Ford Institute Seniors Visit Washington, D.C.

Ford Institute seniors visited with Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow during their D.C. trip.
Ford Institute seniors visited with Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow during their four-day trip to Washington, D.C.

April 18, 2013

Early spring is one of the best times to visit Washington, D.C. The temperatures are just right for Capitol Hill. Congress is fully engaged in debates related to its agenda. And the cherry blossoms bring beauty and fragrance to the Tidal Basin and National Mall. It was no exception in 2013, as thirteen seniors from the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service visited the District April 6-9 as part of their Ford Senior Colloquium.

There was plenty of time for sightseeing on the weekend, capped off by a dinner with 15 alumni on Sunday evening. A great time was had by all, sharing stories of Albion present and past. It was also an evening of networking as the alumni talked about their careers and interests while also providing advice on living and working in the D.C. area.

“Each year during our visit I enjoy watching our students make connections with the alumni," said Ford Institute Director Al Pheley. "We have so many great people who are willing to share their experience and open up their networks to our students. The opportunities are boundless.”

Monday started with a visit to the Supreme Court, including a lecture on its history, structure, and operations. Several exhibits also lay out that history and include artifacts from the founding of the court to current times. Students also toured the Capitol and the new interpretive center; others visited the Library of Congress. During an afternoon visit to C-SPAN, Fordies got a firsthand look behind the scenes of the operations, spent time in the studio, and learned about the cutting-edge use of social and digital media. The last stop of the day was with the National Association of Development Officers and a presentation/discussion led by Legislative Associate Ted Stiger, ’09.

On the last day of the trip, the morning started early with Senator Debbie Stabenow at her “Good Morning Michigan” program.  Students spent about twenty minutes with the Senator learning about current issues along with her thoughts about the challenges facing new college graduates. Senator Stabenow’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Bill Sweeney, ’98, spent over an hour talking more about the legislative process and providing advice about careers and advocacy. Students spent the rest of the morning visiting with the staff of their local Congressmen. By mid-afternoon it was time to return to the airport and the flight back to Michigan.