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Release Date: 
Thursday, January 30, 2020

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson headlines HFC Student Engagement Conference

Event Date: 
Fri, 02/07/2020
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will present the keynote address to open HFC's Student Engagement Conference and Social Venture Challenge on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 6:00 p.m. in the Forfa Auditorium on the first floor of the ASCC (Building L).

“It is critical that students and young people across our state step up and participate in our democracy," said Benson. "By voting and participating in the democratic process – even applying to serve on the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission – young people can make their voices heard in Lansing and in Washington. I look forward to speaking with students at Henry Ford College about why their voice matters and how they can get involved.”

Keynote, conversation, opening panel

6:00 p.m. Secretary Benson Keynote (introduced by HFC President Kavalhuna)

6:15-6:40 p.m. Town Hall style Q&A with Secretary Benson and HFC President Kavalhuna.

6:40-7:15 p.m. My Vote Counts panel
Betsy Cushman, Vice President for Voter Service at the Michigan League of Women Voters
Joyce Dallas, Voter Service Director at the Detroit League of Women Voters
Sharon Dolente, Voting Rights Strategist at the ACLU
Dr. Edie Goldenberg, Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

Community Service Panel and Student Engagement Panel

From 7:00 to 7:35 p.m., one group of attendees will attend the Community Service Panel in the Forfa. Another group will attend the Student Engagement Panel in the Rosenau Rooms, also on the first floor of the ASCC. The two groups will switch panels from 7:40 to 8:15 p.m.

The panelists of the Community Service Panel include:
Doug Ferrick, Chief Development Officer for the Children’s Foundation in Detroit
Ginna Holmes, Executive Director of the Michigan Community Service Commission in Lansing
Isra Daraiseh, Advocacy and Civic Engagement Coordinator for ACCESS in Dearborn
Fatima Hassan of NextGen Michigan
Zaineb Hussein, Wayne County Director of Diversity and Inclusion

The panelists of the Student Engagement Panel include:
Fatima Nkata of HFC
Adam Abusalah of Central Michigan University
Sarah Noon of Oakland Community College
Elyas Perry of U-M

February 7 conference and competition activities

The Student Engagement Conference continues on Friday, Feb. 7. That day, there will be two census panels. The first panel runs from 11:00 to 11:45 a.m. in Forfa. The panelists include:

• HFC President Russell A. Kavalhuna
• State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud
• Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Ron Fournier, President of Truscott Rossman in Lansing
Sam Baydoun, Wayne County Commissioner

The second panel runs from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and will include the following speakers:

Kerry Ebersole, Executive Director at 2020 Census, State of Michigan
Dr. Hayg Oshagan, Founder/Director of New Michigan Media and Associate Professor of Media Studies at Wayne State University
Daniel Baxter, Wayne County Director of External Affairs
Victoria Kovari, Executive Director of Detroit 2020 Census Campaign, Mayor’s Office, City of Detroit

Social Venture Challenge competition

The Student Engagement Conference is being held in conjunction with the Social Venture Challenge that HFC is hosting with the Resolution Project, which runs Feb. 6-7.

Founded in 2007, the Resolution Project is a global non-profit organization fostering leadership development through collaborative social entrepreneurship. It empowers young leaders to pursue solutions to problems impacting communities all over the world. It designed the Social Venture Challenge to be an inspiring call to action. The business plan-style competition is designed to inspire college and university students to propose socially responsible solutions for pressing social issues.

The Resolution Project Fellowship provides everything needed to take the students’ idea from conception to reality:

Seed Funding: A grant to kickstart the social venture.
Strong Advisory Support: Each team is assigned a pair of guides, providing mentorship ranging from social venture advice to professional development.
Access to Resources: A diverse array of training, materials, and professional services to help navigate the challenges of social entrepreneurship.
Community: Access to advisors, socially-responsible supporters, and an action-oriented peer group.

This competition, which grants the winners a lifelong Resolution Fellowship, is open to all undergraduate students in the state of Michigan. Students will pitch their idea to a panel of judges, who select the Fellowship winners following a two-round format.

The entrants will pitch their proposals Feb. 6. The finalists will then compete on a panel Friday, Feb. 7. For more information about the Social Venture Challenge, visit

Members of the press and members of the public are invited to the Student Engagement Conference and Social Venture Challenge.

For questions or further information, contact Dr. Anthony Perry at (313) 845-6383 or