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Michigan Political Leadership Program

Since the 1992 implementation of term limits in Michigan, the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University has recruited, trained, and inspired public policy leaders, offering them the vision, commitment and skills necessary to govern effectively.

In a bipartisan learning environment, a diverse group of 24 individuals from across the state engage in a public policy and leadership curriculum. The 10-month program incorporates practical politics, public policy analysis and process, personal leadership development and effective governance. More than 500 MPLP graduates have put the skills acquired through the program to work in their communities.

MPLP is administered by the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR), guided by an Advisory Board, and codirected by Susy (Heintz) Avery and Steve Tobocman. It is a non-profit entity, supported by the MSU Office of the Provost, College of Social Science and the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. Grant funding from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation of Midland, Michigan, MASCO, as well as generous contributions from Michigan associations, corporations, labor organizations, MPLP alumni and individuals, sustain the program.

Susy (Heintz) Avery serves as co-director for MPLP. She has served as Chair of the Michigan Republican Party, Executive Director of the Michigan Women’s Commission, Director of Travel and Tourism for the State of Michigan along with serving as Director of Public Affairs for Governor John Engler. She has been elected a Wayne County Commissioner and as Northville Township Supervisor. In addition to other roles, Susy has hosted her own two cable television programs as well as serving as a frequent panelist for various television and radio programs.


Steve TobocmanSteve Tobocman served in the Michigan House for three consecutive two-year terms (the maximum allowed under Michigan’s term limits laws.) He was elected Majority Floor Leader, the second-highest position in the Michigan House, during his third term. Mr. Tobocman currently serves as the managing partner at New Solutions Group, LLC and has become a national leader in the field of immigrant economic development serving as the founder and director of Global Detroit and the Welcoming Economies (WE Global) Network.

MPLP Advisory Board

  • Co-director: Susy (Heintz) Avery ^ 
  • Co-director: Steve Tobocman^ - Co-Director of the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force
  • Chair: Cathy Wilson - Executive Director, State Governmental Affairs, Consumers Energy
  • Chair-Elect and Finance Committee Chair: Amy Baumer^ - Vice President, The Christman Company
  • Cheryl Bergman^ - President, Bergman Inc.
  • Kim Brennen Root - Vice President, Spartan Media
  • T.J. Bucholz^* - President, Vanguard Public Affairs
  • Dianne Byrum - MSU Trustee and President, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications
  • Robert M. Campau^ - Chief Executive Officer, Michigan REALTORS
  • Jim Cavanagh, Senior Counsel, Warner, Norcross, & Judd, LLP
  • Daniel Cherrin^* - Founder, North Coast Strategies
  • Richard Cole, Ph.D. - Professor and Past Chair, Department of Advertising and Public Relations, College of Comm Arts and Sciences, MSU
  • Craig M. DeRoche* - Former Speaker, Michigan House of Representatives
  • Patrick J. Devlin^ - CEO, Michigan Building & Construction Trades Council
  • Debbie Dingell - U.S. Representative, 12th District, Michigan
  • David Finkbeiner^ - Senior Vice President, Advocacy, Michigan Health & Hospital Association
  • Matt Grossmann, Ph.D. - Director, Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, MSU Professor, Political Science Department, MSU
  • Patrick Harrington^ - President, Muchmore Harrington Smalley & Associates, and former Representative, Michigan House of Representatives
  • Gary C. Heidel^* - Chief Placemaking Officer, Michigan State Housing Development Authority
  • Paul Hillegonds - Executive Director, Michigan Health Endowment Fund
  • Mitch Irwin - Owner, The Irwin Group, LLC
  • Lynn Jondahl^ - Former State Representative, Michigan House of Representatives
  • Calvin Jones CTA* - Director of Governmental Affairs & Community Relations, Lansing Board of Water and Light
  • Kristin Judge* - Principal/Owner, Opcio Solutions, LLC
  • William Kandler - Partner, Cusmano Kandler & Reed, Inc.
  • Matt Kurta^* - Associate, Karoub Associates
  • Terri Lynn Land^ - Former Secretary of State, State of Michigan
  • Rick Lantz^ - Manager, Government Relations, Delta Dental of Michigan
  • Mark Lemoine^ - Director Government Affairs, Spectrum Health
  • Daniel J. Loepp^ - President and Chief Executive Officer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
  • Rusty Merchant^* - Partner, McAlvey, Merchant & Associates
  • Gary Mescher^ - Assistant Director, Alumni Programs, Michigan State University
  • Nicole G. Nystrom^ - President, Midwest Strategy Group of Michigan
  • Aaron A. Payment* - Tribal Chairperson, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
  • Dan Pero - President, Pero Consulting
  • Dick Posthumus - Senior Adviser to Gov. Rick Snyder, former Lt. Gov. of Michigan
  • Scott Ray* - Realtor, KellerWilliams
  • John T. Reurink - Publisher and Co-Owner, Michigan Information & Research Service, Inc.
  • Douglas B. Roberts^, Ph.D. - Former Director, Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, Michigan State University, and former State Treasurer, State of Michigan
  • Kelly Rossman-McKinney - CEO, Truscott Rossman
  • Ed Sarpolus^ - Target Insyght
  • AnnMarie Schneider - Program Planning and Policy Education Director, Institute for Public Policy and Social Research and Canadian Studies Center Director, Michigan State University
  • Sam Singh* - State Representative, Michigan House of Representatives
  • Jacqueline Taylor^, Ph.D. - Consultant, Pondera Advisors, LLC
  • Richard N. Wiener* - Attorney, Retired
  • William Wörtz^ - Partner, Public Affairs Associates, Inc.

^Finance/West Michigan Host Committee Member
*MPLP Alumni