Outstanding faculty join the Ford School, fall 2022 updates

August 26, 2022

This fall the Ford School welcomes a terrific group of new faculty members and visitors who will strengthen the connections between student education, rigorous academic research, and real-world policy impact.

Sam Bagenstos has been appointed the Arlene Susan Kohn Professor of Social Policy, one of five Kohn Professorships that form the heart of the Ford School’s Kohn Collaborative for Social Policy. With a gift from Hal and Carol Kohn and the Kohn Charitable Trust, the Ford School established the Arlene Susan Kohn Professorship of Social Policy to support research that contributes to policies advancing the rights of disabled individuals in the United States. Bagenstos, who also holds an appointment as the Frank G. Millard Professor of Law, is a prolific legal scholar and one of the nation's foremost experts in constitutional and civil rights related to disability, housing, employment, voting, criminal justice, and reproduction. Bagenstos was instrumental in updating the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act regulations—the first comprehensive update of those regulations since they were first promulgated in 1991. He also reinvigorated the DOJ Civil Rights Division's enforcement of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Olmstead v. L.C., which guarantees people with disabilities the right to live and receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate. Bagenstos, who is currently on leave from the University, is the General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He will become an active member of the Ford School community when his government service ends.

New Ford School associate professor Megan Stewart is an expert in international political conflict and revolutionary movements internationally and in the United States. Stewart researches the politics of rebel governance and state building. Her 2021 book, Governing for Revolution: Social Transformation in Civil War (Cambridge University Press) was shortlisted for Conflict Research Society Book of the Year in 2022. This fall, Stewart will teach an undergraduate course called "Values & Ethics: Violence and Social Inequality" and a graduate course called "Politics of Public Policy." Learn more about Stewart in this Q&A.

This fall, Amy Harris will transition from postdoctoral fellow to lecturer at the Ford School and will teach two graduate level courses: "Engaging the Public in Policy Making" and "International Development Management." She will also lead this year’s International Economic Development Program (IEDP), a graduate course and study trip to Chile. Harris researches foreign aid, international development, public participation, and public contracting. Her analysis on factors driving federal international contracting choice was recently published in the International Public Management Journal.

The Ford School also welcomes four new lecturers to the Ford School. Senior national correspondent for HuffPost Jonathan Cohn will teach "Politics of Healthcare Reform." Patrick Cooney, assistant director of economic mobility at Poverty Solutions, will teach "Social Welfare Policy." Political scientist Bethany Morrison is a consultant at the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching and will teach "Politics of Public Policy." Jeff Sternberg, director of data and community research at the City of Detroit’s Community Health Corps, will teach the undergraduate Applied Learning Seminar.

In addition to serving as associate director of the Center for Racial Justice, Dominique Adams-Santos will take on a new role as the Associate Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer for the Ford School. She will assist DEI Officer Stephanie Sanders in implementing key priorities while also planning for the school’s next full strategic plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Visiting faculty

Visiting faculty enrich the breadth of course offerings and connect our students to new policymaking communities. These policy leaders teach and mentor students, providing real-world advice and experiences.

Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence

Distinguished litigator, legal expert, and public servant Judge Laurel Beatty Blunt (Ohio Tenth District Court of Appeals) joins the Ford School faculty as a Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence. Judge Beatty Blunt is frequently invited to speak about racial inequities in the justice system and about the importance of voting. She will teach a graduate course on the Supreme Court and host a public event. 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed will return for a second year as a Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence. He has served as the executive director of the Detroit Health Department, a Health Officer for the city of Detroit, a Michigan gubernatorial candidate in 2018, and a founder of Southpaw Michigan, a political action committee that helps to elect progressive candidates in Michigan. He is active in the policy discourse around the impacts of COVID-19 and testified before the U.S. Senate Budget Committee on Medicare for All in May 2022. El-Sayed will teach two graduate level courses: "Narrative Advocacy and Policy Change" and "Policy Foundations of Health."

Hardy Vieux (MPP/JD ‘97) also returns as a Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence. He is an expert in international human rights and refugee policy, currently serving as the chief of staff for Kids In Need of Defense (KIND). Vieux was formerly the vice president of legal for Human Rights First, and was a policy fellow with Save the Children in Jordan. Vieux will teach "The Role of Courts in International Human Rights." for undergraduate and graduate students.

Weiser Diplomacy Center

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun joins the faculty as the Weiser International Policymaker in Residence. He brings more than three decades of international affairs experience in government and the private sector, including high-level government service with the Department of State, the White House, and the United States Congress. In 2021, Biegun concluded his most recent government service as the Deputy Secretary of State, to which he was confirmed by the Senate with a strong bipartisan vote of 90-3. Prior to that role, he served as U.S. Special Representative for North Korea, directing all U.S. policy on North Korea, leading negotiations, and spearheading U.S. diplomatic efforts on behalf of the Secretary of State. Biegun will teach "U.S. Foreign Policy Leadership" for undergraduate and graduate students. On September 30, Biegun will be joined by former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle and Ambassador Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz for a discussion of U.S.-Russia relations, as a keynote event of the International Policy Center’s Midwestern Colloquium. 

Kseniya Yurtayeva is one of four visiting scholars from Ukraine joining the University of Michigan faculty this fall. Yurtayeva will work with the Ford School’s International Policy Center and Weiser Diplomacy Center on her research project “Cyberaggression as a method applied in contemporary warfare.” She also will participate in Ford School events and interact with Ford School students. Yurtayeva is an associate professor in the Department of Criminal Law and Criminology of Kharkiv National University of Internal Affairs where she teaches courses in Criminal Law, Criminology and Cybercrime Prosecution. Professor Yurtayeva is also a certified trainer of the National School of Judges of Ukraine and developed a course in Cybersecurity and Human Rights in Cyberspace for judiciary candidates.

Retired U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shields will continue as a visiting policy practitioner with the Ford School’s Weiser Diplomacy Center. Shields served as the U.S. Ambassador to Brunei for 3 years and has held many other positions within the State Department. His work has focused around Asian relations and issues, which he has taught many courses on. In the fall, he will teach "Topics: U.S. Diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific."

Lou Fintor returns to the Ford School as the interim U.S. State Department Diplomat in Residence, to provide guidance to U-M students interested in a career with the U.S. Foreign and Civil Services. Fintor joined the State Department in 2002 as a press officer in the Bureau of Public Affairs' Office of Press Relations. He subsequently served as embassy spokesperson in Kabul (2005-06), Baghdad (2006-07), Islamabad (2007-08), and Sana'a, Yemen (2012-14) before returning to Kabul in 2016.

Center for Racial Justice

The Ford School’s Center for Racial Justice welcomes three inaugural Visiting Fellows as for the 2022-23 academic year. The Visiting Fellows program recognizes and supports the work of social justice changemakers, offering resources to write and produce catalyst projects that are grounded in research and have the potential to transform and inform public debate, policy, and scholarly analysis. Fellows will engage with the broader Ford School and University of Michigan communities, participating in the Center’s research symposiums, public events, and professional development workshops.

The Visiting Fellows Fall Welcome Symposium will take place on Thursday, October 6 in Weill Hall and be open to the University community and the public. Fellows will be in conversation with Dr. Celeste Watkins-Hayes, founding director of the Center for Racial Justice, to share more about their catalyst projects and their work within the racial justice landscape.

Atinuke (Tinu) Adediran, associate professor of law at Fordham University, researches inequality in nonprofits, corporations, and law firms. Her work centers on how the law influences these institutions, how they influence the law, and how to use the law to affect change toward racial, gender, and other forms of equity within and outside of these institutions. Her catalyst project is her monograph, Affirmative Action, Inc.: Race Consciousness in America's Largest Companies, which she hopes will serve as a policy intervention tool “to deter companies from using corporate affirmative action to further entrench inequality.”  Adediran’s fellowship is co-sponsored by Goldman Sachs’s One Million Black Women (OMBW) initiative.

Makeda Easter is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, KCET, Dance Magazine, Austin Chronicle, Chemical & Engineering News, and more. The Center for Racial Justice will support Easter’s catalyst project, the art rebellion, an independent digital publication focused on artists-activists in underreported regions and communities. Inspired by disparities in current art coverage, she envisions the platform will “emphasize the importance of artists in creating social change and empower artists through service journalism to make a living and impact through their work.” Easter also hopes the project will “transform arts reporting, [by] decentralizing New York and L.A. and the wealthiest art institutions, and instead spotlight radical and resistance art in small and mid-sized cities.” Her fellowship is co-sponsored by the University of Michigan Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellows Program.

Julian Brave NoiseCat is an Indigenous (Secwepemc/St’it’limix) writer, filmmaker, and activist who works at the intersection of climate journalism and advocacy for indigenous rights. NoiseCat's work has been recognized with numerous awards including the 2022 American Mosaic Journalism Prize, which honors "excellence in long-form, narrative or deep reporting on stories about underrepresented and/or misrepresented groups in the present American landscape." In 2021, he was named to the TIME100 Next list of emerging leaders for his work at the center of the climate crisis. As a Visiting Fellow, NoiseCat will complete his first book, We Survived the Night, as well as work on a documentary film that he is co-directing with Emily Kassie. With this support, NoiseCat says, he hopes that the projects will “shift the conversation and help policymakers and the public better understand the history, struggle, and ongoing vitality of Indigenous peoples in both the United States and Canada.”