We Are The 20 Percent: Women In Government


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Participants : 
  • Micah Griggs, Vice President of U-M Central Student Government
  • Simone Lightfoot, Trustee, Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education
  • Rashida Tlaib, former Michigan State Representative
  • Rebekah Warren, Michigan State Senator, 18th District
  • Katherine E. White, U-M Board of Regents
  • Moderator: Anna Kirkland, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor; Associate Professor of Women's Studies and Political Science; Associate Director, IRWG
Event Date: 
October 11, 2016
Event Time: 
Rackham Amphitheatre
Event Accessibility : 
A ramp, leading to power doors, is located to the left of the stairs at the South (main) entrance. After entering through the power doors, go through the double doors and East and West elevators are on left and right sides of the lobby. Wheelchair accessible seating available near center aisle. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns regarding accessibility: 734-764-9537 / irwg@umich.edu

Women constitute a powerful force in the electorate and inform policymaking at all levels of government. Although women continue to be underrepresented as political officeholders, there is a growing contingent of dedicated women serving their communities and challenging the status quo in local and state government. In this historic election season, with the first woman nominated by a major party as a presidential candidate, our panel will explore what it is to be among the 20% -- from the campaign trail to the daily work of governing.

Cosponsored by the Institute for Humanities, Ford School of Public Policy and Women’s Studies.

 Rebekah Warren, Katherine White, Rashida Tlaib, Simone Lightfoot, and Micah Griggs


Micah Griggs hails from Detroit and is a senior at the University of Michigan majoring in Biopsychology and Gender & Health. She currently serves as Vice President of Central Student Government, which is the primary student government organization on campus. Ultimately, Micah wants to use her passions in racial equality, empowering women and access to higher education to combat social disparities and create more opportunities in our country. In her free time, Micah enjoys playing the violin and exploring campus with her friends.

Simone Lightfoot is a trustee on the Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education. She is the founder/owner of Green Couture Supplies and she worked as a consultant on regional urban initiatives for the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. Previously, Simone was deputy chief of staff in the Michigan House of Representatives. She was part of the national staff of the NAACP as Michigan state director and she focused on regional voting rights and mass mobilization.

Rashida Tlaib was the first Muslim woman elected to the Michigan Legislature. Politically, her legacy is largely her accomplishments fighting budget battles and shaping legislation on numerous social justice issues. For Rashida’s constituents, her legacy centers on her creation of a neighborhood service center, which provided direct advocacy on issues and anti-poverty services to thousands of people.  Currently, Rashida is the Community Partnerships & Development Director at the Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice and advisor to the Campaign to Take on Hate, a racial justice movement to prevent the increase of hate crimes. The first to attend college in her family, Rashida received her bachelor's in political science from Wayne State University and her law degree from Thomas Cooley Law School. She lives in Southwest Detroit with her family.

Rebekah Warren was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 2006 for four years and is currently serving her second term as State Senator for the 18th district. She received much recognition for negotiating the legislation that banned Great Lakes water diversion. She currently serves as the Democratic Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. Other than her focus on natural resources, Senator Warren remains dedicated to health care and student loan debt issues.

Katherine E. White has served on the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents since 1999. She is a Professor of Law at Wayne State University and a Colonel in the Michigan Army National Guard serving as the Command Judge Advocate for the 46th Military Police Command in Lansing, Michigan.  In addition, she is a Fulbright Senior Scholar (Germany), a White House Fellow 2001–2002, and a registered patent attorney. Regent White received her B.S.E. degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton University, a J.D. degree from the University of Washington, a LL.M. degree from the George Washington University Law School, and a Master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.