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Education Policy Fellowship Program

Influencing the Influencers

March 4, 2013
12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Kellogg Center, MSU

The speakers that we have had thus far in EPFP raise intriguing questions about accessing the policy system. Many of the speakers talked about influencing the decisions that were made around policy, whether it was shaping policy through research (Knowledge Based Economy), being an active member of the political system (good policy/good politics), or actually writing the laws themselves (the proposed Michigan Public Education Finance Act of 2013). So, how can we influence the policy system? The short answer is to influence the influencers.

In this session, we will focus on our learning goals of better understanding the relationship between politics, policy, and interest, and how leadership can affect policy development and policy implementation. In particular, we will be looking at the nexus between educational policy and the politics of education. To do this, we will build upon the work of Deborah Stone and policy problems to examine ways of presenting issues. In addition, fellows will have the opportunity to engage with a panel of professionals who work in the educational policy arena daily. Finally, we will conclude with a simulation activity to attempt to influence the influencers.


EPFP Learning Team Members:
Kathleen Barker, Brian Boggs, Abby Cypher-Kitchen, Jamie Dewitt, Jessie Kilgore

The following panelists have graciously agreed to participate.

Michelle Fecteau
Lisa Hansknecht
Rodney Johnson
Daniel Quisenberry
Kathleen Straus

A draft agenda is available here. Session objectives are available here.

Guest Speaker bios:

Michelle Fecteau
Ms. Fecteau (D-Detroit) was elected in 2012. She is currently the Executive Director of the Wayne State University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, which is jointly affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. Prior to serving in this position, Ms. Fecteau worked as an educator and program coordinator in Wayne State University’s Labor Studies Center. Prior to coming to WSU, Ms. Fecteau proudly served as a Union organizer and representative for members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the Service Employees International Union and the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union.

Ms. Fecteau and her husband Edward Hejka, a special education teacher in River Rouge, live in Detroit and have two children by birth, their oldest with autism. They have also been foster parents to 9 children, 5 they adopted. They were awarded Foster Parents of the Year by Michigan Lutheran Child and Family Services. Ms. Fecteau and her husband have been active in numerous programs supporting special needs children including the Autism Society of Michigan and Wayne County. Ms. Fecteau graduated from Michigan State University with a master’s degree in Labor and Industrial Relations. She also earned a duel bachelor’s degree from MSU in Political Science and Employment Relations.

Lisa Hansknecht
A native Detroiter and the youngest of 9 children, Lisa Hansknecht received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Michigan State University (MSU).   Lisa’s public service career began as an intern in college for a state representative where she felt the pull of politics. Upon graduating, she worked on constituent services relating to immigration issues for U.S. Senator Carl Levin in Detroit. Interested in more policy and legislative work, she then returned to Lansing and served the Michigan House of Representatives from 1989 until 2007. She began in a legislator’s office and then moved to the caucus policy staff. Over the years, Lisa covered Transportation, Tax Policy, Appropriations, Welfare and Children, Medicaid, Mental Health, and Veterans Affairs, finally settling in as the Education Policy Advisor.

In 2007, Lisa was appointed Legislative Director for the Michigan Department of Education. As the Legislative Director she provided government relation services for the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Board of Education, and the Department and began addressing federal legislation as well. In July 2012, Lisa made the switch away from the State but closer to the students and schools when she became the Director of the Office of Government Relations and Pupils Services for Oakland Schools. In this position, in addition to managing all legislative initiatives that affect schools and school funding, she also oversees the offices responsible for truancy services, back to school services, pupil auditing, and school safety.   On the legislative front, Lisa lobbies on behalf of Oakland Schools and its 28 constituent districts, working with the Legislature and the Governor's office as well as other government agencies, special interest groups, and education advocacy organizations.

Rodney Johnson
Rodney M. Johnson is Managing Director for the Johnson Monroe Group, LLC a professional speaking and training company. The Johnson Monroe Group will develop and deliver presentations specific to the needs of the client and facilitate experiential learning through on-site workshops and public seminars. Rodney has 15 years of public speaking experience and 12 years of combined, financial planning and federal legislative experience. In addition he has 15 years of political campaign experience and 8 years of leading, managing, and developing staff and volunteers.

In the past, Rodney has sat on the Board of Mack Alive, an eastside of Detroit non-profit. While in college he founded a mentoring program for Ann Arbor African American males ages 10 to 12. He earned his J.D. from the University of Detroit Mercy Law School and his B.A. from the University of Michigan.

Dan Quisenberry
Dan is the President of the MAPSA and serves as a leading advocate and spokesperson for charter public schools and 21st century education in Michigan and the nation.  Dan is a member of the Board of Directors of New Detroit, member and past Chair of the Education Alliance of Michigan, a past member of the Board of Directors of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, an organization he helped form, and a member and past chair of the State Leaders Council.  He has served on the board of advisors for the Great Lakes Education Project and the Michigan School Board Leaders Association.  He has served as president for MAPSA since 1998.

Kathleen Straus
Kathleen Straus (D-Detroit) was first elected to the State Board of Education in November 1992 and began her third eight-year term on January 1, 2009. She is currently serving her fifth term as board president, elected by her peers.Mrs. Straus has committed the majority of her life to the furthering of public education and community services in Michigan. She has a strong interest in curriculum, assessment, and raising the standards for all students across the state. A frequent visitor to schools and classrooms, Mrs. Straus often spends time with parents, educators and others discussing educational policy and reform efforts to keep in touch with what's going on in the field. Mrs. Straus is the former president of the Center for Creative Studies, a nationally recognized arts education institution in Detroit. Prior to that, she was director of government relations for the Michigan Association of School Boards, and served as staff director of the Education Committee of the Michigan Senate. She was the executive director of PRO Detroit (People and Responsible Organizations for Detroit), a community-wide coalition of business, labor, civic groups, and schools established to assure that court-ordered desegregation would be implemented smoothly and peacefully. She previously worked in the administration of Detroit Mayor Jerome P. Cavanagh, and for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

Mrs. Straus is listed in "Who's Who of American Women" and "Who's Who in Education." She has been elected to the Hall of Fame of Hunter College, and the Michigan Education Hall of Fame in 1994. She received the "Distinguished Warrior" Award from the Detroit Urban League in March of 2000. She was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in October, 2000. In 2004 she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Anti Defamation League. She began her career as an Economist for the United States Treasury Department in Washington, D.C., and with the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. Mrs. Straus earned her B.A. degree in economics from Hunter College, New York; and was a member of Alpha Chi Alpha, Social Science Honor Society. She has pursued graduate studies at several universities. She is married, the mother of two adult children, and has four grandchildren.


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