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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, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 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

  • Chair : Bill Jackson^ - Associate, McAlvey Merchant & Associates (MPLP 2007)
  • Susy Avery – Co-Director, MPLP and Former Republican Party Chair
  • Amy Baumer* - Vice President, The Christman Company
  • Dianne Byrum* - MSU Trustee and President, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications
  • Brian Calley – Former Lt. Governor, State of Michigan and President, Small Business Association of Michigan
  • Jim Cavanagh - Senior Counsel, Warner, Norcross, & Judd, LLP
  • Craig M. DeRoche* - Former Speaker, Michigan House of Representatives (MPLP 1992)
  • Debbie Dingell* - U.S. Representative, 12th District, Michigan
  • Jen Flood^ - Deputy Chief of Staff, Governor’s Office, State of Michigan
  • Matt Grossmann, Ph.D. - Director, Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, MSU Professor, Political Science Department, MSU
  • Patrick Harrington^ - Managing Member, Muchmore Harrington Smalley & Associates, and former Representative, Michigan House of Representatives
  • Gary C. Heidel* - Executive Director, Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MPLP 1993)
  • Lynn Jondahl* - Former State Representative, Michigan House of Representatives
  • Aaron A. Payment, Ph.D.* - Tribal Chairperson, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (MPLP 1992)
  • John T. Reurink - Publisher and Co-Owner, Michigan Information & Research Service, Inc.
  • Herasanna Richards^ - Legislative Associate, Michigan Municipal League (MPLP 2017)
  • Douglas B. Roberts*, Ph.D. - Former Director, Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, Michigan State University, and former State Treasurer, State of Michigan
  • Emily Schwarzkopf^ - Director of Legislative, Appropriations and Constituent Services, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MPLP 2016)
  • Jacqueline Taylor*, Ph.D. - Consultant, Pondera Advisors, LLC
  • Steve Tobocman – Co-Director, MPLP and Partner, New Solutions Group
  • Brad Ward - Vice President Public Policy and Legal Affairs, Michigan Realtors
  • Arnold Weinfeld – Associate Director, Institute for Public Policy & Social Research, Michigan State University
  • Richard N. Wiener* - Attorney, Retired
  • Catherine Wilson* - Executive Director State Governmental Affairs, Consumers Energy*
  • Sara (Linsemeier) Wurfel^ - Vice President of Public Affairs, Truscott Rossmann (MPLP 1999)

In Memoriam :

  • Jacalyn Hadden
  • Gary Olson
  • Bill Snow
  • *Emeritus Member
    ^MPLP Alumni