Tag Archives: faculty spotlight

Faculty Spotlight – Carla Fall

Meet Carla! Carla works on citizenship and naturalization policy matters for the United States Department of Homeland Security. She is also an Adjunct Professor at both Villanova and Temple University. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Temple University and her Master’s degree in Public Policy from George Mason University. Carla is based in Washington, D.C.

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1) Tell us a little bit about your professional background. How/what made you join the Villanova MPA faculty?

I currently work for the United States Department of Homeland Security, conducting research and policy analysis on matters involving citizenship and naturalization benefits.  I absolutely love my job, and am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to work in a variety of roles in the immigration field.  From September 2010 to August 2016, I was the Community Relations Officer for the 5th district of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, where I designed outreach initiatives and engaged with immigrant stakeholders throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia.  From September 2008 to September 2010, I served as an Immigration Law Analyst for a headquarter component of Homeland Security.  I also worked as an Immigration Counselor for a charter school in Washington, D.C., assisting adult immigrants with humanitarian and family-based cases, and at immigration law firms in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, P.A., preparing both employment and family-based cases.

After working with immigrant populations for years, teaching seemed like a natural fit, and when approached about an opportunity with the Villanova MPA program, I jumped at the chance!  As my students will attest, I bring a lot of my immigration experience into the classroom and hope that they enjoy it as much as I do.

2) What course(s) are you teaching? What can students expect to learn in it/them?

This summer, I will be teaching my second “Managing Public Networks” course.  In class, we cover everything from governance to managing conflicts among the various job sectors (government / private) to negotiation tactics.  At a minimum, I hope my students leave the course with a greater understanding of the many moving parts that comprise the way our networks are arranged.  However, my goal is for students to take what we learn and apply it to their professional and private lives.  It’s a fun, interactive class, with lots of time for debates and negotiation simulations — if you haven’t signed up, do so!  You won’t regret it!

3) What advice do you have for current MPA students?

Volunteer!  Finding the right job (or any job) in your area of interest isn’t always easy.  I always knew that I wanted to work in the field of immigration, but I didn’t know in what capacity.  Through volunteer opportunities as an ESL teacher and legal assistant, I was able to learn about different issues that affect immigrant populations, make important contacts, and gain a better sense of what I wanted to do.

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.

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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

Alumni/Faculty Spotlight: Nick Tumolo

Meet Nick! Nick is originally from Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Villanova University in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He then earned his MPA degree from Villanova in 2012. It’s safe to say he thinks Villanova is a great place, because he never left and is now currently employed full-time by the University as the Assistant Dean of Students. In this role, he oversee all student conduct and other student related concerns. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the MPA online program and teaches Strategic Planning and Analysis & Research II (statistics). Before the role of Assistant Dean, he worked for Villanova Residence Life and oversaw the daily management and operations of the residence halls. He also helps to coordinate Villanova’s commencement ceremonies, the annual Villanova Day of Service, and he teaches an undergraduate leadership and service learning class.

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1) Tell us a little bit about your professional background. How/what made you join the Villanova MPA faculty?

I received a Bachelor’s degree from Villanova in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2010. During my time as an undergraduate at Villanova, I became very involved on campus and met some incredible faculty and staff mentors. While I enjoyed receiving an education in engineering, I started to realize the profession was not for me, and I turned my sights to a career in Higher Education. When I started to explore the possibility of a graduate degree, I wanted a program that would provide a strong, yet broad, base in leadership and one that would also pair nicely with an engineering degree. The MPA program fit the bill perfectly, and provided the background I needed to be successful working at an institution of higher education. Right out of graduate school I found myself working in Residence Life at Villanova managing the residence halls, and three years later moved into the Assistant Dean of Students position, all thanks to the knowledge and skills I received with my MPA. As for joining the MPA faculty, the program’s professors impacted me in such a profound and positive way that when I heard there was an opportunity to serve as adjunct faculty, I jumped at the chance to serve current MPA students in the same way that my professors did for me. I love teaching in the online program and building great relationships with current MPA students and other faculty.

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

The strong, mission-driven, values-laden foundation that is at the core of the program was something that really stayed with me, and guided me in making professional and personal decisions which landed me a career at a place I love to get up and go to work at every day, doing work that is valuable, meaningful, and fulfilling to me day in and day out. The people I met along the way – the faculty, staff, and fellow students of the program – were so instrumental in my development, and I really owe it all to them.  

3) What advice do you have for current MPA students?

Get to know your professors and fellow students as best as you can. Their experiences, wisdom, and insight is so impactful. Their professional contacts, mentorship, and friendship is priceless.

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

Once again, I cannot praise the MPA faculty enough. Their mentorship, and everything they taught me, motivate me to be the best professional I can be, and even inspired me to join the ranks of faculty myself.

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Faculty/Course Highlight: Sally Slook and MPA 8299: Land Use Zoning

Did you know we offer some great 1 credit courses in the MPA curriculum? One of these courses is Land Use Zoning, taught by Sally Slook, who is the Assistant Township Manager for Upper Merion Township! We asked Sally a few questions about the course.

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1) Can you give a synopsis of the course and what students should expect if they take it?

This course provides an overview on the concepts of land use, and zoning practices and regulations. Also, the course is designed to provide a “real world application” where top local professionals in the field come in and speak to the class about their experiences in the profession and applicable local projects.

2) Sounds awesome! Who have past class visitors/speakers been?

2015 – Judy Holton, Executive Director of the Montgomery County Planning Commission and Robert Loper, Township Planner for Upper Merion Township.

2016 – Brian O’Leary, Executive Director of the Montgomery County Planning Commission and Robert Loeper, Township Planner, Upper Merion Township.

3) What have past visitors done or talked about in class?

This year, Mr. O’Leary reviewed the Bryn Mawr Master Plan, which he worked on directly as a member of the Lower Merion Planning Commission. The students were able to review the actual sketch development plans and see the before and after results of a local planning process. Some of the students were able to drive into Bryn Mawr and see the changes first hand that were implemented. This experience helps the students understand zoning regulations and why they exist.

Brian O'Leary with MPA 8299 students

Brian O'Leary with MPA 8299 students
Brian O’Leary with MPA 8299 students

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What a great way to incorporate hands-on learning into the program! Be sure to keep an eye out for Land Use Zoning class offerings in the future!!

Faculty Spotlight: Joe Bucci

Meet Joe! He is a faculty member for our online MPA program. We got to catch up with him and ask a few questions about his experiences in our online program and the field of public service in general. Check it out!

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1) Tell us a little bit about your professional background. What made you join Villanova MPA?

My professional background includes a combination of experience in the human resources field as well as experience as an instructor and workshop facilitator.  I have held a variety of senior level positions in human resources over the past thirty-five years including positions in both the government and non-profit sectors.  I addition, I have been teaching as an adjunct instructor for the past thirty years.  Currently, I work in HR consulting with a variety of government and non-profit clients in the areas of strategic HR planning, performance management and executive development.  My educational background includes a Doctorate in Education, Masters of Science in Human Resource Management, Maters of Business Administration in Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Psychology.

2) That’s impressive! As a faculty member, what do you think is the most valuable aspect of Villanova’s online MPA program?

Tough economic times call for increased efficiency and better organization in all types of institutions, especially in public sector and non-profit jobs.  Both sectors will likewise see more need for professional, analytical, and qualitative skills at all levels of the organization.  Less funding and a constricted environment call for individuals who understand how to steer an organization through uncertain times. Since non-profits strive to address targeted needs and issues, communicating the cause to the public in order to receive financial support will be an important component of your role in the future.  The MPA from Villanova will prepare you for the leadership and decision-making challenges to advance within the government as well as the nonprofit sector. Students in our program clearly understand public administration as it relates to research, theory, finance, leadership and strategic planning which makes them qualified to lead in the future.

3) What advice do you have for current MPA students?

Public servants play a crucial part in both the government and non-profit operations and can make a meaningful impact in the sector they serve.  Positions in the government sector are predicted to become more readily available since a wave of retirements is expected to hit the government workforce. For example, the average age of a federal employee is 47 and as of 2016, nearly a third of the federal workforce will be eligible to retire according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.  What makes a professional career in public service so unique is the emphasis on tackling challenging issues/problems.  The challenging issues that define the public agenda and call for talented individuals to devote their efforts to finding solutions have never been more significant.  Take the skills that you have learned in this program combined with your energy and dedication and create the public service environment that will not only meet, but exceed the needs of your constituency in the future.