Inside Wagner

2010 Public Service Career Expo: A Great Success

2010 Public Service Career Expo: A Great Success

Public Service Career Expo 2010

On Thursday, March 11, NYU Wagner's Office of Career Services hosted its annual Public Service Career Expo at NYC's Metropolitan Pavilion South. Each year the Expo brings together representatives of various public service, nonprofit, government, and private organizations that serve the public sector, to meet with hundreds of qualified students and alumni from NYU Wagner and our partner schools. This year's cosponsoring schools included the Carnegie Mellon Heinz College, School of Public Policy and Management; Duke University's Terry Sanford School of Public Policy; George Washington University's Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration; and Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

More than 100 public service organizations were represented at the Expo, 96 of which attended with the expressed intention of recruiting candidates for existing job and/or internship opportunities. These included Accenture, UNICEF, UNDP, Congressional Research Service, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and ClearWater Initiative. Private sector companies in attendance included Fitch Ratings, Moody's Investors Service, Accenture, Benenson Strategy Group, Bennett Midland LLC, Edelman, EmblemHealth, HR&A Advisors, and TCC Group. Both students and alumni offered positive feedback about the impressive and diverse array of employers in attendance.

Afterward, Wagner hosted a networking reception for students and alumni at the Puck. Nearly 100 people attended the event, many lingering long past the official end time, to catch up with colleagues and make new contacts.

OCS would like to thank all NYU Wagner staff, students, and faculty who helped make this year's Expo one of its most successful events to date. From recruiting employer participants, to volunteering your time and service at the Expo, your support was very much appreciated.

For more information about the 2010 Public Service Career Expo and other OCS events, contact Toni Harris, assistant director of career services at

Appreciating and Advancing Leadership for Public Wellbeing in the Middle East

Appreciating and Advancing Leadership for Public Wellbeing in the Middle East

From February 14-16, RCLA and the Abu Dhabi Institute brought together a select group of 24 scholars and practitioners committed to illuminating and nurturing leadership for public wellbeing. Bethany Godsoe, executive director of RCLA; Waad El Hadidy, research associate at RCLA; Natasha Iskander, assistant professor of public policy; and Erica Foldy, associate professor of public and nonprofit management represented NYU and NYU Wagner.

They were joined by a couple of Americans who support leadership work in the Middle East and North Africa, and participants from Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Tunisia, Lebanon, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. Participants stressed the importance of drawing on the historical well of leadership in the Middle East and using cultural practices as a springboard for addressing tough social and public issues.

The group discussed cases of leadership that transcend sectors, transform citizens into active agents of change, and open up new public spaces for deliberation and engagement. The exchange of such experiences generated practical implications for the study of leadership, teaching leadership in higher education settings, and leadership development/training programs. On the last evening of the convening, three participants brought a cross-sector perspective on the topic of leadership for a new era, marked by increasing interconnectedness, complexity, and uncertainty.

-Colleen Coffey

Aruba's Prime Minister Mike Eman Shows Path to a Sustainable Future

Aruba's Prime Minister Mike Eman Shows Path to a Sustainable Future

NYU Wagner students were treated to a fascinating account of Aruba's efforts to link economic growth and social development in sustainable ways -- a presentation delivered at NYU Wagner by none other than the island's Prime Minister, Mike Eman.

Prime Minister Eman, who is serving his second term, noted that Aruba, with a population of 100,000, began to develop its structural reforms even before the worldwide financial bubble burst in 2007-'08. In the prior two decades, Aruba had struggled with socio-economic stressors of its own despite the tremendous growth of its tourism industry.

To address this striking disconnect, Mr. Eman and his political party initiated Social Dialogues to encourage greater public involvement across communities and sectors in government planning. These and other efforts brought about the reshaping of the streetscape, the refurbishment of older buildings, and renewed emphasis on strengthening schools, healthcare, and conditions for the elderly. Overall, the work-in-progress contributes to the island's general welfare and "happiness," even drawing praise from environmentalists Al Gore, Richard Branson, and many others. Mr. Eman went from his Wagner visit of March 26 to an engineering society gathering in Manhattan where he accepted an award on behalf of the new battery-fueled trolley system in Aruba -- a notable advance in clean, safe urban transit.

"In 2008, the world was surprised when in so many cases greed had taken over and the public interest was not taken into account," said Mr. Eman. However, he said, Aruba's experiences suggest that while economic growth is critical, it cannot be de-coupled from democratic values, the environment, and social development -- or the result will be a city, a country, or indeed a world which is neither truly happy nor sustainable.

Bohnett Fellows huddle with 200-plus mayors in DC

Bohnett Fellows huddle with 200-plus mayors in DC

Bohnett Fellows pose in front of the White House during their trip to the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting, 2011.

Bohnett Fellows from NYU Wagner joined with their counterparts from UCLA and the University of Michigan in attending the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. on January 19-21, 2011, with Professor Rogan Kersh. After sharing information, insights, and ideas with more than 200 of the nation's mayors and many other public service leaders, the Wagner students offered these reports:

Barbara Kiviat:
"It was by far one of the best networking opportunities of my life. Most of the Conference participants were mayors, and between sessions there was ample time for me to walk up to people and introduce myself. I was amazed at how engaged many of the mayors were. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter must have talked to us for half an hour one evening: He was really interested in what we had to say and fielded all of our questions, including some pretty tough ones, with aplomb.

"I was incredibly impressed with the mayor of Oakland, Jean Quan. The conference included many speakers from the national stage, including Nancy Pelosi, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Trade Representative Ron Kirk, House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica, and Alaska Senator Mark Begich. These folks usually spoke for awhile and then took questions from the mayors. Almost without fail, Mayor Quan's hand would slowly rise, she'd be called on, and then, with perfect posture and composure, she asked the most pointed and well-informed question imaginable. It made me happy for the people of Oakland. They've got a real policy wonk running the place.

"More broadly, it was great to be around Republican and Democratic politicians talking about actual issues - from handgun violence to job creation - without reverting to demagoguery  It was the sort of situation that might restore a person's faith in the American political system."

Sean Capperis:
"When elected officials are talking about economic development, I expect to hear more about financial incentives than about public services. But the economic-development drivers the mayors were discussing included developing exports, attracting foreign investment, and producing a highly skilled labor force through education and workforce training. Mayors and federal officials echoed that cities must cooperate across other governments and sectors to succeed in these areas. It's not surprising that President Obama articulated some of the Conference's major themes in his State of the Union address of Jan. 25, 2011. Getting to speak personally to some of the mayors completely changed my perspective on urban government, and my work this semester is going to reflect it.

"The Conference was also the first time the Bohnett Fellows at all three schools were able to come together. I really connected with a Fellow from the University of Michigan over our work in Northern industrial cities. She lives and works in Detroit, and I came to NYU from Pittsburgh. I found that we could swap war stories about managing decline, but at the end of the day we were talking about common points of growth and battling inequality."

Elizabeth H. Guernsey:
"The trip to the Conference of Mayors winter meeting was definitely one of the highlights - if not the highlight - of my Wagner career so far. The access to and conversations with so many mayors was great. I came back from the Conference inspired to know that so many smart people are working in local government and really focused on making our cities great places to work and live. I was also struck by the mayors' signing of the Civility Accord in reaction to the Tucson tragedy. It was refreshing to hear the mayors talking about their cities in a nonpartisan way.

"A highlight of the trip was meeting with the Fellows from the other schools and hearing about the work they are doing in other cities. Another highlight was attending the Mayors Against Illegal Guns meeting, and hearing mayors talk openly about what they think needs to be done to protect public safety in our cities. The mayors were able to talk honestly and openly without worry that they might upset their constituencies."

The David Bohnett Public Service Fellowship for incoming Wagner students offers "...a great opportunity for students to directly engage in the challenges of governing our vibrant and diverse city," according to David Bohnett, Chairman and Founder of the David Bohnett Foundation. The Fellowship provides full tuition support and summer stipends for three Bohnett Fellows per year. These students must be enrolled in either the Master of Public Administration (MPA) or Master of Urban Planning (MUP) program and express an explicit interest in working for municipal governments to solve our most urgent social issues. The David Bohnett Public Service Fellowship also allows two fellows a terrific opportunity to intern at the highest level of NYC government. The third fellow gets to take on exciting work with the current President of the US Conference of Mayors, which has an ongoing partnership with Wagner.

Book Launch in India: Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day

Book Launch in India: Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day

The ground-breaking book Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day was recently released in India at the National Microfinance Conference in Delhi. Coauthored by Jonathan Morduch, managing director of FAI and professor of public policy and economics, Portfolios of the Poor reports on the yearlong "financial diaries" of villagers and slum dwellers in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa-records that track, penny by penny, how specific households manage their money. Published in the U.S. in May 2009, it has received high praise for its pioneering research and contributions to development economics from publications, including The Economist, Foreign Policy, the New Yorker, The New York Times, and the Financial Times.

This month, Jonathan Morduch and his coauthors, Daryl Collins, Stuart Rutherford, and Orlanda Ruthven, celebrated the publication of the Indian edition of the book. This is particularly significant as nearly 20 percent of household diarists featured in the book reside in India. Despite impressive economic gains in recent history, more than 42 percent of India's population still lives in poverty. With its eye on sustained growth within this population, India is looking to improve management of microfinance services, with efforts underway to provide regulation for the various entities engaged in Indian microfinance, such as NGOs and other nonprofits. Understanding how these poor households manage their financial lives provides an important foundation upon which to build policy agendas and effective financial tools, and Portfolios of the Poor makes an important contribution to this understanding.

C. Nicole Mason Joins Essence Magazine Music Festival 'Empowerment Series'

C. Nicole Mason Joins Essence Magazine Music Festival 'Empowerment Series'

On Saturday, July 2, C. Nicole Mason, executive director of the Women of Color Policy Network (WOCPN) at NYU Wagner, will travel to New Orleans to join Dr. Cornel West, Reverend Al Sharpton, Soledad O'Brien, and other thought leaders, scholars and civil rights trail blazers at Essence magazine's 2011 music festival. The "empowerment series" at this premier cultural event for African Americans attracts more than 10,000 people each day, bringing together dozens of expert speakers to discuss pressing policy issues affecting women of color, their families, and communities.

As part of a panel on the "State of Black Women," Mason will be sharing some of the challenges that Black women face, as well as opportunities that exist to build the economic security of communities of color. Consider the following:

• Black women hold the highest poverty rates of any group. Black women have a poverty rate of 26.5 percent - a rate more than double that of white women and nearly triple that of white men.

• For every dollar earned by white men, Black women earn just 61 cents.

• Nearly half of all Black women have zero or negative wealth.

• Black women have the highest mortality rate of any racial or ethnic group, are 3 to 4 times likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women, 15 times more likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS, and face greater health disparities and access to care across the board.

• Less than 19 percent of Black women have a bachelor's degree or higher.

Though Black women and girls rank low or last on nearly every social indicator of well-being, we have also made tremendous strides that cannot go unrecognized. Over the last several decades, much has changed about the Black woman's experience in the home, on the job, and in society. From Oprah Winfrey to Ruth Simmons to the presence of Michelle Obama as the first Black First Lady of the United States, Black women, now more than ever, are blazing paths only imagined by their grandmothers or their mothers.

Mason will also be interviewed by CNN on Friday, July 1, at 12:30 pm EST; viewers can visit shortly thereafter to join the conversation on how best to advance the social and economic well-being of all women of color and their families.


Cross-Continental Capstone

Cross-Continental Capstone

Golden temple

Assistant Dean for Student Affairs David Schachter recently traveled to Kyoto Prefectural University (KPU) in Japan where he gave a presentation about Wagner's Capstone program to government officials, faculty, and graduate students. David was invited by Kozo Aoyama, a 1997 Wagner urban planning graduate and current public policy professor at KPU, because several universities in Kyoto are working together to create Capstone programs in partnership with the Japanese government.

On March 10 and 11, David gave two keynote presentations in which he talked about the value of experiential learning both for students and client organizations, described different Capstone programs around the U.S., and detailed Wagner's Capstone program, which Dean Schall started in 1995 as a clinical initiative for the school. Presenting through an interpreter, David received a welcoming response, as evidenced by many 30-second delays in nods of understanding, grins, and laughter.

When not presenting, David explored Kyoto and took some incredible pictures. Click here for a slideshow.

Faculty Focus: Dan Smith, Assistant Professor Public Budgeting & Financial Management

Faculty Focus: Dan Smith, Assistant Professor Public Budgeting & Financial Management

Dan Smith, Assistant Professor of Public Budgeting & Financial Management

Assistant Professor of Public Budgeting and Financial Management Dan Smith joined the Wagner faculty in spring 2009. His research focuses on the fiscal implications of state-level budgetary institutions, especially balanced budget requirements, and public financial management. "I've always been interested in "financey" things, like economics and statistics, and my practical experience honed that interest."

How did you become interested in budgeting and finance?
I got my master's at the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Delaware, which is a unique program in that everyone who's accepted does assistantships with state, local or federal agencies, nonprofits or in-house policy research centers. In the two years I was there, I worked in a conflict-resolution center and then had three revolving research fellowships: one in the city council of Wilmington; one in the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO); and one in the legislative fellows program, which is the non-partisan research arm of the state. It was an eye-opening and terrific opportunity. I decided to get a PhD, because I wanted to conduct independent research on the states, which is my main focus. The federal government doesn't have a lot of structure to its budgeting process, so I study the states because there's 50 of them and they do things individually enough that you can determine if one state's way of doing things in better than others.

How was your first year as a full-time Wagner faculty member?
Great! Busy. We're a big program with a lot of students, and a lot going on, so the scale and scope took some getting used to. Having a great staff made it a lot easier. Wagner is an intellectually vibrant place that offers a lot of support for research and teaching, which is wonderful.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?
I get the most satisfaction when I see what my students accomplish. If I have a student in the fall who then gets a great internship for the spring, and I helped them by writing a letter of recommendation, then that's very satisfying.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Time-management! Being a professor is self-directed, so you have to be completely self-motivated and self-disciplined, which is tough. Our schedules are always very full; we do research, review papers, go to conferences, serve on boards, chair conferences and serve on search committees, not to mention teach and correct papers. You'd need 40-50 hours in a day to accomplish everything you'd like to. At the end of the day, though, I wouldn't trade it for any job in the world.

Let's talk about your current research. What are you working on this summer?
For the last few years I've done a lot of research on balance budget requirements at the state level, figuring out what exists in the laws and studying what works and what doesn't. Do these requirements do as they're intended, and if not, what are they actually doing?

Now I'm looking more at questions of financial management by studying how states accumulate and then use three major funds: unemployment insurance trust funds, rainy day funds and general funds. The unemployment insurance trust research is ongoing. Incredibly, nobody has studied unemployment insurance spending at the state level-we're talking about many billions of dollars-so I'm looking at the political and economic determinants of how states decide how to raise and use that revenue because they have a lot of discretion.

My research this summer focuses on general funds. First of all, the term "general fund" varies from state to state. In some states this fund includes education spending, in some states it doesn't. Some states have laws governing how it's raised and spent, some states don't. Right now I'm collecting data on the general funds from all the states. I'm looking at the comprehensive annual financial reports (CAFRs) from the year 2000 on, which detail the states' financials, to determine what's in them, how they differ (quantitatively) and how these differences matter in terms of maintaining long-term fiscal responsibility.

How would you characterize Wagner students?
Wagner students are, first and foremost, really smart and hard working. A strength of Wagner is that most of our students have been working for a few years, so they take the graduate school experience for what it is-professional training. They want the tools we can provide. Flexibility is another strength of Wagner. For example, we now have a course in race, class and gender which came about, in part, because students requested it, and it has created a better environment for everyone at Wagner. Also, the students work together a lot, which makes Wagner less of a purely academic exercise and much more of a professional training environment, which is great. And when you teach students who care, who've done the reading and the work, it motivates you to teach and improves the experience for everyone.

What is your idea of a perfect day?
1. Brunch with my wife
2. Yankees defeat Red Sox
3. Lecture at the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History

What's one skill that you wish you were better at?
I wish I were better at math. My hidden dream is to be an astrophysicist.

Where's your favorite place to travel?
Probably State College, Pennsylvania. I visited once a month during the first two years I was getting my PhD (as my wife, then girlfriend, was in school there) and just always loved that place. It's quiet and aesthetically pleasing. I'm from a small town in South Jersey, so it's like that only not as boring.

What would you say to someone who wants to pursue a career in public finance?
I would say that public finance is everywhere and in every sector, so you should keep an open mind in terms of sector. Maybe you work on Wall Street as a bond broker dealer; that's public finance. The recent health care reform bill was passed through a budgetary procedure, for example; that's public finance. Also, the private sector works closely with the public sector finance-wise, in that there's nothing the private sector can do without public finance-whether basic corporate taxes or tax credits or incentives-and there's not much the public sector can do without some aid from the private sector.


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