Alumni Spotlight: Sonia Topiarz

Meet Sonia, a 2012 MPA alumna! Sonia worked for the American Red Cross, Berks County Chapter for 5 years as Volunteer and Disaster Services Manager.  Currently she is at home with 3 girls and working on Infinideeds.com.

___________________________________________________________________________

1) Tell us a little bit about your website, Infinideeds.com. Why did you start the site and how does it work?

I think everyone has a moment in their life that kindness has inspired them.  Perhaps someone paid for your meal, you watched someone help an elderly person cross the street, or you saw a story on the news.  Kindness is all around us, yet as the world and its problems get bigger, the “good stuff” becomes overshadowed.

Infinideeds was born out of a need to not only focus on the good, but to focus on the good in the world and watch how it continues to inspire.  Perhaps you purchase someone a coffee in Nashville, they pay for someone’s meal in Frankfurt and then the card continues to pop up all over the US.  Each card has a unique tracking number that allows you to watch how one act of kindness has caused a chain of reactions that you may never have known about before.  Kindness doesn’t have to be huge to change someone’s world, it is the incremental kindness that changes us all daily.

50% of the proceeds of every card sold go to one of six charities that the buy can choose upon their checkout.

2) How has your MPA degree helped you thus far in your career?

The MPA degree has made a large difference in my life.  It was always a dream of mine to attend Villanova and the program allowed me to learn more about nonprofit management as well as meet so many wonderful and inspiring people. While in the program I had my first and second child and realized that I wanted to pursue my passion in encouraging good deeds to better the world for them.

Call for Papers: Philosophies of Incarceration

Calling all writers!

Villanova’s Philosophy Department’s is hosting their 22nd annual philosophy graduate conference this March! This year’s theme is mass incarceration, and paper submissions from MPA students are welcome.

The deadline to submit papers or extended abstracts is January 15, 2017.

Please see more details and information here.

Alumni/Faculty Spotlight – Aaron Bibro

Meet Aaron! He is a Villanova MPA alumnus (2007) and current faculty member for our online MPA program!

Bio: I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. The youngest of four, I attended Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School, University of Pittsburgh and ultimately graduated with an undergraduate degree in Journalism from Point Park University and then earned an MPA degree from Villanova in 2007.  My Father, Mark, is a proud Villanova graduate from the class of 1968.   I currently live in Harleysville, PA with my wife, Becky, a pediatric nurse practitioner, and sons, Landon, 4, and Lucas, 1.  I have a morbidly obese cat, Oscar, who is the bane of my existence.  I serve as the Township Manager in Hatfield Township, Montgomery County, PA.

___________________________________________________________________________

1) Tell us a little bit about your professional background. How/what made you join the Villanova MPA faculty? How did your Villanova MPA degree help you get where you currently are in your career?

I want to be abundantly clear with my first statement:  My MPA degree from Villanova had absolutely everything to do with where I am in my career.

I have been a public servant throughout my entire career, in many different capacities.  After I finished my undergraduate degree without a clear sense of a career path, I became an Americorps volunteer and worked at a middle school in Boston as a teacher and coach.  As I was earning my MPA degree at Villanova, I worked full-time for a State Senator and then interned at Public Financial Management in Philadelphia.  After I graduated from the MPA program, I served briefly as a Government and Community Affairs Coordinator for Comcast before transitioning into local government as an assistant manager of Robinson Township in the suburbs of Pittsburgh.  The township manager moved out of the region within my first year and I was lucky enough to get promoted to that position.  I served in that capacity for another 3 years before being hired for my current role at Hatfield Township almost four years ago.

Like I mentioned earlier, I came to Villanova without a specific career goal.  I knew I wanted to be in public service and do something that mattered but I didn’t entirely know what that meant.  I discovered exactly what that meant when I enrolled in the MPA 8500, Effective City Management class, taught by two practitioners – Larry Comunale and Chris Canavan.  Before the class, my impressions of local government were shaped by the traumatic experiences of visiting the smoke filled borough building as a child attempting to buy pool passes.  Those memories led me to believe that a career in local government was only for grumpy, chain smoking employees with perms.  And unfortunately I don’t have enough hair for a perm.   After working in local government for almost 8 years, I now realize that some of the most talented and committed people work in this industry.

I am absolutely honored and grateful for the opportunity to now teach the 8500 class for the on-line students and hopefully influence them the same way I was influenced during my time as a student.  In the three plus years that I have been teaching in the program, my favorite moments are when several of the students from the classes have been either promoted or decided to make mid-career changes to pursue opportunities in local government throughout the country.

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

I enjoyed all of the courses during my time as a student; however, it is the people and the culture that will always stand out to me.  I developed lifelong friendships with many of my fellow classmates and the faculty at Villanova.  There are numerous faculty members and classmates that have played a very influential role in my life and I am forever grateful for their guidance and friendship.

The Bibro Family
The Bibro Family