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Education Policy Fellowship Program

Providing Leadership and Developing Policy
in a Culturally and Politically Divided Nation

March 28, 2005
12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Kellogg Center, MSU

How do we help develop policies that will serve politically and culturally diverse communities?  What are the traps?  Are models of success available? How do our own perspectives and ethics play into our ability to facilitate common ground? Given our differences, can anyone unite diverse interests in such a fractious environment? This session was developed by the Providing Leadership and Developing Policy in a Culturally and Politically Divided Nation Learning Team.

How might we provide effective leadership in an atmosphere of entrenched and competing political philosophies?

Session goals:

  1. Consider the Hollister strategies in the light of the challenge to lead in an atmosphere of heightened polarization using the perspectives of Steve Tobocman; and
  2. Examine the dynamics of power as the invisible participant in all group interactions through the experience of a simulation; and
  3. Recognize what personal power we each have as leaders that can help us maneuver in an atmosphere of polarization.

This session was developed by the Providing Leadership and Developing Policy in a Culturally and Politically Divided Nation Learning Team.

EPFP Learning Team Members:

Suzanne M. Charette
Pamela H. Collins
Cheryl L. Poole
Michael W. Radke
Karen R. Todorov
Vanessa H. Winborne


11:30 - 12:30 p.m.  Buffet Lunch

12:30 - 12:40  p.m.    Welcome and Introduction - Karen R. Todorov

12:40 - 1:30 p.m.         Honorable Steve Tobocman, State Representative, District 12
Leadership in Michigan's Most Diverse District

1:30 - 1:45 p.m.         Break

1:45 - 3:45 p.m.         Simulation for Experiencing Dynamics of Power

3:45 - 4:00 p.m.        Break

4:00 - 4:45 p.m.      Implication of Polarization, Power and Cultural Understanding for Developing Policy

4:45 - 5:00 p.m.        Evaluation

Resource Person: State Representative Steve Tobocman, 12th District, Southwest Detroit

Since coming to Southwest Detroit as an Americorp volunteer ten years ago, State Representative Steve Tobocman has led community efforts to help combat graffiti, enhance community policing programs, promote economic development and protect the community from the encroachment of industry into residential areas. Since taking office as State Representative in January 2003, State Representative Tobocman has used his elected office to provide a superior level of service to Southwest Detroit, both by helping hundreds of constituents with their problems and by working with community organizations across the district on pressing neighborhood issues.

In just his first term in office, State Representative Tobocman wrote and passed five bills into law, targeting such areas as neighborhood blight, consumer protection for immigrants, affordable housing, and access to financial institutions. Over the last two years, Rep. Tobocman has hosted many forums and town halls on a variety of issues, including insurance redlining, environmental complaints, neighborhood revitalization, Latino legislative issues, and homeland security.

Representative Tobocman has used every opportunity to increase the level of resources available to Southwest Detroit. He is one of the only state representatives in Michigan to have established a full-time district office to serve constituents. He has secured corporate donations of 80 computers and over 2,000 warm winter coats for the community. He implemented a free tax assistance program in his district office, assisting 80 Southwest Detroit families in receiving over $126,000 in tax refunds. He has helped create the West Fort Street Business Association, a new business association focused on improving the appearance and economic vitality of West Fort Street.

Prior to his election in 2002, Steve was the founder and executive director of Community Legal Resources, which has linked 350 Michigan nonprofit organizations with $3.5 million in probono legal services from top law firms. He helped found Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) and the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM), the local and state trade associations for the community development industry in Detroit and Michigan. Even prior to his election, Steve advocated for community development issues, helping to write the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund legislation, working in support of the Spot Blight Condemnation law, and helping to develop the City of Detroit's Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization.

He currently serves on the Boards of Clark Park Coalition, Mexicantown Community Development Corporation, and West Fort Street Business Association, and as a member of the State Bar of Michigan's Standing Committee on Justice Initiatives.  A winner of the Skadden and NAPIL Equal Justice Fellowships, Representative Tobocman has received numerous local accolades, including the Michigan Housing Trust Fund's recognition as an Affordable Housing Warrior and the Accounting Aid Society's Jeanne Vogt Nonprofit Leadership Award. Most recently, he was honored as CEDAM Community Development Advocate of the Year, Peace Action of Michigan's Peace Builder Elected Official of the Year, Neighborhood Centers, Inc.'s Neighborhood Hero, the Michigan Farmworker Legislative Advocacy Award, and with the American Bar Association Business Law Section Public Service Award.

Additional Resources:

  • 100 Critical Incidents - Handbook of Intercultural Training, Daniel Landis, Janet Bennett and Milton Bennett, 3rd edition, Sage Publications, 2003.
  • Connections, Citizens and the Work of Self-Government, Winter 2005, Kettering Foundation, Dayton, Ohio
  • StarPower - A simulation that illustrates how power affects performance, motivation and behavior.

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