Regina Bell is director of Government Relations and Public Policy at the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF). She is responsible for the effective development and support of CMF’s government relations goals and public policy agenda. Regina works to leverage the collective voice of Michigan philanthropy to improve outcomes for Michigan communities and beyond.
As a policy professional with over 20 years of experience working in the public and private sectors, Regina has provided oversight for program execution, played a key role in driving policy development, served as a credible and trusted voice among various stakeholders, and has successfully built and maintained strategic relationships to advance Michigan’s economy. Regina has served in numerous capacities including most recently as program officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), policy director for the Governor and director of government and external affairs for AT&T.
As a program officer for WKKF, Regina guided the Foundation’s advocacy grantmaking portfolio for Michigan. She has presented on local and national stages on the Foundation’s approach to policy and the importance of civic engagement. She was a constant voice on the need for racial equity in tax and budget policy decisions with organizations like the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Alongside community leaders and others in philanthropy, she developed the 26 policy priorities included in the Hope Starts Here Community Framework and led investments with the Center for Michigan to support Bridge Magazine, a news outlet that provides in-depth analysis on public policy.
During her time as policy director for Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, Regina worked with state departments in the development, implementation, and tracking of existing and proposed policy initiatives. She also served as the Governor’s point person with the Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL), the first-ever office of its kind established at the state level. As the lead policy advisor to the Department of Human Services, Regina was a key voice in the development of the Michigan Benefit Access Initiative (MBAI), a coalition of stakeholders working to increase access to benefits for low-income families. In tandem with OFL, Regina steered the cultivation of a solid public private partnership in support of MBAI and other projects aimed at improving access to services for underserved populations in Michigan.
Prior to her appointment by the Governor, Regina served as external affairs director and government affairs director for AT&T Michigan, where she lobbied state and local elected officials and was responsible for the company’s strategic giving. She managed the successful passage of various legislative packages, aided by her previous experience as a legislative assistant in the Michigan House of Representatives to chair of what was then the Telecommunications Committee.
Regina’s keen understanding of the importance that policy plays in the way we live is of no surprise, given her family history. Her paternal grandfather was the first person of color to serve in an elected position in a rural town in Georgia; and she spent endless hours watching and learning from her maternal grandparents, who dedicated their lives to community service and never missed an opportunity to reinforce the importance of participatory democracy. She recognized at a young age that her legacy would be wrapped in civic involvement and facilitating transformational change in the communities in which we live.
Regina holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Theory & Constitutional Democracy and a Master’s in Organizational Management. She is also a Michigan Political Leadership Program (MPLP) fellow. Regina has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the American Red Cross Mid-Michigan Blood Services Division Board of Directors, the James Madison College Alumni Association Board of Directors, the Community Development Advocates of Detroit Board of Directors, the City of Lansing Housing Commission and co-chaired the city of Lansing’s 2010 Census Complete Count Committee. She is a member of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority Board.
One of her favorite quotes is by Sir Winston Churchill, “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”