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Patrick Miles


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Pat Miles is a lifelong, third generation resident of southeast Grand Rapids. He is the son of Patrick A. Miles, Sr., a retired Steelcase Senior Buyer, former Chairman of the Grand Rapids Urban League Board of Directors and former Chairman of the Grand Rapids Planning Commission, and Shirley Cross Miles, who retired after teaching early elementary students in the Grand Rapids Public Schools for 30 years.[5] His sister, Angela Miles, is a television anchor/reporter based in Chicago, Illinois.[6] Miles' paternal grandfather worked in Grand Rapids for General Motors as a machinist. His mother Shirley is a descendant of freed slave Thomas W. Cross, was reared on a family farm in Blanchard, Michigan and is related to Dr. Merze Tate, the first African American woman to attend theUniversity of Oxford and to earn a Ph.D. in government and international relations from Harvard University (then Radcliffe College).[7]

Pat Miles attended Grand Rapids Public Schools and graduated from Ottawa Hills High School at the age of 16.[8] Miles spent his freshman year of college at Great Lakes Christian College (then Great Lakes Bible College) in Lansing, Michigan,[9] before graduating from Aquinas College in 1988 with a degree in business administration and economics.[1] He worked in an office furniture factory as a spot-welder all four summers during college.[10]

Miles graduated Harvard Law School at age 23 and was a member of its Class of 1991 along with such notables as U.S. PresidentBarack Obama, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, Actor Hill Harper, Hollywood talent manager Jeff Kwatinetz, and former Republican National Committee Chairman Kenneth Mehlman.[11] While at Harvard, he became editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Record, the first African American to do so.[9][12]

[edit]Professional career

After Harvard, Pat Miles returned home to Grand Rapids in 1991 and joined Varnum Riddering Schmidt & Howlett, a 150-attorney law firm, as an associate.[13] He specialized in business law and cable/telecommunications law. Miles made partner in 1997 at the age of 29—the first person of color to become a partner in the firm's 110 year history and the first African American male to become a partner at a Grand Rapids law firm with more than 10 attorneys .[9][14] Pat Miles served an elected term on the Varnum management/policy committee from January 1, 2002 to December 31, 2004. In August 2006, he joined Dickinson Wright as a partner based in Grand Rapids.[1]

In 2005, Pat Miles established the Patrick Sr. and Shirley Miles Scholarship at Aquinas College for African American students pursuing a degree or career in business or education. Miles was chairman of the Grand Rapids Bar Association Diversity Committee from 1998 to 2002. During his chairmanship the Grand Rapids Bar Association convened a Diversity Summit in March 1998 with the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Rapids Economic Club and developed a Diversity Strategic Plan for the Bar Association. Miles was elected as a trustee of the Grand Rapids Bar Association in 1999. In 2002, he was elected to serve as President of the Grand Rapids Bar Association from 2004 to 2005. Pat Miles has served on dozens of community boards and committees. He has served on the Aquinas College Board of Trustees since 1993 and was its Chairman from 2004 to 2008 guiding the Board through a presidential search process and governance reorganization. He serves on the DeVos Children's Hospital Foundation Board, and is its former vice chair. In the late 1990s, he chaired the Inner-City Christian Federation Board of Directors, a faith-based non-profit which builds and creates affordable housing ownership opportunities. He is Secretary and Treasurer of Hope Network, Treasurer of Spectrum Health Hospitals, and is on the Greater Grand Rapids Area YMCA Board of Directors and is its former Treasurer.[9]

In 1996, Pat Miles received the State Bar of Michigan's Outstanding Young Lawyer Award. He also has received awards from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Heart of West Michigan United Way, Grand Rapids Branch NAACP, Grand Rapids and Michigan Jaycees, and he received the 2003 Floyd Skinner Justice Giant Award.[10] The Grand Rapids Business Journal named Miles to its 40 under 40 business leaders list in October 1998, December 2002, and November 2007.[15] Business Direct Weekly named him to its 40 business leaders under 40 in March 2004.[16] In 1999, the Grand Rapids Press named Pat Miles one of 10 corporate leaders to watch in the new millennium.[14]


Pat Miles announced on March 18, 2010 that he was running for Congress to represent Michigan's Third Congressional District—an area Gerald Ford represented for 24 years and which had not elected a Democrat to Congress since 1974.[17][18][19] He won the August 3rd Democratic primary against former Kent County Commissioner Paul Mayhue by a 2-1 margin.[3]

Miles ran on a campaign theme of "working together to get results" and received some national attention.[20][21] He offered specific policy proposals to help small and emerging business job creation, improve education, make college affordable, and reduce the federal budget deficit.[22][23] He proposed a five percent pay cut for members of Congress each year the federal budget is not balanced.[22][24]

Pat Miles' campaign attracted attention from local and statewide media for endorsements from more than 100 self-proclaimed Republicans, including three former Kent County Republican Party Chairs, daughters of retiring Congressman Vern Ehlers (R-MI3) Heidi Ehlers Rienstra and Marla Ehlers, Karen Henry Stokes widow of Republican CongressmanPaul B. Henry, and several former Republican State Representatives.[25][26][27][28]

In the November 2, 2010 general election, Pat Miles was defeated by Republican Justin Amash 59.7% to 37.5%.[29] On December 1, 2010, Miles returned to practice law atDickinson Wright in Grand Rapids.

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