“I spent a lot of time volunteering with local not-for-profits and working in positions that sought to improve the welfare of children, college students and the surrounding community,” Dawn Bartolmeo says of her life before entering Binghamton’s Master of Public Administration Program. Her decision to enroll at Binghamton was motivated by her desire to obtain, as she explains, “a degree that would allow me to perform a social service.”
Now a program analyst for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service (Alexandria, Va.), Bartolomeo is responsible for duties ranging from drafting regulatory policy and managing state grants to preparing correspondence for communication with constituents and members of Congress — recently receiving a merit award for accomplishments in her current position.
“The faculty,” she says, “successfully plan courses that enhance your understanding of MPA competencies including leadership, creativity, complexity, dynamics and changeability.”
Bartolomeo also emphasizes the importance of “community-based projects that enabled students to see the impact of their work within the ‘real-world’” and the structure of Binghamton’s program in providing the foundation necessary to succeed in her career. “During my free time, I continue to volunteer and seek opportunities to help and educate others, she says. “There is such a great need within this country and in the world for individuals who possess specialized skills to use them to improve the lives of others.”
David Hubeny’s desire to pursue a graduate education began with his career as emergency manager for Binghamton University. “As someone who was already ‘in career,’ I wanted to enhance my administrative and management skills to become more effective in my job,” Hubeny says. “I spend all of my professional time, both career as well as volunteer activities, in the public sector and the MPA degree was the best option for me to develop and refine the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to succeed professionally.”
As a full-time University employee, husband, father of three, captain of the Broome County Hazardous Materials Team and member of the board of directors for the University’s nonprofit Harpur’s Ferry Student Volunteer Ambulance Service, Hubeny’s chief concern was maintaining a work/life balance. He explains the benefit of pursuing his Master in Public Administration degree right here at Binghamton, saying, “I was able to register as a part-time student and balance my personal, professional and academic responsibilities in such a way that none suffered. The academic expectations are reasonable and a part-time program was exactly what I needed to allow me to thrive professionally and personally for the duration of the MPA program.”
“As my duties include the direct management of personnel, finances and policies, the MPA education has proven to be invaluable,” Hubeny reports. “Classes in budget management, human resources and labor relations are all able to be applied in my professional career on a daily basis. The MPA refined and polished my skills and has allowed me to become more effective and efficient in my job.”
The MPA Program at Binghamton was perfectly suited to meet Hubeny’s needs for flexible scheduling and professional development. But he adds that “it is the department faculty who truly elevate the program …[T]he passion and knowledge of the faculty allow them to move beyond theoretical discussions and help students successfully apply the concepts that are learned. By bringing the classroom to life through internships and community involvement, faculty guide the learning process and allow the students to develop the skills needed to excel professionally.”
“Holding this well-respected degree has given me a higher level of credibility within my community and the nonprofit sector.”
When Elizabeth Monaco entered Binghamton University’s MPA program, she was already the executive director and chief professional officer of the Chenango (N.Y.) United Way. Monaco joined the MPA program to learn best practices and increase her effectiveness as an executive.
She was not disappointed. Binghamton’s MPA program gave her “a new perspective on the public administration field.”
“I am much more self-confident and willing to try new approaches to tackling tough issues in the nonprofit sector,” she says. The program helped her “shape a new personal standard for ethics in the workplace,” and it sharpened her focus on the “legal and fiduciary responsibilities” of a nonprofit executive.
“I also believe that holding this well-respected degree has given me a higher level of credibility within my community and the nonprofit sector,” she says.
The MPA program’s “warm and welcoming environment” made it a fast fit. Monaco praises the faculty for being easy to work with and ready to share a wealth of information. She appreciates the variety of reading and research materials that her coursework covered, and she enjoyed the interactive format of her classes.
After graduating from the MPA program, Monaco returned to Binghamton as an adjunct faculty member. “This was a very rewarding experience for me,” she says. “I was given the rare opportunity to share my experiences and to give back to my peers in the program that I loved.”
A former Peace Corps Volunteer currently working as a community services administrative manager at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City, a consultant for the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault and a volunteer advocate for the Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention at Mount Sinai Hospital, Cynthia Nuara is a busy woman with a wide range of responsibilities and influence. She credits her education in Binghamton’s Master’s in Public Administration Program with preparing her to serve effectively in these capacities.
“My MPA education has helped me to become a “macro” thinker; I often look at how organizational decision-making can affect various stakeholders. It especially helped me during my Peace Corps service to establish sustainable municipal systems and recognize that organizational capacity building is really “human” capacity building,” Nuara says.
The ability to effect and direct various incremental changes exemplify the skills Nuara honed at Binghamton. At work, her duties have ranged from grant writing and preparation to ensuring adherence to data collection and reporting contracts. As a consultant, she has helped law enforcement and community health workers understand and implement culturally sensitive treatment plans for Latino/a victims (of domestic violence and sexual assault). She even puts those skills to work in service as a volunteer, acting as a counselor and liaison between abuse victims and medical and/or law enforcement.
“I became a critical thinker” Nuara states, adding “all of the collaborative projects that I completed … at Binghamton, [such] as bringing together people, agencies, different organizational cultures and ideas can be very challenging, but as I also learned, very rewarding.” Nuara expresses her pleasure with the level of preparation she received, adding “the MPA Program at Binghamton University is extremely hands-on. The program and professors have excellent relationships with local nonprofit organizations and government agencies … every class in the MPA Program was the perfect balance of theory and practice.”
When Tim O’Hearn wanted to further his career in government, he enrolled in the MPA program at Binghamton University.
Today, he is the county administrator of Schuyler County, N.Y., where he is responsible for formulating the budget and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the county government. O’Hearn coordinates and guides county activities and projects and represents the county to the community — all while pursuing, as he says, “the most efficient and cost-effective delivery of services.”
O’Hearn credits coursework in the MPA program with connecting him to this career opportunity. As a student in the Local Government Finance class, he worked with Schuyler County to develop a performance-based budget. “This involvement contributed to my selection as the county administrator the following year,” he says.
After completing two undergraduate degrees at Binghamton University, Chelsea Robertson chose to stay for her Master’s degree in Public Administration. “I was interested in working for the government and found that the MPA program would not only allow me to achieve my career goals of becoming an urban planner but would provide me with a very versatile degree that would qualify me for many different types of jobs...security that I would find a job after graduation,” Chelsea explains. Making her choice even easier, Chelsea says, was the availability of night classes which, enabled her to pursue her degree while staying at her full-time job.
Chelsea credits the MPA program at Binghamton with providing the preparation necessary for graduates to transition from students to professionals. “The professors at Binghamton are truly interested in your development and helping you find employment after graduation,” Chelsea commends, and also emphasizes the valuable networking and local connections students make during their internship.
Now, as a planner for the Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board (Corning, NY), Chelsea acts as a consultant to six municipalities within her agency’s three-county jurisdiction, assisting in roles ranging from grant writing to studying municipal efficiency options and advising municipal boards based on interpretations of their laws.
Chelsea is also grateful for an education that enables her to handle tough, real-world situations. “The MPA really helped me to understand how our local governments work, the realities of the system and how to successfully work within (and sometimes try to change) that system… to deal with politically sensitive situations and how to make ethical decisions regardless of political pressure.”
“I love the work I do,” Chelsea says, “I feel like I’ve made a difference at the end of the day.”
Last Updated: 6/14/12