Whitburn Center

Michael R. Ford – Director

Michael Ford is a tenured Associate Professor of Public Administration and Director of the Masters of Public Administration program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO). He has published over 40 peer reviewed articles on public and nonprofit governance, and one peer reviewed book on education policy. In addition to his role at UWO, he serves as an elected member of the Oshkosh Common Council, as a member of the Oshkosh Plan Commission, on the board of Clarity Care Inc., and as President of the Midwest Public Affairs Conference. He also writes monthly columns for the Public Administration Times and the Oshkosh Herald. His work has been featured in a variety of media, including the Washington Post, the Houston Chronicle, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Associated Press, and Wisconsin Public Radio. His school board research has been used in board trainings across the United States, including in districts in Wisconsin, Iowa, California and Texas.

Prior to joining Academia Ford served as a Research Associate and Vice President of Operations for School Choice Wisconsin (2004 – 2011), and Research Director for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (2011 – 2013). He holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Marquette University, a Masters of Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a Ph.D. in Urban Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


Samantha J. Larson – Deputy Director

Dr. Samantha Larson is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Her research interests include program implementation, evaluation, and policy analysis in sustainability contexts through a social equity lens. She has published in a variety of professional journals, such as Administration & Society, the Journal of Public Affairs Education, and Public Administration Review, and has authored multiple book chapters and technical reports. Some of her recent leadership roles include serving as Co-Chair of the UWO Equity, Diversity, and Inclusive Climate (EDIC) Committee, Administrative Theory & Praxis Editorial Board Member, and as Vice President of the Oshkosh Food Co-op Board of Directors. Sam is the recipient of multiple awards and honors, including the American Society for Public Administration and National Academy of Public Administration’s Social Equity and Performance Measurement Fellowship and the Public Administration Theory Network Fellowship.

Prior to UWO, Sam served for more than 15 years in various public and nonprofit organizations focused on rural, environmental, and educational programs. Such positions included working as a Research Analyst for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant Program, a Rural Philanthropy Program Associate throughout Colorado, and as Vice President of the Advisory Commission for an Inclusive Community in Lakewood, CO. A native of North Dakota, Sam received a B.A. in Social Science from the University of North Dakota, an M.S. in Sociology from North Dakota State University, and her Ph.D. in Public Affairs at the University of Colorado – Denver.


Renee Christensen – Whitburn Center Research Assistant

Renee is a current graduate student enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Master of Public Administration program. She received her BA in Public Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Her interest in local government research was sparked while working as a Research Assistant with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Center for Public Affairs.

In addition to her position at the Whitburn Center, she works as a Firefighter with the City of La Crosse Wisconsin, where she has been since 2015. Her research interests include public safety services, diversity, equity, and inclusion policy, and the efficacy of local government programs and services.


Beth Bouche – Whitburn Center Intern

Beth Bouche has a degree in Human Service Leadership with a Global Scholar Certificate from UW Oshkosh. She is currently pursuing her master’s in Public Administration at UW Oshkosh. Beth has a passion for gender equity, social justice, and environmental issues. She is the current OSA Graduate Student Advocacy Senator and Women’s Advocacy Council Co-President. In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, music, and spending time with friends and family.




Matt RichieMatt Richie – Affiliate Faculty

Matt Richie Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Criminal Justice Department at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. His research focuses on evaluation, recidivism and desistance, and qualitative methods. Matt received his Ph. D. in Social Welfare / Criminal Justice and M.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. He also earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.