Deborah Burke

MPA in Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy - 2013

Program Associate, Sustainable Development
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Deborah Burke

How did being in New York impact your professional journey?

I was fortunate to work part-time at the Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy while at Wagner, so I had started to recognize the myriad of connections that come from being in the center of things. Knowing what field I wanted to work in was immensely helpful too. I knew that I wanted to work on energy and climate issues, but the breadth of ways to do meaningful work in that space really came to light here in New York. Even before I started working for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, I could see the value of working on a global problem (climate change) while being located in a global city.

How did your Wagner experience prepare you professionally for what you are doing today?

The question of how to measure impacts when working on areas of social good is one that Wagner classes deal with both explicitly and implicitly throughout the curriculum. This fundamental question continues to haunt me as I attempt to judge the impacts of the Fund’s grantees, but Wagner provided tools and perspectives that I often think back to. I also attended a number of the Wagner events and mixers which were a good way to stay sharp at networking—something that is core to my current job.

Describe your current job.

The Sustainable Development program team focuses on climate and energy work that advances global stewardship that is ecologically based, economically sound, socially just, culturally appropriate, and consistent with intergenerational equity. Determining the best place for scarce resources requires a great deal of field research because we intend for the funding to leverage an outsized impact.