I encourage students to concentrate on their writing and for different audiences, and, ultimately, applying those tools in the real world by taking theory and putting it into a complex system. The Ford School does a good job of balancing those things and preparing students for careers in the field.”
Steve Tobocman (MPP/JD '97) has been a leading advocate for immigrant inclusion in Detroit over the past two decades. After serving in Michigan’s House of Representatives for six years–his final term as the second highest ranking legislator–he returned to community-based, non-profit work and the Ford School as an adjunct professor. He is now the director of Global Detroit, where he and his team create economic opportunities for immigrants in Detroit. “It was quite the transition,” said Tobocman, “As floor leader, you’re handling ten different policy issues at once; focusing on just one issue as a non-profit leader has taken a long time to adjust.”
He has championed many initiatives at Global Detroit. “We’re heavily invested in Detroit neighborhoods, helping them do tax foreclosure, energy efficiency improvements for low-income families, helping people in many ways during COVID-19. We have a broad range of work, but our real expertise is around larger, institutional policy changes to make this region a leading region of economic opportunity,” he said. To help execute this work, Tobocman often turns to the Ford School when looking for new talent and interns. “The quality of students there really shines, which is why we continue to hire interns from the Ford School, because we are getting such high quality interns compared to other schools,” he said. For students, he says, the Ford School’s connections to Detroit offers many opportunities to practice policy in a dynamic city.
Throughout his career, Tobocman has relied on the communication, analytical skills, and fundamentals of program evaluation he gained at the Ford School. “I use program evaluation all the time. We talk about outcome lines, outcome of interests, and things of that nature, and I use this all the time in my work, to measure evaluation and impact,” he said.
As an adjunct professor at the Ford School in 2009, Tobocman was eager to share his experiences as a state legislator and provide a practical perspective.“I had learned so much as a politician in a state legislature. It’s so different from what you can learn academically. You learn so much about what makes legislators tick and how they operate that you can’t get in an academic setting. ” he explained.
He also emphasized to his students the importance of adapting writing to different audiences.
“The number one thing I tried to teach when I was a professor is how important writing is. I encourage students to concentrate on their writing and for different audiences, and, ultimately, applying those tools in the real world by taking theory and putting it into a complex system. The Ford School does a good job of balancing those things and preparing students for careers in the field.”