In Blog: Factually Speaking

Here at the League, we’re grateful every day. We have a team that’s committed to building a stronger Michigan, allies who are full of heart, policy goals that are improving lives, exciting data visualizations and a really great popcorn maker. This year we continue our annual Thanksgiving edition of Factually Speaking, and our tradition of sharing what makes us feel grateful.

Gilda Jacobs, President and CEO: I am thankful that the asset test for food assistance has been raised so that more families in Michigan can enjoy the holiday season and every day with more food on their tables and less stress in their lives.
Karen Holcomb-Merrill, Chief Operations Officer: I am especially grateful for family this year. My young adult son was one of the many who moved out of Michigan after he graduated from college. As proof that they sometimes come back, he and his wife have bought a home in Michigan!
Kelsey Perdue, Kids Count Project Director: I’m thankful for a national day off that allows my whole family to be home together. After a tough year, I’m thankful for growth, health, loved ones, vacations, good books and opportunities to live life to the fullest.
Renell Weathers, Community Engagement Director: I am grateful for family, friends and the MLPP Team, who passionately work on behalf of families in Michigan so their success is not predetermined by where they live. I’m also grateful for all the people I meet across the state who battle every day for better policies to improve their community.
Jayme Vosovic, Community Engagement Specialist West Michigan Region: This Thanksgiving I am thankful that I get to work for an organization that supports workers and their families by providing actual vacation AND sick time. Too often, Michiganders and other Americans are forced to give up their vacation time to recover from a cold. Even worse, many more are forced to work sick because they have no time off. Vacation time is not a luxury; it is needed to make sure people can live healthy lives physically, mentally and spiritually.
Pat Sorenson, Senior Policy Analyst: I am grateful for the opportunity to work for change, and for the company of colleagues who teach and inspire me.
Parker James, Kids Count Policy Analyst: I’m thankful for family, friends and colleagues that shine bright—and light up my life—as the nights get longer. And for good food, good music and good policy of course—and all the people who make these good things happen!
Phyllis Killips, Assistant to the President: I am thankful for many things but most of all my three children, son-in-law and the newest addition to our family—a kitten named Nala, as well as family and friends. I am also thankful to work for a dynamo CEO in a great office with lots of wonderful people.
Tillie Kucharek, Graphic Designer: If I had been born at a different time or place, my life would have undoubtedly been very different than it is today, but I would hope that I would still be grateful for everything and everyone that I have in my life. Showing gratitude is one of the simplest things we can do for one another. Thanksgiving isn’t just a day … it’s a way to live our lives each and every day.
Emily Jorgensen, Communications Assistant: I am so grateful for my amazing family, my cozy lil house and my crazy lil pupper who never gives anything less than 1,000% in anything she does. But I am particularly grateful this year for my job at the League. I’ve only been here for a few months, but those few months have been life changing. The League works hard for the people of Michigan, especially those who are so often overlooked. Therefore, I feel grateful just for this position, just for the opportunity to help in any small way. But then there are my colleagues. I am so humbled, honored and pleased to work with you. You are incredible fighters for equity, seekers of justice, believers in the power of kindness (and showing it time and time and time again), sharers of time, thoughts and baked goods, fans of laughter and creators of joy (especially when heavy hearts need it) … I’m so grateful for all of you.
Simon Marshall-Shah, State Policy Fellow: I am thankful for my family and my friends, all of whom supported me as I made my move to Lansing this year. And, I’m thankful for my colleagues at the League, who have helped me stick the landing in the Great Lakes State, teach me so much about Michigan policies and politics and make me laugh so hard that everyone in Cubeland can hear. I feel grateful to work with such a wonderful and dedicated group of people and partners every day.
Amber Bellazaire, Policy Analyst: I’m grateful for my health and the health of my family and friends. I’m grateful to have such a supportive and funny partner to share this life with. And I’m grateful that, six months ago, I landed the opportunity to join the League. Not only have I learned in my new role, I’ve felt welcomed into a fierce community of dedicated and light-hearted staff. It feels great to be back home in Michigan surrounded by kind and steady people.
Laura Ross, Communications Director: Strong coffee and strong advocates top my list this year. I love that the League has expanded its reach and includes some of the smartest—and coolest—people around. I’m grateful for this incredible workplace, for (finally!) a coffee shop across the street and for my family, which is supportive of all my wild ideas.
Alex Rossman, External Affairs Director: My gratitude list continues to grow each year, and there’s a lot to be thankful for at work and at home. I’m so grateful for: my wife and twin girls and all of our colleagues, friends and family who help support and care for us; my work family, especially our CEO and new inductee to the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame Gilda Jacobs and all she’s done for our state; the Legislature’s continued bipartisan support of important justice reforms, including passing Raise the Age; and my former boss and new Governor Gretchen Whitmer and her department heads, who are tackling important policy changes like raising the asset test limit for state assistance programs and expanding overtime eligibility for more workers. I’m also thankful for having my own home to decorate this Halloween and two Friday the 13ths this year, and I’m looking forward to watching the Lions and Michigan basketball and football games this week—and hoping for wins all around!
Peter Ruark, Senior Policy Analyst: I am grateful that Michigan is making baby steps toward creating a better environment for workers, as shown through the governor’s commitment to make the right to overtime available to more workers, the attorney general’s commitment to go after payroll fraud and protect whistleblowers, and the policy change that will make it easier for workers who have been laid off or have had their hours cut to receive food assistance. I am also grateful that my own job enables me to advocate for these things and that my co-workers and I can celebrate such policy victories together—one of the wonderful perks of working for a mission-driven organization!
Dwayne Barnes, Community Engagement Specialist Metro Detroit: I am grateful for amazing community partners, great colleagues, hot food and a growing family on Thanksgiving!
Brandon Betz, Policy Analyst: I’m thankful for the millions of Michigan taxpayers who fund our public services every year, especially those with little disposable income to start with. This year, I’m especially grateful for the activists and organizers on the ground who are fighting to make Michigan a better place for everyone. Their dedication and service are paramount to our success.
Christina Alexander, Bookkeeper: This year, I am grateful to my friends and family for their support and to be able to work for an employer who not only does wonderful work for the community but appreciates its employees as well.


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