Sheldon Gen

Sheldon Gen

PA Advisor
Phone: (415)-405-3489
Location: HSS 263

Advising hours are by appointment.


Sheldon Gen is a professor in the Public Administration Program at San Francisco State University.  He is the co-author of Nonprofits in Policy Advocacy: Their Strategies and Stories (2020), a groundbreaking book investigating how nonprofit organizations influence public policies.  Prior to his academic career, he was a civil engineer with public agencies including the Peace Corps, the US Air Force, and the Environmental Protection Agency.  In 2020 he was re-elected to the Board of Education of Petaluma City Schools.  A son of immigrants, and a first generation college graduate, he holds a BS degree in civil engineering from Cal Poly, an MPA from the University of Southern California, and a PhD in public policy from Georgia Tech.  He is also an alumnus of the Presidential Management Fellowship and the Wikipedia Teaching Fellowship, and the recipient of the Peace Corps’ Franklin H. Williams Award for outstanding public service.  

Teaching Interests

Dr. Gen primary teaches in the Master of Public Administration and the Doctor of Educational Leadership programs at SF State. His courses cover public policy processes, civic engagement in public policy, policy analysis, program evaluation, environmental policy, and education policy. In the MPA program, he advises students in the public policy and environmental administration emphases.

Research Interests

Dr. Gen studies public engagement in policy making processes, and focuses on environmental and education policy issues. This ranges from how government agencies conduct public outreach to how advocacy groups try to influence policy outcomes, and the measurable outcomes of these efforts. These interests stem from his prior employment and consultancies with many public and nonprofit organizations, including Plan International, the International Boundary and Water Commission, US EPA, US Air Force, the Army Environmental Policy Institute, Caltrans, the Georgia Department of Transportation, SF Ed Fund, SF Unified School District, SF Public Utilities Commission, Petaluma Transit, Turlock Irrigation District, and others.


Gen, S. (forthcoming, accepted 2022). Advocacy. In Kearns, K.P. & Wang, W.J. (editors), Encyclopedia of Nonprofit Management, Leadership, and Governance. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Gen, S., & Wright, A.C. (2020) Nonprofits in Policy Advocacy: Their Strategies and Stories. New York: Palgrave Macmillan 

Gen, S. (2020) Developing the q-sample and p-set in q-methodology: an example from policy studies. Sage Research Methods Cases. London: Sage.

Gen, S., & Luger, E. (2019) Does mode of public outreach matter? In Kerley, R., Dunning, P.T., & Liddle, J. (editors). Routledge Handbook of International Local Government. Routledge. 

Gen, S., & Wright, A.C. (2018) Strategies of policy advocacy organizations, and their theoretical affinities: evidence from Q-methodology. Policy Studies Journal, 46(2): 298-326. 

Gen, S. & Wright, A.C. (2013) Policy advocacy organizations: a framework linking theory to practice. Journal of Policy Practice, 12(3): 163-193. 

Gen, S., Shafer, H., & Nakagawa, M. (2012). Perceptions of environmental justice: the case of a U.S. urban wastewater system. Sustainable Development, 20: 239-250. 

Gen, S. (2011) The dilemma of environmental valuation: ethics and U.S. policy. International Journal of the Humanities, 9(2): 133-145. 

Gen, S. (2010). Public knowledge and wastewater management: a case in San Francisco. Environmental Practice, 12(4): 328-341. 

Paarlberg, L. & Gen, S. (2009). Exploring the determinants of nonprofit coproduction of public service delivery: the case of k-12 public education. American Review of Public Administration, 39(4): 391-408. 

Pendola, R. & Gen, S. (2008) Does ‘main street’ promote a sense of community? A comparison of San Francisco neighborhoods. Environment & Behavior, 40(4): 545-574.