FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, June 3, 2010
Contact: Karen DeMott 517.999.3646

Former White House Aide Headlines Annual Event Focused On Michigan Reforms

EAST LANSING, MI –Green jobs pioneer Van Jones will be the keynote speaker for the 4th annual Michigan Summit on June 12, headlining a day-long event focusing on key issues and policy reforms for Michigan. Jones is currently a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, a leading Washington, DC-based think tank.

“Van Jones has been a pioneer in exploring the place where human rights, disadvantaged communities and clean energy jobs meet. Here in Michigan, his knowledge and innovative thinking are vital to us all as Michigan faces extraordinary challenges and opportunities in 2010 and beyond,” said Karen DeMott, The Michigan Summit director.

Jones is among an impressive array of 43 speakers and panelists at the daylong summit at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. The program is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and also features economist Dr. Robert Johnson, a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, who took on “Too Big To Fail” banks in his testimony before Congress and helped shape the landscape for real Wall Street reform before Congress. He’ll lead discussion on a 2010 reform agenda for Michigan that creates good-paying jobs, strengthens communities, improves education, protects families, enhances the environment and expands freedoms.

The event is being organized by Progress Michigan Education in partnership with the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network and Netroots Nation. The Roosevelt group, with upwards of 500 Michigan college scholars, will present at the Summit key proposals emerging from its Midwest 2.0 project identifying innovative revitalization jobs and economic policies for cities.

Keynoter Jones has worked for years to unite the movements to end poverty with the surge of activism for cleaner energy and ending America’s dependence on foreign oil. It’s a message and an approach he will speak about at the Summit. In 2009 Jones served as White House advisor on green jobs. Jones was named by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2009 and designated a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum. Additionally, he holds a joint appointment at Princeton University.

“People are struggling. Many have been pushed into poverty by the economic collapse, and Michigan is no stranger to this kind of sustained hardship,” said Van Jones. “But we can lift people out of poverty by creating a strong clean energy economy, an economy that kicks our dependence on oil and provides the kinds of jobs that can support Michigan’s families.”

Catherine Orenstein, founder of New York-based The Op-Ed Project, has been published in the Miami Herald, New York Times and Washington Post, among others. She’ll present strategies for breaking onto the nation’s op-ed pages and bringing new issues into national focus.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and Dan Kildee, President of Community Progress, will discuss the policies and controversies surrounding the right-sizing approach to managing population decline in Michigan’s urban cities.

Key state lawmakers will provide insight into an often inaccessible legislative process in Lansing. First-term Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Sarah Roberts will address the political process and how attendees can be effective in shaping policy in Lansing. Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton will speak about the battle over stem cell research, and Rep. Woodrow Stanley will address expanding civil rights protections in Michigan to include gay, lesbian and transgender residents, while Rep. Kate Segal will speak about how federal health care reform may be implemented in Michigan.

“We’re pleased to be able to offer such a stellar lineup of leaders, thinkers and doers who understand the opportunities as well as the challenges for reinvigorating Michigan,” said David Holtz, Progress Michigan Education executive director. “From lawmakers to activists to policy wonks, we’re focusing on building the kind of collaborative power that happens when people come together to work for change.”

A complete agenda and online registration for the Summit is at


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