My first introduction to the Michigan League for Public Policy came this past summer in the form of a State Budget 101 Training. It had been a long week, and I wasn’t sure if budget talk was going to keep my attention. Gratefully, I was very wrong.
The League’s staff presented data and stories in a way that helped me to understand and criticize the foundational budget policies that throw people into poverty across Michigan. The information was so enlightening and exciting that I kept talking about it, Googling it and crafting new ways of sharing it for weeks afterward.
In the light of my newfound passion, a beautifully serendipitous job opening appeared, and it is now my honor to join the staff of the League as their community engagement specialist! I come to this position after spending two and a half years at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan as West Michigan community organizer. I worked to build up groups of educated volunteers and supporters in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Muskegon and Traverse City. Through my work at Planned Parenthood, I honed the craft of community outreach and movement building in sometimes difficult environments.
My priorities as an organizer have always revolved around education. I believe that change comes out of knowledge and an understanding of the tools and power we have to affect the world’s systems. We all know what it is like to stand helpless before injustice, feeling that it is way too big and complex to fight. What moves us from paralysis to action is most often a spark of knowledge and a supportive community.
I hope to do just this—facilitate learning and community building—in my new role with the League.
I know that people all over Michigan are craving answers to their big “why” questions. Why is it hard to find meaningful work that supports my family? Why do I have to take on mountains of debt to get a college degree? Why does my child’s school differ so much from the school down the road? Why are our roads, bridges and sidewalks crumbling?
Many of the answers to these questions lie within our state budget and other foundational policies that can be convoluted and difficult to understand. In my new role at the League, I hope to bring this information to concerned residents, community leaders, organizations and businesses around our state to make public policy and community engagement more accessible. I am confident that an educated community can make significant, long-term political change, and I am excited to be a part of that.
— Jenny Kinne