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Education Policy Fellowship Program

The Role of Think Tanks & Policy Centers

November 18, 2002
12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Kellogg Center, MSU

The first part of this session will explore how public policy is shaped by think tanks and other organizations which work at the intersection of research, policy and politics. We will examine the work of both public and private sector organizations and analyze how their reports, studies and information are used by business and political leaders in the policy debate.

Session A Resource Persons:

Mr. Jeff Padden
Public Policy Associates
119 Pere Marquette Drive
Lansing, MI 48912-1231
(517) 485-4477This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jeff Padden is the founder and president of Public Policy Associates, a firm that is recognized across the nation as a leader in public policy research, development, and evaluation. Currently, he is directing a 13-site national evaluation for the U.S. Department of Labor and a study of school-to-work charter schools across the nation for the U.S. Department of Education. Recent clients include a variety of federal, state, regional, and local agencies; foundations; universities; and private organizations. He frequently provides performance measurement, evaluation technical assistance, and strategic counsel to clients. His areas of content expertise include economic and business development, education and workforce, health care, and environmental policy. Mr. Padden has hosted and addressed numerous conferences, seminars, and workshops dealing with a wide range of public policy issues and innovations, and he has authored numerous nationally recognized reports and publications.

In addition to his work at PPA, his experience of over 25 years in the public policy arena has included roles as deputy director of the Michigan Department of Commerce, Director of the Governor's Human Investment Project, and five terms in the Michigan House of Representatives. Mr. Padden's consulting work has taken him to nearly 30 states. This unique combination of legislative, administrative, and private-sector experience has provided him with a pragmatic perspective that is particularly valuable to clients. He holds a bachelor's degree from Wayne State University and a master's degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Dr. David N. Plank

Director, The Education Policy Center at Michigan State University
and Professor, Department of Educational Administration,
College of Education
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David Plank is Director of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University and a professor of educational administration specializing in the areas of educational policy and educational finance. He has conducted research and served as a consultant in these areas in the United States, Africa, and Latin America. His research interests focus on the relationship between democratic governance and policy change in educational systems. He is co-investigator on three studies of school choice and school reform in Michigan. The first, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, explores the enactment of competing reform strategies in professional development schools and charter schools. The second, funded by the Spencer Foundation, investigates the ecological effects of expanded opportunities for school choice in metropolitan Lansing. The third, funded by the Michigan Legislature, compares the impacts of school choice in Lansing, Detroit, and Grand Rapids. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Mr. Joseph Overton
Senior Vice President
Mackinac Center for Public Policy
140 West Main Street
P.O. Box 568
Midland, Michigan 48640
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Joseph Overton is Senior Vice President of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, an independent, non-profit research and educational organization located in Midland, Michigan. At the Center, Mr. Overton directs research projects, staff operations and strategic planning. He has also written a variety of Center studies and commentaries.

Mr. Overton holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Technological University and a Juris Doctor degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, and was appointed by Governor John Engler to the Michigan Appellate Defender Commission upon recommendation by the Michigan Supreme Court. He currently serves a term expiring in 2003.

Before joining the Mackinac Center, Mr. Overton held a variety of positions at The Dow Chemical Company, including Electrical Engineer, Project Manager, and Quality Specialist. Mr. Overton has been involved in studying and promoting free market principles for over a decade. His work has taken him to Poland, Nicaragua, the People's Republic of China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Colombia, Malawi, Mozambique, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, and most recently India.

Mr. Earl Ryan 
Citizens Research Council of Michigan
38777 Six Mile Road, Suite 208
Livonia, MI 48152-2660
(734) 542-8001

Mr. Ryan returned to the Citizens Research Council (CRC) in 1994 after seven and a half years as the first President of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute in Indianapolis. He started with CRC in 1967 in Lansing and worked for Michigan state government as a program evaluation analyst from 1970 to 1977. He returned to CRC in 1977 and became Research Director in 1979. He served as President of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana from 1984 to 1987. Mr. Ryan received the Distinguished Achievement Award in 1991 from the Wayne State University Graduate Program in Public Administration.

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