In Blog: Factually Speaking

Ask anyone at the League what they’re thankful for, and it won’t take us long to think. We work for an organization whose values match our own. We work with colleagues who have heart. And we work with numbers. We really like numbers.

Here’s just a bit of what we’re grateful for right now:

Julie Cassidy, Senior Policy Analyst: This year, I’m thankful for the people who have contributed to the League’s advocacy efforts by sharing their personal stories about the impact of public policy on their lives. These ordinary Michiganders have shown extraordinary bravery in speaking so openly about their families’ struggles, and they deserve our gratitude as the real people behind the data we use to fight for change.
Vikki Crouse, Policy Fellow: I’m thankful for an incredible team of colleagues who inspire me to keep doing this work. I’m thankful for the Michiganders who exercised their right to vote this year, and continue to work hard to make their communities are welcoming to all. I’m also thankful for my partner and our two cats, Thanksgiving tamales and cheesy holiday movies.
Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count Project Director: First of all, I am very grateful for my amazing family and friends. I am so appreciative of my colleagues and to be surrounded by so many people who are passionate and committed to making Michigan a better place for all kids and families. Thank you to everyone who helps to support the League’s mission and work!
Karen Holcomb-Merrill, Chief Operations Officer: I am thankful for my League colleagues, who are true social justice warriors, who come to work every day ready to try and improve the lives of Michigan’s most vulnerable residents.
Benjamin Hopper, Communications Intern: As the League’s Resident Young Person, I’m thankful for the ability to help our staff fight for a better Michigan in every way possible. Whether it is by working on the website or teaching Bird scooter fundamentals, I’m thankful for the opportunities the League offers me.
Gilda Jacobs, President and CEO: I am thankful to have two out of my three grandchildren living five minutes away and thankful for Facetime so I can read stories almost in person to my other grandson. And I continue to be grateful for the most amazing, creative, smart, passionate, driven and caring staff.
Parker James, Kids Count Associate: After being in a scary car accident recently, I am feeling very thankful to have such supportive family, friends, and coworkers. My partner and I have been able to get the care we need and take the appropriate time to heal. Everyone should be able to get health care and time to recover from an accident or illness without fear of the costs. More than ever I am thankful for those advocates, including the League, working for paid sick leave and affordable health care for all!
Phyllis Killips, Assistant to the President: I am thankful most of all for my three children who mean the world to me and for my significant other who has changed my life for the better. I am thankful for my health, home, family and friends. Last but not least, I am grateful and thankful for our CEO Gilda Jacobs and the fact that after 41 years at the League, I still love the work that I do!
Tillie Kucharek, Graphic Designer: I am grateful for the chance to be thankful. I am thankful for my family, my home, my friends, my dog, my coworkers, my job and my health insurance. I have so much. I never want to forget this.
Sarah Ostyn, Kids Count Intern: This Thanksgiving, I’m especially grateful for opportunities that allow me to be the voice for those who may otherwise go unheard. I get to spend each day playing with small humans who remind me why I’m on this earth, and my “spare time” researching and advocating for policies that make it a better place for them. How lucky am I!
Rachel Richards, Legislative Coordinator: I am thankful for access to healthcare and paid sick leave policies; voting; my son’s teachers; online sales taxes; advocating for progressive taxes, high-quality schools, safe roads and vibrant communities; and, of course, my family, friends, good food and conversation, and a happy, warm home for the holiday season.
Laura Ross, Communications Associate: Working on social justice issues can be rough on our souls sometimes. That’s why I’m thankful for colleagues who bring in cinnamon bread, brownies and bagels. Who pass out twinkle lights for our cubicles so we can beat the winter blues. Who deck the halls of our office with festive trimmings. Who nerd out about seeing the latest data on … well, on anything. Who make my stomach hurt from laughing. In short, I’m glad I work with people who can find pieces of joy in this world even as they are faced with its problems.
Alex Rossman, Communications Director: I have a lot to be thankful for every year, but I am particularly grateful for the cornucopia of blessings I’ve had in 2018. I’m so thankful for my twin baby girls, who will be at our Thanksgiving table after several years of wishbones, prayers and fertility treatments. I’m thankful for my wife, who is as sweet as the pecan pies she makes—even when I’m being a turkey.

While I still think you have to be a little out of your gourd to do it, I’m so proud and appreciative of my mom and the countless others who ran for public office this year (and the campaign staff and volunteers who helped them!). They were called to serve and fight for a seat at the table, and win or lose, they deserve our gratitude for investing and sacrificing so much time, energy, money, and mental and physical health in making our communities and state better.

And I’m grateful for the League, especially its updated family leave policy that enabled me to spend so much time with my wife and girls without derailing my gravy train. I appreciate all of the League’s supporters and partners for their help squashing and mashing bad public policies in Michigan. And I continue to be thankful for the parade of great people in my life—all my family, friends and coworkers at the League who rise to the occasion like dinner rolls and melt my heart like butter.

P.S. Sorry if this was too cheesy.

Peter Ruark, Senior Policy Analyst: I am very grateful that while we may not have a choice of what is put before us, we can choose how to respond. This is true on a day to day personal level and also true when advocating for better public policy.
Emily Schwarzkopf, Senior Policy Analyst: In 2018, I’m thankful that Congress stopped trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and perhaps realized how incredibly important health coverage is. On a more personal note: I’m thankful for my seemingly unending podcast queue, the 90-minute workout I’m doing Thanksgiving morning to justify all the potatoes I’m going to eat (hey, if I write it down I have to do it right?), all the women who ran for office, constant encouragement from my friends, family, and boyfriend, red wine, The Office still being on Netflix, Rachel Richards’ baked goods, and working at such an awesome place with even better people.
Renell Weathers, Community Engagement Director: I’m thankful for all of the grassroots groups in Michigan that fight every day to improve the lives of their family and community. Their passion is contagious and their tireless efforts empower those around them.
Carol Wreggelsworth, Bookkeeper: I’m thankful that Friday is #OptOutside Day, which means free admission to state parks! I’m excited to get outside and enjoy everything Michigan has to offer…and to burn off all those Thanksgiving calories!

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