Spring 2021 update from the Ford School Alumni Board

April 13, 2021

Greetings Ford School alumni, 

The Alumni Board held its spring meeting on April 9, via Zoom. This was our third virtual meeting of the pandemic and while we have all missed coming to Ann Arbor for our meetings and the opportunities to interact in-person with students, faculty, staff, and our fellow board members, we have continued to engage with and serve the Ford School in a variety of ways this year.

From the beginning of the pandemic through now, Alumni Board members, in addition to you, our larger Ford School alumni community have participated in office hours, mock interviews, the January Graduate Student Career Expo, and policy-area specific programs with students. During our spring meeting, Jennifer Niggemeier, director of graduate career services and alumni relations, Peter Vasher, associate director, graduate career services, and Gail Tien, BA career counselor, shared with the board their gratitude for our involvement, and also how important and valuable these experiences we participate in are to students in their professional development. Also, as they prepare students for internships and jobs, especially in virtual environments, they asked us for our perspectives about the future of work. If you have thoughts to share, please reach out to Jennifer, Peter, and/or Gail. 

Many board members, along with our Alumni Admissions Ambassadors, spent time this past year engaging with prospective and admitted students, encouraging them to attend the Ford School. This year, we attended webinars with admitted students and connected with them in breakout rooms over Zoom. Susan Guindi, director of student and academic services, reported that our efforts paid off - strong classes of BA, MPP/MPA, and PhD students will be joining the Ford School this fall! Also, the Ford School MPP/MPA program remains one of the most diverse graduate programs on campus. 

In addition to helping current and admitted students, the board raises funds for student support. One of our most important board goals each year is to raise $10,000 for undergraduate and graduate students internships and we are on our way to this goal. Some of us, like you, donated during Giving Blueday earlier this spring, and the Ford School recorded its highest donor turnout ever for Giving Blueday! 

The Alumni Board continues to be involved with the School’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Stephanie Sanders, the Ford School’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer, provided an update on progress made to date in this area and offered suggestions for ways the board can be helpful in furthering the DEI work at the Ford School, especially as the School moves forward in planning for DEI 2.0 at the Ford School. 

In the midst of a global pandemic, the Ford School continues to excel: it was recognized again as the #1 school in social policy, hired two new outstanding faculty members, Katherine Michelmore and Morela Hernandez, and announced two transformative gifts to the Ford School earlier this month, a $17 million gift from the Kohn Charitable Trust, and a $750,000 Towsley Foundation grant to expand the leadership initiative

My tenure as chair ended at the conclusion of the spring meeting and while I presided over the board entirely virtually, I was honored to serve in this role. Naomi Goldberg, MPP ‘08, will assume the role of chair and Mellie Torres, MPP ‘97, vice-chair, on May 1.  There are so many ways to get involved as a Ford School alum - do a mock interview, join the Alumni Board, and make plans to be at Worldwide Ford School Spirit Day in July!


Go Blue!
Rachel White, BA ‘10
Alumni Board chair