Our MPA family has a holiday message for you:
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Our Learning in Action series highlights stories of students outside the classroom, implementing their skills in a real-life environment. Heather Vanderslice, a student in our online MPA program, shared her story with The Leaders’ Lounge.
In addition to her full-time work for the Virginia Farm Bureau, Heather currently serves as a strategic planning consultant for the Center to End Adolescent Substance Abuse (CEASE). She’s been able to put her classroom learning into action since she met CEASE founder Jeannie Armstrong. While networking with Jeannie, Heather made some suggestions as the two talked about CEASE, and Jeannie was impressed!
“When I mentioned I had some classroom experience with strategic planning through Villanova, Jeannie was thrilled. We’ve been working together ever since. The members of the board have impressive work experience, and many have advanced degrees, but what I’ve learned through my Villanova classes has allowed me to make real contributions despite my limited knowledge of substance abuse cycles.”
Heather feels a connection to the CEASE mission, which has inspired her work with the organization. She’s had the opportunity to help CEASE in a variety of ways:
“My main areas of focus thus far have been building the board, increasing awareness and goal setting, but we are moving into fundraising and creating action plans for the coming year. Per the last board meeting, we are starting a crowd funding campaign for the end of the year. We would love to have more website traffic so people better understand how the organization helps at-risk children.”
A highlight of her experience with CEASE is the opportunity to collaborate. Balancing short and long-term goals has been one of the prominent challenges.
“So far the best part of my work is being able to use the diverse talents of the board to create workable strategies. In my opinion, this collaboration shows that the organization can achieve greatness with the right plans in place and the dedication to follow them. The most challenging part of my work is helping board members tackle immediate challenges like resource acquisition while keeping in mind the long term goals of the organization.”
Working with CEASE has offered Heather a unique opportunity to put her classroom learning into practice.
“I believe I have used knowledge or skills from every class I’ve taken in some capacity. In fact, being in this position has helped me realize that to be an effective public administrator, you cannot only be good in one area. Instead, you must be well-versed in finance, management, strategic planning, theory, analysis, and leadership. Nonprofit challenges require comprehensive solutions.”
Have an example of learning in action that you’d like to share with The Leaders’ Lounge? Email Shanna Lodge to have your story included in this series.
Even though the sun is shining, the chill of winter is in the air on Villanova’s campus! This seems like a good time to look back and share some memories from a time when things were warmer. This past summer, many of our current students spent their break from the classroom in the workplace putting their learning into action! The Leaders’ Lounge caught up with two students who spent their summers completing internships. Here’s what they had to say about their experiences:
Dave Grady – New Britain Township
I interned at New Britain Township (NBT) in Chalfont, PA. Part of this internship was funded through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development. As an intern at NBT, I performed many ad-hoc assignments. For example, I performed research around the possibility of creating a paid firefighting department and I also explored the benefits and downsides of using a single trash hauler in the community. In addition to the research, I also polled NBT residents, compiled the data, and analyzed the results. In addition to this research, I performed administrative tasks, such as assisting residents, research, and organizing data for the GIS system. In addition, I sat in on several Council meetings and took minutes.
I learned many valuable skills, but I believe one of the most valuable was learning how to work with elected officials. Until this internship, I was not entirely familiar with the role of the elected officials in relation to local government administration. The elected officials are an extension of the public, and understanding their role is important to the success of the administrator, the elected officials, and the community as a whole.
An internship can be an extremely valuable experience for anyone pursuing any career. You can read all of the books and studies out there, but it cannot replace the value of seeing the theories in practice. My internship experience taught me many of the intangibles that cannot be found in books. It also reaffirmed my desire to pursue a career in public service.
Emilia Allen – Global Philadelphia Association
My fellowship was with the Global Philadelphia Association (GPA): the Global Philadelphia Association is a Pennsylvania nonprofit, 501(c)(3)-certified organization. Founded by nine institutions in 2010, it has grown to over 150 members today. Its mission is to assist – and encourage greater interaction among – the many organizations and people who are engaged, in one form or another, in international activity in the Greater Philadelphia Region, to promote the development of an international consciousness within the Region, and to enhance the Region’s global profile.
I was a research fellow focused on the City of Philadelphia’s bid to become a UNESCO World Heritage City. In this role, I conducted research on the policies and processes for UNESCO nomination, attended events and meetings with the City of Philadelphia stakeholders, created publication and development materials concerning the project – parts of the prospectus for the Organization of World Heritage Cities, brochures, newsletter articles, memos – I also wrote a grant for the organization. I have since been hired by GPA and am now the World Heritage Coordinator.
The most valuable part of the experience was the mentorship I received from GPA’s Executive Director, Zabeth Teelucksingh. The opportunity to have a seat at the table of one of Philadelphia’s greatest legacy projects, to be encouraged to share my ideas, and to interact with the people who care about Philadelphia’s future has shaped the way I see leadership. Leaders champion their team members, create connections, and believe in collective success. Zabeth as shown me that.
Those projects that are bigger than yourself – the ones that impact communities, acknowledge progenitors and provide for future generations are the ones to be a part of. My experience at GPA has helped guide me towards this realization.
Interested in an internship? Watch the MPA newsletter and the Leaders’ Lounge job board for opportunities, or check with your academic advisor.
Last month, three members of our MPA community had the opportunity to speak at the Northeast E-Learning Consortium Conference. Dr. Theo Arapis, Stephanie Nissen, and Ralph Gigliotti presented on Villanova’s Online MPA Program and the virtual community it fosters both in and out of the classroom. The Leaders’ Lounge is pleased to bring their presentation to you here!
“Creating Community Through the Use of Technology:
A Look at Villanova’s Online MPA“
On October 9th, Villanova’s chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha, the national public administration honor society, hosted a their annual fall colloquium. MPA Alumnus Marquis Coates spoke about following his calling and establishing his non-profit, Tools for Success, Inc. Mr. Coates was presented with an honorary membership to our PAA Chapter by chapter President Bridget Boston and chapter Secretary David Grady.