In Blog: Factually Speaking

By Sharon Parks, Former President and CEO of the League
My hubby and I recently moved from the home we had been living in for nearly 35 years. We downsized somewhat and now have a lovely house that fits our lifestyle. It’s a home that we will gradually make more personal over time. Our former home was where we raised our kids. We made many, many changes over the years—each one changing the house for the better.
That’s not unlike the organization where I spent 34 years of my work life—the Michigan League for Human Services, now the Michigan League for Public Policy. In retirement, I haven’t lost touch with the League. I have lunch often with staff who, over the years, have become good friends. I follow the League’s work and share it on social media. I am always proud when I see the League quoted in the media.
Much like our former house, the League has changed considerably over the years, and all for the better. When I started at the League our funding came mostly through local United Ways. Now, the League is funded primarily by local, state and national foundations. The League has also joined several national networks that help inform and shape public policy across the country.
In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the League carefully monitored the budget and that continues to be a key focus of League analysis. We also tracked specific pieces of legislation that impacted poor and vulnerable people in our state. Over the years however, the League’s work reflected a “bigger picture” approach to public policy, as the League’s analyses helped policymakers to connect the dots between numerous policy areas, particularly revenues and expenditures. The League also reached out to state-level organizations that didn’t necessarily fall into the “social welfare” category, always a province of the League’s, and the League now works collaboratively with many groups for the betterment of our state and its residents.
One thing has remained a constant during my time with the League and since retirement: the excellence of the League’s board leadership and the competence of the staff. The League’s leadership is impressive and affords the organization a wealth of experience in many areas. The staff at the League always has been, and continues to be, nothing short of phenomenal! I marvel at how such an intelligent and dedicated group of people can be congregated in one organization.
Michigan faces many challenges. Too many of our children live in poverty; too many of their parents lack the skills and education needed to compete in the workforce. Our educational systems do not measure up to national and international standards; our infrastructure has been badly neglected.
One thing I know for certain is that the Michigan League for Public Policy will continue to be a force in the public policy debate over these critical issues, just as it has been for 104 years.

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