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Martin School Alum Follows Her Passion for Neighborhood Revitalization to Harvard

August 20 Monday 03:41 PM

Jeana Dunlap (MPA ’06) was recently selected to be a Harvard Loeb Fellow. We are thrilled to hear of her accomplishments! We caught up with her to discuss her passion for public service as she embarks on this new chapter. Currently, Jeana is the Director of Redevelopment Strategies for Louisville Metro, the consolidated metropolitan government for Kentucky’s largest city. “I focused on cross-functional coordination between agencies within Louisville Metro Government and collaboration with private for-profit and community-based organizations to ensure visible, tangible results at the neighborhood level,” she says.

She’s a pioneer in this role—the office was created in 2016 when the city was awarded a $29.5 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Implementation Grant to redevelop the Beecher Terrace public housing complex, which historically has faced many challenges. “Overall, the plan involves leveraging public dollars into more than $200 million of mixed-income, mixed-use development at the site through the public housing authority. My specific charge from Mayor Greg Fischer was to facilitate an additional $400 million of investment throughout the greater Russell neighborhood which includes Beecher Terrace.”

Dunlap’s been rewarded for her hard work through seeing tangible results. Although her work focuses on improving quality of life through the built environment, she also is an educator. “The work is challenging, primarily due to pervasive misperceptions about disinvested communities and the people that live there,” she notes, citing “the history of redlining practices” as an example, referring to discriminatory lending practices used by banks in the past to deny minorities access to financial instruments, such as mortgages, based on where they lived.

Neighborhood revitalization is a long-standing passion for Jeana. After she finished her degree at the Martin School, she joined Louisville Metro’s Department of Housing & Community Development. Describing this time, she says, “To my delight, this role including managing the Louisville-Jefferson County Landbank Authority, the Urban Renewal Commission and the Vacant Property Review Commission. I received a crash course in public real-estate policy.  I grew to understand the impact of real-estate market failures and appreciate the potential for using public policy as a tool for neighborhood revitalization. I’ve been hooked ever since!”

The Loeb Fellowship has been awarded by the Harvard Graduate School of Design since the 1960’s. As Dunlap explains, “Each cohort is selected based on their accomplishments and their potential to make the world a better place through the built environment.” In her 2019 cohort, Jeana will be joining eight other mid-career professionals from around the world in an immersive, self-directed learning environment—they will study at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, live together, and travel together. “I expect to use this time to reflect on my career and create a blueprint for the future. I’m most excited about connecting with world-renown researchers and innovators in the areas of social mobility, digital inclusion and equitable economic development,” she says.

Our MPA program provided a foundation for the exciting work she has done and will continue to do in the public sector. “I would not be where I am today without the Martin School. My studies in public policy help me think more critically about how social outcomes are interconnected with policy decisions.” Current students, take note! If Jeana were to go back in time to give herself advice, she would focus more on public finance — “While it is important to design programs that function efficiently, at the end of the day, it is our ability to finance great programs and projects that stands between the status quo and better quality of life. Ultimately, my research agenda going forward will focus on finding new ways to finance community inspired design.”

Even in her spare time, Jeana stays busy—"I love music and traveling around the region to catch concerts while taking in the local scene. I also crochet and cast zodiac charts for newborn babies. Other than that, I take time to practice ‘bourbonism’ in all its forms.” Spoken like a true Kentuckian!

MPA Student Interns at Office of Aging

August 8 Wednesday 08:28 AM

Ruthann Froberg is a Martin School MPA student who will enter her second year this fall. This summer, she completed her internship, a required component of the MPA program, in Knoxville, Tennessee. She shares her experiences below. 

This summer has been a fun and interesting break from my MPA coursework. The Community Action Council’s (CAC) Office on Aging, my internship location, is a part of the Knox County, Tennessee government that coordinates programming and resources for seniors. Their programs include Mobile Meals, a senior center, Grandparents as Parents, job support, and housing assistance. In general, I work at the Office on Aging with the Grandparents as Parents (GAP) director for half of the week and at the O’Connor Senior Center for the rest of the week. The work is a mixture of legislative and topical research, writing, data analysis, and meetings. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to learn in-depth about specific social issues, to interact with seniors at O’Connor, and to learn from the Office on Aging workers. And it has been fun to spend the summer in Knoxville!

Most significantly, this summer I have learned more about grandfamilies, families where grandparents (or other family members or family friends) have taken in children when the parents are not able to care for them. There are more than 2.6 million grandparents in the U.S. who are solely responsible for their grandchildren. Almost 4,000 of those grandparents are in Knox County where the Office on Aging is situated (statistics per the American Community Survey of 2016). A lot of the work I am doing this summer is to support the GAP director with any research and outreach she does in order to strengthen the efficacy of the program. Many of these grandparents search for economic and social support because they are unexpectedly parenting for a second time in their lives. I have appreciated the opportunity to learn about responses to this social issue and to observe how a county office and program director address such issues in their community My experience at the Office on Aging has helped affirm how much I love working with seniors and how much I want to spend my career advocating for their needs and concerns.

Congratulations to our 2018 Graduates!

July 6 Friday 01:51 PM

Congratulations, graduates! We honored our newest alumni with an awards ceremony on May 4th in the presence of faculty, family, and friends. Where are they headed next? Many of our graduates have already hit the ground running:

  • Eve Wallingford will take on a new role as the Legislative Aide to Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Councilwoman Plumin in August. She will be joining a bevy of fellow alumni in local government, both in Lexington and beyond!
  • Leah Byers is a Tax and Budget Policy Fellow for the Civitas Institute in North Carolina, which focuses on North Carolina state economic, electoral, and education policy.
  • Paul Kleier has accepted a position as the Community Development Asistant for the City of Blue Ash, Ohio. His work primarily focuses on code enforcement, planning, and zoning. Congratulations, Paul!
  • Ryan Kaffenberger is the new Research Director for Commerce Lexington, our local Chamber of Commerce.

Congratulations, class of 2018! 

Clay Congress 2018

July 6 Friday 03:09 PM

The biggest strength in this program lies in bringing together 50 students from so many different backgrounds. It challenges us to rethink how we make relationships and the notion that we can only be friends with those who hold the same opinions as ourselves. This is a big thing for people going into public service to think about and was really helpful for me personally.

- Participant feedback

In May, exemplary college students from around the country participated in the annual Clay Congress, which is sponsored by the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship. For one week, collegians gather in Lexington at the University of Kentucky with the purpose of learning the "lost art of negotiation, goodwill, and compromise." The Martin School is proud to partner with the Henry Clay Center by developing and facilitating programming.

Some of the highlights from the week:

  • A visit to the national headquarters of the Council of State Governments, which included leadership development activities;
  • Workshops and panel presentations on the policy process;
  • Bipartisan policy solution project

The policy project is a cornerstone of the program, and is meant to simulate the policy process. Students were placed in to subcommittees to tackle one of four policy problems-- immigration, health care, relations with North Korea, and net-neutrality/e-commerce. Students for each policy topic were placed in teams. The teams were assigned ideological stances and told to work together to find a solution, mimicking democracy in action. Participants often were assigned to ideologies that conflicted with their own, challenging them to better understand alternative perspectives. They also had the opportunity to weigh in on the proposals of other teams.

Doctoral students from the Martin School played an important role in the development of programming, and its execution. Pictured above are participants with doctoral student Andrew Sullivan (third from top left), who acted as an advisor and coach to students as they developed their policy solutions. We hope all the participants enjoyed their visit to the Bluegrass State! We look forward to continuing our outreach work with partners like the Henry Clay Center. 

Wendell H. Ford Lecture Series Focuses on Immigration Reform

June 28 Thursday 01:26 PM

On April 11, we welcomed former Congressman Mazzoli to campus to deliver the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Lecture. The Congressman focused his remarks on immigration policy. He, alongside his co-author, spearheaded immigration reform efforts in the 1980's. During his remarks, Congressman Mazzoli highlighted the importance of tenacity and political leadership.

As a topic salient to not only historical events but also today, Mazzoli's reflections were paired with a panel discussing the key challenges and aspects of immigration reform today. Former U.S. District Court Judge Jennifer Coffman moderated a panel including Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and Robert King, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. 

Conversations of the past, current, and potential future challenges regarding immigration policy had many commonalities-- immigration is a multi-faceted policy area, regardless of political ideology or affiliation.