AmPublicAdministration puts faces on the multifaceted and sometimes obfuscated world of public administration. Each month, chapter members representing federal, state, and local government as well as nonprofits. We ask them to share with us a bit about what they do as administrators and how their work is important for the public. They also share some biographical content and contact links, in case you’d like to reach out. Future editions may branch out to include academia and other sectors. We hope you enjoy this new segment and ask for your feedback.
See below for previously featured administrators.
I am a Management and Program Analyst at the U.S. Department of Education. I serve as a Program Officer for the Education Innovation and Research Program (EIR)–formerly the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3)-within the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) at the U.S. Department of Education.
I wear many hats in my position with EIR. Some of the roles include being a steward of the taxpayer dollar by monitoring my program’s grantees for fiscal compliance, helping manage the competition process in which applicants compete for federal grants, and fostering communities of practice amongst our grantees and the educational field at large by leading the planning of our annual conference as well as other dissemination efforts.
The work of my program is important to public service because it provides grants to tackle persistent educational challenges and improve student achievement for high-need students. It does so by generating, validating, and scaling evidence-based solutions in order to serve substantially larger numbers of students throughout the country
Jennifer Prioleau (State Government)
Administrative Assistant, Virginia Board of Accountancy (VBOA)
I received a Bachelor’s in Communications from Christopher Newport University. Not only did this degree help me land my current job within state government, it also helped me improve my public speaking and writing skills.
I currently serve as the Administrative Assistant for the Virginia Board of Accountancy (VBOA) which provides licenses to Certified Public Accountants (CPA). My position requires being comfortable with addressing the public daily and enforcing new regulations and policies. In my position, I review new policies for obtaining and maintaining a CPA license. Once, I am familiar with the new polices I call accountants, construct emails, and letters informing them of the changes.
As the initial point of contact, I clarify controversial questions in regards to the policy changes. I act as a personal consultant to accountants. I advise them on how to receive all the required documents and work experience to issue the CPA license. Frequently, I provide advice to college students to select the appropriate classes needed to apply for the CPA license in their future.
During my time with the VBOA, I’ve been inspired to start a Master’s in Public Policy Administration. I loved the thrill of learning about new government policies and helping the community. An employee at my job encouraged me to start my Master’s at Liberty University for Public Policy Administration.
I look forward to finishing my MPA degree and networking with others in the field of public service. Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
Pamela Foster (Student)
Master of Public Administration (MPA) Candidate, Walden University
I chose to pursue my MPA after years of having a career as a social worker. In this role, it was my responsibility to help individuals gain access to valuable public services such as mental health/substance treatment, crisis prevention, food, shelter, and emergency assistance.
Frequently seeing the populations I served, deal with constant day to day struggles, followed by their normal daily challenges, I realized that I held a passion for advocacy and public policy, and that I wanted to help people on an organizational level rather than on an individual level.
I look forward to my future in public administration and welcome the opportunity to network with my fellow public administrators. You may contact me at my LinkedIn at: www.linkedin.com/in/pamela-foster-a9ba0a75
Denver Supinger (Local Government)
Legislative Aide, Fairfax County Government
As a Legislative Adie to a local-elected official in Fairfax County, I assist our constituents with their day-to-day needs and hardships which pertain to public safety and transportation. I came to this position after working for a health system and a fundraising department for a state university. Throughout my experiences, I have continually fallen back on education and academic understanding of public administration.
I earned both a B.A. in Political Science and a Masters of Public Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University. While attending this institution, I was surrounded by academics who believed that our government and nonprofit agencies could advance to uphold the pillar of social justice. My exposure to world-class faculty has installed the value of community, justice, and service into everything I do. As I expand my horizons and experiences in public administration, I want these values to grow and show in my daily work.
Outside of day-to-day work, I express my passion for public administration and the hope for a better government through political advocacy. Though the field of public administration remains a nonpartisan entity, I believe that we need the support of our elected officials to ensure that our daily government processes are efficient, effective and fully supported.
As I continue to navigate the realm of public administration, I am always open to learning for veterans in the field. I would be honored to connect with fellow ASPA members, please feel free to connect with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at https://www.linkedin.com/in/denversupinger/.
Erica L. Van Steen (Private Sector)
Government, Social Impact, and Organizational Consultant
When people ask me “what do you do for a living?”, I often have a hard time answering. I began my career as a high school activist and volunteer for public health, homelessness, and community organizing efforts. During my undergraduate education at the University of Wisconsin, I founded a nonprofit coalition to build educational programs for health and gender equity. My sociology degree took me to Israel and the UK for research and an internship in Parliament. This was perhaps my first peak “behind the curtain” into public policy and administration. I loved working in our tiny Westminster office on casework, helping in-need individuals navigate services and access benefits to keep them in housing, in a job, or with their families. I went on to achieve my MS in Social Policy Research at the London School of Economics where my dissertation examined a cross-governmental policy in its 10th year of implementation. My research found that geographic areas with higher positive health and social outcomes had created public-private and citizen feedback loops in their implementation strategies; these loops were associated with improved services and program innovations.
These foundational experiences drove my career in DC when I relocated here in 2010. From studying innovation in the Federal government and learning good government management principles as a researcher with the Partnership for Public Service to my work on cross-governmental initiatives in cybersecurity and STEM education as a Booz Allen Hamilton consultant, I began to establish an understanding of the intersection between government, business, and social enterprises. For the past 3.5 years, I’ve had the privilege of working on a wide variety of Federal projects as a consultant with Herren Associates: developing Veteran economic opportunity programs, creating military health system improvements, and supporting the Performance Improvement Council in its mission to drive performance management government-wide.
This field is about creating “good.” We can act as a stabilizing force for individuals going through a difficult personal experience or for an organization going through a time of turmoil; we can be champions for improvement or guardians of dollars, processes, services, and better outcomes. My advice to those starting out in the field is to be fearless and hopeful. Be willing to learn and to work hard, but don’t let other people define your values or your boundaries. Use your values and your boundaries to help you stay focused and empower you in your career choices. I’d also suggest that anyone starting out should do their best to chase experiences, not dollars. The dollars will follow you as you gain unique experiences, a specialized perspective, and credibility for your contributions across meaningful work.
I find the challenge of working in emerging policy and cross-governmental contexts incredibly exciting. The future of public sector work will require an even broader toolkit and more multi-disciplinary voices from the field. We will need to grow creativity and strategic skills, incorporate advances in data and computational techniques, and develop stronger levers for collaboration across social enterprises and sectors. I welcome the opportunity to connect with fellow public administrators.
If you are interested in discussing social impact initiatives, the future of public administration, evidence-based policy making, or techniques for data-driven design, please reach out to me on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/
Sally (Sarah) Jaggar (Nonprofit)
Fellow and Project Lead at the National Academy of Public Administration (Congressionally-chartered professional association)
I knew I wanted a career in public service after growing up with a father in the Navy. Thus, it’s no surprise that I began my career after college working for the Navy here in Washington as a computer programmer. I got “Potomac fever” during high school when my family moved to D.C., and I remember what a tense time it was in D.C. during the anti-war movement and the riots following the death of Dr. Martin Luther King.
After serving the Navy as a civilian, I did federal consulting for a few years before embarking on a 25-year career at the Government Accountability Office. During my time with GAO, I directed programs in public health and health financing, accounting and financial management. I also helped GAO restart its recruiting and hiring and set up exciting new internships and new hire programs as GAO recovered from a 40% cut in staff size in the mid-90s.
Since retiring from GAO in 2005, I served as a Senior Strategic Advisor for the Partnership for Public Service, where I led the Call to Serve program to build bridges for effective recruiting and hiring between federal agencies and universities, and led numerous studies leading to reports on improving the civil service system, and helping agencies improve their efficiency and effectiveness.
I now serve as a Fellow and Project Lead for the National Academy of Public Administration, where with the National Academies of Sciences I lead a 5-year Congressionally-mandated study of DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
My extensive career in public service demonstrates the various ways in which we can serve our country. My advice to those starting out in the field is to not be too concerned about going up a ladder in a specific way, and to use networking for friendship-building and as a way to learn about different aspects of public administration.
I welcome the opportunity to network with fellow public administrators. You may contact me on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/
William "Billy" Leiserson (Private Sector)
I founded BL Insights to help public-serving institutions become more effective identifying, achieving, and communicating their strategic value. Before coming to Washington, DC, I was a career scientist and educator at Yale University, so I bring a scientific approach to my work. I became interested in public administration through local government. In Connecticut, I served on my town’s Inland Wetlands Commission for 12 years.
My interest in public administration grew when I was awarded a Science & Technology Policy Fellowship by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. During the fellowship, I spent three months at the Performance Improvement Council working with federal agencies on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Education Cross-Agency Priority Goal, part of the president’s management agenda.
Later, I spent a year at the National Institute of Justice—the research and evaluation arm of the Department of Justice—leading an effort in strategic planning and evaluation. My current project involves working with criminal justice stakeholders to develop a strategic framework that will facilitate the application of science to improve criminal justice, analogous to the framework by which science informs other practical disciplines, such as medicine.
My career has been an exciting journey, motivated by my desire to bring about positive change. I began by studying the nervous system of fruit flies and teaching students. My interest in serving the public led me to became active in local politics and volunteering on a government commission. My move to public policy in Washington, DC, was a natural progression to merge my scientific, educational, and analytical interests with public service.
I welcome the opportunity to network with my fellow public administrators. You may contact me at LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/blinsights
Amy B. Edwards (Federal Government)
Paula Acevedo (Nonprofit)
I am the Research Associate at the Council for a Strong America, a national, bipartisan, nonprofit compromised of five member organizations that focus on ensuring our children are citizen-ready. I serve as the research point of contact for our early childhood education, K-1 2 and higher education, focusing on the skills gap, Common Core, testing, after school, teacher effectiveness, school finance, charter school, and career and technical education.
Dillon Clark (Nonprofit)
I am the Chief Financial Officer for Breakthrough Montessori Public Charter School, a start-up public elementary school in Petworth. I lead the finance, operations, maintenance and human resource functions for Breakthrough Montessori. Before coming to Breakthrough, I worked as a Specialist for Behavioral and Education supports for the District of Columbia Public Schools. During that time, I was appointed Team Lead for the Implementation of Scholarly Research to increase academic rigor in Self Contained High School Classrooms, and Behavior and Educational Supports Crisis Lead. Before DCPS, I was a Social Work Case Manager with the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.
As Chief Financial Officer for Breakthrough Montessori Public Charter School I have to opportunity to serve families throughout entirety of the District of Columbia. School choice and academic achievement are important issues facing urban families. As Chief Financial Officer of a public school, I have the ability to create a positive school culture, drive operations, and expand human capital experiences to ensure staff are happy, healthy, and enjoy their jobs. I enjoy my work in public school administration because I have the opportunity to not only create a wonderful, exciting, and accepting place to grow and work for teachers and staff, but also a safe and welcoming place to learn and grow for students and families. As Breakthrough Montessori grows, I hope to continue to support and have a lasting impact on hundreds of students, families and employees.
It is also my goal to restructure the finance and operations of charter schools in the Washington, D.C. area. As the charter school movement grows, children from all neighborhoods, socio-economic backgrounds, religions, race, and ethnicities are given more choice and opportunity. Perfecting the financing and operations of these schools is paramount to expanding access to academic rigor and school choice to families who have limited access to quality public education.
I also currently serve as a Commissioner to the Montgomery County Commission on Landlord-Tennant Affairs a semi-judicial body in Montgomery County MD. I also advised start-up non-profits in New York and Washington, D.C. including multiple public charter schools, and serve as a member of the Board of Directors of a New York based non-profit organization that is on consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is focused on HIV and AIDS prevention education in immigrant communities throughout the United States.
I received my Bachelors of Arts in Politics with a concentration in World Politics from The Catholic University of America and a Masters of Science in Social Work with a concentration in Social Enterprise Administration and a minor in Law from Columbia University in the City of New York.
In my spare time I enjoy playing and listening to music, and getting to as many National Parks as possible with my border collie Max.
Dr. James Hurley (Local Government)
I am a fiscal officer responsible for the budgeting and financial management practices of a group of (12) agencies within the District of Columbia Government. From the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, I lead a team of budget analysts, accountants, and financial managers dedicated to the successful administration of and accounting for the city’s financial resources I have also served in senior level positions with other government entities during my public service career of more than 30 years, and I have provided leadership on several advisory committees and boards for nonprofit community organizations.
I have been a presenter at professional conferences sponsored by such organizations as the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management, Government Finance Officers Association, and American Society for Public Administration. I have served on national committees and twice as President of the Maryland Chapter of ASPA. I value the chance to meet and interact with professionals from all levels of government and to build national support for a strong public service.
I earned a B.A. from Georgetown University, a M.A. from University of Maryland, and a doctorate in Public Administration from the George Washington University. I taught financial management courses for many years as an adjunct professor with the Graduate School of Management, University of Maryland University College. My research interests and teaching experience focus on budgeting systems, performance measurement, and strategic planning. Also, I am an instructor for the Certified Public Manager Program administered by the District of Columbia.
When time permits, I enjoy golfing at local courses in Maryland, snorkeling in the waters of the Caribbean, hiking in the National Parks, and traveling to faraway places with family and friends. I welcome the opportunity to network with ASPA colleagues (email@example.com).
Cherie Brown (Federal Government)
I am Cherie McClam Brown, an experienced senior management and program analyst with 14 years in the Federal civil service and 10+ years of nonprofit and private sector experience. I possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience in management consulting and organization development, capacity building, strategic planning, and program management.
In 2002, I started my Federal career in the Office of Governmentwide Policy at the U.S. General Services Administration. In 2007, I continued her journey with the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affair’s Office of Passport Services. In August 2010, I joined the Office of Management Policy, Rightsizing, and Innovation, the arm of the Under Secretary for Management.
An “Excellence in Government” Fellow (class of 2010), I participated on varied efforts focused on continuous quality improvement, and performance measurements initiatives. I served as Chief of Quality Coordination (QC) Partnerships and Outreach, and engaged with stakeholders and Quality Teams at U.S. posts across the Bureau of African Affairs on matters of the Collaborative Management Initiatives (CMI)– a quality management system designed to deliver efficient, cost-effective, and high-quality services to federal customers under the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS). She completed recent past assignments about CMI at the following locations: U.S. Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia; Durban and Johannesburg, South Africa; Garmisch and Frankfurt, Germany; and Bogota, Columbia.
As a certified FAC-COR Level III Contracting Officer Representative, my current portfolio involves oversight for environmental (i.e., air quality and energy) and labor contracts totaling more than $10 million dollars in total obligations.
When not in the office, I actively participate as an ordained member of the ministerial staff at the First Apostolic Faith Church (Baltimore, Maryland) and the Fellowship Bible Way Church (Washington, DC). I concurrently chair the Alexandria Project Discovery Board, an organization that prepares and motivates low income and first generation college-eligible students to access opportunities in higher education.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the George Washington University, and a Master of Public Administration degree from the School of Public Affairs at American University.
For 11 years, I have shared a beautiful life and continues to embrace all that life has to offer with my best friend and husband, Patrick G. Brown, an accomplished musician and educator in Baltimore, Maryland.
You may contact me at BrownCM1@state.gov.
Rodney Follin (State Government)
I am Rodney Follin, Business Manager for the Prince William Health District. As an agency of the Virginia Department of Health, my organization serves as the “local health department” for Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park in Northern Virginia. I have served in this capacity for the last six years. I lead and oversee all administrative services for the district including budget and financial management, human resources, facilities and records management, information technology, vital records, and clinic administrative support services.
Prior to my present position, I served as a senior management and budget analyst for the Prince William County Office of Management and Budget, where I was employed for 24 years and functioned as a human services management and policy expert. That experience prepared me well for many of my management responsibilities today. I have spent my entire career in local and now State government here in Northern Virginia, where I was born and raised. In fact, I started my public service career as a teenager working on a roadside litter pickup crew, protecting the environment of Fairfax County. It certainly has been an interesting journey from there.
My professional passion is resource allocation and budget management, which are the most gratifying uses of my problem solving skills. I will always be a “budget guy” and I enjoy applying those abilities in the ongoing development of my organization and the challenges it faces. Under ever tighter fiscal conditions, we are continuing to transition from traditional client-based services to innovative population-based services to most effectively accomplish our mission of “promoting optimum wellness, preventing illness, responding to emergencies, and protecting the environment and health of our residents.” For more information about the Prince William Health District please visit us athttp://www.vdh.virginia.gov/LHD/PrinceWilliam/.
When not serving the public, I like to hike in the mountains and play organized softball. My softball team has played together for the last 28 years. I encourage everyone to pursue work-life balance throughout their professional careers.
I can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saunji Fyffe (Nonprofit)
I am a researcher at the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy where I work on a number of projects with specific emphasis on strengthening the capacity of nonprofit organizations to deliver effective and high quality programs and services. Much of my work involves projects aimed to help nonprofit organizations measure and manage their performance. For example, I am part of an Urban Institute partnership that is developing PerformWell, a one-stop comprehensive on-line resource that helps nonprofit practitioners to identify performance measures and effective practices. Additionally, I worked on a pilot study designed to help nonprofit out-of-school-time (OST) programs measure outcomes and I am currently a part of the Measure4Change project team, a program to build performance measurement and evaluation capacity among local nonprofits in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. Further, my dissertation research examined the attributes of resilient nonprofit organizations to explore elements of organizational capacity exhibited by small and medium sized nonprofits in Virginia.
My research also includes projects that examine nonprofit-government relationships, collaborations, and networks. I have worked on several studies that examine partnerships between nonprofit and government entities. For example, I researched cross sector relationships between Habitat for Humanity Affiliates and local government agencies; collaborations between New York City government and area nonprofits; and government-nonprofit contracting and grants relationships at the federal, state and local levels.
Prior to joining the Urban Institute, I was a seasoned organization development and human resources professional at several nonprofit trade associations. In this capacity my work included tasks such as analyzing organizational resources and processes to help ensure they are strongly aligned to achieve the overall mission and goals of the organization; managing organizational change processes to transition employees through changes in leadership, shifts in culture, and departmental restructurings; providing the framework, guidance, and coaching necessary to facilitate operational plans and objectives; implementing and evaluating organization-wide initiatives; consulting with senior leadership and management on strategic planning and budgeting activities; and advising senior management teams on process improvement activities to produce more efficient, productive, cost-effective and streamlined workflow.
I hold a BA from the University of Virginia, MPA from George Mason University, and a PhD from Virginia Tech.
Dennis Linders (Local Government)
As a CountyStat Analyst in the Office of the Montgomery County Executive and a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland, I help public administrators use data to solve problems and deliver results for residents. This work builds from two formative experiences earlier in my career: working on IT strategies with federal agencies at the start of the Obama administration’s Open Data Initiative and then studying the emergence of “smart city” innovations at the World Bank, as leading cities began to leverage data from sensors, connected citizens, and “big data” information systems to help make smarter decisions.
My experience of working with cities across the world at the World Bank led to a new appreciation for local government—and an awareness that, in this time of partisan gridlock, government innovation increasingly takes place at the local level. This led me to Montgomery County, where data informs everything that we do. For instance, to promote accountability, we annually assess the performance of all County departments through over 400 data-driven performance measures shared via online dashboards. To ensure customer service excellence, we use open data on citizen service requests to track the responsiveness of County departments in real-time.
Importantly, we also use data as a platform for collaborative problem solving. For instance, the CountyStat team mapped out pedestrian collisions to identify hotspots and target the activities of engineers, police officers, and public information officers; assessed community data to identify demand for English language training and potential gaps in coverage across 25+ service providers; and translated troves of community and government databases into actionable insights to help shape the County’s upcoming senior strategy in partnership with a dozen County departments and a multitude of community partners.
More and more local governments, regionally and nationally, are similarly recognizing the power of data and implementing data-driven programs like CountyStat. Together, we are jointly giving rise to a new profession within public administration—the “government data scientist”—as we use data and analytics to tackle public problems and improve the performance of government.
Dennis can be contacted at email@example.com and dennislinders.com. He also invites you to read his “smart city” chapter in the recently published World Bank – World Development Report 2016, available at bit.ly/wdr-smartcities.
W.Michael McDavit (Federal Government)
Call me Mike. I am currently the Chief of the Wetlands Strategies and State Programs Branch, Wetlands Division, Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds, Office of Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC. I lead a small unit that administers technical and financial assistance agreements for improving State and Tribal wetland protection programs. I also oversee the recurring National Wetland Condition Assessment, a national assessment of the ecological health of the Nation’s wetlands. The very first national survey in the series of nearly 1,200 wetland sites across the lower 48 is scheduled to be released in May, which also happens to be American Wetlands Month. In my current position, I collaborate with other federal agencies on special projects concerning the protection and restoration of wetland resources, such as the Interagency Coastal Wetland Working Group. I hold a BS in Environmental Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay and a MPA from the George Washington University. Born and raised in the Washington, DC area, I am a third generation federal bureaucrat.
I am also Senior Fellow with the Partnership for Public Services’ “Excellence in Government” leadership program, an officer in ASPA’s Section on Environmental and Natural Resources Administration and a member of the Ecological Society of America. My 34 year federal career has spanned a variety of environmental disciplines, including regulation of pesticides, management of hazardous waste, and air and water pollution source control. During nine years abroad with the Department of Defense, I managed the U.S. military’s hazardous waste in Europe and helped close U.S. bases after the fall of the Berlin Wall. I also set up the first hazmat service program for U.S. troops in Southwest Asia after Operation Desert Storm. On the academic side, I currently teach environmental biology at Montgomery College, Germantown, MD and serve on the faculty of the annual “Washington Youth Summit for the Environment” at George Mason University. My wife, Kim, is a singer and piano teacher, and his son Grady is studying Irish dance/music at the University of Limerick, Ireland.
Becky L. Schergens (Nonprofit)
I am the National Advisor at the National Women’s History Museum. My career path has been nothing short of nomadic. I arrived in Washington, DC with a degree in government from Southern Methodist University and plunged into working at the DC office of the City University of New York (CUNY) and American Association of Museums as well as being a staff assistant to three Secretaries at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. At last, I became a Deputy Assistant Secretary (Policy Communication) in the Education Division. In those days, women usually had to move in a zig zag fashion to achieve the next step.
My next stop was Chicago where I had been selected as the first Executive Director of the National PTA (I have no children). Later I moved to Denver and earned my MPA from the University of Denver. Upon graduation, the President of the University of Houston – Clear Lake offered me a position to partner with the Houston Chamber of Commerce in economic development. Ultimately I became the first Vice President for Institutional Advancement at UHCL. Why is all of this information necessary to working in non-profits?
This long journey convinced me that my public service was best utilized in the non-profit world. I literally came full circle back to Washington, DC to find that virtually all of my skills and experience in public administration were useful in the non-profit world. For the past 14 years, I have served as the National Advisor to the National Women’s History Museum. In that role, I developed the initial strategic plan to create a National Coalition of women’s organizations to support the establishment of a Women’s History Museum in the Nation’s Capital. I continue to work with and expand the Coalition, which now includes 54 organizations.
Primarily online, the National Women’s History Museum offers a diverse collection of biographies, digital exhibits, and lesson plans for teachers and women’s history enthusiasts. Presently, a Congressional Commission is conducting a feasibility study and is scheduled to present a report to the Congress in November 2016 about the future of the Museum.
My biggest joy has been working with the 54 Coalition organizations and the remarkable women who have served as their leaders. Together we continue to build support for our vision of a bricks and mortar National Women’s History Museum in Washington, DC which will “educate, inspire, empower and shape the future by integrating women’s distinctive history into the culture and history of the United States.”
To learn more about the museum, visit www.nwhm.org.