Ellyn Canfield

MPA in Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy - 2009

Director of Events
New York City Mayor's Office of Citywide Events Coordination and Management
Ellyn Canfield

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

Pretty much every job I've had since Wagner has required me to be fluent in a lot of areas - policy, operations, management. Wagner gave me a strong foundation in these areas and gave me the tools to gain competency quickly in new areas.

When I started Wagner, I envisioned myself being a policy expert in a very specific area of foreign relations. While I certainly have peers from Wagner who have jobs just like that, that is not the path I’ve taken. I've been very grateful to have policy chops in a job where people don't always expect it. I'm often surprising people by wonking out over issues that affect stakeholders of my events, like transportation legislation or small business tax incentives.

Describe your current job.

In addition to having a very long title I manage the Mayor's Office's strategy and coordination for major NYC events, such as the NYC Marathon and New Year's Eve at Times Square. When the Mayor's Office produces a major event, like the recent Papal procession in Central Park, I serve as the lead producer.  I love this role because I get to pivot from strategy meetings, to event walkthroughs, to hands-on production in the same week. I'm responsible for ensuring that the Mayor's priorities and initiatives are represented in major events, coordinating agencies to support events, and helping make sure that NYC continues to be seen as a great place to plan the coolest events in the world.  

What are the advantages of the Wagner alumni network? 

Working in City government, it's rare that I walk into a meeting and don't discover a fellow Wagner graduate. Just by merit of coming from Wagner, we start at a place of similar values, understanding and cooperation. You get more done, and more efficiently, when you have those kinds of relationships. Additionally, I'm always finding connections to organizations that I'm interested in or partnering with through a few degrees of separation from someone I know through Wagner.