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Are you ready to run for office, seeking new leadership skills and looking to enter public service, even elected office?

Apply now for Michigan State University’s Michigan Political Leadership Program – one of the nation’s top leadership development programs for aspiring elected officeholders.

Applications are available online and due Friday, October 1, 2021.

The Michigan Political Leadership Program (MPLP) is now recruiting 24 people – 12 women and 12 men, 12 Republicans and 12 Democrats – to take part in a 10-month, bipartisan program inspiring new leaders from communities in every region of the state.

“We’re looking for people who are interested in running for public office,” says MPLP co-Director Steve Tobocman, a Democrat who is a former House Majority Floor Leader and a national leader in the field of immigrant economic development.

“We’re seeking people who have a demonstrated desire to build the skills needed for public service, to learn more about governing well and a willingness to learn and explore different points of view,” he said.

MPLP dates back to 1992, when a handful of state leaders saw newly established term limits as a call for an expanded pool of talent prepared to serve in public office.

“Please bring your experience in local community activities, in electoral politics if you have it and your interest in getting to know about people from diverse backgrounds from all parts of the state,” said co-Director Tonya Schuitmaker, a former Republican legislative leader from west Michigan.

Newly appointed this summer, she is a former state House and Senate member who served as state Senate Speaker Pro Tem.

“We welcome MPLP Fellows who are passionate, ready to make a difference in pursuit of excellence, opportunity and an exceptional experience,” she said.

Schuitmaker takes over this fall from Susy Avery, who’s retiring from public life after experience as Michigan Republican Party Chair, Executive Director of the Michigan Women’s Commission, Director of Travel and Tourism and Director of Public Affairs for Gov John Engler.

“You must be 21, a registered voter in Michigan and able to attend 10 weekend sessions that will demand your time and attention,” Avery said. “You’ll need a resume, a statement of your personal goals, a written brief on a public policy issue that you believe needs attention and two letters of recommendation”

MPLP leaders range from top-of-the-ticket officeholders to precinct delegates at the grassroots levels. They include Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Tribal Chair Dr. Aaron Payment of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, former Detroit Mayor Kenneth V. Cockrel Jr., a former director of the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan House and Senate leaders, state university board members and city, county, village and school officeholders.

More than 700 people have completed the training, said Matt Grossmann, director of MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR.) More than 50 percent of MPLP alumni have served – or are serving – in elected or appointed office.

In the 2020 election, MPLP alumni claimed nine House and six state Senate seats. MPLP alumni are twice as likely to run for, and three times more likely to win their races for public office, Grossmann said.

“MPLP alumni also play top roles in businesses, nonprofits, and organizations across the state,” he added.

MPLP’s Class of 2021 will graduate in spring 2022. Current Fellows include two Michigan county commission chairs, a filmmaker, a police chief, a legislative director and a commercial risk advisor. See the list of current MPLP Fellows.

MPLP’s Class of 2022 will start its training early next year, in time to join MPLP’s 2022 spring fundraiser featuring a nationally known speaker and inviting all MPLP alumni, family and friends to celebrate a festive homecoming.

MPLP makes its home at the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) in MSU’s College of Social Science.

IPPSR is known as an MSU center for public policy education, leadership development and survey research. It is home to the Office of Survey Research, Public Policy Forums, the State of the State Survey, the State of the State Podcast and major research databases featuring policy information from around the nation.