Cara Robinson joined the School of Government as the Director of Admissions in 2017. Her career in admissions and recruitment spans 10 years. She has worked with graduate students across many platforms including social work, medicine, and biomedical sciences. She specializes in inclusive, holistic, and diverse admissions planning using meaningful collaborations, technology, and historical data. Robinson earned a BA in psychology and education from Marquette University and an MA in counseling psychology from Adler School of Professional Psychology.
The last two weeks of work have given me an opportunity to step off campus and go out to different areas of the country to see the Carolina MPA in action. I visited Atlanta and D.C. for Happy Hour Hubs where we invite our alumni out for an evening together to network with each other and tell us about what they’re doing. And let me tell you, I know alumni networking occurs because I see or hear about it happening every day in NC with our ‘locals’ but to see it happening for real in two other major cities in the United States was really special.
I left feeling humbled by the work of our alumni, the positivity with which they reflect on the education they received at UNC, and amazement at the applicability of the MPA degree to a variety of positions and fields. The following is a recap of the things I heard, and saw at these events:
The strength of the on-campus cohort model, it is apparent people aren’t just classmates, they are friends. They attend each other’s weddings, talk on a continual basis, have fun, and help each other in their careers. There are stories that go well beyond their 2 years in school.
They know us by name and feel connected to the program. I talked to many people who refer to their former professors by name because they are colleagues now. They cared to ask about current student demographics, initiatives we are taking toward diversity and future growth.
They are passionate about leadership and about what they learned in the program. I talked to one alum who mentioned he recently moved into the private sector working as a project manager for a software company. On his first day, he was told he was hired because of his understanding of leadership. They had never hired someone with a MPA before, but our alum knew he was right for the role when they asked about leadership – because MPAers truly understand that the bottom line is not always about saving a dollar or making money. It is also about effectively implementing the right team to achieve goals that include making money.
The opportunities are boundless. I spoke to an entrepreneur who started her own Environmental Consulting company, an elected official in the State of Georgia General Assembly, someone working for the IRS, and someone who works for the federal government auditing health care and mental health programs that have direct implications on the opioid crisis.
I saw exchanges of business cards and plans for having lunch to discuss a potential career move. I heard questions about how to do their job better, conversations of real life issues with advice offering, and felt a real camaraderie among people at the event.
I left feeling even more inspired and proud to be a part of the Carolina MPA family. Not them though, they already knew it. I could see they left more certain and more charged than before to go out there and do it well.
MPA Professor Leisha DeHart-Davis has been elected as a Fellow of the prestigious National Academy of Public Administration. Leisha is one of 41 new Fellows elected in 2018 for their exemplary contributions to the field of public administration. This is a wonderful and well-deserved honor for one of our best. Come to find out, she joins two other UNC School of Government faculty members Carl Stenberg and David Ammons and MPA alum Tom Lundy (former Catawba County Manager) as current NAPA Fellows. Now, what does this all mean?
Luckily, when this announcement came, it provided a little bit of background on what this organization and honor is all about. The National Academy of Public Administration is an independent, non-profit, and non-partisan organization established to assist government leaders in building more effective, efficient, accountable, and transparent organizations. It is headquartered in Washington, DC, but they work with all levels of government across the United States and world.
One interesting feature of the Academy is that its members include practitioners and academics all focused on public administration. The Academy’s 850 Fellows include former cabinet officers, members of Congress, governors, mayors, senior federal and state government executives, city and county managers, prominent scholars, and nonprofit and foundation leaders. For example, its members include Sandra Day O’Connor and Colin Powell. In fact, Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director, joins Leisha as a Fellow in the class of 2018. The network of Fellows are at the top of their game and responsible for providing expert advice on current and emerging issues faced by government leaders.
It’s worth checking out this renowned group of leaders and consultants for public administration to find out what they have done in their careers. And UNC MPA’s program is proud to have representation from 4 (and counting!) of our faculty and alumni.
From time to time, we will be featuring alumni and students in our program. Mostly so you can hear about what people do with an MPA and what gets them ticking with regards to public service and public administration. Here is our first!
Stephanie came into the program passionate about public service and specifically affordable housing and housing insecurities. “Housing is more than a roof and four walls,” she said. “It involves your surroundings, the health of your environment, and what you have and don’t have access to. At home is where your identity takes root.”
I sat in on a recent session with Professor Kim Nelson talking about what it takes to be a successful graduate student in our MPA program at UNC. I took some notes and decided to turn it into a blog post because I know there are many people out there wondering what graduate school and our MPA program is really like. Well, here they are coming straight from the MPA at UNC faculty.
This day has been coming for a while! It kept creeping up on us here at UNC, as we were finalizing new fall admissions for both our on-campus and online formats, and we were busy registering our returning students, taking our vacations, and working hard to prep for the academic year amid the quietness of the MPA hallway. Quick fact, our MPA program at UNC houses about 170 students who are currently enrolled! Continue reading “Welcome & Welcome Back!”
As strange as it may seem, I didn’t REALLY know what a MPA degree was until I landed the role of Director of Admissions for the MPA program at UNC. I am pretty certain I could have told you it stood for ‘Master of Public Administration’, but I couldn’t really tell you what that meant. Sure, I knew it was government related, but I thought it was a degree for someone who wanted to run for public office eventually. Sometimes they do, but it is so much more than that. And sometimes, it’s not even government related. Continue reading “MPA Matters”
MPA Matters seeks to explore and explain all the current happenings and pursuits of those interested in public administration and public service. Special focus will be put on highlighting careers in public administration and the current initiatives of the MPA at UNC program including our faculty, current students, and alumni.