Governor Jennifer Granholm

Spring 2017 Resident Fellow

Former Two-term Governor of Michigan, Educator and Political Commentator

Seminar Information | "Leadership on a State Level: A Governor’s Perspective." Learn more & RSVP

Office Hours | Tuesdays 4/4, 4/18, 5/2, and 5/9, 9-10:40am & 12:40-2pm. Sign up here.

Former two-term governor of Michigan Jennifer M. Granholm, who is credited with leading Michigan though a period of unprecedented economic challenge and change, is an authority on leadership; politics; economic diversification; clean energy policy; advanced manufacturing; and industrial clusters. 

Granholm became the first woman to be elected as governor of Michigan in 2002, and in 2006 she was re-elected with the largest number of votes ever cast for governor in the state. As a result of the meltdown in the auto industry and the global shift in manufacturing jobs, Michigan had the toughest economy in the nation and Granholm worked relentlessly to diversify it, adding new jobs and emerging sectors, such as clean energy, to Michigan’s economic portfolio. As a result of her leadership, Michigan led the country in the improvement of job market conditions between 2009 and 2010, according to the Gallup Job Creation Index. 

As governor, Granholm pioneered clean energy policies and worked with business and labor, Republicans and Democrats to create new economic opportunities and jobs in Michigan. She led an aggressive strategy to make Michigan the hub of clean-energy development in North America by developing entire supply chains in Michigan, fostering critical partnerships between industry, government and researchers and by creating economic incentives that made Michigan the place to locate. Granholm’s plan included specific clustering strategies targeted at battery manufacturing, bio-energy, solar, and wind power. 

In addition to diversifying Michigan's economy, Granholm focused on creating jobs, attracting international investment, improving education, and training Michigan’s workers to promote the state’s long-term economic health. She pushed Michigan to double the number of college graduates and signed into law a college prep curriculum for every high school student in Michigan, in addition to some of the toughest turnaround requirements for low-performing schools in the nation. In 2007, she launched the No Worker Left Behind program, which gave unemployed and under-employed citizens the opportunity to attend community college or technical school and receive training for high-demand jobs by offering state-paid tuition to Michigan’s displaced adults. 

Granholm was Governor of Michigan from 2003-2011. Prior to her two terms as governor, Granholm was Michigan’s attorney general from 1998-2002. After leaving public office, Granholm joined the faculty at UC Berkeley, teaching courses in law and public policy, and was named a senior research fellow at the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute. In that capacity, Granholm is chair of the American Jobs Project, a major research initiative focused on state-based policies to create advanced manufacturing jobs in clean energy. Granholm is a senior contributor to CNN, is the CEO of Granholm Mulhern Associates, and serves on several boards. She is also the co-author of the political bestseller, A Governor’s Story: The Fight for Jobs and America’s Economic Future and was a senior partner on jobs and energy policy during Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. 

Granholm's Ambassadors

Jennifer's answers to our Proust Questionnaire 

What is your favorite virtue? Integrity. 

What is your chief characteristic? My husband would say that it is my propensity to finish. I’m a finisher. I interpret it in terms of Myers-Briggs types, you know? I’m an ENTJ. I have to finish, I’m not happy until I’m done, I can’t play until I’ve finished. 

What do you appreciate the most in your friends? Generosity and selflessness.

What is your main fault? So many. I think my main fault, and again this is from feedback from my family, is my inability or my struggle with savoring the moment as opposed to pushing forward. I need to learn better how to stop and smell the roses.

What is your favorite occupation? Governor, by far. Just because you can get things done for people. Although I would say that being Attorney General and being a federal prosecutor were very fun jobs.

What is your idea of misery? Eight years under Donald Trump. 

If not yourself, who would you be? A combination of Elizabeth Warren and Mother Theresa. 

Where would you like to live? On the Michigan side of Lake Michigan. 

What is your favorite color? Blue.

Who are your favorite authors? Paul Krugman and Tom Friedman. I’ll give you all my New York Times columnists. Timothy Egan and Bob Reich. 

Who are your favorite heroes or heroines in fiction? I’ve got a lot of them. I love Katniss Everdeen and Arya Stark and Daenerys Targaryen. I love Calamity Jane. I love, although it’s not so much in fiction but I love almost every role that Catherine Hepburn played in the old movies. 

Who are your heroes or heroines in real life? Mother Theresa is a heroine. Unless you’re from Detroit you might not know, but there’s a former non-named Eleanor Josaitis who helped to found Focus: HOPE, which is a community service organization agency that really serves the poor. 

What is your favorite food & drink? Mac n’ Cheese and Sauvignon Blanc. I don’t know if you do it together, but I love them both. 

What you hate the most? Racism and bigotry. Close-mindedness and selfishness. 

What is a natural talent you’d like to have? To play basketball in the NBA. I’d like to be the first woman to play basketball like Michael Jordan. I’m a pre-Title 9 person, but my daughters play and I totally love participating in the game and watching the game, but I’m not a player. 

What is your favorite motto? “Leadership is planting trees under whose shade you will never sit.” I think it’s an ancient Chinese proverb. It goes to the notion that some things are long-term. 

What is one thing that you think people would be surprised to learn about you? I do portraits, I draw. 

What is one thing that you’ve done that has surprised you? When I was studying abroad in college, I traveled with a group affiliated with Amnesty International to the then-Soviet Union to smuggle in medicine and eye-glasses and coats for Refuseniks, Soviet Jews who were refused visas to go to Israel. That was quite an experience.