MCEF Announces Inaugural Youth Fellowship Program

LANSING — Today the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) announced its inaugural class of research Fellows, a select group of college students conducting research to educate and engage state policymakers and the public on the energy challenges facing Michigan.

The 2017 class of Fellows includes: Andrew Kapanowski, Ferris State University; Jackson Keith, Michigan State University; Emily Pallarito, Michigan State University; Jake Putala, Lansing Community College; and Luke Siettas, Michigan State University.

The MCEF Youth Fellowship Program offers college students and young professionals the opportunity to engage with energy policy experts, conduct and publish their own relevant research on a topic of their choosing, and advocate for energy policy improvements at the local and state level, while learning valuable skills and building relationships for a future career in the public sector.

This 10-week program will culminate in a legislative reception where the Fellows can share their findings and speak with state policymakers about the benefits of transitioning Michigan to clean, renewable, and more efficient energy sources while saving ratepayers money and improving electricity reliability.

“On behalf of our staff and Leadership Council, I am excited to welcome the inaugural class of Fellows to the MCEF team,” said Larry Ward, executive director of MCEF. “The Youth Fellowship Program has been a year in the making; I am grateful for the hard work of our staff, as well as the generous sponsorship by Michigan CAT, to help make this program a success. These young students embody the future of public service in Michigan. Their passion for Michigan energy solutions and their dedication to issue education at such a young age is admirable. I look forward to working with them.”

A native of Dexter, Michigan, Kapanowski is studying Business Administration, with a minor in Finance at Ferris State University, where he serves as the Chair of the Michigan Federation of College Republicans. Kapanowski’s research project involves the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program in Michigan.

“As a business major, I am very interested in learning about energy solutions that are economically efficient,” said Kapanowski. “Michigan is living up to its ‘comeback state’ moniker, and I want to do my part to help further this economic momentum by raising awareness of free-market, clean energy solutions that will be beneficial for Michigan families and businesses. The Fellowship will be a valuable learning experience and I look forward to shining light on some of the great energy opportunities facing our state.”

Originally from Monroe County, Keith is in his final semester at Michigan State University studying Advertising and Public Relations with a minor in Digital Marketing. Keith has held several internships prior to his work with MCEF, including experience working with Congressman Mike Bishop and the Sterling Corporation. Keith’s research will focus on autonomous and electric vehicles.

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with MCEF to help advance ‘All of the Above’ energy solutions in Michigan,” said Keith. “The state and our nation are experiencing technological advancements that are disrupting the way we use electricity, from powering our homes to driving our cars. With the onset of autonomous electric vehicle technologies, and Michigan’s strong manufacturing base, I believe there is untapped potential for our state to lead this energy transition.”

Originally from northern Michigan, Pallarito is a junior at Michigan State University, double majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies: Community Governance & Advocacy and Public Policy. Pallarito is the President of the MSU Students for Life, as well as a member of Spartans for Israel and MSU College Republicans. She will be researching the economic and environmental benefits of biomass energy.

“I have seen firsthand how renewable energy helps stimulate the economy by creating jobs and promoting ecotourism,” said Pallarito. “An ‘All of the Above’ approach to energy policy is the correct method to power our grid with affordable and reliable energy that Michiganders can count on. I am excited to be a part of this program and I look forward to working with MCEF to shed light on the value of biomass power.”

A native of Pelkie, Michigan, Putala is now studying political science at Lansing Community College and interning for State Senator Tom Casperson. Putala has previous experience working with the Michigan Republican Party, as well as with various local, state, and national campaigns. His research will focus on the energy crisis in the Upper Peninsula.

“Living in the Upper Peninsula has sparked a real interest in energy reform,” said Putala. “There is a disparity in electric rates and reliability between the two peninsulas, and I am interested in studying ways to bring U.P. electricity prices down through alternative energy technologies or updates to our transmission system. The hardworking U.P. families and businesses deserve better. I plan to help positively impact the northern Michigan energy landscape, or at least further the conversation on ways to address the U.P. energy crisis, through this fellowship.”

Originally from Maryland, Siettas is now earning his Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations with a minor in Japanese from Michigan State University. Siettas is a member of the Michigan Army National Guard. Most recently, he interned in the Constituent Relations Division of the Executive Office of Governor Rick Snyder. Siettas will research solar projects on MSU’s campus.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to work with MCEF and conduct independent research on solar energy policy in Michigan,” said Siettas. “When addressing potential policy solutions, we must first understand the current limitations of technology and demands of the economy. This is the approach I hope to take with my research and an approach that I believe will ultimately aid our inevitable transition to cleaner forms of energy while providing a clear route to securing competitive jobs, investments, and security in the future.”

The Youth Fellowship Program is co-sponsored by Michigan CAT.

For more information about the program, or to inquire about the application process for 2018, please contact Joanna Lewis at


About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and clean energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources.