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Eastpointe mayor selected for local leaders program at Harvard

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 20, 2020

 Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens will be attending a program for municipal leaders taking place at Harvard University this summer.

Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens will be attending a program for municipal leaders taking place at Harvard University this summer.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

EASTPOINTE — Eastpointe’s mayor, Monique Owens, will be getting some higher education in the field of municipal leadership in a program at Harvard University.

This year, Owens is one of the two candidates selected each year for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments’ Taubman Fellowship. Those selected take part in the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program.

“The program is for almost a month, and you will be staying on or near the campus, and they will pay for your stay, your food and these educational programs,” explained Owens. “They will teach you about public policy, how to build alliances and partnerships, how to cover contracts, and other things having to do with public policy and law.”

Theresa Rich, an Oakland Schools Board of Education trustee, is the other leader selected for the fellowship this year. Owens and Rich had to apply for the chance to attend the program and were selected by a panel of SEMCOG officials. Membership Specialist Grant Brooks was part of the selection panel.

“Monique was a standout candidate,” said Brooks. “She had interviewed before, but the competition is very steep. This time around, she had sharpened a lot of her skills and really impressed us with a lot of her answers. She was the clear choice this year, and her making a strong impression and having a lot of good ideas really made her stand out.”

Owens said she is eager to learn and excited to see how she can further improve Eastpointe.

“I’m super excited to have been given this by SEMCOG, because they only give out two a year, and it starts at the beginning of June and lasts about three or four weeks,” she remarked. “You get a certificate when you’re done and learn some key things to bring some different resources or opportunities to your community.”

She added that there are several areas she hopes this program will allow her to improve upon.

“What I want to learn and gain is how to be a better policymaker and see how this can take me to a new level in my career,” Owens said. “It will help me bring more resources to Eastpointe. I’ve already been able to connect with some new developers since becoming mayor, but I’m hoping this program will be able to find additional ways to promote development in our community and create or support better policies for our residents.”

Various experts will be teaching the programs for local leaders.

“You’re being taught by Harvard University professors who deal with politics and public policy,” said Owens. “I think it’s going to (consist of) lectures, workshops, group projects, and I think they will have a lot of speakers who are experts on public policy, including members of Congress or former members of Congress, and mayors or former mayors.”

Owens and Rich are the latest candidates selected by SEMCOG to attend the program in the last 29 years.

“We have been sending people to this since 1991,” Brooks said. “Past fellows have brought back a lot to their individual communities. They have offered a wealth of information they gained from all of these experts and have been able to provide a lot of ideas at meetings in their individual communities, as well as meetings in the larger southeast Michigan area. They also make a lot of connections with people from all over the country who are in similar or related positions. It means more opportunities to bring in new ideas or network with others facing similar questions and issues.”

The goal is to have the selectees bring what they learn to southeast Michigan.

“We really want to make sure all of our members have opportunities to sharpen their skills and be able to learn at the highest levels,” said Brooks. “The idea is that the Taubman Fellows come back and contribute what they learn with the whole region.”