Public Policy Forum

Race, Poverty and Policy: Creating an Equitable Michigan

Monday, October 10, 2016
1 – 4:30 p.m.
Radisson Hotel, 111 N. Grand Avenue, Lansing 

Online Registration | Printable Flier


Keynoter Photo-Rinku Sen WEB

Economic disparity and poverty continue to divide our state and perpetuate racial inequity. The Flint water crisis and many of the issues surrounding Detroit Public Schools call for an honest statewide discussion around race equity if we are to see systemic change.

Our keynote speaker will be nationally acclaimed Rinku Sen, president and executive director of Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation. Race Forward brings systemic analysis and an innovative approach to complex race issues to help people take effective action toward racial equity through research, media and practice.

There is no charge but reservations are requested by Friday, September 30. To reserve a spot, please register online or return this form to Mary Logan,, fax: 517.371.4546. On-site registration will be accepted if space allows.

Following the keynote address, you are invited to attend one of five breakout sessions.

— Breakout Sessions —

  1. Solutions for Cities in Crisis – One of the most devastating concerns with the Flint water crisis and the physical and financial struggles of Detroit Public Schools is that they predominantly hurt kids of color who already face many hurdles. State government has to change its approach to prevent the crises in Flint and Detroit from happening elsewhere. These were more than events. They are part of a pattern of systemic and institutional racism that has protected most white communities in Michigan while continuing to devastate poorer communities of color. Hear panelists Donnell White, Detroit Branch NAACP, and Nayyirah Shariff, Flint Rising, discuss civic engagement and their fight for justice, and Stacey Stevens, Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, speak about the legacy of systemic racism and supporting grassroots work toward racial truth, healing and justice. This panel will be moderated by Regina Bell, W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
  2. Government’s Role in Achieving Race Equity – Policies have played a significant role in creating racial inequities in the state and nationwide, and now the government has a responsibility to reverse this trend. Acknowledging this is one thing, but now it’s time to put it to action. In a panel moderated by State Representative Erika Geiss, hear from Jorge Zeballos, Center for Diversity and Innovation at Kellogg Community College; Al Vanderberg, Ottawa County, which is a member of the national Government Alliance on Race Equity (GARE); and Martha Gonzalez-Cortes, Michigan Department of Civil Rights, as they describe how we got here and what we can do to make Michigan a better place for everyone.
  3. The Next Move: Taking Equitable Action for Change – Now that you are committed to working for increased racial equity, how can you translate this commitment into action—and structural change? Learn more about how to analyze issues using the framework of structural and systemic racism. Then hear from members of the Detroit Equity Action Lab, a collaborative racial equity initiative, about their experiences working for equitable change. Presenters include Peter Hammer, Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights; eliza q. perez-ollin, Detroit Equity Lab; Kate Baker, Detroit Historical Society; and Lisa Leverette, Community Connections Grant Program and Lower Eastside Community Grant Program.Discussion will include the need for relationship building, seeking support and navigating challenges while taking action to make change. Examples will include a focus on both organizational and community-level change initiatives.
  4. From Watchdog to Dog-Whistle: Media’s Role in Reporting on Race – The issue of race is omnipresent in today’s news cycle, but while the violence and vitriol dominate media coverage, the racial implications of public policy are often overlooked. This panel of seasoned journalists will discuss media’s role in reporting on issues of race, including balancing factual and emotional reporting, how to discuss policy motives and consequences, and the role of journalists in promoting peace, equity and policy change while remaining impartial. The panel will be moderated by Martina Guzmán, Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights Race and Journalism Fellow at Wayne State University and includes: Dr. José Flores, La Voz Magazine; Judy Putnam, Lansing State Journal; Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press; and Michelle Srbinovich, general manager of WDET FM.
  5. The Business Case for Race Equity – Businesses have the power to promote equity for all and reduce racial disparities across all categories—education, employment, health, income, even incarceration—improving their workforce and bettering communities. This panel will discuss the economic impact of racism, the benefits of advancing racial equity, and the strategies these businesses are using to address them. Alfredo Hernandez, Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, will lend his expertise in moderating a diverse panel from the business community, including: Don Jones, New Economy Initiative; Jason D. Lee, Focus: HOPE; Abe Carillo, Herman Miller; and Sharon Darby Cascade Engineering.


policy forum AGENDA