Political Director Ron Owens: Civic Engagement and Getting Involved


Delaney Rogers, News Director

EAST LANSING – From a young age Ron Owens has been passionate about civic engagement. Beginning in high school, he navigated through different avenues to find what he likes to do. He is currently the Political Director for Governor Whitmer, advocating for Michigan communities.



This Wednesday from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in 134 South Kedzie Hall, Owens and other Spartans will be holding a discussion panel as a part of the Inclusive Democracy Series. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about civic engagement and being active in the community.


Owens, like many other people, began his journey to find what he wanted to do in high school. In his hometown of Saginaw, he had to complete a number of volunteer hours to move onto the next grade. While questioning what direction to go in, he decided to go and see what his mother does. She was a nurse, along with Owens’ grandmother and great grandmother. 


“I quickly found out that was not my thing,” Owens said “I found out that there is an opportunity to knock doors for a local candidate in my home town of Saginaw. I started volunteering under her campaign and knock on doors and I fell in love with it. I think that knocking doors and going to someone’s front door and talking to them with things that could affect their roads, their child’s education, their drinking water was one of the most intimate ways you could bring democracy to someone. And that’s how I fell in love with it and ever since I have continued working for people who share those same values.”


After graduating high school in 2014, his road to civic engagement did not end. Owens graduated from Michigan State University in 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy & Public Relations. During his time at MSU, he interned in the legislature.


“I encourage people often to try out campaigning. It’s a really good way to get your foot in the door, see what you like, see what you don’t like. There are so many different opportunities to campaign whether that’s field or political, communications, digital, operations, etc.” said Owens “There are lots of different avenues that you can have within campaigns and it’s a really good way to start a professional career. I would encourage people to try different things. I worked at an internet foundation in DC and realized that it may not be for me, I did not enjoy it that much. But I’m glad I still took the opportunity to learn those skills when I had the opportunity.”


Owens has been working with the governor since 2017. He started off as the body man, someone who is with the candidate 24/7 and travels all across the state. Owens has traveled to 79 of the 83 counties in Michigan during Whitmer’s first campaign as governor.


Most of Owens professional career has been working for Whitmer. He has accomplished a variety of projects with the governor.  For instance, he worked in the governor’s executive office in 2020 and helped run the operations and logistics for Whitmer’s state of address. 


With Owens’ success in his career, he has made many connections which has been a very important aspect throughout his work and a piece of advice he would offer students. Owens says he still helps work campaign tables and junior staff position tasks. He says people have to be willing to go into any situation and adapt.


“There are a few things that I wish that I knew when I was a student,” Owens said. “I was aware of this because my mom instilled this in me to put in the work and work twice as hard as anyone else to get the job done. That is said to a lot of people who grow up in homes that are in black or brown communities because historically we have had to work twice as hard to get what we want. So that was always instilled in me from a very young age and I appreciated those things my mom told me growing up.”


Owens has learned a variety of skills he can utilize both within his career and beyond.


“You eventually make a connection or you find a similarity between you and that other individual. Whether you’re talking with someone from Marquette county all the way in the UP or someone from Monroe county, at the bottom of Michigan. We’re all connected in some way. People in all areas of Michigan care about fixing roads, they care that their family has clean drinking water, they care that students receive a good education. I think a lot of times politics is very polarized,” said Owens.


Oftentimes people think politics is Democrats vs Republicans. However, Owens believes that overall people care about the same general table issues.  


“If we sit down and have a conversation with someone, we can find a similarity. I think that’s what’s really great about Michigan and really great about being in this role and being able to communicate with a lot of people and find that similarity,” he said.


“One piece I would continue to tell students is that sometimes we glamorize politics, we think that it’s all events with the president or the vice president or House of Cards or Scandal like those TV shows and you think that resembles what politics is, when a lot of the time it is hard work and a lot of the times its grunt work.” said Owens. 


Owens says that if a student were interested in getting more involved with politics, they can look on candidates websites or linkedin’s and find the necessary information.


The Career Services Office at Michigan State University is an outlet students can utilize to find opportunities to get involved. The team there has resources to plug students into different opportunities in regards to things they may be interested in.


“Don’t stop ‘til you find what you are looking for. Be hungry, go for it”  Owens concludes.