Citizens should have a voice,
especially in trying times.

Citizens should have a voice, especially in trying times.

The Citizens' Panel on COVID-19 has brought together 30 everyday Americans from across the political spectrum. They will weigh testimony from a range of experts, find common ground, and help guide their communities, their state, and others across our country.

The Panel is being convened right now in Michigan, one of the states that most reflects our country's makeup as well as its deep divide.

A Panel that represents the people

These citizen representatives come from all walks of life and reflect the population (see below). They bring different values, beliefs, and lived experiences. And they have come together to try to point a shared way forward.
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Schooling
  • Geography
  • Politics
  • Views

The Panel generally reflected the different ages in the population, although it was slightly more middle-aged than Michigan as a whole. More flexibility was afforded here than with gender, race, or people’s views on politics and coronavirus. This was based on the government’s 2019 census projections.

The Panel had an even gender balance, with 15 men and 15 women, which reflected the population. This was based on the government’s 2019 census projections.

The Panel closely reflected the proportions of different racial backgrounds of Michigan. This was based on the government’s 2019 census projections.

The Panel generally reflected the amount of schooling in the population, with a slight over-representation of those with some college or a degree. More flexibility was afforded here than with gender, race, or people’s views on politics and coronavirus. This was based on the government’s 2019 census projections.

The Panel generally reflected the geographic makeup of Michigan, with slight over-representation of regions with very small percentages of the population. These regions came from the government’s MI Safe Start Plan.

The Panel accurately reflected the political views of the population. This was based on Gallup’s State Ideological Identification data from 2018.

The Panel reflected the different levels of concern in Michigan regarding coronavirus, as well as people’s feelings about the Governor’s response to the outbreak. This was based on June 2020 Nationscape data from Democracy Fund’s Voter Study Group.

selected without
parties or campaigns

The Panel was selected through a democratic lottery (see video on right), to avoid the corruption, politicization, and disenfranchisement that characterize elections.
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They will weigh relevant testimony

The Panel will meet online for a total of 40 hours during the month of October. They will call upon a range of speakers from diverse fields related to COVID-19.

To date, those who have offered to engage with and inform the Panel include:

Health

  • Sarah Lyon-Callo, Director of Michigan’s Bureau of Epidemiology and Population Health
  • Dr. Paul E. Kilgore, MD, MPH, Senior Investigator at Global Health Initiative
  • Dr. May Darwish-Yassine, Chief Program Officer at the Michigan Public Health Institute
  • Nigel Paneth, MD, MPH, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Pediatrics at MSU
  • Dr. Patricia Brown, MD, Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine at Wayne State University
  • Diane Goddeeris, RN and Interim Executive Director of the Michigan Nurses Association
  • Melissa Boals, RN and Director at Large of the Michigan Nurses Association
  • Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association
  • Molly Green, MPH and Ebony Johnson, MPH from Public Health Awakened
  • Adam Eickmeyer, Expert on LGBTQ+ Health and Lecturer at the University of Michigan
  • Jackie Prokop, Policy Program Director at MI Department of Health and Human Services
  • Jo Murphy, Executive Director of the Michigan Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program
  • Stephen Kemp, Director of Kemp Funeral Home & Cremation Services

Economy

  • Gabe Rodriguez-Garriga, representing the Michigan Economic Recovery Council
  • Evan Anderson, Chief Strategist at Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity
  • Amanda Bright McClanahan, COO at Michigan Economic Development Corporation
  • Robert Scott III, Great Lakes Region Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration 
  • Michelle Evermore, Senior Policy Analyst at the National Employment Law Project
  • Kevin Stotts, President of Talent 2025
  • Justin Winslow, President and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association
  • Ryan Sebolt, Director of Government Affairs of the Michigan State AFL-CIO
  • Kevin Moore, President at Teamsters Local 299, Trustee at Teamsters Joint Council 43

Education

  • Tanya Pitkin, Board of Directors of the Michigan Parent Teachers Association
  • David Hecker, President of American Federation of Teachers of Michigan
  • Daniel Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities
  • Mike Hansen, President of the Michigan Community College Association
  • Ben DeGrow, Director of Education Policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy
  • Dave Tebo, Superintendent of Hamilton Community Schools in Hamilton, Michigan
  • Mark Thomas, Principal of Northview High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Public Policy

  • Michael Van Beek, Director of Research at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy
  • Eric Lupher, President of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan
  • Peter Ruark, Senior Policy Analyst at the Michigan League for Public Policy
  • Tammy Clark, OSHA Certified Specialist and Executive Director of Stand Up Michigan
  • Ron Armstrong, Co-Founder of Stand Up Michigan, Co-Chair of Unlock Michigan
  • Kelly Rose, Chief Housing Solutions Officer at MI State Housing Development Authority
  • Michelle Roberts, Executive Director of Disability Rights Michigan
  • Salli Pung, State Long Term Care Ombudsman & Michigan Elder Justice Initiative

Watch testimony

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Speakers

  • Dr. May Darwish-Yassine, Chief Program Officer
    Michigan Public Health Institute
    mphi.org
    Masters in Epidemiology and Ph.D. in Epidemiologic Science
  • Tammy Clark, Executive Director
    Stand Up Michigan
    standupmichigan.com
    OSHA Certified Specialist at Tammy K. Clark Companies, LLC
  • Dr. Sarah Lyon-Callo, Director and State Epidemiologist
    Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

    Bureau of Epidemiology and Population Health michigan.gov/mdhhs
    Masters in Epidemiology and Ph.D. in Epidemiologic Science
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Speakers

  • Salli Pung, State Long Term Care Ombudsman
    State Long Term Care Ombudsmanmltcop.org
    Michigan Elder Justice Initiative meji.org
  • Michelle Roberts, Executive Director
    Disability Rights Michigandrmich.org
    Co-chair of the National Disability Rights Network Advocacy Work Group
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Speakers

  • Dr. Paul E. Kilgore, Senior Investigator
    Global Health Initiative of the Henry Ford Health Systemhenryford.co
    Also the Associate Professor & Director of Research
    Wayne State University College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences
  • Dr. Nigel Paneth, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Pediatrics
    Michigan State Universityepi.msu.edu
    Doctor of Medicine and Masters of Public Health
  • Dr. Patricia Brown, Professor of Medicine
    Wayne State University Medical Schoolmed.wayne.edu
    Also the Associate Chief of Staff for Medicine
    John D. Dingell VA Medical Centerdetroit.va.gov
    Doctor of Medicine

Slides

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Speakers

  • Evan Anderson, Chief Strategist
    Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity
    michigan.gov/leo
  • Michele Evermore, Senior Policy Analyst
    National Employment Law Projectnelp.org

Speakers

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Speakers

  • Amanda Bright McClanahan – Chief Operating Officer
    Michigan Economic Development Corporation
    michiganbusiness.org

Slides

And try to find common ground

With the support of moderators, they will have honest but civil conversations and align on a set of recommendations. The Panel will produce a Final Report that will be shared with government and institutions across Michigan and across the country. The process and the story of the Panel will also be shared with major press outlets and in a short documentary.

Democratic Lottery
September 15, 2020

First Session
September 29, 2020

Report Release
November 8, 2020

Documentary Release
January 2021

This may be the first time you’ve ever heard of a Citizens’ Panel or democratic lottery. But over the past decade, dozens of lottery-drawn Citizens’ Panels and Citizens’ Assemblies have shaped important policy around the world. For a long list of examples, click here.

Again and again, these groups have successfully sidestepped divisive, dysfunctional politics and empowered everyday people to address difficult problems head-on.

Organizations working with Citizens’ Panels & Assemblies

This is a
proven practice

organized
by the people
for the people

The Citizens’ Panel is organized, funded, and recruited by a grassroots, non-partisan, non-profit called of by for, in collaboration with of by for fund. The Panel moderation is designed and overseen by Robin Harkless, a professional moderator who has facilitated similar Citizens’ Juries and Citizens’ Initiative Review processes in Oregon, Minnesota, California, and Arizona.

Adam Cronkright

Co-Coordinator

George Zisiadis

Co-Coordinator

Robin Harkless

Lead Moderator

Austin Talley

Lead Producer

Olivia Talley

Assistant Producer

Jeff Hayes

Moderator

Becca Kearl

Moderator

Tina Patterson

Moderator

Lauren Rauch

Moderator

Rahmin Sarabi

Moderator Support

Payton Silket

Moderator

Ben Whiting

Moderator

We conducted the democratic lottery in partnership with Panelot, a team of computer scientists from Harvard and Carnegie Mellon University who used their open-source algorithm to randomly generate possible panels that all reflected the state of Michigan.

Common questions

It is a way of fairly selecting people to serve on Citizens' Panels like this one, and of making sure that the group reflects the population at large. For example, half men and half women, who proportionately represent different political leanings, education levels, ages, and races/ethnicities.

Using a lottery also makes sure that unlike elected politicians, nobody comes in with political debts or partisan pressures. So they are free to listen to and learn from others and follow their conscience.

And to be clear, a democratic lottery has nothing to do with the Democratic Party. It is just like a 'democratic election'.

First, we mailed out invitations to 10,000 randomly selected households across Michigan. This list was 'stratified', meaning it accurately reflected the state's geographic spread, ages, genders, races, levels of income and education, and political affiliation.

From those who responded to that invitation, a team of computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon and Harvard called Panelot, randomly generated 1,000 different possible panels. Each had a different mix of 30 citizens who reflected the makeup of Michigan, with proper proportions of men and women, young and old, etc.

We then conducted a lottery, similar to the Powerball to select the digits of the final panel.

So the final selection is random, yet we are able to achieve representation because not every step in a democratic lottery is.

The citizen representatives on the Panel decide what they want to focus on and who they want to call on to testify.

They are supported by a diverse and skilled group of independent moderators, who give structure to meetings and ensure civil dialogue.

If Panelists feel that a moderator is biasing the process, they can remove them. And Panelists will take turns serving on a Steering Committee that oversees the larger process.

The citizen-representatives in the Citizens' Panel can call on expert and lay testimony of their choosing, representing the full range of political positions.

Michigan is a state that generally reflects the country's demographics and political divide. It has also been among the hardest hit by COVID-19, both in terms of health and the economy. So finding common ground in Michigan will be important for Michiganders, and it will also provide a powerful example for the rest of the country.

This initiative is organized by a non-partisan non-profit called of by for. We are a member of Democracy R&D, the leading international network of practitioners and researchers working with Citizens' Panels and Citizens' Assemblies.

It is funded by of by for, through medium and large donations from private citizens across the political spectrum. 

of by for doesn't take sides on any issues or take money with strings attached. Our only focus is putting everyday people front and center. We know that sounds hard to believe in these polarized times, but if you serve on or follow this Citizens' Panel, you'll see that it's true.

So if you're ready to feel inspired for a change,
you won't want to miss this

So if you're ready to feel inspired for a change, you won't want to miss this