As the nation braces for what has been called one of the most important elections in recent history, Detroit Public TV and the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy are partnering on a series of four crucial discussions with key newsmakers, news reporters and public officials on issues relating to the vote on Nov. 3.

These will be virtual events, because of the current health crisis. They will be streamed live and made available free of charge at

They are part of the ongoing Policy Talks @ the Ford School series, which have been held since 2012, welcoming some of the world’s top policymakers to address a variety of compelling topics and engage with the community through public lectures and other activities.


Cecilia Muñoz, Vice President, New America Foundation, former Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council

More than Ready: Be Strong and Be You…and Other Lessons for Women of Color on the Rise
October 26, 2020

Women of color today are contributing to an unprecedented wave of “firsts”—whether they are the first in a family to attend college, the first to serve as CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or the first in public office, women of color are reaching new heights of influence.

Cecilia Muñoz was a first, too, and she knows what it means to make her way without exemplars to follow. The first Latinx to lead the White House Domestic Policy Council, Muñoz draws lessons from the challenges she faced as the senior Hispanic person in the Obama White House and as a longtime powerful voice in the Civil Rights Movement. She shares her insights, along with those of some extraordinary women of color she met along the way, as an offering of inspiration to women of color who are no longer willing to be invisible or left behind.

Full of invaluable lessons about working through fear, facing down detractors, and leading with kindness, Muñoz provides the thoughtful insight and tactical tools women of color need to be successful-without compromising who they are.

Currently, the Vice President for Public Interest Technology and Local Initiatives at New America, Cecilia Munoz served for eight years on President Obama’s senior staff, first as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs followed by five years as Director of the Domestic Policy Council. Before working in government, she was Senior Vice President at the National Council of La Raza (now UNIDOS US), the nation’s largest Hispanic policy and advocacy organization, where she served for 20 years. Munoz received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2000 for her work on immigration and civil rights, and serves on the Boards of the Open Society, MacArthur and Kresge Foundations, as well as the nonprofit Protect Democracy Project.

This discussion will be moderated by Ford School Professor Celeste Watkins-Hayes, an internationally recognized scholar and expert on HIV/AIDS, urban poverty, social policy and racial, class and gender inequality.

Jane Coaston of Vox and Daniel Strauss of The Guardian

Covering the campaign: A conversation with national political reporters
Oct. 12, 2020

Join us for a conversation about covering the campaign trail with two senior political reporters, Jane Coaston of Vox and Daniel Strauss of The Guardian. The panelists will discuss what it’s like to be a political reporter during an election season and what they think are the key political and policy issues at play in the upcoming Presidential election.

Jane Coaston is senior politics reporter at Vox with a focus on conservatism, the American Right, the GOP and white nationalism. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, National Review, the Washington Post, the Ringer and ESPN Magazine, among others. She attended the University of Michigan, graduating in 2009.

Daniel Strauss is a senior political reporter for The Guardian. Previously he was a politics reporter at Politico, covered campaigns and elections for Talking Points Memo, and was a breaking news reporter for The Hill newspaper. Daniel grew up in Chicago and graduated from the University of Michigan where he majored in history.

Paula Lantz, associate dean of the Ford School and James Hudak Professor of Health Policy, will moderate the conversation.

Jocelyn Benson, (D) Michigan Secretary of State, and Frank LaRose, (R), Ohio Secretary of State

Voter Turnout and Access in Ohio and Michigan
October 9, 2020

The Ford School hosts a conversation on voting rights and voter access, featuring Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who will discuss state-level approaches to voter access since 2016. Issues surrounding voter turnout during the upcoming 2020 election will also be addressed, including voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jocelyn Benson is Michigan’s 43rd Secretary of State. In this role she is focused on ensuring elections are secure and accessible, and dramatically improving customer experiences for all who interact with our offices. Benson is the author of “State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process,” the first major book on the role of the secretary of state in enforcing election and campaign finance laws. A graduate of Harvard Law School and expert on civil rights law, education law and election law, Benson served as dean of Wayne State University Law School in Detroit. She continues to serve as vice chair of the advisory board for the Levin Center at Wayne Law, which she founded with former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin. Previously, Benson was an associate professor and associate director of Wayne Law’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights.

Frank LaRose took office as Ohio’s 51st Secretary of State on January 14th, 2019. Prior to being elected to statewide office, he served two terms in the State Senate representing the 27th Senate District in northeast Ohio. As Ohio’s Secretary of State, LaRose is doing his part to deliver a thriving democracy and a prosperous economy. In his role as Ohio’s chief elections officer, he’s working to ensure Ohio’s elections are secure, accurate and accessible. He is also supporting Ohio entrepreneurs as the sole authority to receive and approve articles of incorporation for Ohio businesses. Among numerous recognitions, LaRose was named the Legislator of the Year in 2016 by the Ohio Association of Election Officials in recognition of his support and commitment to improving Ohio’s election process. LaRose, a native of northeast Ohio, graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Consumer Affairs and Business.

Jenna Bednar, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, will moderate.

Larry Hogan, Governor of Maryland

Still Standing: Surviving Cancer, Riots, and the Toxic Politics That Divide America
Sept. 11, 2020

Larry Hogan is the 62nd governor of Maryland and chairman of the National Governors Association. Known for his practical solutions, his stark transparency and his ability to work across party lines, he is also a proud survivor of late-stage non-Hodgkins lymphoma. His wife, Yumi Hogan, is the first Korean American first lady in America. Larry Hogan’s recently published book, “Still Standing,” reveals how an unlikely governor is sparking a whole new kind of politics—and introduces the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.

As the rookie Republican governor of deep-blue Maryland, Larry Hogan had already beaten some daunting odds. A common-sense businessman with a down-to-earth style, he won a long-shot election the Washington Post called “a stunning upset.” He’d worked with cops and neighborhood leaders to quell Baltimore’s worst rioting in 47 years. He’d stared down entrenched political bosses to save his state from fiscal catastrophe, winning praise from Democrats, Republicans and independents.

But none of that prepared him for the life-threatening challenge he would have to face next: a highly aggressive form of late-stage cancer. The people of Maryland, with their “Hogan Strong” wristbands, were certainly pulling for him, sending him back to the governor’s office in a landslide. As Governor Hogan began his second term cancer-free, his next challenge went far beyond Maryland: bringing our divided country together for a better future.

His talk will be moderated by The people of Maryland, with their “Hogan Strong” wristbands, were certainly pulling for him, sending him back to the governor’s office in a landslide. As Governor Hogan began his second term cancer-free, his next challenge went far beyond Maryland: bringing our divided country together for a better future.

This discussion will be moderated by Barry Rabe, J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Professor of Public Policy at the Ford School and Arthur Thurnau Professor of Environmental Policy.