Six students from John Jay College’s MPA program participated in the 2018 Northeastern Conference on Public Administration (NECoPA). The NECoPA Conference took place in Baltimore, Maryland from Friday, November 2, 2018 - Sunday, November 4, 2018. This academic conference provided opportunities to present research, participate in panels and workshops, and engage with colleagues in networking events. Below are reflections from the conference written by Emily Cole-Prescott, Gwendolyn Saffran, Shanelle Greenidge, Sofia Calsy, and Uroosa Malik.
This November, I had the opportunity to present at the Northeast Conference on Public Administration (NECOPA). The conference highlighted new research on a wide range of public policy and administrative topics, from gender, health care and the pay gap to marijuana reform and mayoral authority. The primary theme of the conference focused on blind spots within public administrative policy and practice. Workshops and panel presentations shared the research at a digestible level for both students and professors.
The workshop of Professors Elias and Chordiya challenged attendees to analyze mayoral decision-making authority. Late one evening in August 2017, Mayor Pugh ordered the removal of Confederate statues throughout Baltimore, using the State’s Charter as justification, that allows the Mayor to make decisions for public safety and welfare purposes. However, Baltimore has a contract with the Maryland Historical Trust that allows the Trust to have input on such decisions. Students, professors, and professionals within the field of public administration engaged in a conversation about whether the Mayor overstepped her authority to make such a decision, and an array of perspectives were discussed. In general, attendees seemed to agree with the moral concept of the Mayor’s removal of the statues, noting that such an act required bravery. Attendees expressed concern that the decision could be legally challenged; however, attendees generally agreed that within the political context, removal of the statues represented a public benefit.
Such discussions are critical to both the academic and practitioner of public administration. Decisions within public agencies are often fraught with political concerns that, in some cases, merit swift resolution. Other concerns may require a calculated decision path that involves detailed analysis of alternatives, stakeholder collaboration, and strategic implementation. This case study demonstrates the pressing matters of which public administration professionals are often faced. Although in this case, the elected representative made the decision, appointed officials such as City Managers and department directors face and must resolve similar, pressing matters on an ongoing basis. Therefore, this conversation is critical to the professional development of future public administrators. Similar discussions were continued the next day of the conference, in “Managing Public Organizations in the 21st Century: Navigating Political, Social and Fiscal Challenges,” where panelists debated what it means to be a public administrator now and how administrators navigate the many political, social and fiscal challenges of public organizations.
The NECOPA conference provided growth opportunities for those developing their leadership skills. As a student researcher, I had the experience of sitting on a panel with four other John Jay students to present the implications of the #MeToo movement. Each panelist shared research on such factors as gender identity records, sexual harassment training, and implicit bias. Uroosa Malik discussed how the #MeToo movement has actually existed for more than thirteen years but has recently been invigorated by social media initiatives. Sofia Calsy explained how implicit bias limits leadership and career growth for women. Shanelle Greenidge presented research about the transparency of Offices of Inspector Generals, and Gwen Saffran and I presented our research on assessment of the X marker for gender identity within the legal and political context.
The NECOPA conference connected me to like-minded peers, professors, and potential contacts for continued professional development. As a primarily-online student, this conference was a dynamic opportunity to interact with individuals in my field. I look forward to staying in contact with these professionals as our careers progress.
Emily Cole-Prescott is a Graduate student at John Jay College where she studies Public Administration and Policy with a specialization in Management and Operations. Emily was a Research Assistant for Professor Elias. She has worked for twelve years in various local government roles, focused primarily on land use development. Emily graduated from Western CT State with a BA in English and recently had the opportunity to work with the Center for Compassion, Creativity and Innovation and Dr. Chris Kukk on various research and community-driven initiatives about how to grow compassion within society. Emily lives in southern Maine with her husband and two dogs.
From November 2-4, 2018, I attended the Northeast Conference on Public Administration (NECoPA) in Baltimore, Maryland, hosted by the University of Baltimore. I went to NECoPA with professors and students from John Jay; most of us were presenting on topics relating to gender issues in the public sector, but also on transparency in government, diversity, and issues in health care and Medicaid. The conference opened with the Social Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (SEDI) Workshop, presented by Professors Rashmi Chordiya (Seattle University), Nicole Elias (John Jay College), and Sean McCandless (University of Illinois, Springfield). The workshop’s aim was to examine how issues of SEDI manifest in public service. The presenters used the case of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s late-night removal of Baltimore’s Confederate statues. Workshop participants discussed not only the issues of social equity and racial justice surrounding Confederate monuments, but Mayor Pugh’s latitude to unilaterally decide to remove the monuments. Despite the controversial nature of the subject, participants could agree that it is the job of public administrators not only follow procedure but to consider what is fair, just, and equitable.
In the following session, I was part of a panel titled “#MeToo: Implications for the Public Sector Workplace.” The other John Jay students on the panel were Emily Cole-Prescott, Shanelle Greenidge, Uroosa Mallik, and Sofia Calsy. The panel discussed non-binary gender identity markers, transparency in government, the #MeToo movement, and implicit bias in the workplace. The name of my presentation, which I presented with Emily Cole-Prescott, was titled “The ‘X’ Marker: Implications of Non-binary Gender for Public Administration and Policy.” We discussed seven jurisdictions in the United States that offer an X gender marker (as opposed to an F or M) on some form of state-issued identification documents. We discussed the findings of our qualitative analysis of these seven policies and the implications for public policy, public administrators, and public service values. The academic literature discussing gender change policies and non-binary identities is very small, so it was exciting to be able to contribute to the academic conversation and discuss this topic with academics and current and future public administrators.
In the days since our all-women panel presented at NECoPA, a record number of women have been elected to the House of Representatives. There were also historic wins in both state and federal legislative positions for LGBTQ public servants, as well as people of color and Muslim people. As the United States continues to diversify, it is important to elevate these voices, and I thank NECoPA for giving us the opportunity to speak.
Gwen Saffran is in her second year at John Jay College pursuing an MPA studying Public Policy & Administration with a specialization in Criminal Justice Policy. She works as a research assistant with Professor Nicole Elias studying sex and gender in the public sector. Gwen is also a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow through John Jay’s Prisoner Reentry Institute. She is placed at the Vera Institute of Justice, where she works on the Center for Sentencing and Corrections’ Safe Alternative to Segregation Initiative. The Initiative works with state and local departments of corrections to reform and reduce their use of solitary confinement.
Being able to attend NECOPA was an amazing experience. I was able to learn a lot about different policies that are affecting our communities in different fields. From the #metoo movement to the opiate crisis, these topics will somehow impact our lives either directly or indirectly. When I attend the SEDI workshop regarding Baltimore’s mayor, Catherine Pugh, removing a Confederate statue before going through the proper channels, it opened the floor to questions of what consequence can occur. When you think about how previous Presidents have used executive orders to do similar things on a macro level. It has empowered President Trump to implicate travel bans and recently plans to not allow anyone to just become a citizen because they were born on US soil. In my opinion, Mayor Pugh, was fair with her actions to remove the statute. However, the question may arise if this starts a domino effect and cause other Mayors to overstep their authority. The implications of how the political standpoint it may present an interesting discussion in the future.
Having the opportunity to present my topic on home health market at NECOPA was refreshing. I spoke about new policies in New York possibly forming monopoly agencies in the home health market. I was able to interact with people that had a lot of interest in my topic. I was even surprised that people as me questions regarding some of the benefits of the policy I was addressing. I didn’t know the full answer, but it allowed me to think about different ways to improve my research going forward.
Segun Olaniyi is a native of New York but was born in the United Kingdom. He moved to the United States with his family at the age of 9. He is a senior at John Jay College of Criminal Justice working on his Masters in Public Administration. Segun also attended John Jay College for his undergraduate degree and served as the President of African Students Association (ASA). He was a member of the Malave Leadership Academy and worked on volunteer projects that involved non-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. He currently works at the Center for Court Innovation and serves as a member of the Organization of the Advancement of Nigerians (OAN) and American Society of Public Administration (ASAP).
Segun’s research examines new provisions adopted by New York State’s attempts to control Medicaid fraud and labor marketing committed by home health agencies. Segun is hoping to explore the implications of these new policy approaches and how it effects Licensed home care agencies and Consumer Direct Personal Assistance Program through a qualitative analysis. Segun will be interviewing stakeholders such as caregivers, clients, agencies and insurance companies. The conclusion of the research hopes to address the positive and negative effects these policies have in regard to corruption and the home health labor markets.
The 2018 Northeastern Conference of Public Administration (NECoPA) was absolutely inspiring and the catalyst I needed to remind me why I am furthering my education. I was nervous about the conference because of the time frame of my presentation on the politics of Offices of Inspector General, the audience, and my fellow student presenters of John Jay College. As an online student, my biggest fear coming into the conference was being isolated from the John Jay College due to a non-existent prior relationship and no one being interested in my research. I was completely wrong. This conference gave me the opportunity to meet people just like me with similar interests and empowered me to continue my research path. We encouraged each other while we practiced our presentations, before we presented in our group text chat, and celebrated a job well done afterward. The amazing thought-provoking and empowering moment occurred when I realized there were students like me that enjoy discourse on political issues and shared the same interests in public administration. I highly recommend students and faculty to partake in future NECoPA events seeking like-minded people.
Shanelle Greenidge is a second-year online graduate student at John Jay College, CUNY. She currently works as a Graduate Assistant for Women in the Public Sector (WPS) under the direction of Dr. Maria D’Agostino and Dr. Nicole Elias and as a Research Assistant under the direction of Dr. Robin Kempf, in addition to being a Recruitment Assistant and a volunteer for various organizations. Shanelle hopes to continue her education in advance professional degree programs after she earns her master's degree in Operation and Management.
NECoPA 2018 Conference in Charm City!
Hi! My name is Sofia Calsy, I live in Georgia, and I am an online student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice pursuing my master’s degree in Public Administration. I most recently attended the North Eastern Conference of Public Administration (NECoPA) in Baltimore, Maryland. This was my first experience attending and presenting at a conference. I have to admit it was such a privilege and I found the whole conference experience to be amazing. I was able to meet peers, colleagues and learn about many issues discussed in the Public Administration field.
Nervousness is an understatement. I was a bundle of nerves before the conference. I was excited about the experience, but there was so much unknown. Being an online student that does not live in New York is sometimes isolating. I never get to attend on-campus activities or have a chance to interact with other students. I didn’t know if the other students on the panel had been to a conference, or if they all knew each other. However, meeting my fellow John Jay peers was one of my favorite parts of the conference. I arrived in Baltimore and later that night the panel of students, and Dr. D’Agostino met each other in the lobby. We introduced ourselves, and each presented our PowerPoint to each other. We provided feedback and comments. I quickly learned everyone was as nervous and excited as I was. We instantly stayed together as a group. That night we made breakfast and dinner plans for the weekend. It was a great start to know that you would not be alone for the weekend.
The next day was Presentation Day! I have been working on a research project with Dr. D’Agostino, the study purpose is to see if public sector leaders are aware of implicit bias in the workplace or aware of their own implicit bias. I built off of this and presented on the lack of women in leadership, implicit bias and the future of public administration. I had this image that I was going to present to 300 people. It was much less, I am a bit dramatic! It was not bad at all, and I prepared and felt like I did well on my presentation. Questions were asked after by Professor Kempf, that was the most nerve-wracking part for me, but again I worked myself up for nothing. She asked fair and thought-provoking questions. If you know the material behind your presentation, you will know how to answer the questions. I think all my peers did an exceptional job and all their presentations were on such relevant topics.
Saturday was a more relaxed, as my presentation was over with, I felt accomplished. Saturday was another day filled with rich and valuable content. I was able to meet and network with many professors from all over the United States. Some of the presentations I attended discussed: Private and public prisons and what detention centers look like in our own country, Hurricane Maria and the United States Federal Government response to natural disasters, Intelligence dilemmas, and the complexity of democracy in Nigeria. The presentations were followed by a very stimulating Q & A session, it made me feel part of an engaged and valued audience. This was a fantastic opportunity that enriched my education by introducing me to new and innovative people and topics that make me excited for the future!
My name is Sofia Calsy, and I am a graduate student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. My specialization is human resource and management and operation. My passion is learning, if I could be paid to be a student, I would. My area of interests includes tackling significant issues. My current research interests are gender equity. As a former case manager, I continue to pursue approaches that will help enrich and better the lives of adults and children. I continue to grow and evolve. I look forward to building my career with my gained education from John Jay College.
Attending the NECoPA Conference was one of the best experiences I had in my college journey. Ever since my sophomore year of college, one of my professors told me about the NECoPA conference and encouraged me to attend and present there too and at that very moment, I set a goal for myself to make that happen. A few years had passed, and I always had that goal in the back of my head, however, I never got the chance to actually pursue it until the same professor emailed me to register for the conference and send my proposal in. I took no time in doing so and sent my proposal to present on the #MeToo Movement and Sexual Harassment.
Once the proposal was approved, I knew it was my time to shine. I started preparing my presentation and as time neared, I started to become very nervous. However, I received guidance for professor D’Agostino and fellow panelist which helped me understand the direction of my presentation a whole lot better. Furthermore, as time had neared, the other panelists and I met in Baltimore, Maryland. We all shared our presentations, felt better as to how the actual presentation day would go, and became much more confident. The run through calmed my nerves and I was ready to speak about the most controversial topic in our society today. It was important for me to share my thoughts and my insight on the MeToo Movement and how it impacts thousands of individuals not only in the private sector, but the public sector as well. As a future public administrator, it was important for me to stand up and inform others on the sexual harassment policies, along with Human Resource blind spots which need to be catered towards creating a safe work environment for all.
As the 3rd presenter on the panel, I was able to get all my nerves and thoughts together and mentally prepare myself for my presentation. As it was my turn to present, the next 10 minutes were so impactful and truly unforgettable. I stated all my points in a concise and timely manner and the professors around me were very proud. After we all presented, professor Kempf asked us each a question which I believed I wouldn’t be prepared for. However, after questioning me on my next steps regarding this topic and where I see myself taking it next, I was able to give my thoughts on how it’s important to work with other organizations and understand what works and what doesn’t work regarding sexual harassment policies, while incorporating other mechanisms from other agencies, in order to make a bigger impact for the future. Professor Kempf seemed very proud and stated, “I see your next step as taking over the world!” and at that moment, I knew my goal was truly met and I made the impact I wanted to, as I envisioned for the past 3 years.
Uroosa Malik is in her final year in the dual-degree BS/MPA program, studying Public Administration and specializing in Inspection and Oversight at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She has interned with the Department of Correction and CUNY’s Research Foundation, which furthered her interest in serving the public in an effective and efficient manner. In addition, she aspires to explore her horizons and study abroad in the Middle East. Lastly, upon graduation, Uroosa plans on working for the Inspector General’s Office or the Department of Investigation and pursuing a career with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.