Current student Delaney King discusses the projects she has underway at the NC Department of Environmental Quality

This post was written by current student Delaney King. 

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When the spring semester began, I started applying for a wide array of Professional Work Experience opportunities, including several suggested by the UNC MPA program. The program has a relationship with the Recycling and Materials Management Section (RMMS) at the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and helped me apply for a position directly with the section. Although I did not know specifically what RMMS does, I was interested in working on environmental projects for DEQ. I tried to learn as much as I could about RMMS before my interview, but in the end, the most valuable resource was the staff themselves. I asked several questions about the job and work environment to the point where I felt like I was the one interviewing staff. Luckily, they were incredibly open, patient, and kind. In fact, a UNC MPA alumna who graduated two years before helped interview me and explained how I could use my MPA coursework in the position and offered me advice about my final year in the program. A few weeks later, I found out that I received a summer internship along with one of my classmates, Elise Traywick.

During the interview I learned I would help RMMS establish a food waste reduction program, and hearing that, I knew I would love this internship! Growing up in California, these topics were always a part of my life. My family started composting before I was born, and I was fortunate to go through a school system with access to a garden program and ecoliteracy classes. I immediately knew the internship was an amazing opportunity to create something from scratch and have a long-term impact on an issue I’m already interested in!

The primary focus of my internship is to assist the new and wonderful Organics Recycling Specialist create resources for DEQ’s Use the Food NC initiative including informational documents, a social media toolkit, and website. We are also planning a stakeholder meeting for the fall to launch the campaign and receive feedback from passionate stakeholders about how DEQ can best help them reduce food waste. Simultaneously, I am visiting recycling sites across the state with staff to learn more about the field and maintain relationships with businesses, local governments, and non-profit organizations. If that isn’t enough, I am also providing additional support to staff on a variety of projects, like the Recycling Markets Directory, and taking over projects like the annual recycling program survey for colleges and universities. I love to stay busy!

Environmental policy and food waste will be tackled by Delaney King in her Professional Work Expereince at the Department of Enviornmental Quality

This post was written by current MPA student Delaney King.

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My name is Delaney King, and I am currently an MPA student an UNC Chapel Hill. Before enrolling in the MPA program, I graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2020 with a major in Political Science, concentrating in American Politics and Environmental Policy, and a minor in History.


Work experiences in high school and college, like assisting my congressman with veteran and military casework, taught me well-intentioned policies often fail those they are meant to help because of red-tape, inefficient organizations, poor intergovernmental relations, etc. I began to realize that this was less an issue of the policies and more an issue of administration. This realization was underscored, bolded, italicized, and typed in ALL CAPS as I witnessed the disastrous effects poor administration can have on an entire country during the COVID-19 pandemic. My undergraduate studies primarily focused on public policy development and less about how to administer policy or how to avoid poor administration. Then, I graduated during the first stages of the pandemic, and suddenly, I had more questions but no longer a venue to ask them.


When deciding what I wanted to do next, I reflected that I enjoy learning about and working in policy development, but my work could be more impactful by insuring well thought out policies are equally well-implemented. *Cue the MPA program*


I recently completed my first year, and I am confident I already have a far better idea of how organizations can ensure efficient, effective, and equitable service delivery. I am excited to continue learning more next year, but in the meantime, I am gaining real world experience and applying what I learned during my Professional Work Experience (PWE). This summer I am working as a Research and Program Assistant for the Recycling and Materials Management Section at the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Specifically, I am helping create materials and organize a stakeholder meeting to expand DEQ’s food waste reduction efforts. I am beyond excited to work within my field of interest –environmental policy–, learn from individuals with years of experience, and speak with people and institutions who have the capacity to help make a difference.

Current student Ben Lasley – Interning this summer with the Environmental Protection Agency

This post was written by current student Ben Lasley.
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Hi there!

For those of you who may not know me, my name is Ben Lasley and I just finished my first year of the MPA Program. I am from Summerfield, N.C., and I graduated from UNC in 2019, majoring in Environmental Studies and Political Science. After graduation, I was a community organizer in Philadelphia and witnessed the strained relationship between neighborhoods, nonprofits, and governments. This struggle over food sovereignty and environmental justice prompted my return to UNC’s MPA program.

After a rigorous first year, I am excited to witness and implement classroom concepts, while also taking a breather from readings. And with that, it is now time for my professional work experience.



My job will be as a Policy Analysis and Communications Intern with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Office of Air Quality and Planning Standards (OAQPS) in the Research Triangle Park. I found this opportunity on USA Jobs, and the MPA program advertised it as well! I’ve long envisioned working on environmental policy at the federal level, and this pathways internship opens the door to participating in the regulatory process. Here are a few pictures of the campus!



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will be responsible for:

1) Program evaluation of teacher environmental education workshops
2) Communication and community outreach plans for proposed regulatory actions
3) Internal OAQPS newsletters highlighting intern experiences
4)Observing and briefing congressional hearings

My first week has been off to a great start. Upon arriving, my badge was already incorrect, but a new order would be delivered in two weeks. A photo of my desk can be seen below. Thus far I have spent my time learning the ins and the outs of the OAQPS division, as well as swimming through federal onboarding videos. My first project will be assisting community outreach on a proposed ethylene oxide rule.



And the rest of the week I have the opportunity to network across the EPA and explore the RTP campus (where I can have unlimited free coffee). Thanks for joining me, and I look forward to updating you more next week!

What is a PWE?

If you have ever looked into obtaining your MPA at UNC, you may have come across the acronym ‘PWE’ while browsing our curriculum or attending a webinar. The PWE, which stands for Professional Work Experience, is one of the most important parts of our program and distinguishes us from other programs because it is a required component in our curriculum.  A lot of programs out there don’t require an experiential component to their curriculum where students have to go out and practice what they learn in the classroom.

The Professional Work Experience or PWE is (in the most simplest terms) our version of an internship. But, it really is so much more.  It is the opportunity to apply the leadership theories you study in class to a current and relevant public sector work environment.  The experience is meant to be high level (no coffee fetching here) and provide our students an opportunity to cultivate their leadership or project management skills in a practical setting.

Summer is a popular time for many of our students to complete their Professional Work Experiences, so we’d like to take the opportunity over the next few weeks to have some of our current students write about their PWE’s.  We have 34 students who are currently completing the PWE requirement.  Our students represent placements across local, state, and the federal governments as well as nonprofit organizations and the private sector.  See the list below for some of our Summer 2021 placement sites, and enjoy the posts by our students over the next few weeks sharing their PWE experiences.  Learn about the type of work their doing, the impact they are having, and think about how this could be you one day!

Buncombe County – Emergency Management Services

Town of Henderonville

Community Worx

USDA Rural Development Division

Town of Morrisville

Town of Chapel Hill

Town of Holly Springs

Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness

Dogwood Health Trust

Durham Management

Triangle J Council Of Governments

Town of Hillsborough

Orange County Human Resources

Town of Apex

Families Together

County of Hoke Board Of Education

United Way of Anderson County

UNC-CH Division of Finance and Budget

Virginia Coastal Policy Center

Rural Forward NC

North Olympic Healthcare Network

New Friends New Life

City of Winston-Salem

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

The Census and Data-Driven Decision Making!

With National Census Day (April 1) upon us, I wanted to talk about how important Census responses and data are for public administrators.

picture of a cartoon city

State and local governments, and even nonprofits, can use census data for descriptive analyses to describe the demographic diversity within a jurisdiction or  assessments to understand the communities needs and target program and policy efforts effectively. Governments can use the data to help with planning related to public-policy decision making, including the day-to-day decision-making process. 

Here are some ways that public administrators around you have used Census data: 

  • Reapportionment and Redistricting: Census data can be used to comply and enforce laws related to reapportionment and redistricting. For example, the race question on the Census becomes useful for local governments compliance with and enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. To learn more, check out this information
  • Community Planning and Development: Census data can be used at the city-wide level to prepare and update general plans like land use and housing elements and for infrastructure planning. To learn more, check out this information
  • Social Services: Census data can be used to assess the need of social service programs. For example, Head Start programs are mandated to serve families with the greatest need. Data from the Census Bureau, through the Census or the American Community Survey, are used to certify eligibility for federal and state funding of the Head Start program and to target areas where the program is needed. To learn more, check out this information
  • School Districts: Census data can help school districts develop demographic profiles of the students and community to better understand their educational needs. For example, this can help schools identify the need for bilingual instruction programs and other special services that may be warranted in the schools. To learn more, check out this information
  • New Service Justifications: Similarly to the above statements for schools, nonprofits and local governments can use Census data to create demographic profiles to justify new service provisions. To learn more, check out this information

Census data can serve so many purposes; these were just a few! So please remember to complete your 2020 Census! This has a huge impact on what public administrators will understand about our communities for the next 10 years. 

Complete your 2020 Census online at my2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020, or by mail when the physical questionnaire arrives in mid-April. 

Emergency Management and Public Administrators

warning: this post discusses emergencies and coronavirus

Public crises are scary, challenging, and unpredictable. As a student, avid traveler, and daughter of someone severely immunocompromised, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a scary reality that I wasn’t expecting to experience ever in life. As a future public service leader currently working in local government, this experience serves as a unique lesson to learn how much public administrators are involved in emergency management. Emergency management is the coordination of resources and responsibilities to reduce the harmful effects of disasters, hazards, and crises. In times like these, the public relies on public administrators from varying fields and levels to provide accurate information and support as needed. So, in times of emergencies, what exactly do public administrators do? 

Traditionally, emergency management encompasses four main categories: prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. And public administrators are involved in every step along the way. 

  1. Prevention: Prevention is the creation of deliberate steps and strategies to minimize damage. In thinking about any disaster, prevention is KEY! For example, let’s think about a beach town that is prone to hurricanes. Public administrators can establish building code that is intended to prevent damage from the winds of a hurricane. Requiring that all new buildings undergo this inspection will allow for less building damage in the community in the future and less money spent on repairs and cleanup. 
  2. Preparedness: Preparedness is instituting measures designed to enhance awareness and response to crises. Preparedness is a necessary step after prevention. A good example of preparedness would be an in-school tornado or fire drill so that students are aware of the correct response during one of those crises. This can help minimize damage and harm to everyone involved. 
  3. Response: Response is the coordination of resources to minimize the impact of crises. In the case of an emergency, responses are necessary to mitigate the crisis. Given the current pandemic, this is where I see public administration most at work. For example, the institution of travel bans, airport screenings, school closures, and online classes instead of in-person classes are all examples of public administration’s response to coronavirus. This is all an attempt to minimize the possible spread of the virus. 
  4. Recovery: Recovery is the return of the community to normal or near-normal conditions. Even after the crisis is gone, there is still work to be done. Public administrators work towards “business as usual” by providing clean-up and support. An example of recovery is FEMA with home repairs and temporary housing assistance. This is how public administrators work to stabilize a community after a tragedy.

As we move through this time of concern and uncertainty with the coronavirus (COVID-19), we can rest assured that those who took the oath to serve the public are working hard to keep us as safe as possible now and will be prepared to support us as we begin to stabilize.

A special thank you to the public administrators, medical care providers, first responders, grocery store employees, and anyone else who continues working to make sure our communities have what they need as we go through this process together.

Welcome!

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.