Gov. Whitmer announces new director for Michigan education agency - TAI News
Skip to content
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at the Detroit NAACP’s annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner in Detroit, Mich., on May 19, 2024. (Photo by Andrew Roth/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has appointed a new director for a state agency she established last year to increase educational opportunities for Michiganders from preschool through college.

Whitmer announced on May 23 that Beverly Walker-Griffea will run the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential, better known as MiLEAP.

“I’m proud to appoint Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea to lead MiLEAP,” Whitmer said in a press release. “Her long record of leadership and excellence in the education space will help her deliver on MiLEAP’s mission of expanding pre-K and higher education and lowering costs for students and families. I look forward to all that she’ll accomplish, and I am grateful to Acting Director [Michelle] Richard for her excellent work to get the department up and running. Dr. Beverly will build on that strong foundation to create opportunities for Michiganders from the playroom to the boardroom.”

Walker-Griffea, who has a Ph.D. in child development, is commonly known as Dr. Beverly, Whitmer’s office said.

The new director will take her post on June 24. She is currently president of Mott Community College in Flint, and is the first female and African American president in that college’s history.

According to the governor’s office, Walker-Griffea has been instrumental in developing new resources and student support programming for students at Mott.

“I am grateful and humbled that Governor Whitmer has placed her trust in me to lead MiLEAP,” Walker-Griffea said in the governor’s press release. “This is an exciting opportunity for me to use my education and experiences to improve Michigan’s workforce talent outcomes. I look forward to creating more pathways that prepare Michiganders with post secondary credentials that lead to family-sustaining jobs.” 

MiLEAP began operations in December, pulling hundreds of staff members from the state departments of Education, Treasury, Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, and Labor and Economic Opportunity.

Richard, the acting director of MiLEAP, told the Michigan Independent in February that the new department’s primary goal is to expand resources in education in both prekindergarten and postsecondary education.

“The governor frequently talks about the fact that we know we have to start education earlier than kindergarten and we have to continue education after 12th grade,” Richard told the Michigan Independent at the time. “And we’ve said that as a state for a very long time. Many families have made investments like that for a very long time. But we haven’t had really intentional infrastructure that has supported that for kids, families and for students.”

For younger children, MiLEAP is focused on realizing Whitmer’s goal of providing access to no-cost prekindergarten for all families in the state. For those who have graduated from high school, the agency is administering the state’s investments in college financial aid as well as advertising the benefits of higher education in conjunction with the governor’s plan for tuition-free community college.

“We know that the best-paying jobs in the economy require education after high school,” Richard said, “and in some cases, those jobs require a skill certificate, in some cases they require an associate’s degree, but in a lot of cases they require a bachelor’s degree or higher.”

According to the governor’s office, Richard will continue as interim director until Walker-Griffea takes over, and subsequently will stay with MiLEAP “in a leadership role to be announced in the future.”

Walker-Griffea has served in top-level leadership positions at colleges in Maryland, Virginia and Washington state.

“Dr. Beverly has spent her career making education more affordable and accessible,” Richard said in the governor’s press release. “The experience, expertise, and vision she will bring to MiLEAP will help us deliver on our mission to expand opportunities for students from preschool through postsecondary. It’s been an honor to lead the launch of this new department, and I look forward to building on our momentum alongside Dr. Beverly.”  

Related articles

Share this article:
Subscribe to our newsletter

The Michigan Independent is a project of American Independent Media, a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to use journalism to educate the public, giving them the information they need about local and federal issues.