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New Public Policy Associates President Represents the Changing Face of Public Policy Research

Monday, December 1, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Michelle Rahl
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For Immediate Release:                                                           Contact:  Dr. Paul Elam

December 1, 2014                                                                                     (517) 485-4477

New Public Policy Associates President Represents

the Changing Face of Public Policy Research

Lansing – Dr. Paul Elam, formerly director of safety and justice at Public Policy Associates Inc. (PPA), will be its new president, the company announced today.

Elam succeeds Jeff Padden, who founded PPA in 1991, co-owners Colleen Graber and Virginia Orabone said.  Padden will remain active with the firm through 2015 and continue to serve as Board chair.

Elam’s appointment positions PPA as one of the few, if not only, public policy research firm led by an African-American and owned by women.

"We are truly the new face of public policy research, and it is reflected in our work, our values and our workplace," Elam said. "Our varied backgrounds and experiences breed creative thinking that produces better ideas for our clients.  Our policy work positions our clients to strengthen institutions, enhance communities, and enrich the lives of those they serve."

PPA is a Lansing-based research, evaluation and strategic consultation firm serving public and private clients around the country.  Key areas of work include education and workforce development, economic and community development, criminal and juvenile justice, health care, and racial equity.

Elam has all the tools to be a great president, said Graber, PPA’s vice president and director of education and workforce.

"Paul has an entrepreneurial spirit, the ability to manage large-scale projects, and a collaborative style that encourages innovation and excellent work from his teams," said Graber.  "He also builds great relationships with his clients."

“PPA has developed beyond what I ever imagined, and it has been a privilege to work with a group of such smart and dedicated people,” Padden said.  “I am excited for PPA’s future as I hand the torch to Paul.”

Chief financial officer, Virginia Orabone said, “From the day he joined PPA eight years ago, Paul has played increasingly important leadership roles at PPA.  He has been a very effective group director and member of our leadership team.  He is a natural leader who has honed his skills throughout his career.”

Elam is a native of Detroit and a graduate of Michigan State University (MSU), with multiple degrees in criminal justice (bachelor’s and master’s), urban studies (master’s), and human ecology (Ph.D.).

He has led PPA's work on multi-year projects to transform Michigan's prisoner reentry system, rethink child welfare strategies, and examine the effectiveness of programs funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Michigan.

"Paul's approach is collaborative and inclusive, and he brought together a diverse group of leaders to work together, and it has resulted in an outstanding work product," said Saginaw County Family Court Judge Faye Harrison, a leader of a steering team addressing overrepresentation of youth of color in the juvenile justice system.  "Paul and his team would be of any benefit to any urban community trying to deal with these issues."

“PPA has demonstrated its commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity and has evolved since we started working with them a few years ago,” said Ali Webb, state director of programming at the Kellogg Foundation.  “These values are at Paul’s core, and I’m confident he will continue to embed them in PPA’s culture.”

Looking forward, Elam sees opportunities for PPA to expand into new directions and build its reputation nationally.  Above all, he wants PPA to be known as a company that helps clients use research to inform their goals and create successful policies that benefit everyone.

"I dreamed of working in a public policy space before I knew what public policy was," Elam said.  "We have a fantastic crew at PPA, and I am honored to be working with them every day.  This is a great organization with great potential.”

For more information about PPA, visit



The Paul Elam File

Name: Paul Elam, Ph.D. 

Title: President, Public Policy Associates, Inc.

Age: 42 

Residence: Bath Township

Education: Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from Michigan State University in criminal justice and urban studies

Personal: Married, four children  

Passions: His family, his church, the Spartans, public policy that improves lives.

About PPA

Public Policy Associates, Inc. is a nonpartisan research, evaluation, and strategic consultation firm.  The Lansing-based firm works in the policy areas of health, food systems, justice and child welfare, education, and workforce development, as well as community and economic development.  Clients have included public agencies at the federal, state, and local levels; philanthropic organizations; educational institutions; and nonprofits.  

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