Employer: City of Birmingham, MI
Graduation Year: 1999
Current Position: City Manager
Biography: Bob Bruner was recently selected as the new city manager for Birmingham, MI. As the 8th person to serve as its manager, he runs the day-to-day operations of a community with over 20,000 residents. He is also the youngest person ever to serve as the city's chief administrative officer.
Bob graduated from Albion with a dual major in Political Science and Economics & Management. He was also a member of Alpha Phi Omega, the volunteer corps, and served as the music director for WLBN, Albion College's radio station.
"Being at a small liberal arts college allowed me to participate in numerous extracurricular activities and campus events," he said. "Attending another school would not have afforded me these same opportunities."
As part of the Ford experience, Bob worked in Washington, D.C., as a White House Intern. Under the supervision of Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council for Presidents Clinton and Obama, he worked on mergers and acquisitions, like the Daimler-Chrysler partnership that developed in 1998.
"Serving as a White House Intern was not only a phenomenal experience, but the internship and my Albion education have led to several career opportunities in public service," Bob remarked.
Since graduating from Albion College, he has completed a Masters of Public Administration from Wayne State University and a Graduate Certificate in Local Government Management from Eastern Michigan University. He has worked as a consultant for Accenture, assistant city manager for Ypsilanti, MI, and city manager for Ferndale, MI.
"Local government is the level that affects people the most. I enjoy my work because it is meaningful and connected to the greater good."
Heather Holderness, '11, Helps Provide Access to Health Care
Through her Ford Institute internship, Heather Holderness, '11, was able to combine her interests in health and public policy, and also utilize her fluency in Spanish. She worked with Community HealthCare Connections (CHC), an organization that connects uninsured and underinsured individuals to a wide variety of health care services. These include basic health and medical care, as well as referral and advocacy. CHC provides these services in conjunction with the Nursing Clinic of Battle Creek and the Calhoun Health Plan.
Heather worked with CHC's Hispanic Outreach Program doing research, being involved in outreach, explaining opportunities to potential clients, and occasionally providing translation. She also assisted with their new mobile clinic, a bus that takes medical services directly into the community. This type of work was well suited for her as she has a variety of academic and professional interests. She graduated from Albion this spring with a dual major in Latin American Studies and Spanish, a minor in Biology, and concentrations in the Ford Institute and the Institute for Premedical Professions and Health Sciences.
"One of the best parts of this internship has been interacting directly with the clients," said Heather. "There was one client who was renewing services with a CHC program, but could not read or write in English. I was able to translate into Spanish for him and help him fill out the paperwork."
A native of Hartland, MI, she was very active with the Organization Latino/a Awareness at Albion College, serving as the group's president. She was also a mentor at Harrington Elementary School, Vice President for Management of Alpha Chi Omega, and a member of the Order of Omega.
After graduation, Heather accepted a position as a Research Assistant to Debbie Ossip at the University of Rochester. She hopes ultimately to go into advocacy work for underrepresented groups needing access to health care. Heather is grateful to have been a part of the Ford Institute and feels it is her responsibility to give back. "Being around people who are passionate about public service is one of the best parts of the program," she stated. "I learned so much from the different opinions and perspectives of the other students. Being in Ford broadened my own understanding of the world."
Summer Internship Takes Andrew Kercher, '12, Back in Time
Few internship experiences allow students to fire musket rifles and cannons on a daily basis. However, last summer Fordie Andrew Kercher, '12, suited up in a redcoat and served in the King's Eighth Regiment of Foot as part of a reenactment at Fort Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City. He served as a historic interpreter at the fort, which was established in 1715 and is now part of the Mackinac State Historic Parks, welcoming tourists from around the world.
Andrew, who has a dual major in History and Philosophy, said the experience working at the fort confirmed his desire to pursue a career in interpretive history. He ultimately wants to work at a living museum as a lead interpreter and curator. He likes the concept of a living museum because the exhibits "connect with people and they truly experience it." At Fort Michilimackinac, he showed tourists what it was like to live in an 18th century fort along the Straits of Mackinac. Not only did Andrew serve as a soldier in the King's army, but he also played other roles such as a French civilian fur trader and a blacksmith. He even performed weddings as Father Pierre Gibault, the fort's visiting Catholic priest.
Back on campus, he is very active in the community, serving as a member of the British Eighth Marching Band, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and treasurer of the Nwagni Project- a student run organization that has raised over $25,000 to support schools and families in the village of Batchingou, Cameroon.
Originally from Port Huron, MI, Andrew believes he has truly benefited from an Albion College education. "Albion allowed me to do things that I really wanted to do, but it also afforded me opportunities to try something totally different as well!"
Kyle Henry, '12, First Joe Stroud Intern
The Ford Institute is proud to have Kyle Henry, '12, as its first Joe Stroud Intern in Journalism and Policy. A Secondary Education English major and Public Policy minor, Kyle did his internship with the Detroit Free Press' editorial division during the summer of 2010. He worked directly with Stephen Henderson, Editorial Page editor, and wrote six articles on issues like politics, the Detroit Public Schools, poverty, and other topics related to the Detroit Metro area.
One of the highlights of Kyle's internship experience was being present during the editorial board interviews with candidates running for governor during the 2010 election. He then edited hours of footage to create a web video, and also wrote an editorial encouraging young people to become more active in the electoral process.
This unique internship opportunity was developed in memory of Joe Stroud, former Detroit Free Press editor and Ford Institute director. Following his death, his family created the Joe Stroud Memorial Fund at Albion College, through which the internship provides first-hand experience in combining policy with journalistic leadership.
Kyle exemplifies the qualities required for this internship, not only with his academic and career interests, but through his leadership and involvement at Albion as well. He served as a writer and editor for the Albion Pleiad, a mentor at Albion Public Schools, and was selected to be a Sleight Leadership Fellow for 2011. Moreover, he is a member of Sigma Tau Delta honorary English fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon, and vice president of the Order of Omega.
Reflecting on his time at Albion College, Kyle noted that Albion "allows you to be somebody and explore what you want to do in life." Through the Fritz Shurmur Center for Teacher Development, he experienced public education both internationally and locally. He was part of a recent trip to France for a comparative study of the French and American educational systems. He also brought his enthusiasm to the Albion Public School's sixth grade class at Harrington Elementary. There he created a project focusing on the town of Albion that engaged students through writing journals and making posters. As Harrington student Olivia Garrett Anes stated, "Mr. Henry is nice, funny, smart like a teacher, and not at all cranky." Kyle earned high marks from the teachers as well.
"Albion College is truly a community of learners with great support and mentoring from faculty members and staff," Kyle commented. "Students are offered exceptional opportunities that you might not get somewhere else."