Paula Gavin
Adjunct Associate Professor of Public Service






In a career that span 40 years of leadership and executive management, Paula L. Gavin possesses a unique combination of business, education and non-profit experience, focused on youth, community, and leadership development. 

On March 31, 2014, Paula L. Gavin was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio as the New York City Chief Service Officer, responsible for NYC Service. NYC Service is the city agency which promotes, engages and supports volunteer service in New York City and connects volunteers to the City's greatest needs.

Paula L. Gavin has served as the Executive Director of New York City’s Fund for Public Advocacy from July 2012-December 2013.  The Fund for Public Advocacy is a non-profit organization affiliated with the Office of the Public Advocate, established in 2002. During Paula’s tenure as the Executive Director, the Fund for Public Advocacy completed 10 major projects.

Paula Gavin served as President of National Urban Fellows from 2007-2012, responsible for the overall vision, leadership and management of the organization.  National Urban Fellows, founded in 1969, is a premier leadership development and diversity organization, offering a selective and rigorous 14 month Fellowship program and created America’s Leaders of Change, a continuing leadership development program.  In 2010, National Urban Fellows launched a Public Service Leadership Diversity Initiative, a collaborative network of 125 National and regional organizations working to inspire excellence and diversity in public service leadership.                                                                                                             

From 2004-2007, Paula was appointed the founding Executive Director of the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence, a non-profit organization that promotes the development and continuing quality of charter schools.

As President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York from 1990-2004, Paula directed the city’s largest youth-serving non-profit agency, and the nation’s largest YMCA.  Paula doubled revenues to $100 million.  During her tenure annual fundraising grew five-fold from 1990-2004, raising over $150 million in private and public grants.  In her capacity, she focused the YMCA mission on education, recreation and health programs with an emphasis on youth. 

Prior to her position with the YMCA, Paula held multiple executive positions with AT&T before being named Vice President of Network Operations where she supervised business planning, finance, and personnel and training for AT&T’s operational unit of 60,000.

A graduate of the University of Delaware, Paula is a Board Member of the YMCA of Haiti and the Association for a Better New York.  Paula is an adjunct professor at the NYU Wagner School of Public Service since 2012 and has previously taught nonprofit management courses at the New School and Columbia University.

Paula Gavin is of Venezuelan descent and is married to John Gavin.  They reside in New York City.


May 2014




Semester Course
Fall 2014 PADM-GP.2125.001 Foundations of Nonprofit Management

This course examines the nature and major trends of the nonprofit sector, understood within the context of a broad shift in governance, both in the US and internationally. The course aims to deepen student understanding of the nature of the nonprofit world and its organizations, using both theoretical and practical lenses to do so. Understanding the legitimacy and authority of the nonprofit sector to address collective problems requires inviting both management and policy practitioners to see the intersection between managerial practices and policy decisions and to connect the macro and micro dynamics of governance.

The course focuses heavily on the broad trends shaping the sector, predominantly in the United States, but making connections to international trends. The goal is for students – whether they are interested in policy, finance or management – to develop their own “cognitive map” of the sector, so that they can identify and interpret key issues and challenges of sustainability experienced by stakeholders of the nonprofit world, and consider their implications for practice. Classes will involve a mix of brief lectures; discussion based on readings and written assignments; and guest speakers.

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Spring 2014 PADM-GP.2110.002 Strategic Management

This is a required course for the management specialization.

This course examines management theory and practice through a framework involving strategic thinking and strategic planning. It covers a number of important management topics, including the context of strategy, leadership, managerial uses of structure and design, and performance. Case studies of managerial practice in the public and nonprofit sectors are used throughout the course.

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