1. Wolverine Caucus: The Pathway to Higher Education – A Discussion on strategies to ensure access to higher education for all

    Mark Rivett posted July 13, 2023


    Are you a University of Michigan alum?

    Tuesday, August 15, 2023

    4:00-6:00 pm
    Doors open at 4:00, presentations begin at 4:30

    Long Road Distillers
    537 Leonard St NW,
    Grand Rapids, MI 49504

    The Pathway to Higher Education – A Discussion on strategies to ensure access to higher education for all A Discussion on College Access – How different programs are providing new pathways for High School students to pursue higher education. From UM’s Wolverine Pathways program to the Grand Rapids promise, more and more activities are being undertaken to help Michigan children reach the next level of education.

    Moderated by Rep. Carol Glanville, Chair of the House Higher Education Committee, our panelists will share their expertise on how to increase access to higher education and create the homegrown talent Michigan needs.

    What is the Wolverine Caucus?

    Wolverine Caucus members are University of Michigan alumni including legislators, lobbyists, staff, and advisors working in and around the State of Michigan government. The primary objective of the forum series is to provide engaging and informative programs for University of Michigan alumni, legislators, staff, policymakers, and others working in and around the State Capitol and mid-Michigan. That objective persists today as forums feature UM experts on timely, relevant public policy issues during the legislative session.  

    The Wolverine Caucus strives to provide diverse forums on timely policy topics and create opportunities for alumni, and others to learn from the world-class expertise of U-M faculty and administrators.  The additional benefit is the opportunity to enjoy the camaraderie with fellow Wolverines.


    Carla O’ConnorCarla O’Connor
    University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor and Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Marsal Family School of Education; Director of Academic Programs, Wolverine Pathwaysy

    Carla O’Connor is the Director of University of Michigan Wolverine Pathways, a free year-round program that partners with the families, schools, and communities of Detroit, Ypsilanti, and Southfield to support academic success, college admission, and career exploration.  She is also Professor of Education and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan.  She received an M.A. and Ph.D. in Education from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University.  A sociologist of education, Carla O’Connor has expertise in the areas of African American achievement, cultural studies, urban education, and ethnographic methods.

    Ashlee MishlerAshlee Mishler
    Grand Rapids Promise Zone Director

    Ashlee Mishler is the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Director. She leads initiatives that remove barriers and promote access to higher education for Grand Rapids students. With a passion for impactful post-secondary experiences, Ashlee has amassed over a decade of experience in college admissions, marketing, and student involvement working at institutions in Michigan and the Chicagoland area. She comes to GRCC after more than four years at Ferris State University, where she was a marketing manager and marketing communications specialist.

    Mishler also has worked as an admissions assistant at GRCC, an admissions counselor at Waubonsee Community College in Illinois, and as a recruitment and outreach specialist at Oakton Community College in Illinois. Ashlee holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Grand Valley State University.

    Kerry Ebersole SinghKerry Ebersole Singh
    MEDC Chief Talent Solutions & Engagement Officer

    As the Chief Talent Solutions & Engagement Officer, Kerry leads MEDC’s strategic focus of developing high-wage skills growth by working with businesses, higher education institutions and communities to better attract, retain and cultivate the talent critical to growing the state’s economy.

    Prior to serving at MEDC, Kerry was Director of the Office of Sixty by 30 in the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), where she established the office. During her time as Director, Kerry launched two instrumental programs, Futures for Frontliners and MI Reconnect, which aim to create a more talented workforce by providing a tuition-free path for Michiganders pursuing in-demand certificates or associate degrees.

    Before she returned to state government by leading the Be Counted 2020 Census effort on behalf of Gov. Whitmer, Kerry operated her own independent consulting firm, serving a variety of clients across business, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. Kerry began her career 25 years ago in Michigan’s competitive political and legislative arena. As a former chief of staff to Barbara Farrah, a legislative liaison for the Department of Information Technology and constituent relations staff in the House of Representatives.

    Moderator: Rep. Carol GlanvilleModerator: Rep. Carol Glanville
    Chair of House Higher Education

    State Representative Carol Glanville serves the 84th House District, which includes Walker, Grandville, the Westside and parts of Northeast Grand Rapids. Rep. Glanville has extensive professional experience as a classroom teacher, administrator, education consultant, and a local elected official that has served on many community boards. Rep. Glanville chairs the Higher Education committee and serves on four other committees: Education, Health Policy, Subcommittee Behavioral Health, and Families, Children, and Seniors. She advocates for hard-working families on the issues that matter most – including help with rising costs, investing in education and professional opportunities at all levels, further investing in our communities and infrastructure, and working with businesses to create good-paying jobs that support Michiganders. Rep. Glanville was born and raised in West Michigan, and she went on to live and raise her family in the Walker community.

  2. Wolverine Caucus: Michigan’s Climate Future – What it means to be a climate refuge and how to prepare

    Mark Rivett posted April 27, 2023

    Wednesday, April 26, 2023

    12:00pm – 1:00pm

    Christman/MML Building
    208 N. Capitol Ave.,1st Floor
    Lansing, MI 48933

    Michigan is uniquely situated as climate change makes significant changes to our way of life, identified by international experts as a climate refuge. Michigan’s Great Lakes help serve as an insulator for many of the climate impacts that will face the rest of the nation. That doesn’t mean Michigan won’t still need to make significant adaptations to address climate change impacts, it means that the state will face a unique challenge of both adaptation and preparing for an influx of climate refugees from places around the country. Our presenters today will discuss where we are at in addressing climate impacts on the Great Lakes, and how we need to prepare our water systems and available resources for an influx of population.

    Panel Speakers:

    Mike ShribergMike Shriberg
    Visiting Professor of Practice and Engagement; Interim Director, Michigan Sea Grant

    Mike Shriberg’s work focuses on water issues in the Great Lakes, local and state energy policy, campus sustainability/carbon neutrality and environmental leadership. Prior to coming to SEAS, he was the Great Lakes regional executive director at the National Wildlife Federation. Major initiatives included leading federal Great Lakes restoration efforts; building resilience of the Great Lakes from climate change; combating environmental injustice in the region; and engaging urban youth in nature-based education and activities.

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    Shriberg’s academic expertise focuses on organizational change and leadership for sustainability. Prior to his time at the National Wildlife Federation, he served as the education director at the Graham Sustainability Institute and as a lecturer in the Program in the Environment and Earth & Environmental Sciences at U-M.

    Richard NortonRichard Norton
    Professor of Urban & Regional Planning
    Professor of Program in the Environment

    Richard K. Norton is a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. He also holds a joint appointment as a professor in the Program in the Environment through U-M’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and School for Environment and Sustainability. Norton teaches and conducts research in the areas of planning law, sustainable development, land use and environmental planning, and coastal area management. Most of his research has focused on the challenges of managing coastal shorelands along the Laurentian Great Lakes. He also contributes actively to public service through community-engaged research and teaching, and by serving on the planning law committee of the Michigan Association of Planning (MAP).

    Delta DentalJennifer Read
    Water Center Director
    Office of the Provost, Graham Sustainability Institute

    As Director of the Water Center, Jen provides intellectual and programmatic leadership to our mission to foster collaborative research that informs the policy and management decisions affecting our nation’s Great Lakes and coastal estuarine waters. She networks with regional partners from the public, private, and non-governmental sectors helping identify and elevate their water-related priorities. Then she works with faculty and students to develop multi-sector, multidisciplinary teams that address the cross-sector water resource priorities our partners have identified.

    Jen has more than 20 years’ experience developing and implementing user-focused programs in the bi-national Great Lakes region. She has held positions at the Great Lakes Commission, the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Windsor (GLIER), and as Assistant Director and Research Coordinator of Michigan Sea Grant.

    Cory ConnollyCory Connolly
    Climate and energy advisor
    Office of Climate and Energy (OCE)

    Cory Connolly is climate and energy advisor, leading the Office of Climate and Energy (OCE) within the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). The office coordinates Michigan’s response to climate change across state departments and agencies and provides guidance on climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resiliency strategies.

    As advisor, Cory is key in formulating and overseeing implementation of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate plan, a road map to achieving economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050.

    Cory previously served as vice president for the Institute for Energy Innovation and the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. He also founded the Michigan Clean Energy Leaders Project, was chief operating officer at Levin Energy Partners/Lean & Green Michigan, and worked as a senior research associate at the Environmental Law Institute.

    A native of the northern Michigan town of Northport, Cory now lives in Detroit, where he enjoys playing basketball and tries to travel to Latin America as often as possible.

  3. Wolverine Caucus: Oral Health is Whole Health

    Mark Rivett posted March 16, 2023

    Tuesday, March 31, 2023

    12:00pm – 1:00pm

    Christman/MML Building
    208 N. Capitol Ave.,1st Floor
    Lansing, MI 48933

    A trip to the dentist has long been considered as something completely separate from your general healthcare, but research from Dr. Nalliah shows how poor oral health can impact general health outcomes. Often access to care is a major barrier to good oral health in underserved populations. How do we bridge this gap and increase equity in oral health and better get care to underserved populations – which will drive better overall health and save costs with preventative care.


    Dr. Romesh Nalliah
    Associate Dean for Patient Services
    UM School of Dentistry

    Dr. Romesh P. Nalliah is a Clinical Professor and serves as the Associate Dean for Patient Services at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. When he graduated from the University of Adelaide School of Dentistry (2000) he wanted to serve in Australia’s public health system that had served his family and began his career in rural Australia using a mobile dental van. Since then, he has delivered care in small private practices, large group practices, hospitals, community health centers, and faculty practices. While his practice setting has changed, there has been a continuous commitment to public health, efficiency and quality throughout his career. In 2008, Dr. Nalliah began serving as the Senior Tutor for Castle Society at Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM). While at Harvard, Dr. Nalliah also completed a Certificate in Medical Education (Harvard Medical School) and a Masters in Healthcare Management (Harvard School of Public Health). Dr. Nalliah has held many leadership roles in the Massachusetts Dental Society including Board Member, Delegate and Chair of Continuing Education. He has taught more than 100 continuing education programs for dentists, physicians and nurse practitioners and also served as Dental Director of Special Olympics for Massachusetts. In 2015, Dr. Nalliah began as the Director for Clinical Education in the DDS program at the University of Michigan. For more than a decade, Dr. Nalliah has maintained a national and international reputation as an expert in health services research and public health. He has published well over 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals, won several research awards and serves on the Editorial Boards of several journals. He also serves as the Associate Editor for the Journal of Dental Education. He brings expertise in data science into the clinical environment and has published studies related to efficiency and quality in hospitals, community health centers, and dental schools clinics

    Renée Smiddy
    Senior Director of Finance Policy
    Community Engagement
    Michigan Health and Hospital Association

    Renée Smiddy is Senior Director of Finance Policy at the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. Previously, she served as the association’s director of research and performance measurement, and before that as the association’s data science manager. She has over ten years of experience working with health care data to help improve hospital operations and patient quality of care. Some of her previous projects include promoting healthcare data transparency across Michigan hospitals and serving as the data lead for the Great Lakes Partners for Patients Hospital Improvement Innovation Network. Her interests are to leverage data to impact policy and operational changes to better support patients and their families.

    Smiddy’s past positions consist of being a public health researcher for the U.S. Army Public Health Command, where she interpreted data to help implement health policies at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; and an analyst at the Henry Ford Health System, where she supported redesigning the system’s policy platform and approval process. She holds a master’s degree in business analytics from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and bachelor’s degrees in business management and international relations from Michigan State University.

    Dr. Holli Seabury
    Executive Director
    Delta Dental Foundation

    Holli Seabury, EdD, is the Executive Director of the Delta Dental Foundation, which is dedicated to oral health equity and advancing dental science through education and research. From 2009 to 2019 Dr. Seabury was the CEO of McMillen Health, a non-profit health education center serving over 90,000 annually. She was the lead curriculum developer for the Brush Oral Health Program, which serves over 1.85 million children nationwide through Early Head Start/Head Start and WIC. Her work has focused on health literacy and developing educational materials for the Medicaid population, especially young families. Dr Seabury holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Defiance College. In 2015 she earned a doctorate in curriculum and instruction with a specialty in educational technology from the University of Florida.

    Wolverine Caucus members are University of Michigan alumni including legislators, lobbyists, staff, and advisors working in and around the State of Michigan government. They meet with U-M experts on timely, relevant public policy subjects during the legislative session. Our mission is to provide diverse forums at which U-M friends can meet one another, enjoy fellowship, exchange views and learn from the world-class talents of U-M faculty and administrators.

    The Wolverine Caucus is a partnership between the University of Michigan Office of Government Relations and the Alumni Association.