Alumni in Action

Public Service Spotlight

Melanie Pessin

MPA-Health - 2013

Manger of Strategy, Planning and Business Development at NYU Langone Medical Center

Tell us about your current public service work.  Can you briefly describe your employment organization and position responsibilities, as well as any relevant volunteer or entrepreneurial activities?  

I currently work at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYULMC ) as a Manager of Strategy, Planning, and Business Development.  I began my tenure in this office as an Intern during my second semester at Wagner.  I work on projects relating to developing the strategic vision of the medical center as well as business development opportunities and operational efficiencies.  

I am also the President and Founder of East Africa Children’s Hope (EACH).  EACH supports vulnerable and orphaned children in East Africa, with a particular emphasis on supporting ventures that encourage the self-sustainability of organizations led by East Africans.  EACH works with organizations to help them develop revenue generating initiatives that allow them to expand educational opportunities for their community.  

Please summarize your professional and academic background.  What has been a highlight?

Upon graduation from Ithaca College with a degree in Business, I volunteered at the Upendo School and Children’s Home in Kenya.  When I returned to the US, I worked for a national media agency, negotiating television contracts for national advertisers.  While I knew that I did not want to continue with a career in media, I learned valuable business skills during this time.  After two and a half years in the media field, I applied to NYU Wagner.  Upon learning of my acceptance, I left my job in media and worked for the Global Diabetes Initiative in Uganda until classes started the next fall.  Since then, my time has been split between working in domestic health care and working on community development in East Africa.  While at Wagner I began an internship in the Office of Strategy, Planning and Business Development at NYU Langone Medical Center, which turned into a full time job my last semester at Wagner. 

The highlight of my career was the creation of East Africa Children’s Hope (EACH) in 2011 to help East African Schools and Orphanages become self-sustainable.  

What led you to pursue a master’s degree in Public Administration? Why did you decide to study at Wagner?

I decided to study at Wagner because it had everything that I was interested in: a focus on nonprofits in the fields of domestic health care (finance and policy) and international development.  The skills I learned at Wagner have allowed me to simultaneously work successfully in both fields 

In your current position, how do you use the knowledge and skills that you gained at Wagner? Which skills do you use most frequently?

I use the health finance and statistics skills I learned at Wagner every day at my job at NYULMC, and I use the non-profit management skills while managing my organization!  

Reflecting on your academic experience, what Wagner courses, professors, and/or projects had the greatest influence on your professional development? How?

My coursework in Health Economics had the greatest influence in continuing my passion to work in healthcare, relating it to society, the economy and everyday decision making.  

My capstone project gave me the confidence needed to start a career in the NYC Hospital industry without any prior experience.  

How are you involved with the Wagner community as an alumna (i.e. attending events, mentoring students, maintaining connections with other alumni, recruiting at Wagner, etc.)?   

I continue to speak with my Wagner professors and my classmates and we regularly get together to catch up.  

Prospective students have expressed interest in learning how alumni funded their living expenses and education during their time as a Wagner student. If you feel comfortable, would you please tell us how you made it work?

I took out a lot of loans!  But I also had saved money by working full time for 3 years prior to starting at Wagner, and began a paid internship, working 3-4 days a week, my second semester at Wagner.