Alumni Spotlights

Passion, skill and leadership are the hallmarks of The School of Public Affairs & Civic Engagement at San Francisco State University. Maintaining excellence not only requires rigorous instructional standards, but also engaging effectively with, and learning from, the leaders of our wider community. This is where the PACE Alumni shine!



mccracken headshot

Jessica McCracken

Director of Creative Spark
Front Porch Comunity & Services
Master of Public Administration, 2006

Barbara Johnson Award for Student Excellence, 2006
1st place in Empirical Research, American Society of Public Administration’s Tournament, 2006
Phi Alpha Alpa, President, SFSU, MPA 2006-2007

“SF State’s Public Administration degree isn't just about acquiring knowledge—it's about leveraging that knowledge to effect positive change in the world.”

Jessica McCracken, MPA, brings people together through the creative process. Her career began at the Center for Elders and Youth in the Arts, Institute on Aging in 2007. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Nonprofit Arts Management from San Francisco State University. With enthusiasm for supporting professionals in the field, Jessica co-founded Creative Aging San Francisco (now Spark: A Creative Aging Gathering), a collective of individuals utilizing the arts to support healthy aging. As an artist deeply rooted in community, Jessica alongside her sister Bridget (SFSU MPA '04), founded Trash Mash-Up, an eco-arts program.  Learn more about Jessica by reading her alumni profile.

WB Alumnus Curtis Penn

Curtis Penn

Division Director, Felton Institute
Master's of Public Administration '19 & Willie L. Brown, Jr. Fellowship Program 

"Don't set limitations for yourself”. He emphasizes the importance of remaining open to opportunities and building strong professional networks. Curtis encourages aspiring public servants to uphold professionalism at all times and pursue continuous education to expand their horizons. 

Curtis's professional trajectory from a Willie Brown Fellow to a Division Director at the Felton Institute exemplifies the transformative power of education and mentorship. Through his participation in the Willie Brown Fellowship and the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program, Curtis has not only honed his skills but also built invaluable connections that have shaped his career. His educational journey was enriched by his involvement in the Willie Brown Fellowship, a program aimed at supporting individuals, especially those with obstacles like lived experiences with incarceration, to excel in public service.