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Former state House leader and current Oakland County Deputy Executive Rudy Hobbs has joined Michigan State University’s Michigan Political Leadership Program as its newest Co-Director.

Hobbs is a 2004 MPLP alumni who has been an active supporter of MSU’s Michigan Political Leadership Program (MPLP).

“We are delighted to welcome Rudy Hobbs, an MSU graduate, to MPLP,” said Matt Grossmann, political scientist and director of MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR). IPPSR is the campus home of MPLP in MSU’s College of Social Science.

“Rudy Hobbs is known as a gifted and collaborative leader, a legacy and hallmark at MPLP,” Grossmann said.

Hobbs replaces Steve Tobocman, MPLP Co-Director 2009, as the Democratic leadership voice at MPLP.

“This is an exciting role for me,” Hobbs said. “MPLP was a great place to make new relationships and build a career in public service. I’m looking forward to inspiring those who will become Michigan leaders of the future.”

Tobocman is a former Majority Floor Leader, serving three terms – the maximum allowed under term limits – in the Michigan House of Representatives. He has established himself as an economic development leader.

MPLP was established in 1992 to offer training and opportunity for citizens who wished to take an active role in local, regional or statewide elected office.

MPLP’s Co-Directors, one Democrat and one Republican, are charged with shaping and directing the program, one of the nation’s foremost political leadership training programs. See more information about IPPSR co-directorship changes.

MPLP recruits 12 Republicans and 12 Democrats for each class of new fellows. Applications are annually available online. 

More than 700 people have graduated from MPLP’s weekend sessions conducted 10 months of the year. Sessions cover such issues as media relations, campaign strategy, public policy and personal leadership.

“We’ll absolutely miss Steve for his role as a mentor and guide to so many MPLP alumni – and as my wonderful counterpart,” said outgoing MPLP Co-Director Susy Avery, executive in the administration of Gov. John Engler.

“It’s been a great time to serve MPLP,” Tobocman said. “An MPLP alumni now serves as Michigan Secretary of State. MPLP alumni have won elections to the state House and Senate, including our new Co-Director Rudy Hobbs. I couldn’t be prouder of our alumni.”

Avery and Tobocman served MPLP through November as the Class of 2020-21 24 new MPLP Fellows are named in December. MPLP's class of 2022 begins its sessions in the new year, Grossmann said. Former west Michigan Tonya Schuitmaker has been named as MPLP’s new Republican Co-Director.

Schuitmaker, a former Michigan Senator, served in the Michigan House of Representatives with Tobocman and Hobbs. “I’ll miss sharing MPLP Co-Director duties with Steve, but know it will be great to work with Rudy again,” she said.

As deputy Oakland executive, Hobbs oversees central services including the Oakland County International Airport, health & human services, public services and government relations.

He served two-terms in the Michigan House of Representatives, from 2011-2014, where his colleagues elected him the Democratic Floor Leader. He represented Southfield, Lathrup Village, Oak Park, Beverly Hills, Franklin, and Royal Oak Township.

He later led the district office for U.S. Rep. Sander Levin and was responsible for overseeing constituent service, local projects, and all interactions with the local communities on federal issues. He served as a statewide policy advisory for Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Lt. Gov. John Cherry from 2006-2009.

Prior to his Oakland County appointment, Hobbs was with Michigan Legislative Consultants, a Lansing-based lobbying firm where he has represented clients since 2017. He also served as Chief of Staff to Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.

Hobbs currently serves on the boards of the League of Conservation Voters and City Year Detroit. He has served on the board of directors of several regional education and nonprofit institutions, including Botsford Hospital, Art Institute Authority, Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, Birmingham YMCA, Lathrup Village Community Foundation, Lathrup Village, and the South Oakland County NAACP.

He holds a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and Teaching and a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Michigan State University. He began his career as a teacher in Detroit and Southfield and served on the Southfield School Board.