Spotlight on Willie L. Brown, Jr. Fellowship Alumni

Curtis Penn

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

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.  

Professional Development: 

During his time as a fellow, Curtis interned at San Francisco Adult Probation, where he gained insights into the inner workings of government and the complexities of public safety. This experience laid the foundation for his subsequent roles, including as a Program Director at Project Rebound, facilitating the transition of formerly incarcerated individuals into higher education. The synergy between Curtis's academic pursuits and professional experiences has been instrumental in his career growth. His involvement in the MPA program at San Francisco State University provided him with the necessary skills and confidence to excel in leadership roles. Curtis credits the program for equipping him with the tools needed to navigate complex challenges in his field, such as collaborating with community stakeholders and addressing issues like homelessness and substance use disorders.   

Impact of Networking and Mentorship: 

One of the most significant benefits Curtis gained from the Willie Brown Fellowship was the opportunity to network with professionals in his field, noting, "the very people that I met through the Willie Brown Fellowship have been instrumental in my career trajectory." Through mentorship and guidance, he not only secured employment opportunities but also forged lasting relationships that continue to support his professional journey. 

Advice for Prospective Students: 

Reflecting on his experience, Curtis offers valuable advice for prospective students: “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. 

WB Alumnus Curtis Penn