in health status. She is currently doing research regarding the potential of social impact bonds to reduce Medicaid expenditures. Lantz received an MA in sociology from Washington University, St. Louis, and an MS in epidemiology and PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin.

John Leahy is the Allen Sinai Professor of Macroeconomics, a joint appointment between the Ford School and the Department of Economics. His research interests center on economic fluctuations and macroeconomic policy with a focus on the roles that market frictions and imperfect information play in shaping economic outcomes. Leahy is a leading authority on macroeconomics, serving as a coeditor of the American Economic Review and as a visiting scholar to the Federal Reserve Banks of New York, Philadelphia, and Kansas City. He earned a MS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a PhD in Economics from Princeton University.

Kaitlin Raimi is an assistant professor of public policy. A social psychologist, her interests center on how social motivations have the potential to promote or prevent sustainable behaviors. While completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy & Environment at Vanderbilt University, Raimi's research focused on how people compare their own beliefs and behaviors to those of other people, how the desire to make a good impression can influence people to mitigate climate change, and how adopting one sustainable behavior affects subsequent environmental decisions. She received an MA and PhD in social psychology from Duke University.

Natasha Pilkauskas is an assistant professor of public policy. Pilkauskas’ research broadly focuses on the health, development and well-being of low-income families and children. She is particularly interested in the role that private support networks play in helping families make ends meet. Much of her research focuses on the role that grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren. She also examines the effects of economic wellbeing (material hardship, unemployment, poverty) and public policy on families and children. Dr. Pilkauskas received a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University and a PhD in Social Welfare Policy from Columbia University.

We are also pleased to announce changes in status of several of our current faculty:

Megan Tompkins-Stange, previously a lecturer, has now joined the governing faculty as an assistant professor of public policy.

Luke Shaefer has become associate professor of public policy, with tenure.

Dean Yang has been promoted to professor of public policy and economics.

New Faculty Affiliates

We are delighted to welcome to the Ford School a number of new faculty affiliates. While they may not be teaching, we look forward to seeing them engaged in our community.

William Axinn is a research professor at the Institute for Social Research, professor in the Department of Sociology, a faculty affiliate at the Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, and a professor of public policy at the Ford School. He is a sociologist and demographer whose research interests center on fertility and family demography. Axinn’s program of research addresses the relationships among social change, the social organization of families, intergenerational relationships, marriage, cohabitation, fertility and mental health in the United States and Nepal. More recently in his career, Axinn’s interests have evolved to include public policy applications of his research.

Sarah Burgard is an associate professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Sociology, associate professor of epidemiology, and associate professor of public policy at the Ford School. Her research focuses on the way systems of stratification and inequality impact the health of people and populations. Much of her work focuses on socioeconomic, gender, and racial/ethnic disparities in working lives and the relationships between working careers and health. She studies mental and physical health, as well as health behaviors, with a particular interest in sleep. In related work, she has studied the impact of recessions on well-being. Burgard also studies adult and child health in Brazil. She holds an MS in epidemiology and PhD in sociology from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Jeffrey D. Morenoff is professor of sociology, research professor at the Institute for Social Research (ISR), and professor of public policy. He is also director of the ISR Population Studies Center. Professor Morenoff's research interests include neighborhood environments, inequality, crime and criminal justice, the social determinants of health, racial/ethnic/immigrant disparities in health and antisocial behavior, and methods for analyzing multilevel and spatial data. In 2004, Morenoff won the Ruth Shonle Cavan Young Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology for "outstanding contributions to the discipline of criminology.” He earned an MA and PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago.

Alexandra K. Murphy is an assistant professor of sociology, a faculty affiliate of the Population Studies Center at the Institute for Social Research, and an assistant professor of public policy at the Ford School. In her research, she uses ethnographic methods to examine how poverty and inequality are experienced, structured, and reproduced across and within multiple domains of social life, including neighborhoods, social networks, and the state. Murphy is currently working on her book, When the Sidewalks End: Poverty in an American Suburb (Oxford University Press), an ethnographic study of the social organization of poverty in one suburb. She received her PhD in sociology and social policy from Princeton University.

Jason Owen-Smith is the Barger Leadership Institute Professor of Organizational Studies, a professor of sociology, a research professor in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, where he also directs the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS), and a professor of public policy at the Ford School. Owen-Smith uses dynamic network methods with large scale data sets to examine topics relevant to science policy, innovation, higher education, regional economic development and medical care. He is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Industries Studies Fellowship in Biotechnology. In 2008, Owen-Smith received the University of Michigan's Henry Russel Award, which recognizes mid-career faculty for exceptional scholarship and conspicuous teaching ability. He received his MA and PhD in sociology at the University of Arizona.

Alford A. Young is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Sociology, Chair of the Department of Sociology, professor of African and African American Studies, and professor of public policy. He has pursued research on low-income, urban-based African Americans, employees at an automobile manufacturing plant, African American scholars and intellectuals, and the classroom-based experiences of higher-education faculty as they pertain to diversity and multiculturalism. He employs ethnographic interviewing as his primary data collection method. His objective in research on low-income African American men, his primary area of research, has been to argue for a renewed cultural sociology of the African American urban poor.  Young received an MA and PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago.

Visiting Faculty

Cheryl Collier is an associate professor and undergraduate chair in the Department of Political Science at the University of Windsor. Collier will be teaching a class during the 2015-2016 academic year. Her present research examines the impact of federalism on sub-national child care advocacy in Canada and the United States. She has also recently completed a research project examining shifting levels of feminist discourse inside of child care and anti-violence policy debates both federally and provincially in Canada. Collier is director of the University of Windsor's Health Research Centre for the Study of Violence against Women.

Wei Liu is an associate professor at the School of Public Administration and Policy at Renmin University of China and a visiting professor of public policy at the Ford School. Her teaching and research interests include policy processes, international organizations and Chinese politics. She leads the Center of Global Governance at the Academy of Public Policy at Renmin, as well as several research projects, including “The Mechanism of Global Public Policy” and “Non-Traditional Security in Southeast Asia.” She holds a master of laws from Peking University and a PhD in political science from Arizona State University.

Yunhua Liu is currently a professor of economics at Renmin University of China, an adjunct professor at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and a visiting professor of public policy at the Ford School. Liu's research areas cover the economic relationship of Southeast Asia and China, urban economic development, and Chinese Economy. The main courses he teaches for graduate students are Chinese Economy and Investment Environment of China. He earned an undergraduate degree in engineering and completed a master of science in management science from Northeastern University in China. He earned his PhD in economics from Ohio State University.

Towsley Policy Maker in Residence

Ambassador Richard Boucher is a Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence. Following his retirement as Deputy Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), he has taught at Michigan and other universities. Richard enjoyed an extremely successful career with the State Department, becoming the longest-serving Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and managing relations with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India as Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia (2006-2009). He also served as Ambassador to Cyprus (1996-1999). He will be in residence winter 2016, teaching two full-semester courses.

Harold Ford, Jr. will join us in the fall term as a Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Policymaker in Residence. He represented Tennessee in the U.S. Congress for 10 years, where he served on both the Financial Services and Budget Committees. Since leaving office in 2007, Ford continues to work to promote healthy, non-partisan debate on today’s most pressing issues in Washington and in communities across the country. The author of New York Times best-seller More Davids than Goliaths (Crown 2010), Ford serves as a political analyst and contributor for NBC News. Ford is active with several nonprofits and foundations. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a B.A. in American History, and a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. He will be teaching a half-semester course: “Contemporary Public Policy Formation."


Jonathan Hanson is a lecturer in statistics for public policy. As a specialist in comparative political economy and political development, his research examines the ways in which, and the channels through which, political institutions affect economic performance and human development. In recent projects, he has explored whether democracy and state capacity complement or substitute for each other when it comes to improving human development and why authoritarian regimes vary significantly in economic and social outcomes. Hanson holds an MA in economics and a PhD in political science from the University of Michigan.

Daniel Raimi is a policy researcher and analyst with expertise on energy policy issues including oil and gas markets and policy, regulation of unconventional oil and gas production, state fiscal policy design for oil and gas production, the climate implications of shale gas development, and federal climate policy design. He has published in academic journals including Science, Environmental Science and Technology, Journal of Economic Perspectives, and the Annual Review of Resource Economics. He received his master’s degree in public policy from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and his bachelor’s degree in music from Wesleyan University. Daniel will be teaching an undergraduate course, "Oil and Gas Policy in the US," during the winter 2016 semester.

Gretchen Whitmer represented residents of East Lansing, Michigan in the Michigan state house from 2000-2006, and in the Michigan state senate from 2006-2014. In 2011, Whitmer was elected the Senate Democratic Leader and became the first woman to lead a caucus in the history of the Michigan Senate. Prior to serving in public office, she worked as an attorney in private practice with the firm Dickinson Wright in Lansing. Whitmer earned a bachelor's degree in communications and went on to graduate magna cum laude with a Juris Doctor, both from Michigan State University. She will be teaching a course titled “Running, Serving and Leading in a Legislative Body.”

Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Sarah Cannon is a postdoctoral fellow with the Ford School's Education Policy Initiative (EPI). Her research interests focus on education policy, and how the rural social context affects individuals and communities. Previously, she taught high school math through Teach for America in South Dakota. Cannon holds a PhD in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University and an undergraduate degree from Carleton College.

Chad Monfreda is a Dow postdoctoral fellow. While completing his doctoral work, his research focused on carbon markets in California and Mexico. Monfreda has wide-ranging experience on sustainability science and policy, including through Arizona State University's IGERT in Urban Ecology, a MacArthur Foundation project on Advancing Conservation in a Social Context, and a joint ASU-National Academy of Engineering initiative on Energy Ethics in Science and Engineering Education. He earned a PhD in the human and social dimensions of science and technology from Arizona State University.

Faculty on Leave or Sabbatical

Barry Rabe – full year

Alan Deardorff – winter term

Luke Shaefer – fall term

New Ford School Staff (who have joined since last August)

Sarah Beyer is an administrative assistant supporting both Graduate Career Services and Alumni Relations. She graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in hospitality business.  Prior to joining our staff, Sarah spent two years in Texas working for both Omni Hotels and Starwood Hotels and Resorts.  She looks forward to applying her customer service and hospitality training to the world of higher-education.

Natalie Fitzpatrick joined CLOSUP in June 2015 as a Research Area Specialist. She received her Bachelor's degree in Economics and Master's degree in Agricultural Economics from Michigan State University. Prior to joining CLOSUP, she worked for the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan, in the criminal justice data archive.

CJ Libassi, a 2015 graduate of the Ford School MPP program, joined the staff of the Education Policy Initiative in August as a research area specialist. He will work as a project manager for education-related research projects, planning the data gathering and analysis, and supervising student research assistants.  CJ interned at the New American Foundation Education Program in Washington, DC and previously worked for Teach for America in DC as well. He’s a graduate of the University of Scranton and also holds a masters in teaching from American University.

Meresa McKesson serves as the administrative assistant in Student and Academic Services, providing support in all aspects of admission, recruiting, and academic advising across all degree programs. She received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Bowling Green State University (BGSU). Prior to joining the Ford School Meresa held positions in a variety of student affairs offices at BGSU including the Office of Service-Learning, New Student Orientation, Honors Program, and Student Union Operations. Meresa enjoys building relationships with students and providing guidance throughout their collegiate career.

Nick Pfost is the Marketing & Communications Specialist at the Ford School. He advises on and executes the school's marketing initiatives by planning, designing, and producing creative, high-quality, strategic Ford School communications material, including magazine editions, brochures, posters, ad campaigns, web content, and other collateral. Additionally, Nick contributes to the development and implementation of the school's social media strategies. Before assuming his current position, he provided key organizational leadership and project management to fulfill the retail operations goals of Meijer at two of the company's highest-profit locations.  Nick is an alum of the Ford School (MPP '15) and holds a dual-Bachelor of Arts in social relations & policy and international relations from James Madison College of Public Affairs at Michigan State University.

Tricia Schryer (Heney) returns to the Ford School after a stint at the University Library. She works to coordinate recruiting and admissions along with the associate director of student services, and represents the Ford School by attending graduate student fairs. She also coordinates the PPIA program.   Tricia holds a bachelor of science from the University of Michigan and is pursuing a MA in educational psychology from Eastern Michigan University.

Emily Zacek joined the Ford School as the development assistant in the spring of 2015.  She graduated in 2014 from the University of Michigan with degrees in organizational studies and flute performance, and previously worked as the development assistant and a front of house manager at the Michigan Theater.  Emily also enjoys cooking, being outdoors, college football, reading, and dominating at pub trivia.