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.