NASPAA Student Simulation Follow Up with Jon Quigley

You may remember the NASPAA Student Simulation Competition that was held back in February. One of our MPA students, Jonathan Quigley, participated in the competition! We followed up with him about his submission, what the competition was like, and more!


1) What exactly is the NASPAA Student Simulation Competition? Tell us a little bit about this year’s competition’s focus, which was global warming.

The NASPAA Student Simulation Competition is an annual competition that includes hundreds of public policy, public affairs, and public administration students in locations all across the world. Each region has two teams that compete to win the region and move on to a international competition. This event is designed to gain practical experience and network with like-minded peers from across your region. The 2016 competition was a simulation on climate change. The simulation was designed off of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Paris in December 2015. The goal of the simulation was to try to use various factors that influence climate change to lead to a 2 degrees Celsius increase in pre-Industiral Revolution temperatures by 2100 instead of the current projections which vary between 4 and 5 degrees Celsius increases by 2100.

2) What was your submission for the competition? What made you want to participate?

I was fortunate enough to work with a wonderful team to create our simulation using the software provided to us by Climate Interactive. I was on the Population & Consumption portion of our team which focused on how much GDP growth and population can be controlled. We learned quite quickly in the simulation that population controls do little to stop climate change, but can severally anger the countries in which they are imposed. We also learned that limiting GDP growth has massive effects on the populations’ happiness and on climate change outcomes by 2100. Other areas of focus were Fossil Fuels, Alternative Energy Sources, Carbon Taxes, Agriculture and Land Use, and Research and Development.

Upon learning of the competition and my personal interest in climate change and environmental conservation and preservation, I applied to be a part of this wonderful competition! My motivation lies in my love of the outdoors, parks, and knowledge that climate change is one of the most important, challenging, and dangerous threats to our species and this planet.

3) How has your experience with this competition benefited your career in public administration?

The NASPAA Simulation was an amazing experience! I met public policy, public affairs, and other public administrations from all over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. I met such a wide and diverse group of peers that I connected with and helped me think of climate change and the complex quagmire that is climate change in ways I never thought to view this threat from before. Not only did I network with people that I could be working with in the future, it also made me realize that the talent pool entering our field is diverse, adept, and hard working. This gives me great hope for the field of public administration as all of us at Villanova graduate and enter the field with other brilliant administrators, policy makers, and the public sector as a whole.

Great work, Jon! MPAers, you could participate in next year’s competition and gain great academic and professional experience! Details for the 2017 competition will be out in the next academic year.

Student Spotlight: Sarah Kelley

Meet Sarah Kelley! Sarah is pursuing a Masters in Theatre and certificate in Nonprofit Management at Villanova. She graduated with a Bachelors in Theatre and History from Boston College in 2014 and moved to Philadelphia with her boyfriend Jon (Villanova Law JD Candidate ’17, VSB MBA Candidate ’17) to pursue a career in Arts Administration and Academic Theatre. She is originally from Satellite Beach, Florida where she graduated from the International Baccalaureate high school program. She looks forward to continuing her theatre studies this summer in Dublin, Ireland at the Abbey Theatre.


1) What do you think is the most valuable aspect of Villanova’s MPA program (especially your experience with the Nonprofit Management Certificate)?

The most valuable aspect of Villanova’s MPA program for me so far is the real-world experience that the classes provide and emphasize. The MPA is a professional degree and the professors treat us as peers. Every hypothetical situation explored in class has helped me envision my future. For example, in Effective Nonprofit Management I branched away from my theatre background and worked with the Women’s Resource Center in Wayne, PA. Through the project, I met both classmates and professional contacts beyond the arts that will help me extend my job search post-graduation.

2) As a theater student, what made you decide to also take up the Nonprofit Management Certificate? How do you see theater and public administration coming together in your career?

I started the Nonprofit Management certificate along with my Masters in Theatre after spending four years working in theatre administration through my undergraduate theater box office and one year working professionally in Philadelphia in financial management and marketing for the arts. After working for qualified, quality managers in these positions I thought to myself, “I can do this”. My original goal entering Villanova was to come out with a job as an associate in a development or marketing department in the performing arts sector and to work my way up to managing a department at a regional level or even a Broadway theater. After a year in the program, my career plans have shifted toward theatre academia and pedagogy, but even though I am now considering a career in dramaturgy and literary management, marketing and nonprofit skills will hopefully make me a more well-rounded theater staff member and therefore much more likely to get a good job when I leave Villanova and move up quickly!

3) What is your favorite thing about the Nova Nation?

My favorite thing about the Nova nation is the inclusive and productive attitudes of the students, faculty, and staff. I feel like everywhere I turn I find someone with a smile and an answer to a question I may not have even known I had. Especially as an incoming graduate student, I was nervous about how I would feel walking around campus both during the day and the evening at a primarily undergraduate institution. Over this year, I’ve found myself feeling extremely included in both undergraduate and graduate events and activities and I’ve never felt out of place on campus. I try to keep up with the Wildcat Newswire to see what is going on around Villanova and I love having the option to try new things and keep myself involved in the culture here.

4) Do you have any special talents and/or hobbies?

I love doing yoga and dancing, especially tap. As a teen I danced competitively, but now it is just a hobby for the weekends and whenever I can find a class here and there. I love learning about Irish history and often spend free-time letting my inner nerd out and listening to podcasts about Ireland. I also enjoy playing with my cat which makes me feel like a true graduate student.

Alumni Spotlight – Levi Landis

Meet Levi Landis! Levi is an experienced nonprofit executive with over 14 years experience in management, fund development, administration, and education. Before joining GoggleWorks, he was the Director of Business Operations at The Center for Art in Wood, which has been recognized internationally by artists, collectors, scholars and the public as one of the most valuable resources in the field of wood art. Prior to his work in the visual arts, Levi was the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Folksong Society (PFS), which has brought folk music and art to the Greater Philadelphia area for over 50 years. The Philadelphia Folk Festival, the premier program of PFS, is the longest continuously running festival of its size and scope in the country.

Levi holds a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from Villanova University.  He is also the Founder and CEO of Floating Festivals, a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to producing high-quality festivals and cultural programs that celebrate and engage communities.  He serves on the Board of Rock to the Future, which provides music education to thousands of students in Philadelphia’s underserved neighborhoods.  Levi began his nonprofit career during his undergraduate studies, by founding Emmaus Inc., a community center in Gettysburg, PA, which housed performing and visual arts programs as well as a thrift store, 300-seat venue, staff housing, and a bowling alley. He is an established recording artist and touring musical performer who has continued to develop his previous education in music and visual arts- ceramics, graphic design, and illustration- as well as theatre, media, and audio production.


1) What are you up to now? Tell us a little bit about the Goggleworks Center for the Arts and what you do as the Executive Director.

The mission of the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts is to nurture the arts, foster creativity, promote education and enrich the community. Located in a former safety-goggles factory building, the GoggleWorks offers 140,000 square feet of dynamic space, making it the largest art center in the country. Spaces include: galleries and classrooms; dance and music studios; a darkroom and digital photography lab; a hot glass blowing facility; a warm and cold glass studio/classroom; a woodshop; ceramics studio; a 131-seat film theatre; a café; community meeting places; 34 artist studios; and offices for 26 local community arts and cultural organizations including the Berks Ballet, Berks Jazz Festival and the Berks Youth Chorus.

As executive director, I manage 15 employees on staff, along with roughly 200 teachers and artists and maintain day to day operations. Additionally, I evaluate current, and launch new, programs; recruit donors and sponsors; engage the community with outreach programs and communications; interface with and develop the board of directors; design and develop partnerships; and target business and community development opportunities. GoggleWorks is a massive community efforts with many stakeholders as well as high expectations from supporters and the community. As executive director, I am the point of contact for high-level decision making to advance the mission, improve visibility, and maintain sustainability.

2) How did your Villanova MPA degree help you get where you currently are in your career?

The Villanova MPA has hired expert professors with a firm grasp on concepts and practices that are applicable to nonprofit leaders. My matriculation gave me a firm foundation of knowledge in a variety of administrative roles as well as numerous networking opportunities—I have even engaged fellow students and professors for consultation and advice since graduation.

3) What advice do you have for current MPA students who are interested in working in the nonprofit sector?

Current and prospective students would be wise to schedule classes focused on areas essential to nonprofit administration including finance, nonprofit administration, fundraising, and so on. I enjoyed a great deal of professional development by seeking collaborative relationships with students and teachers, and taking advantage of nonprofit related activities and events.

4) Were there any particular courses or learning experiences during your time in the MPA program that stood out to you?

Some unique projects, such as Father Jacobs’ end of year project, integrated course concepts into the actual, literal work I was doing in my career. Professors like Drs. Wilson, Palus, Milltenberger, and Wheeland were particularly invested in my professional development, and I learned a great deal from work in their courses, from case studies, to research and literary review, to statistical analysis.



Did You Know? Part 10

Did You Know our speaker for our MPA Dinner is Maureen Byrnes, MPA? She is the lead Research Scientist and Lecturer in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, as well as the Senior Policy Advisor to PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia! Ms. Byrnes has an extensive background in the public administration field – you do not want to miss her keynote speech!

Sign up for the dinner below!

Villanova ICMA Event on 4/20: Why Choose a Career in Local Government?

Do you think a career in local government may be for you? Are you interested in networking for your career? Check this out!

The ICMA Student Chapter at Villanova will be hosting a panel discussion and reception called “Why Choose a Career in Local Government?” on Wednesday, April 20th at 4:00 p.m. This event will feature special guest Gloria Wolek as well as MPA alumni as panelists! Don’t miss this great informational and professional development opportunity!