MSU EDA University Center for

Regional Economic Innovation

E-Update | April 2023

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Welcome New Research Assistants!

Sarah Dennis is a Research Assistant for MSU’s Center for Community and Economic Development for Regional and Economic Innovation (REI). She is an undergraduate student studying Social Relations & Policy with minors in Educational Studies and Peace & Justice Studies. The cluster, or theme, of her courses is political economy. Last summer Sarah interned at the nonprofit organization, Michigan’s Children. There she worked on research regarding license-exempt childcare providers (LEPs), and how the current subsidies affect children, providers, and women. Her work there helps her in her other current Research Assistant Position working on a project called “Making Ends Meet.” The focus of the project centers on how women are navigating the formal and informal economies post-pandemic. Her concentration surrounds the care economy, specifically childcare, and how this affects women’s entrance into the workforce. Sarah is extremely interested in sustainable community development as well as circular economy proposals.

Isaac Harter is a junior at Michigan State University studying Urban and Regional Planning with a minor in Cities: Environment, Design, and Society as well as Spanish. He recently started his position as a Research Assistant in April of 2023, currently focusing on event planning and logistics for the upcoming Michigan Inventors Coalition Expo. He is primarily interested in community involvement, sustainability, and public transportation-based planning. Outside of CCED, Isaac works as a student assistant at the Michigan Department of Transportation in the Office of Passenger Transportation. On campus, he is the Social Chair of the Urban and Regional Planning Student Association and the Director of Finance for the United Nations Association of MSU. He enjoys working with other people and learning more about the field of urban planning.

Neely Bardwell is a Community Economic Development Intern working with the Native American Institute to develop and implement training sessions for tribes across Michigan. She is a current undergraduate student finishing up her third year as a Social Relations and Policy major in James Madison College. 

During her time at MSU she has been involved with several organizations centering Native success. She has served as one of the North American Indigenous Student Organization’s (NAISO) Co-Chairs since Spring 2022. Within James Madison College, she Co-Founded the Wilma Mankiller Society (Indigenous Students in Policy) and is currently the Co-Chair. She also served on the James Madison College Student Senate as a Senator for her major. Beyond the university, Neely has worked as a Staff Reporter for the leading National Native news company: Native News Online since Summer 2021. After graduating, Neely plans on continuing to work with Native students at the University, and creating policies and programs to increase Native support, retention, and safety.
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