PACE's Alumni Spotlight

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.

SF State's MPA Program in Jessica's own words. My experience in the MPA program at San Francisco State University was profoundly impactful, providing me with a comprehensive understanding of Public Administration's pivotal role in government decision-making and project administration. Graduating with an emphasis in Nonprofit Arts Management, I emerged equipped to navigate the complexities of public sector challenges and community engagement. Since graduating in 2006, I have directed my career towards fostering creativity and social impact, blending my expertise in public administration with a passion for the arts.

Describe the impact of the program in your professional life. The MPA program honed my abilities to not only comprehend governmental decision-making processes but also to effectively administer projects aimed at addressing societal challenges. Through rigorous coursework, I gained insights into budgeting, policy development, and strategic planning—essential skills for any public administrator. What I found most beneficial co-learning environment between my classmates and professors. I benefited greatly from the diversity of perspectives which complimented the dynamic course content. I appreciated having input in the way in which my studies focused. I found the structure of the MPA program to be student-centered. This holistic approach to public administration education has been instrumental in my career trajectory, enabling me to lead initiatives that merge creativity with community development.

What advice do you have for students? For prospective students considering the MPA program, I urge you to embrace the opportunity to delve into the intricacies of public administration and nonprofit management. Engage actively with faculty, peers, and practitioners to expand your network and gain practical insights. Remember, a public administration degree isn't just about acquiring knowledge—it's about leveraging that knowledge to effect positive change in the world.

Read more about Jessica in a previous feature.