MPA alumni share experiences, offer advice at career panels

Friday, June 08, 2018
MPA career talk

At a series of career panels this spring, 12 Master of Public Administration (MPA) alumni who have successfully navigated their chosen fields gave back abundantly to the Public Administration program by lending career development insights and strategies to graduate and undergraduate students in the School of Public Affairs & Civic Engagement (PACE).

The speakers shared a wealth of tips during three packed presentations at the Downtown Campus. Discussion topics spanned many areas, including critical data analysis, effective legislation, and conducting the work of a mayor’s office. The panelists shared how they nurtured their public service passions even as they confronted challenges in both personal and political spheres. They spoke of connecting the relevance of their MPA degree and network to the valuable work of decision making, advocacy, and civic engagement. Students said they appreciated how the speakers let the audience know the importance and desirability of particular skills and habits in their professional lives. From the MPA program’s perspective, it was heartening to see the growth of each of those alumni in their public service careers and journeys, and their active contribution to our students’ development.

On March 5, a panel called “Making the Difference: Careers in Public Office,” hosted by Associate Professor Ernita Joaquin, attracted students who might have an interest in running for public office. Four alumni shared their journey in public office: Juslyn Manalo (MPA, ’14), mayor, Daly City; Shamann Walton MPA ’10), former president, San Francisco Board of Education and candidate for San Francisco District 10 supervisor; Alex Randolph, (MPA, ’12), Board of Trustees, City College of San Francisco; and Amy Farah Weiss, (MPA, ’10), founder/director, Saint Francis Homelessness Challenge and current candidate for San Francisco mayor. 

On March 13, “Careers in Public Policy and Civic Engagement,” hosted by Associate Professor Jennifer Shea, catered to students who would like to be an advocate, a regulator, an administrator or a legislator. Sharing their insights and experiences were John Baker (MPA, ’12), regulatory analyst, California Public Utilities Commission; Robin Havens (MPA, ’13), implementation director, SF Office of Economic and Workforce Development; Anissa B.-Villarreal, (MPA, ’15), policy director, Alameda County Social Services Agency; and Brian Wiedenmeier, (MPA, ’14), executive director, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

Finally, on May 2, Associate Professor Janey Wang hosted “Data Analysis Careers in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors.” Panelists included Chris Rosenlund (MPA, ’12), assistant regional commissioner, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Charles MacNulty (MPA, ’13), program development and data specialist, Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development; Najeeb Kamil (MPA, ’15), senior human services analyst, Human Services Department of Santa Cruz County; and Adrian Miu, (MPA, ’17), space and operations analyst, University of California, San Francisco.