Elected and newly appointed alumni on public leadership
We asked four seasoned pros what they’ve learned about leadership, overcoming governing challenges, and what public servants can do to succeed in a contentious political landscape.
State Senator Stephanie Chang (MPP/MSW '14)
Elected to the Michigan Senate in 2018
Equally important to listening is not being afraid to uplift the truth, even when some people may not want to hear it.Stephanie Chang (MPP/MSW '14)
I am proud to have passed our statewide water shutoff moratorium legislation last December and it would never have been possible in a Republican legislature without persistent, regular, coordinated mobilization efforts and the partnership of unlikely allies with key relationships working together with die-hard water warriors. Public servants must always focus on listening to the residents we serve—listening to the pain and anger people are feeling about injustices that continue in our country and also the fear people have about what change may mean for them. Equally important to listening is not being afraid to uplift the truth, even when some people may not want to hear it.
Jordan Matsudaira (PhD '05)
Newly appointed deputy under secretary, U.S. Department of Education
It’s important to dream big and think about how to structure dramatic reforms that might seem impossible but would effect real changes for the communities you care about.Jordan Matsudaira (PhD '05)
It’s important to dream big and think about how to structure dramatic reforms that might seem impossible but would effect real changes for the communities you care about. It’s also important to be aware of and to seek opportunities to make the thousands of incremental changes that can improve millions of peoples’ lives in meaningful ways. With no apparent appetite for cooperation in Congress, regulatory policy is a key tool to make such changes. Using it well requires a good understanding of the technical aspects of a policy, making cost-benefit arguments for reforms, and administrative law—skills that are rarely combined in students' education.
Farouk Ophaso (MPP '06)
Newly appointed senior advisor, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), U.S. Department of Defense
Knowing when and how to compromise remains a key to success in public service.Farouk Ophaso (MPP '06)
Even the smallest decision can have a significant impact—both good and bad. I’ve learned that developing a strong framework for decision-making will serve as a helpful guide when tough decisions arise. It’s important to include all key stakeholders, even when you know that some may not want your efforts to succeed. Knowing when and how to compromise remains a key to success in public service.
When there is compromise both sides can always claim a win, and it builds trust, which ensures that the two (or more) sides can come together again in the future. Strong negotiation skills remain a key asset in one's ability to get to compromise.
Evan Raleigh (MPP ‘12)
Newly appointed assistant city manager, City of Raleigh, North Carolina
It’s important to remember that there are very few people that aren’t worth giving an opportunity to be heard.Evan Raleigh (MPP '12)
In the current political landscape it’s important to have a willingness to embrace dissenting opinions and perspectives that deviate from the “norm.” Important messages can easily be missed when there’s an unwillingness to be open to hearing from individuals and groups that haven’t traditionally been a part of the public discourse. Sometimes these messages may not come so nicely packaged either. It’s important to remember that there are very few people that aren’t worth giving an opportunity to be heard.
Below, find the full, formatted Spring 2021 edition of State & Hill.