CPAP faculty members Colleen Woodard, Anne Khademian, and Jim Wolf join Dr. Hal Kohn on the successful defense of his dissertation, "A Test of Abelson and Baysinger’s Optimal Turnover Hypothesis In the Context of Public Organizations Using Computational Simulation."
CPAP's MPA and PHD alumni have gone on to positions in local, state, and federal government, academia, and the private sector. Our alumni represent in diverse ways the program’s guiding principle, "making democracy work in a constitutional public." Below are profiles of a handful of our current alumni:
MPA Program Alumni
Michael C. Geertson, Jr.
Director, Business Development
Casals & Associates, Inc.
A 2006 graduate of the MPA program in Northern Virginia, Michael Geertson is currently Director of Business Development and Senior Program Manager for Casals & Associates, Inc., a firm specializing in carrying out public sector reform projects for international organizations in developing countries. "We work on a broad range of good governance issues, but are particularly well-known for programs that fight corruption, promote transparency, and foster accountability," Michael reports. "USAID is our biggest client, but we also work with UNDP, the World Bank, and other foreign governments. Right now, I am responsible for the cultivation of new projects, but I have supported ongoing programs in Albania, Nigeria, Mongolia, Equatorial Guinea, and Honduras, among others."
An undergraduate double major in political science and English, Michael returned to school for his MPA while working full-time. He says he sought a fuller understanding of the theories of "governance" central to his work in the developing world. "The academic thrust of the MPA program paralleled a lot of the practical work I was doing overseas... things like civil service reform/personnel management, budgeting, policy change, quantitative research, and government ethics." He says he chose CPAP based on its affordability, positive feedback from other CPAP graduates, and because Professor Jim Wolf "sold me" during an information session about the program. Looking back, Michael reports the CPAP MPA has served his career aspirations well, particularly his understanding of "…why American democractic models do or do not work when planted into overseas settings that are generally very different from those that we know in the United States."
Elizabeth is a 2010 graduate of the MPA program at the CPAP campus in Alexandria. She continues her work at Booz Allen Hamilton, where she is an Associate supporting Department of Defense clients. “As a consultant, I find many of the courses to be very useful, such as public budgeting, management, ethics, and policy design,” said Elizabeth. “In my management class, we had an opportunity to work with the City of Alexandria and A Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria in order to support their community indicators initiative. It was nice to apply coursework to help support a real-world cause. This project also gave the class the opportunity to present at the American Society for Public Administration’s (ASPA) national conference in San Jose, California."
“I highly recommend this program to other working professionals who are interested in enhancing their careers in government consulting or civil service. I’ve been able to integrate lessons learned in the classroom directly to my work. The coursework, classmates, and faculty have all made my MPA experience very rewarding.” Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Arts in Integrative Studies from George Mason University.
Organizational Development Manager
Albemarle County, Virginia
A 2004 graduate of the CPAP MPA program in northern Virginia, Louise Wyatt is currently a human resources manager with Albemarle County, Virginia. Her responsibilities include competency-based and technical training, tuition reimbursement, and assisting with the biennial employee climate survey for the 700 county employees. "My current job blends all my interests perfectly - teaching, performance management, and government administration," she reports. Louise joined CPAP while she was working full-time as a budget/management analyst with the government of the District of Columbia. "I knew I wanted to be in public service and an MPA seemed like a good general degree to have." Louise recalls, "I chose CPAP because it catered to working adults such as myself, in addition to being affordable and convenient." Of her coursework at CPAP, Louise says, "I found the classes to be really challenging in a good way - I learned to really examine public policy in a much deeper, systemic way than I previously had." She also notes that she learned a great deal from her classmates, many of whom brought very different perspectives based on their careers and backgrounds. "My MPA education exposed me to a wide variety of issues and sub-specialties that I didn't even know existed." She feels the MPA has given her insight and credibility in her work that she might not have gained otherwise. One hazard of the MPA, she says, is that it "turned me into a public administration nerd." She admits to reading Public Administration Review regularly, and often passes articles on to colleagues.
PHD Program Alumni
LMI Government Consulting
A 1995 graduate of CPAP's MPA program and 2005 graduate of CPAP's PHD program, Dr. Nick Avdellas is currently a research fellow at LMI Government Consulting, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping federal managers address strategic issues. His responsibilities include providing analytical, educational, and policy-related support and counsel, primarily to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. "I decided to pursue my PHD," Dr. Avdellas writes, "because I continually found relevance within the curriculum that helped me frame and, hopefully, help address the multi-dimensional problems we face as a government and a people. CPAP provided an environment for healthy dialogue about such issues and the faculty was absolutely top-notch in terms of knowledge and dedication to the students and community." He says his research and coursework through CPAP taught him, "to view policy issues from various perspectives and to always understand the social and historical context that underlies them….CPAP's strong commitment to the "life of the mind" truly comes to life as we have students and professionals work within our institutions to frame and solve the important issues we face.
Assistant Professor, Public Finance
University of Baltimore
A 2007 CPAP PhD, Ed Gibson is an assistant professor in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Baltimore, specializing in public finance. His path was not exactly direct."I got here by moving steadily (glacially?) away from my initial work as a computer programmer," he says, "first to analysis, then supervision, then consulting, and, finally, doing a steady diet of life-cycle analysis (e.g., cost-benefit analysis) for federal clients." He admits, in retrospect, his decision to join CPAP's PhD program in Northern Virginia seems arbitrary. "However ignorant I was choosing the program, when I had the great benefit of learning from professors such as Goodsell, Hult, Khademian, Kronenberg, Rohr, White, and Wolf it was hard to believe my good fortune. What I learned from these and other gifted teachers extended my horizons concerning what public service is for, what it can do, and how those of us in the field can help." He adds, "One other thing: CPAP is a family, and I have made many good friends there."
School of Public Affairs
Penn State at Harrisburg
Web page: www.personal.psu.edu/gxm27
A 1990 graduate of the CPAP Ph.D. program, Goktug Morcol is currently an associate professor of public administration and policy at Penn State Harrisburg. He is the author of several books and scholarly articles in the areas of policy analysis and evaluation, complexity theory, business improvement districts, and metropolitan governance. Morcol joined CPAP as a Fulbright scholar, after completing his undergraduate and master's degrees in sociology and public administration in Turkey. He says, "Pursuing a Ph.D. degree was a natural progression for me after earning my master's degree" and notes that he was attracted to CPAP by its reputation for scholarship in the field of public administration. "I learned a lot at CPAP," he says, particularly, "the importance of a sense of community in an intellectual environment. Unlike most other academic institutions, CPAP nurtures students intellectually and socially."