2023 Progressive / Conservative Summit: Preventing Political Violence
Incidents of political violence have surged in recent years, leaving our national, state, and local government officials fearful for the safety of themselves and their families. The 2023 Progressive / Conservative Summit brought policymakers and scholars together to find actionable common ground on issues facing our polarized democracy. This half-day event explored the theme of political violence in the United States and offered the opportunity for victims to speak about their experiences. The Common Ground Initiative, in partnership with the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, invited the public in learning about the history of political violence and what we can do to promote a politics of nonviolence.
April 19, 2023
The Event Schedule:
2-3 PM: Contemporary Political Violence & New Policy Approaches, Professor Javed Ali
3:30-4:30 PM: Public Service in Polarized Times, Fmr. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA)* and Fmr. State Rep. David LaGrand (D-MI)
4:30-6 PM: Reception with hors d'oeuvres and beverages
6-7:30 PM: West Michigan Perspectives on Political Violence, Fmr. Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) and Dr. Adam London
7:30-8:15 PM: Community conversations and dessert
Contemporary Political Violence & New Policy Approaches
Public Service in Polarized Times
West Michigan Perspectives on Political Violence
Javed Ali is an associate professor of practice at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Ali brings more than 20 years of professional experience in national security and intelligence issues in Washington, DC. He held positions in the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security before joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While at the FBI, he also held senior roles on joint duty assignments at the National Intelligence Council and the National Counterterrorism Center, and the National Security Council under the Trump Administration. Ali holds a BA in political science from the University of Michigan, a JD from the University of Detroit School of Law, and an MA in international relations from American University. He writes and provides commentary across a number of media sites and platforms, including ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Hill, and Newsweek.
Congressman Charlie Dent is Executive Director and Vice President of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program, where he leads bipartisan, bicameral policy education programs for sitting members of Congress. In addition to his role at the Aspen Institute, Congressman Dent is a Political Commentator for CNN, a Senior Policy Advisor to the global lawfirm, DLA Piper, and a Distinguished Advisor for Pew Charitable Trusts. Prior to those positions, Congressman Dent served 7 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the 15th Congressional District of Pennsylvania. Before his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Dent served for 6 years in the Pennsylvania State Senate and 8 years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
David LaGrand graduated from Calvin College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. After graduate work in History at the University of Michigan, David earned a law degree from the University of Chicago in 1992. When David returned to Grand Rapids, he worked at Warner, Norcross & Judd before serving for eight years as an Assistant Kent County Prosecutor. In the prosecutor’s office, David concentrated on upholding convictions on appeal and on prosecuting domestic violence crimes.
David has also been active in the West Michigan business community. In 2002, the LaGrands and their neighbors opened the Wealthy Street Bakery in another revitalizing area of Grand Rapids. In 2013, the LaGrands and partners opened Long Road Distillers, which operates a distillery and restaurants in Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, and Cadillac.
David was elected to the Grand Rapids City Commission in 2007 and helped the city through difficult economic times. In 2015 he was elected to the 75th State House District completing his third term in 2022.
Adam London is the administrative health officer for Kent County and director of the Kent County Health Department, a role he has held since 2013. He has earned a bachelor of science degree in Industrial and Environmental Health Management from Ferris State University, a master of public administration degree from Grand Valley State University, and a PhD in Public Health from Walden University.
Prior to his current role with Kent County, he has worked with local public health departments here in Michigan since 1998. While addressing a multitude of public health challenges over the past 25 years, he is most well-known for being the incident commander of Kent County’s COVID-19 pandemic response. He is co-founder of the Kent County Population Health Consortium, chair of the Kent County Family and Children Coordinating Council, and a past president of the National Environmental Health Association. Dr. London also teaches courses in public health and administration as an adjunct at Grand Valley State University, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, and Ferris State University.
Peter Meijer is a proud fourth generation West Michigander, born and raised in Grand Rapids. Peter's grandfather Fred Meijer inspired Peter to pursue a path of purpose and service, and instilled in him a love for West Michigan. After graduating high school, Peter's first step towards a path of purpose was spending a proud year at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Soon thereafter, Peter enlisted in the Army reserves and deployed to Iraq.
After returning from Iraq in 2011 and finishing his studies at Columbia University, Peter joined Team Rubicon, a veteran-based disaster response organization. With Team Rubicon, Peter led humanitarian efforts in South Sudan dealing with a refugee crisis, and also led operations in New York after Superstorm Sandy, Oklahoma after a series of devastating tornadoes, and in the Philippines after Super Typhoon Yolanda. While in the Philippines, Peter accepted a job with a conflict analysis NGO in Afghanistan, arriving in Kabul on Christmas Day 2013 to provide safety and security advice and assistance to the aid community.
From Afghanistan, Peter pursued his MBA at New York University before returning to Michigan to work in urban redevelopment and real estate. A passion for service, and for West Michigan, compelled Peter to continue to seek ways to serve his community by running for Congress. Peter represented Michigan’s 3rd congressional district in Washington, D.C. from 2021 – 2023.