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2017 NASPAA Annual Conference:
Rebuilding Trust and Revitalizing Public Service!

Over 650 people from over 20 different countries attended the 2017 NASPAA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. October 11 - 14th, making it one of the largest in history. The important theme: Confidence in Public and Nonprofit Institutions: How is it Built, How is it Lost, and How is it Regained? was examined through four tracks. There were 84 panel sessions, 20 committee and section meetings, and three keynotes, totaling over 300 unique presenters.

Conference Highlight

Watch the entire speech by former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden!


Former U.S. Vice President, Joseph R. Biden, spoke to NASPAA on Friday night to issue the Biden Initiative. His keynote called attention to the importance and relevance of the thought leaders in the room. Biden stated that NASPAA schools and faculty have the ability more than any other group to make an impact on the future of public service. He said, "you have the mission to promote and revitalize public service; it's part of what you do." He specifically challenged NASPAA schools to study and devise policies to revitalize the middle class. Calling this one of the greatest issues of our time, he asked, "What policy solutions do you propose to ensure Americans are growing and thriving in the middle class and continue to be relevant?" Looking to the future, what investments should be made, how should budget priorities be adjusted, and what should tax policy be? Biden held there was "a lot of brain power here" with the NASPAA audience and he looked forward to convening again in a year to share ideas and further study of income inequality and its public administration consequences. The Biden Initiative is sponsored by the University of Delaware and the Biden Institute.

Panels of note

Congratulations to the participants of the 2017 Class of NASPAA NEXT, held during the NASPAA Annual Conference.  We expect big things from you!!  Special thank you to Jenny Knowles Morrison from The LBJ School of Public Affairs who facilitated a great workshop!


A Focus on NASPAA2017 Sustainable Development Panels
Track 2 took on the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 16 and how its tenets of transparency, accountability, and participation are essential to building trust in governance in countries around the world. The panel on Accountability, which was chaired by University of Maryland Dean Robert Orr and included former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley and Harvard Kennedy School Dean Doug Elmendorf, talked about how you teach Accountability in the classroom. O'Malley said students are most motivated to study when they see accountability and performance as essential parts of solving big problems and getting things done. He also advised that accountability be taught not in terms of bringing out the whip to punish bad performers, but as a means to raise up leaders and employees by pinpointing good and great performers.   Elmendorf said he teaches accountability as a responsibility, but also a power: in communicating your integrity and quality to Congress, to your expert peers, and to the public, you also gain a power-a power to influence policy deliberations with evidence, and to speak to a broader world about things that matter. 
The Panel on Participation, chaired by the University of New Orleans professor Robert Montjoy, focused on elections as an important means of encouraging citizen participation and engagement with governance around the world.  Harvard Kennedy School's Pippa Norris argued for more attention to educating students for election administration since there has been a significant rise globally in flawed and failed elections that call into question the foundations of governance and trust in government for those populations. It has become a problem in both developing countries and established democracies. After giving specific examples of challenges to good election administration in countries like Indonesia (where officials' use of cheap paper destroyed billions of Rupiah in investment in optical scanning in a recent election), Chad Vickery from IFES noted that the US does not fare particularly well in international comparisons of electrical integrity. He traced the roots of that to gerrymandered voting districts and states not talking to each other about outdated, deceased, or relocated voters. He cited a unique international statistic that whereas 85% of election administration experts outside the US were negative about election processes lacking national oversight or control of election processes, 64% of American election administrators ranked that highly!  The Humphrey School's Doug Chapin argued that Election Administration can be the tip of the spear of public administration education, arguing that voting is the only face to face with government that many citizens encounter. The better their voting experience, therefore, the more trust and engagement in government they may have overall. Panelists felt that election administration, and more broadly, participatory processes, should be increasingly appealing to public affairs students. It used to be that only "politicos" and students interested narrowly in government administrative processes found election administration interesting. Now, it is a home for students interested in design, democracy, the law, government reform, disability rights, data science, and the civil rights of under-represented groups. 


The Voinovich Pitch Panel
The conference panel that inaugurated the Voinovich Public Innovation "Pitch" Competition saw the University of Maryland School of Public Policy win with their "Do Good Campus." The pitch competition, established to honor the memory of Senator George V. Voinovich, encourages champions of creative problem-solving approaches to social innovation in education. The award is sponsored by NASPAA and Ohio University's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. The University of Maryland School of Public Policy, NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the LBJ School of Public Affairs University of Texas Austin were selected as the three finalists for the award prior to the conference.
Presenting the Do Good Campus on behalf of the School at the final pitch competition, was Robert T. Grimm Jr, director of the Do Good Institute and the Levenson Family Chair in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership in the School.  Launched in 2016, the Do Good Campus builds on initial efforts, including an annual campus-wide Do Good Challenge which has produced a number of powerful and impactful social ventures and projects working to address issues, such as hunger, poverty and health disparity. The Do Good Campus approach busts down traditional academic silos and makes social impact education a core element of all students' experiences from orientation to graduation.  Finalists were given 10 minutes to pitch their idea and then answered questions from the panel of judges who are experts in social innovation, nonprofit management and public sector value creation. The first annual Senator George Voinovich Public Innovation Challenge was open to all NASPAA-affiliated student groups, faculty and administrators across the United States and in 14 countries around the globe.

Increasing the Number and Percentage of Underrepresented Minority (URM) Faculty in MPA/MPP Faculties
Blue Wooldridge of Virginia Commonwealth University convened a panel on "Increasing the Number and Percentage of Underrepresented Minority (URM) Faculty in MPA/MPP Faculties."  This panel, which was standing room only, consisted of Simone Gbolo, the National Director of the Public Policy International Affairs Program; Laura Bloomberg, Dean of the Humphrey School, Tara Perino, Director of the PhD Project; and Sophal Ear, Associate Professor at Occidental College.  All the panelists discussed their experiences as well as strategies recruiting persons of color into doctoral programs and placing them into positions in academia.  There was consensus that the number of faculty of color won't significantly increase until more academics look for and value faculty that bring different experiences and teaching styles to the table.  The emotional highpoint of the panel was when Professor Ear described his journey as a young child emigrating from war torn Cambodia and with the help of good Samaritans and the PPIA Fellowship he made his way to Berkeley and Princeton, and ultimately becoming a faculty member at Occidental College.

Comparative Perspectives on Trust and Institutional Capacity from the Global South: Implications for Public Affairs Education
The panelists represented different parts of the Global South -- Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh Colombia. They compared and contrasted each region's challenge of building institutional capacity, reducing corruption, increasing accountability and restoring public trust. The panelists eloquently offered their historical and present-day insights into how distrust and lack of capacity often manifest in the forms of violence, corruption, and instability. The extremely bright and ambitious panelists spoke on challenges facing their respective countries. Sebastián Líppez-De Castro, an assistant professor of Political Science at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, and a PhD student of Community and Public Affairs at Binghamton University, SUNY; Abdul Waheed Ahmad, an Afghan Fulbright scholar at the State University of New York in Binghamton; Chaouki Ouadah, an Algerian activist, Fulbright scholar, UN intern, and the Algerian civil society representative at the UN International Human Rights Summit; and, Md. Shahriar Islam, currently pursuing a PhD in the College of Community and Public Affairs at Binghamton University and former professor in the Department of Public Administration at University Dhaka and the University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh. Access their full presentation and bios in the conference app. 

Global Pandemics and Crisis Management in the 2018 NASPAA-Batten Simulation Competition -and the MPA/MPP Curriculum
The panelists presenting at the session title "Global Pandemics and Crisis Management in the 2018 NASPAA-Batten Simulation Competition -and the MPA/MPP Curriculum" shared with us their stories and experiences dealing with public health emergencies such as the Ebola and Zika epidemics -- keeping audience members at the edge of their seats. During this thought-provoking session, panelists addressed key questions that student participants should consider during the 2018 NASPAA-Batten Simulation Competition:
  • How should a government strengthen and sustain its core public health capacities?
  • What counts as a global health security concern?
  • How should public policy and public health officials work together to mitigate the potentially devastating impacts of a global health crisis? 
Thank you to Ambassador Jack Chow, Dr. Gregory Koblentz, Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner, and Dr. Jamechia Hoyle for sharing your knowledge with us! 


In Case You Missed It - Highlights

The opening plenary keynote was Tonia E. Ries, Executive Director of intellectual property at Edelman. Tonia discussed Edelman's global annual study, the 2017 Trust Baro here
See slides from her presentation here.



The NASPAA Awards Luncheon on Thursday's keynote was Tim Delaney, president and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits. Tim reflected on lessons from his career working across all three sectors. See resources Tim shared for NASPAA students and faculty here.


Congrats to all the 2017 NASPAA Award Winners honored at Thursday's and Friday's luncheon.
  To view the photos from the entire conference here.
Watch a video: Coltrane Stansbury Rutgers Alumni & 2017 NASPAA Spotlight Award Winner
  Watch a video: Christopher Williams, El Monte Police: 2017 NASPAA's Alumni Spotlight Winner
To relive or see what you missed - check out more conference coverage produced by our social media partner American University here.


  The 2017 NASPAA Annual Conference app is available (for both desktop and mobile versions) here. You can see a list of conference attendees, sponsors, and any materials that presenters have uploaded.

Thank you to the generous sponsors of the 2017 NASPAA Annual Conference!

Exclusive Thursday Evening Sponsor
Carnegie Mellon University, Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy

Platinum Sponsors
Arizona State University, School of Public Affairs
Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs
University of Southern California, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy

Gold Sponsors
Baruch College, Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs
City University of New York (CUNY), John Jay College of Criminal Justice
University of Delaware, School of Public Policy and Administration
Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government
Ohio University, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs
Texas A&M University, The Bush School of Government & Public Service
The University of Texas at Austin, The LBJ School of Public Affairs
University of Baltimore, College of Public Affairs
University of Maryland, School of Public Policy
University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
University of Washington, The Evans School of Public Policy & Governance
West Chester University, Department of Public Policy & Administration

Silver Sponsors
American University, School of Public Affairs
Indiana University, School of Public and Environmental Affairs
New York University, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
West Chester University, Department of Public Policy & Administration

Bronze Sponsors
Auburn University, Master of Public Administration
George Washington University, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration
University of Colorado Denver, School of Public Affairs

Copper Sponsors
Brown University, Watson Institute for International & Public Affairs
George Mason University, Schar School of Policy and Government
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Northern Illinois University, School of Public & Global Affairs

Conference Supporters
Cleveland State University Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs
Georgetown University, McCourt School of Public Policy
Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Public Policy
KDI School of Public Policy and Management
Oregon State University, School of Public Policy
Sacred Heart University, Master of Public Administration
Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
The Ohio State University, John Glenn College of Public Affairs
University at Albany, SUNY, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy
University of Central Florida, School of Public Administration
University of Georgia, School of Public and International Affairs
University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs
University of Kentucky, Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Local Host Reception Sponsors
Georgetown University, McCourt School of Public Policy
American University, School of Public Affairs
George Mason University, Schar School of Policy and Government
The George Washington University, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration
University of Maryland, School of Public Policy
University of the District of Columbia, School of Business and Public Administration


Conference Committee
Thank you to the 2017 NASPAA Annual Conference Committee!

Chair: Roger Hartley, University of Baltimore


Roland Anglin, Cleveland State University

John Bartle, University of Nebraska Omaha

David Birdsell, Baruch College

Thomas Bryer, University of Central Florida

Doerte Busch, Berlin School of Economics and Law

John Daly, University of South Florida

George Dougherty, University of Pittsburgh

James Douglas, UNC Charlotte

Liu Hong, Nanyang Technological University

Patria de Lancer Julnes, Penn State Harrisburg

Dan McIntyre, Columbia University

Chris Koliba, University of Vermont

Karen Mossberger, Arizona State University

Cristián Pliscoff, Universidad de Chile

Gabriel Puron Cid, CIDE

Ivan Sascha Sheehan, University of Baltimore

Meghna Sabharwal,  University of Texas at Dallas

Jessica Sowa, University of Baltimore

Don Waisanen, Baruch College

Andrew Whitford, University of Georgia

Peter Wilcoxen, Syracuse University




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