Selected Alumni Profiles

Selected Alumni Profiles

MPA alumni comprise a dynamic and diverse network and are employed in a variety of different capacities in local, state, and federal government, nonprofit organizations, higher education and research institutes, and the military. Our alumni are happy to speak with prospective students so we encourage you to contact Sarah Dorner if you’d like to connect with alumni in your field of work.

 

Selina Taylor '15

Image of  SelinaCurrent position: Associate Director
Organization: McNair Scholars Program

Testimonial: “…the program taught me how to efficiently and effectively run an organization without losing sight of the people I serve.”

Can you tell me about the work you do?

The McNair Scholars Program is a federally-funded post baccalaureate prep program, geared toward helping first-generation, low-income and students of color historically-underrepresented in graduate programs get into graduate programs. Our UNH McNair Program serves 32 undergraduate students and works with them to prepare for graduate school. We teach courses, pay them to conduct research and take them to different conferences to present their research across the country. My goal is to make sure the barriers these students may face in preparing for a master’s or PhD program are eliminated.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Working with the future leaders and movers and shakers. I am deeply humbled to be able to play a role in these students’ future. I am inspired by their unique stories and at times feel moved to share my own personal journey to obtain a BA in Psychology and eventually a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

What is the biggest challenge for you?

Not being able to serve and help more marginalized students. As I previously stated, we are federally-funded and have a limited amount of resources. There are so many first-generation, low-income and students of color at UNH that are eligible for our program and can truly benefit from our program, but we can’t accommodate every student.

What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

Becoming the Associate Director of the McNair Scholars Program at UNH. I have worked for this university for almost seven years and have earned two degrees from UNH. To be able to work my way to this position is a true testament to my perseverance and hard work.

What initially piqued your interest in public service?

Working in the public sector has always been a goal of mine, because people are at the center of everything that I do. Making sure people have what they need to not only survive, but thrive is essential to our advancement as a human race. When one group, city, town, state, or country suffers, we all suffer. It’s important for me to use my platform to continue to advocate for a system that is equitable and inclusive, so that everybody has a chance at a healthy, prosperous future.

Why did you choose the UNH MPA program?

I have been working in the public sector for years prior to applying to the MPA Program. However, I had a strong desire to go further in my career and develop new skills and experiences. I knew that in order for me to advance and have the opportunity to strengthen my skills, I had to gain more knowledge. The MPA program at UNH provided that opportunity for me. I also liked how it was for professionals, because I have been five years out of undergrad by the time I started and I did not want to be in a program where the majority of the students were significantly younger than me. Learning from a professor is great, but I wanted to also enhance my educational experience by learning from my classmates and peers. Being in a program where the majority of the class has already attained some professional experience was really important to me.

What did you enjoy most about the MPA program?

Networking with my professors and my classmates. I’m a practical learner, so I like to see how things work in the field and I felt the program allowed me to learn from a lot of different people from different professional backgrounds. That to me was truly invaluable and what I enjoyed most about this program.

How did your education in the UNH MPA program prepare you for your career?

If anything, it better prepared me to be a stronger leader within my organization.

Which course was particularly helpful to your professional development?

The Program Evaluation course. Assessments and evaluations are important for my job, so this course laid the foundation for me and helped me to learn more about what metrics I need to look at in my program.

What lesson from the MPA program have you found most valuable to your job?

I think the MPA program would be beneficial for any professional. If I am allowed to only highlight one, I would have to say the program taught me how to efficiently and effectively run an organization without losing sight of the people I serve. In a day and age where people measure success exclusively by numbers and profits, I learned that no matter what you do, your goal is to always consider people and how your organization is impacting people. This is why I boldly stated that this program would be great for any professional. There are too many corporations and businesses that are more focused on making a profit and meeting quotas, without considering whether they are harming or helping people.

What advice would you share with current UNH MPA students?

Participate as much as you can in the classroom. Don’t just talk to the professors, but engage your classmates. You will learn so much from their experiences and I’m sure they can learn a lot from you too. Your cohort is your team. They will give you practical advice on how to deal with certain situations in your professional and personal life. The conventional way of learning might be good for undergrad, but as a graduate student, you’re expected to not only consume knowledge, but apply and share it. So, get out there and fully participate in the program.

 

 

 

 

Chris Wellington '11

Image of ChrisCurrent position: Program Management/ Business Development Officer
Organization: Capital Regional Development Council

Testimonial: “The MPA program showed me the value in public service and provided me with a great deal of connections that have helped me grow professionally and personally.”

Can you tell us about the work you do?

The Capital Regional Development Council is a nonprofit regional development corporation that provides a variety of economic development services to businesses and local governments throughout New Hampshire.  In my role, I work with financial institutions to provide gap financing to small business owners that are looking to start or expand their business.  I also work with municipalities in Hillsborough, Merrimack and Sullivan counties and assist them in developing plans and actionable steps to achieve their economic development goals and priorities.

What initially piqued your interest in public service?

I started my professional career in the corporate world and soon found out that although the work could be financially rewarding, it wasn’t personally rewarding.  I had always been interested in working for an organization whose main goal was helping the community or those less fortunate.  Once I left the corporate world and took a role in a nonprofit organization, I never looked back.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I think it’s hard to point to one accomplishment since economic development is a long term play and won one small battle at a time.  One accomplishment that involves a lot of small wins over a long period of time is seeing the increase in business activity in downtown Manchester and the Millyard.  When I worked for the Manchester Economic Development Office years ago, we tried very hard to invest and support development of downtown apartments, restaurants and cultural destinations.  Currently, downtown is booming and I’d like to think much of the foundational work that MEDO provided years ago has helped play a small role in the success that is being seen today.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

The ability to help small businesses and communities throughout New Hampshire.  It’s a great thrill to support individuals that put their livelihoods on the line to build a business and it’s very rewarding when you are able to play a small role in their success.

What’s the greatest challenge for you?

Most of my career has been spent assisting businesses and trying to help them solve problems.  The largest three issues facing New Hampshire businesses are workforce development, lack of affordable housing (for their workforce) and energy costs.  These issues are well beyond my own control – it’s hard to see the state, as a whole, not fully invest in housing, workforce development and energy needs. This lack of investment isZ going to severely impact our small business community’s ability to grow and prosper over the next 5-15 years.

Why did you choose the UNH MPA program?

I’d been thinking of going back to school for awhile and I had a few friends and colleagues that were going through the UNH MPA program so I decided to sign up for a class.  I was living in Manchester so the fact that most of the classes were offered at the Manchester campus made it an easy decision.

What did you enjoy most about the UNH MPA program?

The connections you made with professors and fellow classmates.  I loved the fact that you had classmates that had just finished up their bachelors degree and jumped right into grad school and other classmates that had spent years or even decades in the workforce before deciding to go back to school.  The diverse make up of the classes led to some wonderful and interesting class discussions and friendships outside the classroom that will last for the rest of my life.

Which course was most helpful to your professional development?

I think all the courses provided some value to my professional development but my most enjoyable classes where Negotiations and Non-Profit Management. Professor Terry Knowles, who taught both courses, was a wealth of information. She paid particular attention to making sure the content taught in the classroom had a direct correlation to problems and situations you would deal with in the real world.

How did your education in the UNH MPA program prepare you for your career?

The MPA program showed me the value in public service and provided me with a great deal of connections that have helped me grow professionally and personally.

What advice would your share with current UNH MPA students?

Take the time to get to know your professors and fellow classmates.  Don’t just walk into the classroom with your head down.  Some of the best personal and professional connections I have made in my life came from my time going through the UNH MPA program.

 

 

Bhagirath Khatiwada '14

Image of BhagirathCurrent position:  Program Director
Organization:  Building Community in New Hampshire 

Testimonial: "I loved the diversity of the program. Students come from various walks of life and the classes are engaging and interactive."

Can you tell us about the work you do?

I work at Building Community in New Hampshire (BCNH). I am responsible for strategic leadership and oversee the programmatic, developmental and research initiatives under BCNH. I provide oversight for program administration and personnel. I work to develop and maintain funding streams and respond to community stakeholders. I am responsible for project design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and reporting.

What initially piqued your interest in public service?

I have a passion to serve low income individuals and families to make a difference in their lives. I have worked in different capacities for the last 10 years serving people in need. Upon arrival in the US, I again decided to serve people and I started volunteering helping New Americans integrate into the communities they live in. Serving people gives me satisfaction.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

When I see the progress made by the people I have supported, I feel that my hard-work has paid off. It is always nice to see the positive change in the lives of people you help. I gain satisfaction from creating and working in a viable, sustainable organization that can provide an array of services required by diverse New American communities, and that help newcomers to understand and navigate the systems that are part of everyday life.

What’s the greatest challenge for you?

Working in a small nonprofit is all about balancing your professional and personal life. Navigating resources to support the ongoing programs and securing resources to meet the growing needs of the people we serve is always a challenge.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

There are two folds of accomplishments-personal and professional. Personally, within a short period of time, I was able to integrate in my new community, raise my family and complete my MPA. Professionally, I’m proud to support New Americans in their integration process through the various programs we offer. This organization was initially formed exclusively to serve Bhutanese in New Hampshire. Today, we are proud to serve people from various nationalities.

Why did you choose the UNH MPA program?

Upon arrival in the US, I realized that I needed to go back to school. I started researching universities and degree programs that fit with my interests and the public demand. After a rigorous research, I decided to choose the UNH MPA program as it met my needs and interests.

What did you enjoy most about the UNH MPA program?

I loved the diversity of the program. Students come from various walks of life and the classes are engaging and interactive. Each of us had a gift to offer in the program; everyone’s experience counted. This helped students learn from one another. Our network and connectivity further helped us to create our own community.

Which course was most helpful to your professional development?

I thoroughly enjoyed each course and I am applying the skills that I learned from the program in my daily professional life. Particularly, I enjoyed Foundation of Public Administration, Intergovernmental Relations and Performance Management taught by Prof. Dan Bromberg, Nonprofit Management and Art of Negotiation by Prof. Terry Knowles, Financial Management and Budgeting by Kevin Clougherty and Organizations & Management in Public Sectors by Prof. Paul Dann.

How did your education in the UNH MPA program prepare you for your career?

To be honest, I would not have been where I am now had I not completed the MPA program. This program enhanced my lenses of seeing public service through various angles. Public service sounds just one area but it is more than that. I learned more about inter-governmental relationships, nonprofit management, negotiations, local, state and federal governments functioning, finance and bookkeeping, organizational development and much more. After completing the program, I have more confidence about my rooms for growth.

What advice would your share with current UNH MPA students?

It is very tough to manage your family, work and school but once you complete the program, you feel that you have accomplished something huge and it will give you great satisfaction. Earning your MPA will certainly bring positive change in your life.

 

 

 

Brittany Weaver '15

Image of Brittany WeaverCurrent position:  Legislative Assistant
Organization:  Office of U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan

Testimonial: “The MPA program made me a more pragmatic person. I try to understand the bigger picture and find that I’m able to do so because I went through the program.”

Can you tell us about the work you do?

My main areas of focus are education and workforce, labor, housing and disability policy. My primary responsibility is to make policy recommendations to the larger staff and Senator related to legislation to support. In addition, I staff the Senator on the Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee on the education, labor, and pension related issues.

What initially piqued your interest in public service?

Growing up I wanted to be a history teacher. Freshman year of High School I had civics class and from that point forward I wanted to work in some capacity of Government - I attribute this shift to my civics teacher. I started working on campaigns when I was in college. I thoroughly enjoyed this work but knew from the start I wanted to be involved in what happened after the campaign was over when the ideas talked about have the chance to come to fruition. I’m grateful to have a job that allows me to do this.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

I started working on education policy when I served in a policy role in the Governor’s Office. Now, to be working on the same issue on the federal level is fascinating because I have a greater understanding of how policy is implemented on the ground. I would also be remiss if I did not say that I love NH so it’s great to be in a role where I can help make changes that make our state, and country a better place to live.

What’s the greatest challenge for you?

There is a lot to balance, I work on a number of important policy issues and finding the time to prioritize all of them can often be a challenge. My schedule is dictated by what is happening in the news and other external forces rather than what is on my to do list.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I have always been proud of Senator Hassan’s commitment to education access and affordability. As a UNH graduate, I understand the impact this can have and the importance of making college more affordable. Every day, I am proud to work to push forward these efforts in the Senate. 

Why did you choose the UNH MPA program?

I knew I wanted to be in NH and wanted to get a Master’s degree in something I could really use in my career.  I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do yet – whether it was state or municipal government or continuing to work on campaigns. The MPA felt like a good fit and would give me a skill set applicable to all of those areas.

What did you enjoy most about the UNH MPA program?

I loved getting to know my classmates. The program is comprised of a lot of nontraditional students who have had significant work experience since completing their undergraduate degree. We learned a lot from one another and shared how we applied lessons from class to our different fields. It was great to build a professional network within the classroom.

Which course was most helpful to your professional development?

A lot of them! It’s hard to hone in on one. Every class felt like it related to what I do for work. I really enjoyed Dan Bromberg’s Third Party Governance class and could apply it to the work I was doing every day in the office. Given that government doesn’t always have the resources it needs, I came to understand the importance of public-private partnerships and learned how those relationships happen. Dan’s class was one of the first I took and was a great start to the program. I instantly saw just how applicable the degree was to my field. In addition, Kevin Clougherty’s Financial Management and Budgeting class gave me a much better understanding of how the budget cycle works which has been useful to me in my job.

How did your education in the UNH MPA program prepare you for your career?

I was in an administrative capacity while completing the program so I used the program to learn about different subject matters. I applied much of the knowledge I gained from research for school to my job. The program gave me a much greater scope of issues than I would have had otherwise. I came to understand the mechanics of it all – why things happen, why and how decisions get made, and how to approach my work from a more analytical perspective. The MPA program made me a more pragmatic person. I try to understand the bigger picture and find that I’m able to do so because I went through the program. Having my MPA allowed me to grow within the Governor’s Office and continue to work for Maggie Hassan in the U.S. Senate. Moving forward, I have a lot more options available to me than I would have had otherwise.

What advice would your share with current UNH MPA students?

Get as much out of the program as you possibly can. Take what you’re learning and relate it to the work you do, your volunteer experiences or your personal interests. Doing this will make the program a more rewarding and long lasting experience that will continue to serve you as you go forward in your career.

 

Mike Pelletier  '15

Image of Mike PelletierCurrent position: Deputy Director
Organization: Human Resources for NH National Guard

Testimonial:  “Earning your MPA is a real positive for you and your organization. You’re guaranteed to bring back skills you didn’t have before the program.”

Can you tell me about the work you do?

Our HR department administers to the NH National Guard’s 400 federal civilian employees and 350 full time active military service members. We work everything from analyzing the structure of the organization to filling human capital requirements to complete the organization’s mission. We support employees in both the Army and Air National Guard throughout their entire employment cycle. I assist the Director of HR and our staff of 15 personnel.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

It’s great to see new personnel come into the organization and watch them develop, mature, be promoted and become successful in their careers.

What is the biggest challenge for you?

As we’re a federal employer, we are challenged with many laws, rules, and policies that govern our administrative efforts. Over the years, these guidelines have grown in size and complexity. This can sometimes make it challenging to do both the right thing and the legal thing in transacting our business.

What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

In the seven years that I’ve been with the National Guard, I’ve helped to reorganize and revitalize our internal policy regulation. This reorganization made our policies easier to understand and made the organization more efficient.

What initially piqued your interest in public service?

I worked in the private sector for 22 years. In 2009, the National Guard was hiring individuals to support their growing operations. This seemed like a great opportunity to use my outside perspective from the private sector to have a positive influence on the public sector. I knew it was going to be a challenge because the public sector operates so differently from the private sector. The incentives are different and the goals and objectives are practically opposites. I enjoy the National Guard’s team emphasis and focus on common goals.

Why did you choose the MPA program?

NH National Guardsmen can attend state schools for free in the State of NH, so there was a big economic incentive for me to get my second Master’s degree. I had my MBA but felt I needed additional education to better understand the public sector. I chose the MPA knowing it would give me greater insight into public (and nonprofit) sector organizations. It also gave me an opportunity to learn about technological advances and capabilities that didn’t exist years ago when I was getting my MBA.

What did you enjoy most about the MPA program?

I enjoyed interacting with my classmates of all ages and from both the public and nonprofit sectors. Through group exercises, I learned about their professional experiences and how their organizations contribute to society. Given that I’m at the federal level, I especially enjoyed learning about local and state levels. This networking has continued even after the program.

How did your education in the MPA program prepare you for your career?

It gave me the background of public service and an understanding of its various components. Each course I took helped me to better understand my profession. I learned the value of leaving my comfort zone and networking with individuals outside my main area of study or profession.

Which course was particularly helpful to your professional development?

Dan Bromberg’s Foundations and Theories of Public Administration class was great. I learned how federal administration developed and how key figures like Weber and Wilson created the foundation of what we experience today. It’s important to know where we came from and how we got to where we are today. Understanding this path helps us chart a course in the future that is more efficient and provides better government for the people we serve.

What lesson from the MPA program have you found most valuable to your job?

I learned that the term bureaucracy, which often has negative connotations, actually has some positive attributes. Bureaucracy allows you to analyze an issue and apply a set of standards based on rules and regulations to come to a successful and efficient resolution. You’re not just winging it. Knowing this, I can now explain to our employees the reasons we administer in a certain way. Though a process may seem complex or lengthy, it’s based on a desire to come to the most efficient and fair resolution, which makes everyone better off.

What advice would you share with current MPA students?

Stick with it. It can be hard and takes time away from family, and friends but the feeling of satisfaction once you’ve earned your degree is euphoric. Earning your MPA is a real positive for you and your organization. You’re guaranteed to bring back skills you didn’t have before the program.

 

 

Alexandra Stewart '13

Image of Alexandra (Ali) StewartCurrent position:  Executive Director
Organization: The New Teachers Retreat, LLC.

Testimonial: "Throughout the program, the relationships I created along with the skills I gained helped bit by bit to build confidence in the kind of leader I could be."  

Can you tell us about the work you do?

As a public school teacher, I spend most of my days working with students in English class to make sure they have the skills to thrive as they grow.  For me, this is more than only reading and writing skills; I do my best to help my students confront what they want their impact on the world to be.  We have a weekly discussion about role models who have used communication to change the world for the better and discuss what impact they would like to have.  These discussions ground the work we are doing in class and reinforce the ways in which what they are learning matters.  These discussions, which ultimately revolve around the role of themselves as future citizens, is in part a response to my previous work in campaign politics and issue advocacy, as well as my experiences in the MPA program. 

Further, the skills I learned about how to grow my own impact through the MPA program led me to found an organization, the New Teachers Retreat, with other teachers in Boston and New Hampshire to help support teachers new to the profession.  I was able to pair my experiences from the Public Administration program with my education experiences to identify and address a need in the education landscape.  The New Teachers Retreat works with teachers in their first few years of teaching to support them through relationships with fellow mentor teachers who have been in the profession for five or more years.  The first years of teaching are notoriously difficult and there is a lack of professional development opportunities geared toward new teachers. By working with fellow educators, we can provide crucial support for younger teachers and keep them in the profession long term.

What initially piqued your interest in public service?

I’m not exactly sure, but my mother was a school social worker and through her I was exposed to the positive power that public services could provide in order to empower people.  By the time I was in high school I knew I was interested in doing work that was meaningful and that supported communities.  After college, this led me to work in political campaigns and with nonprofits on issue advocacy. I realized over time that education was an issue I was particularly passionate about, so in order to have a bigger impact, I moved into the classroom.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

Working with people is the best part of this work.  Education is such a human field and the relationships that you build doing this work are by far the most rewarding.  We work with students every day who are facing challenges both in and out of the classroom.  Ultimately, my job isn’t to fill their heads with information, but to equip them with the skills and experiences that will support them in leading the lives they want.  This extends to working as a mentor for fellow teachers as well.  I find this work fascinating because the people involved make it so. 

What’s the greatest challenge for you?

This relates directly to the previous question.  Because this work is so interconnected with fellow humans, it is imperfect and unique to each individual.  We all come at challenges in different ways and bring with us previous experiences and expectations.  As such, while there are strategies that you can employ, there are no simple answers that work for everyone.  That’s a good thing in the long run, but it is a challenge as you work with new people.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

As a new organization, our biggest accomplishment so far was putting on our first Retreat this past year at Keene State College.  The first New Teachers Retreat was a great success and our participants left ready to take on the next year with new strategies and more energy.  Most important, 100% of our participants said that they felt they were leaving the program with a strong community of both mentors and fellow participants with which they can reach out to throughout the year.  As part of this, we were also finalists this year for Stay Work Play New Hampshire’s Rising Star Awards in the category of Leadership Development Program. 

Why did you choose the UNH MPA program?

When I started the program, I knew I wanted to make an impact that went beyond election day.  While elections matter, I wanted to spend my efforts on the everyday work that supports our communities.  I knew I wanted to stay in New Hampshire and that UNH was the best program in the state to really understand the processes here to make that goal possible. 

What did you enjoy most about the UNH MPA program?

I loved that so many of our classes drew strength from the students and their experiences.  I learned so much from my fellow classmates and their examples.  The relationships that I formed with them have lasted beyond the program and have been rich both professionally and personally.

Which courses were most helpful to your professional development?

The first two that come to mind are both classes taught by Terry Knowles – Nonprofit Management and Negotiations.  These courses used lots of real world examples as well while requiring students to apply theories into practice through simulations in class.  These courses have helped me in a number of ways in my career both in creating my own organization and working within larger systems.  The other course that was incredibly helpful was Statistics.  I am a pretty nervous person when it comes to numbers and math, but what I loved about this class is that it helped me break down that fear about statistics to really understand how to get those numbers to work for me.  By understanding the processes and practical applications, I left that class more confident than I thought would be possible. 

How did your education in the UNH MPA program prepare you for your career?

The biggest thing I think the MPA program did to prepare me is help me realize that I’m ready for the challenges ahead.  Throughout the program, the relationships I created along with the skills I gained helped bit by bit to build confidence in the kind of leader I could be.  Throughout the years I spent in the program, I learned from the examples of others through case studies and assignments that helped me understand the various considerations that need to go into thoughtful decisions in the public sphere.  Each class contributed to an overall understanding of how the system works and how I can have a positive impact on it. 

What advice would your share with current UNH MPA students?

Ask lots of questions.  The professors are incredibly knowledgeable about their areas of expertise.  Use this as a chance to mine that knowledge.  Don’t be passive.  Also, ask questions of your classmates.  Learn about their backgrounds and interests and you may surprise yourself.

 

 

Jeremy Dupuis '15

Image of Jeremy DupuisCurrent position: Team Lead
Organization: State of NH Financial Data Reporting

Testimonial:  “The MPA doesn’t just effect the person who receives it, but everybody they touch.”

Can you tell us about the work you do?

I work for the State of NH supporting the technical part of the State’s financial system.  I manage the activities of a small software development team that supports all financial, budget, payroll and human resources programs for the State of NH.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

The most noble of work is that in the service of others. The team I work with supports the needs of our community and every dollar we save goes to providing services to those who need them. Because of this, I feel as though we accomplish something good every day.

What’s the greatest challenge for you?

The structural deficit in the budget and the downward pressure to minimize government by downsizing is a challenge. Programs are underfunded and this puts pressure on public employees to make cuts for the people of NH. 

What is one of your biggest professional accomplishments?

In 2012 there were a large number of legislative budget changes. The estimated implementation time for the change was 10,000 hours. I invented a software package that performed most of the changes, saving about 8,000 hours of work in exchange for about 120 hours of my time. Since then, the software package has been expanded and reused. My team and I do stuff like this consistently in an effort to make processes more efficient and support the public. We strive to do what we’re told is impossible.

I’m also proud of my transition from software developer to project manager, mentor, and team lead. Moving into a management role was risky but has been a good move. I’ve been promoted several times and am in a role that combines my technical experience with my desire to manage a team. I get to develop great products for the State and help employees grow and advance!

What initially piqued your interest in public service?

I worked in the private sector for many years and took a job in government after the 2001 dotcom crash.  I didn’t know I wanted to work for government and didn’t come to it for noble reasons – it was hard to get a job after the crash. I took a 50% pay cut when I started working for the State. I discovered I liked working for government and being a part of a union. Having the protections and the bargaining power afforded by the union made the job that much better.  Additionally, I came to the realization that I liked working for our community.  I go to work every day and make our world a better place by helping people.

Why did you choose the MPA program?

Though I’d already moved up in my career with my government, I knew I wanted a higher degree. I felt that having an MPA would open doors to higher levels in my career.  Since I was committed to my career with government, the MPA was a better fit for me than an MBA. I chose UNH over Harvard because UNH was local and provided better networking opportunities since it was in state.

What did you enjoy most about the program?

I liked the intimacy of the program. Courses centered on discussions with professors and classmates. I enjoyed this sharing process and learned from the experiences of my peers. I was constantly impressed by the number of different ideas that came from reading the same article.

Which courses were most helpful to your professional development?

There are two classes that stand out. I enjoyed Dan Bromberg’s Statistics course the most. It taught me how to write and understand research papers which has been helpful to me since I do a lot of work around policies. I also enjoyed Kevin Clougherty’s Financial Management and Budgeting class. It’s directly related to the work I do so I was able to apply many of the lessons to my day-to-day work.

How did your education in the MPA program prepare you for your career?

I’ve dedicated my life to government and know that the higher up I get, the more I need to understand things like budgeting, finance, and management. The technical knowledge and management skills I gained from the program have enabled me to succeed and given me an edge over people who don’t have the degree. I have more people working under me now and use the human resource management skills I acquired from the program to help me be a better manager. The MPA gave me the management skills to keep workers motivated and get the best out of everyone – even more challenging employees.

How did the faculty influence you and the way you approach your work?

Kevin Clougherty was inspirational! He taught me not to settle for meeting expectations, but to strive to give an extra effort and surpass expectations. I learned the value of going that extra mile and not just giving what was asked of me.

What advice would you share with current MPA students?

Get the MPA degree as young as possible because it opens career doors and helps you achieve more in the public or nonprofit sector. The MPA enables you to help others. I would tell students to enjoy, have fun and help as many people as you can.

 

 

Donna Benton  '13

Image of Donna BentonCurrent position:  Assistant City Planner
Organization: City of Dover, NH

Testimonial:  “The MPA program offers a great mix of theory and practice.”

Can you tell me about the work you do?

I have a range of responsibilities from handling all plan review and staffing the Planning Board to special projects such as expanding the Dover trail systems, overseeing the Community Trail Advisory Committee, and redesigning City Hall office space. I’m on the Board of Directors for the Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation (COAST bus) and serve as a representative for Amtrak Downeaster. I’m also on the Executive Committee for New Hampshire Planners Association. 

What initially piqued your interest in public service?

I started off doing event planning but found that the work wasn’t rewarding enough for me, so I shifted my focus to the public sector. The work is much more rewarding and has allowed me to use my event planning skills along with an entirely new skill set I’ve acquired from working in the field and from the MPA program.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I love working with the public and answering their questions to assist with their needs. I also like seeing the tangible results of my efforts, such as driving by a new building for which I reviewed plans or helping a new business move to the City.

What’s the biggest challenge?

Funding can be limited so it’s often tough to provide the best service while ensuring it’s both efficient and effective.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

I’m proud of the work I’m doing with the Community Trail group. We’re currently working on a $400,000 TAP grant to expand an old rail trail in order to enhance both alternative modes of transportation and recreational use.

Why did you choose the MPA program?

I was looking for a broad degree but something more specific to the public sector than an MBA.  As I learned more about the MPA, it seemed like a great fit. I was also drawn to the program for the paid Fellowship opportunity through the NH Municipal Association. I applied to the MPA program during my senior year at UNH and began my coursework that spring while finishing my Bachelor degree. I completed the NHMA Fellowship in Dover the first summer I was in the program and then in Newmarket the second summer after I graduated.

What did you enjoy most about the program?

I liked taking classes with working professionals. The program has a great mix of students and I found it helpful to learn from the professional experiences of my classmates, as well as the experiences of my professors.

Which course was most helpful to your professional development?

While many classes were helpful, The Art of Negotiation with Terry Knowles helped me connect with other students in the program. This gave me confidence and got me grounded in the program. I use the skills I learned in that class – such as framing conversations, interacting with different types of people, and using logic in responses – every day at work.

How did your education in the program prepare you for your career?

The MPA gave me both new skills and new experiences. I utilize lessons from all of my courses in the work I do each day. As I was fresh from my undergraduate studies, the Fellowship and my Capstone project gave me the kind of work experience that employers look for. I completed my Capstone with the City of Dover and they kept me on as an employee while I finished my Master’s. This helped lead to my first job as Assistant Planner for the Town of Merrimack, which I held for two years before returning to the City of Dover. I think my Master’s degree, coupled with the experience from my Fellowship and Capstone, helped position me as a desirable candidate for the planning jobs I secured after the program.

What lesson from the MPA program have you found particularly applicable to your work?

The discussions we had about efficiency versus effectiveness were very helpful and something I always keep in mind when planning projects. I’ve learned that it’s often more efficient in the long run to spend the appropriate amount of funding for a project from the start. Pre-planning expenditures is imperative in the budget process.

What advice would you share with current MPA students?

Try to take courses with all of the different professors. The MPA program offers a great mix of theory and practice; taking classes with full time faculty and seasoned practitioners is the best way to make the most of this. And be sure to build relationships with your fellow classmates because it’s always nice to see a familiar face or to call peers who have experience facing obstacles we all come across.

 

 

Shaun Mullholland '10

Image of ShaunCurrent position:  Town Administrator 
Organization:  Town of Allenstown

Testimonial: “The MPA program at UNH will provide you with valuable skills and tools you will use in your career in public service.”

 

Can you tell me about the work you do?

I administer the prudential affairs of the Board of Selectmen and administrative functions of the Town.  I provide recommendations to the Board in regards to policy decisions. I assist the department heads on a daily basis.  I prepare the annual and capital budgets for the Town.  I apply for and manage grants on behalf of the Town. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Working for a municipality allows me to work in government where the rubber meets the road.  I am in a position that allows me to make positive improvements in the lives of the residents of the community.  Local government in New Hampshire, for the most part, involves small governmental entities.  Here I am directly involved in the provision of public services.  In many cases it is easier to get things done compared to the larger governmental entities.

What is the biggest challenge for you?

Fiscal constraints make it difficult to accomplish the goals we are trying to achieve.  We clearly need to a skill base that allows us to find ways to do more with less.  Although that is not always possible, we are in a position to accomplish those goals in some situations. 

What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

The development of long term budgeting plans and philosophies.  The development of a budget strategy based on strategic goals has taken some time to develop.  The strategy is proving to be effective allowing us to achieve our objectives in a very austere financial environment. 

What initially piqued your interest in public service?

I have worked in the public sector since age 14.  I have a need to feel that I am helping others improve the quality of the community.  I have worked in all three levels of government.  Having a purpose focused on the public good is what drives me forward. 

Why did you choose the UNH MPA program?

I attended UNH as an undergraduate student.  My experience at UNH provided the compass for the direction of my life.   I am still traveling along the azimuth that I started from.  The MPA program at UNH Manchester was an easy choice to allow me to continue along that path.  The program is well respected with well-respected faculty. 

What did you enjoy most about the MPA program?

Working with the faculty was particularly helpful in the development of my career.  The opportunity to network with fellow students who were already working in the public sector, as well as those who were working toward a career in government.  The contacts I developed in the MPA program have been and still are advantageous in my present career

How did your education in the UNH MPA program prepare you for your career?

The MPA program provided me with a well-rounded base of knowledge.  The knowledge gained in the program has been invaluable in allowing me to be effective in my position.  Without this experience I am confident I would not be as effect as I have been.  My experience in the program has built the confidence that has allowed me to be successful. 

Which course was particularly helpful to your professional development?

The Strategic Planning course which was presented by Jim Varn taught me critical skills I use on a regular basis.  The model developed by John Bryson and Farnum Alston provided a road map to develop and implement a strategic plan.  Organizations, whether public or private, must have a business plan with strategic emphasis to achieve success.  The inclusive process proposed by Bryson and Alston is comprehensive and valuable to any organization. 

What advice would you share with current UNH MPA students?

Immerse yourself in the program.  Take advantage of the knowledge and experience of the faculty.  The MPA degree is not just a piece of paper.  It is the experience, the networking and the knowledge you will gain that will help you achieve success.  We need leaders in the public sector who can apply a higher level of knowledge and skills to move our organizations forward.  Those of us who work in government are in the best position to create efficiencies that allow for the provision of cost effective services to the public.  An educated public sector workforce is the cornerstone necessary to achieve that success.  

 

 

Career Outcomes

  • Senior Assistant Director of Admissions, UNH School of Law
  • Assistant Superintendent, Stafford County Department of Corrections
  • Coastal Program Administrator, NH Department of Environmental Services
  • Sergeant and Bomb Squad Commander, NH State Police
  • Director of Communications, NH Charitable Foundation
  • Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Public Affairs Manager, University of New Hampshire
  • Chief Executive Officer, Primex
  • Director of Policy and Planning, NH Community Development Finance Authority
  • Director of Community Affairs, Riverbend Community Mental Health
  • Division Director, NH Lottery Commission
  • Business Retention Specialist, State of NH Division of Economic Development
  • Vice President Government Relations and Strategic Partnerships, Scholastic Inc.
  • Congresswoman, United States Government
  • Director of Redevelopment, City of Concord
  • Business Development/Project Management Officer, Capital Region Development Council
  • County Manager, York County of Maine
  • Director of Entrepreneurship, NH Business Finances Authority
  • Founder and Executive Director, New Teachers Retreat
  • Triskelion Consulting, Consultant
  • City Manager, City of Dover
  • Town Manager, Town of Litchfield