MSU program helps bridge partisan gap


Three area residents are among 24 participants in the 2013 Fellows of Michigan State University's Michigan Political Leadership Program which aims to bridge the bipartisan gap and train future leaders for effective policy-making.

Kathleen McIntyre of Livonia, Paul Cusick of Northville Township and Jeremy Moss of Southfield have been selected to the prestigious statewide program. They met as a group for the first time in mid-February, getting to know each other and learning about the MPLP which is considered one of the nation's top political leadership training fellowships.

McIntyre is manager of the Ford Employee Volunteer Program. Cusick is an assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan. Moss is a member of the Southfield City Council. They represent a wide-range of talent from across the state, according to Anne Mervenne, one of MPLP's two co-directors who served 12 years in the administration of former Gov. John Engler.

“We are really excited about this group of Fellows,” said Mervenne, CEO of Mervenne & Company governmental relations consulting firm. “Many of them have already served in grassroots positions. Some have been elected to local office and all are ready leaders.”

Started in 1992, MPLP is a 10-month program that covers personal leadership development, public policy process and analysis, effective governance, and practical politics while exploring a variety of issues facing the state of Michigan.

Throughout the program, Fellows work with presenters from across the state representing both the private and public sector to explore public policy debates, how issues are addressed, and look at new ways of bringing people together to find workable solutions.

Each MSU MPLP fellowship is valued at $12,000, and covers the participants' lodging, meals and program costs. Accepted Fellows, however, are asked to pay an administrative fee of $1,000 to participate in this program.

As the youngest city council member ever elected in Southfield, Moss, 26, is no stranger to politics.

A lifelong Southfield resident, Moss marks the beginning of his interest in politics during the summer between kindergarten and first grade.

“My family took a trip to Washington, D.C., because I was interested in what was going on. When my friends were watching the Lions or the Tigers, I was watching the news. I remember watching the 1992 presidential campaign and I was fascinated by it,” he said of his deep-rooted interest.

The son of Elayne and Barry Moss of Southfield, the 2004 graduate of Birmingham Groves High School went on to attend MSU, majoring in political science and graduating with a degree in journalism.

Prior to his election to city council in 2011, he was actively involved in Southfield government working in the offices of Mayor Brenda Lawrence and former State Rep. Paul Condino. He also served as district director for State Rep. Rudy Hobbs.

He believes that the fellowship cultivates good relationships across party lines that in turn, helps create good policy.

“If you want to go to Lansing and be a flame-thrower, then this program isn't for you,” he said, “but if you want to be a peacemaker and work together to create really good policy that requires both Democratic and Republican votes, this is where you want to be. This is what the MPLP program is all about.”

Steve Tobocman, MPLP co-director and former House Majority Floor Leader agrees.

“In this time when there is such tremendous partisanship and frustration in dealing with various issues, the MPLP provides space to train bipartisan groups of folks and give them tools to tackle the issues of the day and produce the best outcomes,” Tobocman said.

Moss said that he looks forward to a career in Michigan politics.

“Of all of the people that I graduated with, I am the only one that stayed in Michigan. We have to be able to work together to make Michigan a go-to place again,” he said.

To learn more about the Michigan Political Leadership Program at the MSU Institute for Public Policy and Social Research go to www.