Chang given Neil Staebler Distinguished Service Award
LANSING, Mich. (Feb. 23, 2023) — Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) recently was chosen to receive the Neil Staebler Distinguished Service Award, the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy’s top alumni award for dedication to excellence in public service.
Sen. Chang will be honored on March 6, during a Policy Talks @ the Ford School event in which she will discuss environmental justice with U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and former Towsley Policymaker in Residence and newly appointed Director of the Wayne County Health, Human & Veterans Services Department Abdul El-Sayed.
Chang is the first Asian-American woman to be elected to the Michigan Legislature and worked as a community organizer in Detroit for nearly a decade before serving two terms in the Michigan House of Representatives. In 2018, she was elected to the Michigan Senate, where she served as the Minority Floor Leader. Now in her second term in the Senate, Chang serves as the Caucus Policy and Steering Committee Chair as well as the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety.
“The Committee had the enviable burden of choosing between several accomplished alumni with outstanding professional achievements in public service,” Ford School alumni board member Sam Geller said. “Sen. Chang’s accomplishments were so impressive on their own, but what set her apart was her longtime volunteer service both to the Ford School and Asian-American Community in Michigan. Sen. Chang has already demonstrated incredible leadership on public policy issues in Michigan and the ability to recruit people to participate in our democracy.”
“Sen. Chang was my ambassador to the world of activism, civic engagement, and public service. However, I am only one of many who were inspired by Sen. Chang to pursue careers that fight for the most vulnerable and make an impact,” said Andrew Kim, who nominated Chang.
During her time at the Ford School, Chang was a David Bohnett Leadership and Public Service Fellow, a graduate fellowship that includes a funded summer internship with the Detroit Mayor’s Office, where she helped staff at the mayor’s office with cost estimates and spatial analysis of the city’s streetlight strategy.
In a 2015 interview with U-M, she attributes her run for the State House to her experience as a Bohnett fellow: “I decided to run because I realized how amazing an opportunity it is to make a difference for my community. My fellowship at the mayor’s office helped me see things from another perspective—the challenges of providing city services in the midst of a financial crisis and declining faith in government.”
Sen. Chang earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degrees in public policy and social work from the University of Michigan. She lives in Detroit with her husband, Sean Gray, and two young daughters.
The Neil Staebler Distinguished Service Award recognizes a Ford School alumnus or alumna for outstanding professional achievement consistent with Neil Staebler’s dedication to excellence in public service. Qualified alumni will have demonstrated a commitment to engaging with the public policy challenges of our world through professional accomplishments and public service. The award is a program of the Neil Staebler Fund for Political Education, established at the Ford School in 1987 to honor Neil Staebler, one of Michigan’s leading political activists, who devoted his life to improving democratic government by increasing the participation of citizens in all aspects of public affairs.