Amy Lindholm: Young Leaders in Public Service

November 3, 2021 0:48:37
Kaltura Video

Amy Lindholm, Michigan State Friend of the Court Bureau, shares her journey, what led her to dedicate her life to public service, and the skills that helped her to become uccessful. November, 2021.


0:00:05.1 DeAndre Calvert: Alright, good morning everyone. I want to thank you all for joining us today for our next addition of our young leaders in public service. I'm DeAndre Calvert, the Community Engagement Manager for the Program in Practical Policy Engagement here at the Ford School. And today we're joined by Amy Lindholm. First, I'd like to acknowledge Mariam Negaran and Jordan Incovaya who will be our moderator for today, and Mariam, who is our administrative assistant here at P3E, but also our tech guru that will be helping behind the scenes. Please note that this event is recorded. So I like to introduce Amy. I've known Amy for a couple of years now, actually. We met working on some fatherhood and court issues within the city of Detroit as a part of a PCLP project back in 2019, I believe. And Amy was also a PCLP partner over the spring for our fellowship. So we had a great opportunity to work and the students did a fantastic job working on some surveys, so I thought it'd be a great addition for our students to hear from Amy. So with no further ado, Amy please take it away.

0:01:14.3 Amy Lindholm: Thank you, DeAndre, for that great introduction. And good morning everyone. Thank you for having me. I have to say that I was really flattered and honored when DeAndre asked if I'd like to speak to a group of public policy students. So I'm happy to be here today. I'm going to talk a little bit about what I do in my job and then some chronological how I got here, and then talk about some joys and also struggles that I experience in my position. And hopefully with that it'll be insightful and I can sprinkle in some advice as well. And if there are any questions as I go, I'm okay with taking those, otherwise, I think there's a question session at the end. So my formal title is management analyst, and I work with the Friend of the Court Bureau at the State Court Administrative Office in Michigan. And I've been in this role a little bit over four years now. And I'm going to kind of back up and really dumb it down to explain what my position is, because I know a lot of people are sort of puzzled by this job, especially with it being kind of a policy job within the courts. So I do work for the courts at the state level, Friend of the Court for anyone who's not familiar, is the name in Michigan for our county offices that provide case management services for custody, parenting time and child support issues.

0:02:43.7 AL: So for parents who are not living together and have children, kind of how they work out all of those things between themselves. So it's kind of an odd area because it's very social service, social work related, but it's actually within the courts. And most people are familiar with that child support aspect of Friend of the Court work. So for all of these county offices all across the state, all 83 counties, they all do this work, and someone has to set policies and procedures for how they do their work, and then also provide some monitoring and oversight to see if they're actually doing the things they're supposed to do and how that's going. And then provide technical assistance to them sometimes, or management assistance. We've had a lot of that going on post-COVID or during, not post-COVID. During COVID and as it continues, because we have a lot of people leaving positions, retiring shifts because people have died, and there's just a lot of turnover happening, and then people have to completely learn their position now. So our office is able to jump in and help with that. We develop uniform publications for use throughout the state. So for public information to understand what the office does, how it works, we provide training also to those folks across those offices.

0:04:15.5 AL: And because the Friend of the Court is actually an arm of the circuit court, all of those pieces end up provided by the judicial branch. So the Michigan Supreme Court created the State Court Administrative Office to do all those things for all types of courts, and then within the State Court Administrative Office, the Friend of the Court Bureau, does the work for Friend of the Courts. So my team that I work with is pretty small. We have six analysts or six people who are in my position, there's a director, and then we have one support staff person, and most of my colleagues are analysts or lawyers. I think at this point, I'm the only one who has a master's in public administration and my concentration in that was urban and regional policy and planning. And with that different focus, I tend to lead or co-lead different stakeholder groups that might have a lot of different types of people, and we're looking at how can things change kind of big picture. And that tends to be a little bit different from the types of assignments that my lawyer colleagues get. Not that none of them do that, but I tend to do more of that. So how did I get here? How did I end up in this role? I don't have a traditional or kind of logical path to doing the work that I do today.

0:05:45.1 AL: I went to a small liberal arts college for my undergraduate degree, Kalamazoo College, and I double majored in Biology and Art. Clearly an obvious path to doing the work that I do now in the legal system, like quasi-social work, of course, you'd study art and biology, makes sense. But at the time, I wanted to be a medical illustrator. And at the end of my undergraduate experience, I had some kind of serious health issues that threw me off course and put my future plans on hold for a bit. And then in the process of recovering from that medical journey, I really developed this desire to help people, when they're going through, struggling with systems, in particular. Like the struggles that I was going through were with the medical system. But I kind of broadly just wanted to help people with that, because I acknowledge that I had a really hard time getting through that, and I was sort of completely set up for success in my life. I had all the privileges, grew up consistently like middle class, all the privileges from being a group with all the advantages except for being male. I'd done everything right and worked hard throughout school, went to a good school, got my degree, and then I just really struggled to find a job.

0:07:15.7 AL: Part of that being the financial crash had just happened 2008, but also I wasn't at my best 'cause I was struggling. So that led me to kind of start thinking about different career paths, and from having customer service experience in retail jobs, I saw a posting for a customer service position with the Friend of the Court in my city. I didn't really have any idea what I was getting into initially, and it was a lot to learn, it was very different from what I expected, but I quickly got really invested in the work. As I talked to people and hear about their struggles, all the difficulties that their families were experiencing and all the conflict between their families, and then that's something that really, really I connected to, to wanting to find a way to reduce that conflict rather than having a Friend of the Court be something that seemed to be just this tool that people could used against each other or that without folks wanting it to be that, that that's what was happening. At Friend of the Court, I was promoted pretty quickly a couple of times to becoming a case manager, and in that case manager role, I found that I wanted to change a lot about how the office operated and how the system as a whole operated. And I was often running into red tape because those changes were required by law, they were required by court rule, things that were outside of a local office's control to change.

0:09:02.2 AL: So then I went back to school, got my master's degree in Public Administration. And initially, I wanted to leave the child support field completely because by then I just felt like this system is too broken. There's too much that needs to change, and I'm overwhelmed by the thought of doing that. So I ended up going into non-profit work for a couple of years, worked for a small international development non-profit. But I found myself still running into wanting to change the rules and laws that sort of govern how things could happen. And then I started looking for a policy job and ended up back in child support. And the way that that happened brings me to a point that I wanted to emphasize for all of you, and that is having connections in the field that you're interested in going into that those connections can be really, really vital. I wish that wasn't the case, that it didn't seem like you had to have this personal connection to be able to get a job, and I don't think it's always necessary, but it definitely helps. A lot of employers are working to change their hiring practices, but there's still a lot of work to be done, and I think that having that personal connection can go really long way.

0:10:24.7 AL: Even if it's just that someone tells you there's a job opening because maybe you weren't looking, but they reached out to you and they said, "Hey, there's an opening I think you might be suited for. Please apply." So my advice is that if you think you know where you might want to be, get creative about how you can start making those connections. See if there's an opportunity for an internship, for a research project like the students that we've been working with. Or just reach out to someone in an organization you're interested in, to kind of ask them about what they do, and honestly, any of that kind of initiative, I think would go a long way with starting those connections being formed. I got into the position I'm in now, because when I was working at Friend of the Court, there was a state level project to create a new child support calculator that the public could access. And I'd heard about it, volunteered to be part of that team, and then I made blasting relationships with folks at the state and they recognize that, oh, you think about the big picture. You're wanting to help people, and those are qualities that we're looking for in an analyst.

0:11:43.8 AL: Another piece of advice that I wanted to give, especially for women or any other groups that aren't sort of groomed in this way, that I think men, especially white men are often groomed for leadership and advancement, and that is to sell yourself and be bold. So I'm not suggesting to go overboard and say that you have qualities and knowledge and things that you might not have, but identify your strengths and maybe you have to work with a mentor to really identify what those things are that set you apart from others, that they see if you don't see them yourself. And then know what those are and be able to speak about them. For me, that's something that it's not an inherent trait that I have to sell myself, and it's definitely not the way that I was socialized to be growing up, and I've experienced that sometimes that seems different between, I'd say generally the women I work with, and the men I work with. On average, the men seem a lot more comfortable sort of saying, "I'm good at this and I do that," and moving their way up as they are able to sell themselves.

0:13:04.9 AL: Let's see. I wanted to mention that mentors having a big role in that. I was fortunate enough to have a couple of mentor figures along my career path who really pointed out to me what they saw as my strengths, and I think that can be... I don't know how much to emphasize how helpful that can be. So if you don't have a mentor like that, reach out to people, 'cause that's something that I've done is just sort of like cold-called people who I admired in the field that I wanted to get into and ask, "Do you do mentoring? Could you mentor me? I'm looking for someone like you to be my mentor." Shifting gears a little bit, some of my joys in my job today are duties that I've gotten to carve out that we're not originally part of what my team traditionally does, and that goes back to these kind of meetings with different stakeholders. So one of those roles is acting as a liaison with corrections. So especially the Michigan Department of Corrections and Friend of the Court Offices, because a lot of the people who we serve, a lot of the parents that Friends of the Court serve are incarcerated, and a lot of incarcerated people are parents, and there's a lot of damage that really can be done to those family relationships during that period of incarceration, and that can be irreversible damage.

0:14:38.4 AL: So where we have opportunities to improve that process we're really trying to create better relationships and to create a continuous system of keeping people in touch with other agencies they're connected to. So if they're incarcerated, but they have a child support case, getting them in touch with their Friend of the Court office to see is their child support still charging? It's not supposed to be if they're incarcerated, but is it? And if it is, what needs to happen to get that stopped? And just giving people an opportunity to ask a lot of questions too. And often, the opportunity to ask questions leads to folks learning newly that they even had the right to certain things, like to pursue some sort of contact with their child while they're incarcerated. A lot of folks don't realize that that's an option. And there might be for some folks, it might not be an option. Their parental rights could be terminated depending on what the circumstances were surrounding their incarceration, but for many, that's not the case, and there's something they can ask for. They can pursue through the courts getting custody or parenting time arrangement or maybe they don't need the courts to get involved, they might be able to just work it out with the other parent. So that has been some rewarding work to move things forward in that area.

0:16:12.4 AL: Another liaison role that I play is a fatherhood liaison. Again, between Friend of the Court offices and then fatherhood programs, and so DeAndre mentioned that's how he and I met. Initially, we had a grant-initiated Michigan Action Plan for Father Involvement, was what that group is called at the state level. And then kind of at the same time, or right after that group was formed, the Metro Detroit area was forming a fatherhood policy group. So today I work with both of those groups. And I really got myself into that by chasing down this social science researcher at a conference in DC, I'd been reading her research on fathers and child support and really was into it, wanted to implement some of the things that she talked about in her research. And I had seen her picture on her papers. So when I saw her walking around, I was like, "Oh, that's her. Oh my gosh, I have to go talk to her." And through going up and talking to her, I found out that in my state we are actually starting fatherhood work, and then kind of bullied my way onto that project. So my advice there is, again, to just not be shy about making connections and telling people when you're interested in something, that you are interested and you wanna be involved, and often I think it works out if you just say that.

0:17:47.6 AL: See, I'll also say in the realm of the fatherhood work, there's been, I think, especially for me working in that area, a lot of relationship building, that's been really important. The fathers who I think most need systems change to kind of remedy the damage that has been done in their families. They don't look like me. I'm a white middle class my entire life, childless woman, I work for the state, I represent the various systems that are damaging people's lives at times. And so, why should people trust me, why should they think that I support their cause? And so in this area, I think what's been helpful is to just really show up consistently. Always show up to the meetings. Some struggles that I wanted to mention, I don't think I've talked about yet. I have talked about the red tape, but I wanted to just highlight. I assume that all of you who are listening as public policy students, you might be considering a job in the government, and I just caution you or want you to be aware that working in government with that bureaucracy can be kind of maddening, especially if you're going into it like passionate about making change and you want to see the results of that work, it can happen.

0:19:21.0 AL: Absolutely, it can happen, but it takes time and sometimes just all the steps involved, all the checks and balances that are in place, the number of people who have to approve something before it can get published, I can just drive you a little bit crazy, so I just wanted to put that out there that keep in mind that that is still out there, all of that red tape, but that's not to say you shouldn't pursue increasing Government Efficiency and really keep trying to accomplish all the things that you're passionate about. And I wanted to sort of close out what I'm talking about with a couple of examples of things I've seen start to change in the four and a half years I've been in my position, just in 2021? Yeah, 2021, it's hard to keep track of time during COVID, we published our new parenting time guideline, the Michigan parenting time guidelines that govern, it recommends what should happen with parenting time for everybody in the state of Michigan, so it's intended to be accessible and usable for parents, but also for judges, for Friend of the Court workers, for attorneys, anybody who's working with folks on deciding what the time will look like that a child shares between two parents who don't live together.

0:20:56.0 AL: And a lot of important changes happened in that new release, we worked with an advisory committee with folks from all different fields to put it together, it took a long time, but it's finally published, and there's still more that we need to do to increase accessibility and usability, and that was something that the student group worked on earlier this year to get survey out to both parents who might use the guideline, and then practitioners use the guideline to identify those areas, but we have something new that addresses a lot of changes in family structure, finally. Just yesterday, I found out that we had a grant proposal accepted to implement a plan for doing a two-generation or a whole family approach to Friend of the Court Services, which basically means thinking about the child and the parents all the time at the same time as we decide how to serve that family, and that's a big shift from just being compliance-driven, short-term driven, you have child support that's owed, did you pay it? What can we do to make you pay it and not thinking about where is that money gonna come from? That we're saying, You need to pay right now or else. So that sort of long-term view will be a huge shift, and I have been researching to Jon and talking people's ears off about it for at least three years now, and finally we got this grant proof to start doing work on that, so that's really exciting.

0:22:39.6 AL: And yet the fatherhood work, as the other point I wanted to make that we are finally seeing a Friend of the Court offices, some that might have been really opposed to considering partnering with the fatherhood agency, being more and more interested in that and sort of understanding that they don't have a good relationship with a lot of folks that they serve, and they need to be a little bit more creative and think outside the box and partner with folks in the community who do have better relationships to actually serve those folks better. As we're seeing that change as well. And with that, I think I'll turn it over for questions.

0:23:25.7 Jordan Incovaya: Thank you so much, Amy. That was wonderful, and I think gave a lot of insight into government work, and I especially appreciate it to someone considering government work, your disclaimer on the red tape, so we do wanna open it up for questions. We wanted it to be very much a dialogue. So if anybody has a question, you can either raise your hand and ask it, or if you can write it in the chat and I will read it out for you, if no one has a question right now, I have probably a million that I could just toss out rapid fire. So the first thing that comes to my mind is wondering about how you go about that process, you mentioned bringing these outside, very marginalized voices into the structure that is very much kind of built without them in mind or built in opposition to them. And especially considering the kinds of rooms you mentioned and being in, and the kind of experiences that tend to be in those rooms, so I was just wondering if you could say more about the process of how you bring those voices in and that experience.

0:24:36.2 AL: Sure, I can try. And honestly, I would say it's an ongoing journey, that we still have a lot of work to do. I think in some instances, what is most helpful is to just do research and bring sources to whoever the higher-ups are who need to approve that other folks should be involved in the decision making and in sharing their experiences that play into the decision making. It's a shift really for probably all large government agencies, but I think for the judiciary in particular, it's the most conservative branch, I'd say, and it's difficult to sort of shift this perspective that tends to be judges and folks like judges, they have all this education experience, they're qualified, they're the ones to make the decisions and to sort of shift that and say, Well, we should also involve the people who are being impacted by this because we don't know what they're experiencing if we don't ask and hear from them, and they might have ideas about how to solve their own problems that we wouldn't have. So I have found that me just saying that, that's very much something that during my master's program, was sort of pounded into all of our brains, but it's not common knowledge for everyone, and I'd say especially leadership and government who may have been in their positions for a really long time.

0:26:31.6 AL: It's not necessarily common knowledge, so even just you get that point across takes some effort, some convincing, but I think research tends to be maybe the most helpful thing. Something that I did earlier this year, No, 2020, I think was the first one. We started doing these web-based parent panel discussions where we worked with... So I worked with someone, I had a relationship with, a community-based agency and asked if they could get a group of parents together who'd be willing to share what their experience was of the child support program with a whole bunch of Child Support Program workers. And those conversations, I think really, really paved the way for a lot of folks to sort of shift their understanding as they heard people share their story. That was something they had never thought about before. There was one Dad in the first panel who talked about having to sort of get past feeling embarrassed that he didn't have enough money to pay what somebody had decided was the amount that he had to pay every month, and there were so many people who told me like, I never thought about that, the embarrassment of not having the money for what this government agency said, Hey Dad, you should pay this much.

0:28:09.2 AL: Yeah, but that was sort of this creative way that I had to think of over time for how to start getting the folks who I thought should hear from parents to actually start hearing that, because I was hearing it from going into these fatherhood groups and hearing from dads directly or folks who worked with dads directly all the time, but not everybody else was hearing that, and I think hearing directly from people makes a huge difference. That was a long answer. Did I actually answer your question? 

0:28:45.7 JI: No, you did, yes. Yes, that was great. Yes, if anyone else has a question, you can feel free. Otherwise, I can ask a follow-up to my question.

0:28:56.9 AL: Yeah. I'll add too. I don't think there's one definite path for doing that, I think depending on your situation, it can be very different, so you kind of have to assess what the needs are, what the barriers are, and try things out, and it might not work out the first time.

0:29:17.3 JI: Yeah. Okay, Mariam, another question in a few minutes. Sorry, that was a separate thing. So a follow-up, I suppose, to all your great points, I'm wondering how you navigate running up against perhaps more fundamental differences in what the goal of the agency or the governmental branch even is, 'cause you mentioned that a lot of times it's a shift of perspective. And some of these shifts, I can see being very like, trying to move them out and type of thing, is the goal of the judicial system to what is that goal? And if you have a different view of someone else in the room, how you navigate that kind of fundamental difference? 

0:30:09.3 AL: Yeah, that's a really good question. So I would say that I think that I was probably fortunate that the time that I entered into this role, the Child Support Program, the Michigan child support programs Strategic Plan and Vision had sort of just been revamped to something that made a lot of sense to me, and aligned with what I would think it should do. And then for the state court administrative office, similarly, strategic planning had just happened and the shift was one that aligned with how I felt, and so I guess one piece of advice is maybe, unless you want to take on trying to fundamentally change that organization, maybe don't accept a job that doesn't have stated objectives that you agree with, small things I think are totally possible to move, but something that I consistently go back to when I run into acquisition and there's something that I want to pursue, a project I want to pursue. I think we should be shifting the way we do business, and I bring it to my boss or my boss's boss or whoever it is, and there's some disagreement, I bring it back to the strategic plan, and I say, this directly aligns with what we say our goals are and what we say we want to do for families, for people who use the court system like this will accomplish that, and so, unless you're saying that's not what we believe, then I think we should do it. Does that help? 

0:32:04.7 JI: Yeah, that's helpful, thank you.

0:32:06.7 AL: Yeah, no problem.

0:32:07.5 JI: Mariam, you had your hand up? 

0:32:10.3 Mariam Negaran: Yes, I actually have a follow-up question. So it's really impressive. Just hearing your journey, it was really impressive to see how you move from position to position, and I wanted to know, I guess I see a few things, a few thoughts, that it's definitely good to have mentors, it's good to have an elevator pitch, especially when you're trying to sell yourself, as you said before, so one question I had was, how did you go about finding the right people to talk to or even the most helpful mentors, how did you go about finding those people to help you? 

0:32:45.5 AL: Yeah, great question. So, one of my first really important mentors in my new career path that I'm now on, just happened to be a supervisor who I interviewed for a position and she was the supervisor and she was someone who sort of just recognized my strengths as I would come with questions. And I would say, why is this like this? Can't we do it differently? This is not efficient, or This is not serving people well, or the language that we use, that people don't know what that means. Can't we change our forms? And she just happened to be someone who was on the same page with that, who recognized that I was asking really good questions, I was willing to do the work, and then would sort of reflect that back to me, so that I would say was just luck. I don't think I sought that out, but also I wasn't afraid to say what I wanted to change, and that worked in my favor, so speaking up and saying, I see an opportunity for change here. Another sort of important mentor that I've had the last couple of years, she is the director of the Michigan child support program, and she's a woman, she's a white woman. She has qualities I would say I could relate to, and I knew she started in her position relatively young, and I was sort of struggling with being in spaces where it seems like...

0:34:32.2 AL: I felt like I wasn't always respected as much as other people, it was hard to get people to listen to me, so I was seeking out a mentor who I thought maybe had struggled with similar things before I didn't know for sure, and I just reached out to her and said those things and asked if she would be willing to mentor me, and it turned out she had mentored a lot of people before, and sort of had such a full mentoring plate that she ended up getting a group of women together to have us talk to each other, and then see if we could also form other mentoring relationships to share the mentoring burden, if you will.

0:35:14.7 MN: Actually, building off of that, how do you delegate? Because you have a lot of tasks that you have to take care of. How do you delegate some of the things that you need to take care of without feeling that you have to do it all, basically? 'Cause I think sometimes women especially take on a lot, and so how do you delegate that well, so that you can get your job done, but also feel like you've accomplished your work fully, basically? 

0:35:41.4 AL: Yeah, so full transparency, this is definitely an area where I could do better, and I know that. And in some of the fatherhood projects that I work on, I do take on too much, that is definitely true, but I'm getting more and more comfortable just showing up to the meeting and saying, Hey, I'm Chair of this, but it's too much for me, I need a co-chair who wants to step up. Someone needs to step up, I can't do it all. And that's a journey for me to get better and better at saying those things and identifying where I need someone else to step in, I'd love to take on more interns and validate more things to them. I did take on an intern for a task, I'm currently staffing the Michigan Task Force on forensic science, which is totally outside of what I normally do, but they needed someone to support the Chief Justice in that work, 'cause she's the chair of that, and they identified that I work with a lot of stakeholder groups, so maybe that would be something I'd be good at. And I did end up taking on an intern for that work, and so I have been able to delegate a lot of things to that intern. Other questions? 

0:37:17.0 JI: Oh, I've got more, I wanna be careful. I am curious about your two aspects of your non-profit work prior to or in between your government work, firstly, is how you see the difference in organizationally between working in a non-profit, especially a small one, with the organizational challenges that you've already identified of working with the government? And I'm also curious because the non-profit you worked for was focused on women and girls issues, and now you're working with fathers, and I was curious about the differences and similarities that you see in working with these different populations.

0:38:02.4 AL: Sure. Big questions. Really good questions. But big questions.

0:38:07.5 JI: I'm a big picture person.

0:38:08.3 AL: Yeah. Let's see, the dynamics. So, and I was at a very small non-profit, we have lots of volunteers, but very, very few paid staff people. So the organizational structure, the power structure, it's sort of like formal rules and procedures for how things happened, drastically different, I mean, so different. I did nearly everything at this small non-profit where I was like mid-level management, which basically meant I was managing all the volunteers and then managing our couple other paid folks, but I was doing marketing, I was doing fundraising, I was doing the program management, I redesigned the website, but I didn't know how to do that, I mean, everything, strategic planning. It's very, very different working for a large government organization with so many defines like divisions that have their duties that are exactly what they do, and I think just recently this, "stay in your lane" terminology sort of came back because I don't remember where it came from, exactly, but with strategic planning, they identified these different lanes like education and whatever else.

0:39:46.7 AL: So that aspect is quite different where it's very much like, "This is your job and only this is your job", and if there's something else that you want to do that's outside of your job, you need to ask for permission and maybe, maybe you don't get approved to do this other thing. There's a lot more being careful about what information you share and who you share it with. Yeah, lots of differences there. I don't know if I touched on specifically the things you're wondering today. Yeah. Okay.

0:40:27.3 JI: Yeah, for sure.

0:40:29.1 AL: Yeah, and then differences and similarities, working with women and girls in an organization that is attempting to serve women and girls versus working with fathers in an organizations that serve fathers. Honestly, there are a lot of similarities because unfortunately, or I don't know if it's necessarily universally agreed upon as unfortunately, but a lot of the ways that in developing countries, the organization I was working for was trying to empower women in education, financial empowerment and health care. Those are some of the same things that a lot of fathers here are struggling with in some of the same ways we're trying to empower fathers, and really, for me, it's all about making families as a whole, stronger, setting kids up for success in their development to have this healthy environment to grow up in, and then overall community health and strength in the long-term. So even though one was fathers and one was mothers, a lot of similarities.

0:41:51.3 JI: Thank you. That's very insightful. Are there any other questions floating around the audience? 

0:42:03.0 Speaker 5: I just have one, as students we are thinking about going into working for the government, and you talked about Red Tape a couple of times, what are some of your personal sized professional coping mechanisms to deal with at Red Tape? And I've worked for city government and I work for the state, and I just know, especially at the state level, the process can be slow, so how do you kind of woosah and keep encouraged while you're waiting for some of those things to pass? 

0:42:35.5 AL: Yeah, that's a good question. [chuckle] Sometimes I wish somebody else would give me the answer to that. I mean, being able to vent to folks who can relate to it, I think is always helpful, not to go overboard with it, but just being able to talk to a colleague who can relate and not feel like you're the only one who's frustrated by it. But also I would say, again, having relationships and connections that you can use to at least sort of check on where something is and kind of see like, "Okay, is there any way around this? Is there something extra that I can do that would help you speed up this process?" That tends to be my go-to, I don't like waiting, I just wanna make it happen. So what can I do to make it happen? Can we change the process? Because the process is crazy, and occasionally that happens, like we have all these court forms that have a very defined process for like if a legal form that someone is required to use when they file a certain type of motion in the state, if that is going to be changed it has to go through this very formalized process.

0:44:00.1 AL: And at some point, early on in the pandemic, we had a form that had an address that needed to be changed, and it was going to have to go through this crazy long process where this committee has to meet, they have to consider the change, they have to approve it, and the committee wasn't scheduled to meet for the entire year, and yet this was just a mailing address on this form that said, mail this form to this address. And we knew it had changed, like that government agency did not reside at that address anymore, and we'd managed to get that process changed and to say, for the types of changes that are simply just change of information that is agreed upon, we can go a different path. We don't have to have the committee meet to say, "Yes, we vote, we agree, blah, blah, blah." So not so much a coping mechanism, but I just wanna try to change it, which can still be frustrating and then I need to vent to people.

0:45:12.1 Speaker 5: Absolutely, thank you.

0:45:13.3 AL: Yeah.

0:45:18.5 JI: As a follow-up to the point you just made, I imagine there's different strategies from when the change that needs to be made or that you want to see is coming from legislation that you're required to follow. So I was wondering about your and your departments relationships with legislators in the legislative branch and how you navigate those relationships? Another very large and broad question.

0:45:45.4 AL: Yeah, so this one has a little bit more specific answer, because the judiciary really isn't supposed to be making legislative change, so if there are areas where there's something that someone within the judiciary needs to, wants to advocate for, we do have a legislative liaison, and so it goes to that person and they have their relationships within the legislature to see about getting things changed, and it's usually a relatively minor change, like the language that's in an existing law no longer drives with language somewhere else, and so that needs to be adjusted. But that is typically how that happens, and then quite often, we get pulled in to analyze proposed legislation to just look out for where there might be issues with existing court process, and so that usually would be something that is being proposed by maybe a legislator on their own, or it might be something coming out of the executive branch, and then we get pulled in to do our analysis and just see if there are any red flags.

0:47:08.3 JI: Thank you.

0:47:09.9 AL: Yeah, no problem.

0:47:14.9 JI: I think if there are no more questions, DeAndre, would you like to bring us home? 

0:47:22.8 DC: Yeah, thank you so much Jordan for moderating. And Amy, thank you. Amy, I wanna thank you again for your thoughts and your feedback and your encouragement, I know that this space is... It sounds like it hasn't always been easy, but it's something that I've been able to witness first hand, your perseverance and all the change that you've been able to make, so I definitely appreciate that as a father too, I appreciate that there's someone that's advocating and being in ally in this space. I think it's so important. At this time, I'd like for everyone to unmute and their audio and video and join me in thanking Amy for her time today. You wanna pause. And I wanna thank you all for attending and everyone's great questions. Please look out for the next young leaders event, that will be on November 9th with Michael Randall, he's the Senior Director of Community Impact at the American Heart Association in another community partner with the PCLP, and then on November 16th, with Andrea LaFontaine, who is the Executive Director for Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance. I thank you all for your time today, and I hope you all have a great day. Bye everyone.

0:48:29.7 AL: Bye, thanks again for having me.