January 22, 2020 | By Jake Weber
Class of 2016 alumni Mitchell Moore and Mariah Phelps have both been accepted into Michigan State University's Michigan Political Leadership Program (MPLP) for 2020. The selective MPLP is limited to just 12 men and 12 women each year, so Moore and Phelps may offer a unique Albion influence on this year's class.
Moore, currently a legislative aide for State Representative Michael Webber, sees the MPLP, with its state focus, as still informing his interest in international diplomacy. "Domestic and international politics are interrelated, and realizing this makes me want to gain experience in domestic institutions and policies to prepare me for a career in international affairs," he says.
Phelps, who is legislative director for State Representative Jim Haadsma, sees the program as a continuation of leadership development she has focused on since high school. "MPLP is a program for those who truly believe that we can make a better Michigan together if everyone is simply willing to do the work," she says. "I expect the 23 other Fellows to have countless ideas worth getting behind. My own policy and social-reform ideas will be truly enhanced by engaging with so many who are different than me."
Michigan State University's Michigan Political Leadership Program gives its fellows a broad and deep understanding of statewide, regional and local political issues through travel and meetings with governmental leaders in all areas of the state. This experience develops the expertise to tackle public policy issues as candidates for office, as government officials or as citizen activists. Most notably, 11 MPLP graduates are now serving in the Michigan State Legislature.
Moore, a Republican, and Phelps, a Democrat, note that beyond ensuring gender equity, the MPLP chooses a cohort that is diverse in age, profession, party affiliation and geographic region to give all participants the broadest possible view of Michigan.
"Because the nature of MPLP is to bring seemingly unlike-minded future leaders together, I am truly looking forward to all that I can learn from my Fellows on the other side of the partisan line," says Phelps. "A former MPLP fellow told me this program showed him that he often had more in common with people from his geographic area who weren't members of his party than with party members from farther away. I think the best thing about this program will be how it teaches us to see our similarities instead of our differences."
"Many policy issues have a regional focus that is necessary to comprehend to make sound policy decisions statewide," Moore adds. "Being able to look at the bigger picture on policy issues will also be a great skill set to develop."