Sharon Carney

MPA-PNP - 2012

Economic Strategy Director, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development
DC Government
Sharon Carney

Why did you choose Wagner for graduate school?

I wanted to experience life in a city that was very different than the one I knew (Detroit). My driving professional interest is cities -- what makes them work, what causes them to decline, and how they affect the people that live within them. New York offers opportunities to witness and experience urban innovation in ways that are directly applicable to other places and similar challenges. The second reason I chose Wagner is its philosophy. I am motivated to make tangible changes in places. I love developing ideas, but I find it even more fulfilling to make them real. Wagner values execution and the hard work necessary to making an impact. That philosophy resonated with me.

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

I ensure that the Urban Institute's president is operating at her highest and best use; I solve sticky problems; I translate between parties with different viewpoints; and I [try to] make things happen. My training in stats, econometrics, multiple regression, program evaluation, etc. provides me not only the skills to consume and communicate about our work, but the credibility to engage with it internally. As Associate Professor Dan Smith would say, “I know just enough to be dangerous.”

What are the advantages of the Wagner alumni network?

Wagner alumni are good people who genuinely care about what they do and want to make a positive mark on their world. It is always beneficial to have people like that in your life. More practically and personally, the Wagner network was incredibly helpful in my transition from New York to DC. I very quickly developed a network built largely from Wagner alumni who I didn't even know personally while in school.