Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Women in Leadership: Getting Unstuck

“Still Stuck: Women and Leadership in the 20th Century” was the apt and provocative title of a timely panel discussion I attended at the recent annual conference of the International Leadership Association in Atlanta. Panelists – all accomplished women in leadership – highlighted both women’s recent advances and the barrage of evidence that we are still excluded from the top ranks of business, major nonprofits, and government.

Sherry Penney, former chancellor of the University of Massachusetts; Barbara Kellerman, widely published Harvard leadership scholar; Deborah Rhode, Stanford law professor; and Susan Madsen, professor at Utah Valley University focused on what stands in the way of women’s equality as well as remedies. They pointed to some familiar statistics: In the US, women constitute only 19 percent of Congress, 12 per cent of governors, and 19 percent of mayors of the largest 100 cities. They are 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. (Percentages are much lower for women of color.)

Rhode, in her valuable recent book, Women and Leadership, cites a wide array of studies indicating that the biggest barriers to women’s advancement are unconscious bias (on the part men and women), in-group favoritism and “inhospitable work-family structures.” She offers an array of remedies from individual choices to public policies. During the panel discussion she noted that the adoption of organizational and public policies aimed at gender equity are important steps but that unless they are implemented effectively, equity is unlikely to result.

The good news is that attitudes toward women in leadership are improving, and men as well as women increasingly support more equal division of work in the home. Still, the first female major-party candidate for US President has just been defeated. Getting fully unstuck remains a long-term project.

By: Barbara Crosby, Associate Professor
Barbara C. Crosby is associate professor at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and former academic co-director of the Center for Integrative Leadership at the University of Minnesota. She has taught and written extensively about leadership and public policy, integrative leadership, cross-sector collaboration, women in leadership, media and public policy, and strategic planning. She is the author of Leadership for Global Citizenship (1999) and co-author with John M. Bryson of (Leadership for the Common Good: Tackling Public Problems in a Shared-Power World 2d. ed. 2005).

Thursday, November 3, 2016

On Evaluation and Being Right in the Federal Government

The Comptroller General of the United States, Gene Dodaro, recently visited the Humphrey School of Public Affairs for a day full of events and conversation around program evaluation, getting the facts right, and how the Government Accountability Office (GAO) sets out to make a difference.

The federal government’s “watch dog” organization started doing financial audits, back when we could count all the Federal vouchers that were given out. Today, their approach is primarily focused on program evaluation and implementation.

I had the opportunity to ask Mr. Dodaro how the GAO balances accuracy and expediency, while at a "Theory to Practice" event hosted by the PNLC and the Dean's Office. If Congress makes a request because they are trying to write a bill, how does the GAO balance the political timing of that request, with its evaluation’s integrity?

Mr. Dodaro answered that the GAO is primarily concerned with being right. Their main strength is their reputation for nonpartisan evaluation work. A politically “on time” report that is not completely accurate fails to be useful, and damages the GAO’s reputation in the long run.

The GAO has a team to investigate every area of the Federal government, generally at the request of Congress, though the Comptroller General can also initiate investigations. A part of the Legislative Branch, the GAO is the counterpart to OMB of the Executive branch.

Their reports cover issues from Federal AircraftDOD Contract ServicesDOD Intelligence, and Ebola Response, and those are just a few reports released in the past two days!

GAO’s recommendations are implemented about 80% of the time for program improvement in the Federal government.

The Washington Post recently posted an article about GAO practicing what they preach, especially regarding the gender pay gap and female executive leadership. The GAO boasts 41% of women in senior executive roles, above the government-wide average, and years ahead of the 16% rate in private companies.

By: Lauren Walker Bloem
Lauren is a student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, pursuing an MPP in Governance and Human Rights. She works for the PNLC during the school year, and worked at the Government Accountability Office in Washington, DC this past summer.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Award Winning Innovations of Minnesota State Government

In reading a daily news service of government stories nationwide, I was struck by the preponderance of negative stories. Why do we focus so much on what government does wrong when government does so many things right?

On July 21st, the State of Minnesota is going to celebrate ten examples of state government innovation. As the chair of the judging committee for the awards, I can report that MN state government is making great progress. Nearly 70 applications were received from 18 different state agencies demonstrating that our government officials are trying new ways to deliver government services more efficiently and effectively, which made are judging difficult.

We chose three innovations to receive the highest commendation:

· Department of Transportation: Government-to-Government Tribal-State Relations Training
State agencies have long grappled with how to properly communicate, interact and consult with Minnesota’s Tribal Sovereign Nations. Employees of state agencies are mandated by the Governor’s Executive Order 13-10 to consult with the tribes on matters of mutual interest, yet they have not been equipped with the knowledge or skills they need to properly consult. Some agencies hired tribal liaisons to coordinate the work between their agencies and tribal nations. Due to the high demands, many tribal liaisons are overloaded. Alternatively, training for state officials was developed that included content needed to incorporate both the concerns of Minnesota’s Tribal Sovereign Nations and the needs and the requirements of state agencies. The University of Minnesota Duluth partnered with the state to develop the training.

· Department of Labor and Industry : PIPELINE Project
The Department of Labor and Industry is integrating and expanding the dual-training and registered apprenticeship system in Minnesota through the industry-based, employer-driven PIPELINE Project. Leveraging Minnesota’s success in registered apprenticeship programs, dual-training programs offer employment, education, and training to deliver industry required skills today for the high-demand, high-wage occupations of tomorrow. Industries included are advanced manufacturing, agriculture, health care services, and information technology. While housed at the Department of Labor and Industry, the PIPELINE Project is directed by employers and their industry representatives.

· Department of Transportation: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Bridge Inspection Project
The Minnesota Department of Transportation found that Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for bridge inspection improve safety, provide less disruption to traffic, and reduce work time per bridge from eight to five days. Traditionally, bridge inspections are accomplished by a "snooper truck" that sits on the bridge deck and extends a bucket underneath the bridge. UAS provide inspection detail that replicate the information gleaned through traditional measures, and costs significantly less in equipment and traffic control needs. 

The following seven innovations were also commended for their creativity, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness:

· An interactive online tool called ParkFinder that helps Minnesotans find a park that has just what they are looking for (e.g. beaches, bike trail, cabins, etc.);

· Design, construction, and restoration of aquatic habitat in the St. Louis River feeding Lake Superior to achieve Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement goals;

· A program for U. S. military Veterans in adult day care that uses songwriting, photography, and performance to entertain audiences, while giving purpose to the veterans;

· A first in the nation Army Compatible Land Use Buffer for Camp Ripley;

· A voluntary challenge, assistance, and recognition program to help Minnesota cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals;

· An outreach effort for state employees and their adult dependents who are at risk for type 2 diabetes that provides access to a digital program designed to lower participants’ risk for obesity-related chronic disease; and,

· An innovative community engagement process to update the Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan and the 20-Year State Highway Investment Plan.

Each of these state innovations had a significant positive payback for the dollars invested while improving services for Minnesotans. The next time you are troubled by something government doesn’t do right, think about all the services like water quality, meat inspections, road design, public parks and forests, and universities that are done well. And know that Minnesota state public servants are continuing to innovate and improve what they do.

By: Jay Kiedrowski 

Jay is a Senior Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and directs the Minnesota State Government Innovation Awards, which are co-sponsored by the Humphrey School and the Bush Foundation.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

New Leadership Book Integrates Heart, Head, and Hands

Last night John Bryson and I walked across the street from our condo and bought ice cream cones to celebrate the arrival of my new book Teaching Leadership: An Integrative Approach. The book was at least seven years in the making: I devoted some of my sabbatical in 2009-10 to deepening my understanding of effective teaching and leadership development in order to prepare for the book. Then when I returned to the Humphrey School in the fall of 2010, I started working with my colleagues Gary DeCramer and Jodi Sandfort to outline a book that would capture our approach to leadership education at Humphrey and highlight essential leadership practices.

Eventually these conversations extended to more than two dozen accomplished leadership educators in the U.S. and elsewhere. The result is a book that I avidly hope can help novice and seasoned leadership educators alike better prepare themselves for their important work. The book integrates the “heart, head, and hands” of leadership practice. By heart I mean the passions and core values that energize leadership work. Head refers to key leadership theories and research findings. Hands refers to the careful work of conducting learning experiences inside and outside the classroom.

I am especially appreciative of all the Humphrey and University of Minnesota colleagues who contributed their ideas and experiences to the book. I have mentioned John, Jodi and Gary already. Others are Kevin Gerdes, Kathy Quick, and June Nobbe. The book is described further at

By: Barbara C. Crosby

Barbara C. Crosby is associate professor at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and former academic co-director of the Center for Integrative Leadership at the University of Minnesota. She has taught and written extensively about leadership and public policy, integrative leadership, cross-sector collaboration, women in leadership, media and public policy, and strategic planning. She is the author of Leadership for Global Citizenship (1999) and co-author with John M. Bryson of (Leadership for the Common Good: Tackling Public Problems in a Shared-Power World 2d. ed. 2005).

Friday, July 22, 2016

Teaching and Learning in Australia: Strategy Mapping, Public Art, and Resilient Leadership

During the last two weeks of May and first two weeks of June, John Bryson and I were visiting fellows with the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG), an impressive collaboration among national and state governments and universities. In a previous post, I wrote about our experience in New Zealand so here will concentrate on our work in Sydney and Melbourne, where we conducted workshops and presented research.

First, a quick description of ANZSOG: Aimed primarily at educating public servants, it offers an executive master’s degree, an array of workshops and forums on topics in public management and public affairs, and a variety of short courses. Several internationally respected public management and leadership scholars are on the faculty.
Being in Sydney in early June gave us the chance to be wowed by a public event called Vivid Sydney. At night, downtown buildings, including the iconic Sydney Opera House, were splashed with projections of colorful lights and animated patterns. Playful light sculptures were sprinkled along sidewalks and plazas. The event was a wonderful example of the power of public art to draw a diverse array of citizens (and visitors) into the heart of a major city.

In Sydney, John and I conducted a three-day workshop for national and state civil servants on strategic planning and visual strategy mapping. To prompt strategic thinking, we invited participants to compare the strategies employed by Alexander the Great and his commanders at Gaugemela and those used by community organizers in Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

In Melbourne, we conducted a day-long visual strategy mapping workshop for not-for-profit leaders aimed at strengthening their collaboration with government agencies. These leaders highlighted the importance of developing stronger cohesion and leadership within the not-for-profit sector as well as building greater mutual understanding between governments and nonprofits. We also gave a public talk on identifying collaborative advantage and we met with senior civil servants in the Victoria state government to convey insights from the not-for-profit workshop.

Being in Melbourne also gave John and me the chance to see a highly energetic production of Matilda, based on Roald Dahl’s story of resilient leadership from below, at the historic Princess Theatre. Toxic leaders in home and school were also on tragicomic display.

I’ll conclude with a couple of observations about public leadership and government in Australia: Like New Zealand, the Australian government has adopted much of the business-minded results-oriented approach of the New Public Management. The two countries have thus experienced benefits (e.g., attention to outcomes) and drawbacks (e.g., over-reliance on narrow cost-benefit analysis) of the approach. We detected (and tried to foster) growing interest in focusing on a wide range of public values (beyond efficiency) in developing public policies and programs. At the same time, we had to admire the relative efficiency of Australia’s national elections underway while we were there. Everyone was complaining about what citizens and commentators felt was an unusually lengthy campaign: all of two months.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Kevin Gerdes in Croatia

Kevin Gerdes, a retired Brigadier General, PNLC faculty member, and current Director of the Master of Public Affairs (MPA), traveled to Croatia with the Minnesota National Guard in April – his second trip over the past two years. While the MN Guard has enjoyed a 20-year “Partnership for Peace” military-to-military relationship with Croatia, the objective of his trip was to develop civilian partnerships that help advance public governance in this Eastern European country. While in Croatia Gerdes made a presentation at the International Crisis Management Conference on public-private collaboration by critical infrastructure protection partners. He was also a guest lecturer at the University of Zagreb where he presented on executive leadership during crises. 

The Dean of the Political Science department at the University of Zagreb expressed interest in seeking new international engagement opportunities and was excited to learn about the international focus at the Humphrey School. As a result of this visit, Gerdes and the Humphrey School will be hosting the Dean and another professor from the University of Zagreb during an October 2016 visit to Minnesota. Other partnership opportunities being explored include joint participation in the University of Minnesota’s fall simulation humanitarian assistance exercise, student/faculty exchange, and development of curriculum for a summer 2017 academy in Croatia that focuses on crisis management.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Learning How to Learn: Kristi Lahti-Johnson, Hennepin County

This is the second post in our summer series, "Post-Humphrey". We highlight the theory alumni learned while in school, and what they've learned in practice since, among other tidbits of advice.

Today I am the Data Governance Officer for Hennepin County. It is a position that didn’t exist 24 years ago when I entered the Humphrey School. In fact, it didn’t even exist 3 years ago.

In this evolving career landscape what I most appreciate about the Humphrey School is that it did not teach me a specific job. It taught me valuable skills that I have been able to apply to every single position I have held in Hennepin County.

There are 3 skills that I think every student should gain from their time at the Humphrey School:

1) How to think critically. The classes at the Humphrey School challenge students to analyze problems, ask questions and make informed decisions. This is a skill that I use every day. Hennepin County operates under many different regulatory requirements that often overlap and sometimes conflict. There are times in which a proposed approach is at odds with one or more regulatory requirements. While any initial response may be “no”, by asking questions—“what is the problem?” “what are you trying to accomplish?”—and analyzing the rules, it is often possible to identify a different approach to achieving the desired outcomes while still remaining compliant with regulatory requirements.

2) How to communicate clearly and concisely. My favorite assignment at the Humphrey School was to compare and contrast the decision making process between the decision not to launch a nuclear attack during the Bay of Pigs and the launch of the Challenger Space Shuttle, in five pages or less (thank you very much Professor John Bryson!). Five pages seemed like a novel by the time I started in Paul Light’s class which required us to summarize huge quantities of information into a 1-page memo. My effectiveness in my job is a direct result of my communication skills. Know your audience. Know what is important to them and what is most critical for them to know. Know the best way to get your message across and be an agile communicator, able to reach people in multiple ways. And, know that offering your time to answer any questions or concerns goes a long way in building trust and effective and lasting relationships.

3) How to learn. There are two interns working with my team this summer looking at Key Performance Indicators. They decided to use a Likert Scale to collect information. It was an exciting opportunity for them to apply a tool they learned in one of their classes at the Humphrey School to their work. That got me thinking: what were some of the tools that I learned at the Humphrey School? I couldn’t remember a single one. That is okay. What I learned is how to learn. That has helped me to evolve and grow over time; take in new tools, theories, and approaches. During my 22 years at Hennepin County, I have helped to support the county’s and my department’s missions and goals by working on initiatives such as the balanced scorecard, dashboards, competencies, strengths, strategic planning, disaster response and recovery planning, project management and many more. In almost every case, I came into the initiative with little knowledge about the tool or the subject matter, but was able to apply similar experiences or skills and quickly get up to speed.

Ten years ago, a department director approached me and asked me what I knew about the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. My response was, “little to nothing, but I’m willing to learn.” That approach has taken me a long way.

By: Kristi Lahti-Johnson
Kristi is the Data Governance Officer for Hennepin County. In this role she has been appointed as the county Responsible Authority and Data Compliance Officer. Her team provides support and direction to county departments on the overall management of the availability, usability, integrity and security of their data. Kristi has been with the county for 22 years. She started as a planner in the County Attorney’s Office and then moved to the Human Services and Public Health Department where she provided support to the Assistant County Administrator for Human Services and served as the data practices official. She loves to support students at the Humphrey School, including connecting them with local resources in their field and hiring Humphrey interns whenever she has available funds.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Frameworks to guide a career path: Sarah Martyn Crowell, NIH

This is the first of our summer series, "Post-Humphrey". We highlight the theory alumni learned while in school, and what they've learned in practice since, among other tidbits of advice.

The Humphrey School provided me with a wide variety of experiences to explore how to approach my future career. Since graduating 8 years ago, I’ve studied and worked with various frameworks to help others translate their experiences – both professional and academic - into more intentional strategies for their futures. Organizational and professional development research can help guide our future success, when we apply it to our practical experience.

One that I have liked and used when thinking about internal motivation is Daniel Pink's work on what drives us (here's a good 10 minute overview). He finds three key elements for motivation: mastery, autonomy, and purpose. These help define one’s internal focus and provide understanding of motivating factors behind work. This has helped me articulate to my peers and coworkers how I can be most productive and offer the greatest contribution.

In the more external process of finding a career, I have appreciated Herminia Ibarra's research on working identities and leadership, which highlights that sometimes we find what we want to do through experimentation. You cannot always figure out the best direction in your head, so taking action and assessing your experience is a significant part of the process. It is a good reminder to me that cultivating a fulfilling career is often an evolving process.

In addition to these, there are frameworks to think about the workplace itself. One of my favorites is not from a book but from a former mentor and boss of mine. The framework highlighted three workplace priorities for job seekers:

1) Type of work – seeking specific job duties.

2) Organizational culture – seeking a specific type of workplace culture (flexibilities, values, leadership styles, etc.).

3) Organizational mission – seeking an employer that forwards a specific mission or that has a mission that is personally meaningful.

Most of us want a mix of these aspects in our place of employment; the trick is to consider the balance and know how that may shift. This framework has helped me make career decisions over the past eight years. After graduation I was focused on organizational culture, as I wanted a collaborative environment that would support skill development. As I have developed a more defined skillset, I notice a shift towards "type of work" because I want to further the expertise I developed and take on more leadership.

As your professional path develops, I encourage you to think about a framework that speaks to you. How does it help you reflect on past experience? How does it inform your future vision? You might find some new insights that help you recommit to the work you do, discover new opportunities, or shift your approach to what’s next.

By: Sarah Martyn Crowell
Sarah works for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a Management Analyst. In this role, she develops, implements, and evaluates initiatives to enhance HR business, operations, and services to the NIH community. She also works for Conspire Coaching as a career strategy coach. Before joining NIH, Sarah worked in project and volunteer management for several non-profit organizations, including Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and Habitat for Humanity (Tacoma, WA). Sarah earned a Master’s of Public Policy from the Humphrey School and a BA in Philosophy from Kalamazoo College.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Richard Pfutzenreuter: He has enriched the common good for decades

Originally posted by MinnPost

By Jay Kiedrowski | 05/13/16

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “public servant”? A person who holds a government position by election or appointment is the dictionary definition. That definition seems too neutral given citizens' views on public servants.

Many in our society might consider a public servant to be an oxymoron — public employees don’t serve; they take salaries and large pensions from the public for minimal service. Others have a higher opinion of public employees and believe they make significant contributions to society’s welfare.

There is a Minnesota public employee retiring in June that is an excellent example of the latter, someone who has enriched the common good for decades. Richard Pfutzenreuter, the chief financial officer of the University of Minnesota, will be leaving a 40-plus-year career of “making a real difference.” His work with state and university finances was often out public view, but it was extremely beneficial.

Studied philosophy

“Fitz,” as he is known to all, studied philosophy at Hamline University in St. Paul, graduating in 1974. What does one do with a philosophy degree? Become a management analyst for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). Perhaps studying philosophy is good preparation for government service given the competing philosophies espoused by those governing our community.

As a young management analyst, Fitz was soon recognized for outstanding performance after only a year in the job, a harbinger for the successful career he was beginning. Even though he had once needed help with high school algebra, Fitz next became a budget analyst at MnDOT. He was recognized for outstanding performance for his fiscal planning in support of statewide transportation improvements.

Those in the Minnesota House of Representatives heard about this special budget analyst at MnDOT and asked Fitz to join them as a fiscal analyst and later fiscal staff director. That is where I first met him. He was knowledgeable, friendly, and cared that good decisions be made. Even though I worked for the governor at the time, Fitz was easy to work with to find areas of agreement to move Minnesota ahead.

A couple of years later, the University of Minnesota was looking for an associate vice president for budget and rinance. Who better than Fitz to help straighten out the finances of the U. He brought integrity, curiosity and diligence to his new position. In that capacity he began serving the first of the four university presidents.

He understands politics

To survive at the University of Minnesota, one has to understand politics. To succeed at the University of Minnesota, one has to promote and implement good ideas within the political system of the university. Fitz’s experience as staff to the state House of Representatives prepared him well to manage in the university environment. He had a special ability to state what he believed to be the best solution in a way that was heard as reasonable by those resisting change.

Fitz became the university’s chief financial officer and vice president, responsible for budgeting, financial planning, accounting, investments, fiscal analysis, and oversight of the university’s debt. He had a way of understanding complex financial matters and explaining them to non-financial people.

His university tenure is marked by remarkable accomplishments:
Financing of the university’s $288 million TCF Bank Stadium;
Financing of the $300 million Biomedical Discovery District;
Balancing the university’s multibillion-dollar budget annually during a period of declining state revenue; and,
Responding to the Wall Street Journal article about excessive administration at the U.

Allocating revenue and overhead

Perhaps his greatest University of Minnesota accomplishment is something that few people even know; Fitz led the development of the “Earned Income & Full Cost Model” for allocating university revenue and overhead to university schools and units. Under this new methodology adopted in 2006, the university’s schools and units get to keep their earned revenue, but have to pay all direct expenditures and allocated overhead. This had the impact of freeing up the schools and units to manage their full costs including reducing their overhead costs through strategic actions.

Fitz’s work was often behind the scenes. He didn’t seek the limelight; he sought positive action and understood that leading from behind can be often more effective. University of Minnesota presidents and regents have been nearly unanimous in their praise of Fitz.

The next chief financial officer of the University of Minnesota has big shoes to fill. They will no doubt approach the job in their own way. Let’s hope they bring the same intelligence and dedication. Let’s hope they will be a true public servant.

By: Jay Kiedrowski
Jay is a Senior Fellow in the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

PNLC Faculty Teaching and Learning in New Zealand

New Zealand is a maritime country about the size of Minnesota with a somewhat smaller population. Māori people make up about 15% of the population but their influence is evident in language, public art, and politics. (Last night I watched a Māori television channel.) The influence of British colonization also is still strong, but waves of immigration from Asian, African, and other European countries also have shaped this independent land. New Zealand is in the process of accepting several hundred Syrian refugees.

John Bryson and I are guests this week of the School of Government at Victoria University of Wellington where we are giving talks about leadership, strategic planning, and cross-sector collaboration. The school has the great advantage of being just across the street from parliament and in the midst of multiple national government buildings. It’s commencement time here as it is at the University of Minnesota, and Tuesday, as I was preparing to give a talk, I walked through a throng of robed graduates who were waiting to parade through the streets of Wellington accompanied by a brass band and bagpipers. I really like the idea of closing down the streets to celebrate academic achievement!

New Zealand’s government is a very centralized system in which the national government exerts considerable authority at the local level. It has been a bastion of the results-oriented New Public Management (NPM) reforms championed by folks like Minnesota’s Public Strategies Group. However, as John and I have consulted with academics and government researchers here, we also hear desires to overcome the tendency of NPM to hamper collaboration among government agencies and with non-governmental organizations. Recently the government has begun the Better Public Services Results program that has rewarded government officials for collaborating across agency lines, and has made substantial improvements in achieving outcomes like greater participation in early childhood education and increased immunization.

Tomorrow John and I will lead a session explaining the potential of collaboration to create public value and showing how the Visual Strategy Mapping method can be used to help people from multiple sectors – government, nonprofit, and business – advantageously collaborate in tackling shared problems. Who knows: Before long, New Zealanders will join the fine Humphrey School tradition of plastering walls with inter-linked yellow ovals or PostIt notes to strategize about important issues.

By: Barbara Crosby
Barbara C. Crosby is associate professor at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and former academic co-director of the Center for Integrative Leadership at the University of Minnesota. She has taught and written extensively about leadership and public policy, integrative leadership, cross-sector collaboration, women in leadership, media and public policy, and strategic planning. She is the author of Leadership for Global Citizenship (1999) and co-author with John M. Bryson of (Leadership for the Common Good: Tackling Public Problems in a Shared-Power World 2d. ed. 2005).

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Mystery of Foundations

There may be myths about the work of foundations and who they serve to benefit, and the PNLC’s April Theory to Practice (T2P) event sought to dig deeper into these questions by talking with practitioners in this field. Kim Borton from the InFaith Community Foundation and Anita Patel from the Bush Foundation brought extensive knowledge from within the foundation world, discussing both the specific work of their own foundations and the broader functions of foundations as a whole. The main focus of the conversation was to address the myths people had about foundations and explain what really happens inside of foundations. To start off they discussed their own foundations, their missions, how they vary from one another, and in the broader sense how every foundation varies from one another.

Kim works at InFaith Community Foundation and she views her role at the foundation to help direct people in their own giving. The community foundation both manages the donors’ gift to the foundation, and their donations to organizations of their choice. On the other hand, Anita works at the Bush Foundation, which is a private independent foundation, where they strive to be involved with the community and help the community with what they need through grant making in key program areas. Comparing just two foundations demonstrates the broad variation in both mission and daily work.

To further explore this variation, Anita said that the Bush Foundation does leadership development, promotes innovation projects, and develops projects to support native governments. Their theory of change states that investing in individuals with big project ideas will in turn help organizations, and create a vibrant ecosystem within the community. Kim explained how the InFaith Community Foundation started to assist people in their charitable endeavors, which will in turn help both donors as well as those in need.

The T2P audience was pleased to learn more about the two foundations specific work, and also develop a broader understanding of the variation between foundations. Kim and Anita both were able to talk a great deal about the way their foundations help out others and that they are not just private/closed off organizations who benefit only those who have connections to the donors. While foundations can seem like impenetrable institutions, these two foundations are engaged in listening to their communities, seeking out innovative ideas and projects that will address needs. Overall, this discussion brought people better insight in the foundation world.

By: Michele Chayka
Michele Chayka works as the principal office and administrative assistant at the Public Nonprofit Leadership Center. Michele graduated from the University of MN with a bachelors in Political Science this past December. Personally she is quite interested in the nonprofit sector and discovering how foundations help both public and nonprofits.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Minnesota State Government Innovation Awards 2016 - Application is Open!

The Minnesota State Government Innovation Awards recognize the great work of state government programs and encourage experimentation and innovation in Minnesota.

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs will recognize up to ten projects incorporating innovation and service redesign strategies.

The 2016 State Government Innovation Awards online entry form opens Monday, May 2 and will close on Friday, June 3

The top three entries will receive a professional video highlighting their project work. All award winning entries will be recognized at an award ceremony on July 21 2016.

Learn more and access the online entry form here.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bringing Diverse Learning Materials into the Classroom

This month the PNLC is partnering with Hubert Project, a repository that provides public affairs instructors, practitioners and students with a diverse range of free, multimedia teaching tools. Take a look at their resources HERE.

In an increasingly diverse world, public affairs institutions and faculty have the opportunity to bring diverse viewpoints and realities into the classroom. Once policies and programs are made public, they need to serve a wide audience, and will become quickly irrelevant if they are not carefully considered in advance. Furthermore, the assumption that institutions are neutral has widely been challenged, and students of public policy should consider that their future place of employment may have internal biases. An awareness of these challenges in the public affairs space is best considered before we enter the workforce.

Here is a compilation of diversity-focused case studies to assist in the classroom, courtesy of the Hubert Project.

Aspire: Building Partnerships through Social Entrepreneurship and Empowerment
Aspire started in the basement of a church in the western suburbs of Chicago in 1960. Concerned parents of children with developmental disabilities were brought together by the challenges of providing adequate support to help their children live independently and thrive as other children did. These parents were discouraged by medical professionals who at the time suggested their children would not lead normal lives, and therefore, parents were counseled to send their children to homes that would keep them isolated from the rest of society. Refusing to believe this was their only option, these parents pooled their resources to start what we know today as Aspire. Fifty years later, Aspire has helped thousands of children and families throughout the Chicagoland area and continues to expand its presence and offer services throughout the region.

This e-case focuses on how demographic changes in Worthington—a rural southwest Minnesota town—led to the identification of a leadership gap between the dominant/minority population. It also highlights the accompanying socio-economic (e.g. housing) and educational (e.g. English literacy) challenges faced by the large number of new Americans arriving in the Worthington area, and the possible responses the community has pursued in alleviating these challenges. There are a number of community-level leadership decisions to identify and address issues brought on by demographic change, including development and implementation of a leadership program targeting diverse community leaders in a dominant white cultural context.

The Clothes I Wear
Perceptions of ‘otherness’ are a normal part of human development; as they mature, children move from a focus on themselves to an understanding of their place within groups, and learn to conform to group norms and to distinguish between “friends and foes (see Tajfel & Turner’s work on Social Identity Theory). Preferences for one’s own group and the perception that it is better, more competent and stronger than other groups can lead to prejudice if perceived differences of out-group members are seen as a threat to the in-group’s culture, politics or economic status. In particular, perceived cultural differences between immigrants and the dominant culture may serve as a barrier to positive intercultural relations. Differences in ethnic dress accentuate perception of difference. This video brief is meant to be used as a way to stimulate discussion on the ways that clothing furthers perceptions of “Otherness”.

Transgenderism in Hong Kong
While the general public have little chance to understand the transgender community, this e-case attempts to explore the controversies beneath transgenderism, reveal the situations presented by transgender people, as well as discuss the issues on establishing laws and pubic policies in relation to the concerns from the transgender community and the society at large. It also illustrates how NGOs are struggling to be sustainable and effective in catering to the needs of transgender people.

The African American Leadership Forum: A 21st Century Social Movement for the Common Good
Although examples of leadership by and of African-Americans abound, relatively few scholars and teachers of leadership focus on the particular characteristics and dynamics of African American leadership -- with the possible exception of civil rights era leadership (Ospina and Foldy, 2009). This case describes a new African American movement that builds on the traditions and accomplishments of African American leadership and responds to developments in African American communities and the U.S. in the post-civil rights era. This e-case also includes an annotated bibliography (see Module 1) that highlights African American leadership as well as the political, economic and social trends that have resulted in concentrated poverty in many urban black neighborhoods.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How to Create Career Serendipity

Visual representation of Lars' talk, courtesy of Morgan Mercer

As a first year Masters of Public Policy student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, I accept all the networking and job search help that I can get. Recently Lars Leafblad, co-founder of ballinger | leafblad, came to the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center’s “Theory to Practice” event to discuss nonprofit job seeking. Lars encouraged us to “work to accelerate serendipity” in our job seeking process. I love this idea. Serendipity means: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. As it turns out, we do not have to leave our career to chance.

Throughout his presentation I was reminded that professional sounding words like “networking” often come down to human-based skills - like empathy and reciprocity – in reality. We should not see a job search as a short term task, but rather conduct our career in the preparation for happy or beneficial opportunities, by viewing a job search as a long term and coordinated effort. We can share helpful tips and articles on LinkedIn, create a job seeking advice group, and talk with others in our field in a genuine and relationship-building way. The more we connect with colleagues and follow through on offers to help others, the more we present ourselves as the kind of person someone may want to work with, or hire, someday.

The reality is: this just makes sense. Lars highlighted that an interviewer is looking for both warmth (being engaged, thoughtful) as well as competence. We should ask good questions, such as what this position is intended to fix, start, or create. We spend a lot of time at the office, and would certainly want to work with someone both warm and competent.

This event with Lars reinforced the notion that both my technical skills and competence in the policy field, as well as long-term relationship building, are legitimate goals in my future career. The more we pursue both ends, the more serendipitous career events may enfold, and we will leave less to chance.

By: Lauren Walker
Lauren Walker is a first year MPP candidate at the Humphrey School studying Global Policy. She also works for the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center as the Gross Family Fellow. She studies the intersection of global policy and policy analysis, and hopes to increase communication between policy makers and effective programs in her future career. She previously worked as a Regional Organizer for International Justice Mission in the Midwest.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Free Tools to Kickstart a Multimedia Use Classroom

This month the PNLC is partnering with Hubert Project, a repository that provides public affairs instructors, practitioners and students with a diverse range of free, multimedia teaching tools. Take a look at their resources HERE

So you’ve decided to incorporate multimedia and e-learning tools into your classroom, but where do you start? Often the first step is to figure out what information you would like to convey and what purpose the multimedia serves. Whether it’s visually representing complex information or processes, creating a short methods tutorial for your students, or simply giving your students more resources for their group work, there are a variety of resources to suit your needs.

There are so many tools available online that it can be challenging to figure out which to use. Each of the tools listed below is available online at no cost and serves a different purpose: collaboration and organization, creation of infographics, video and image capturing, and stock images.

1. Collaboration Tools — Collaboration and organization tools can help students to brainstorm and organize their work.Padlet works like a giant canvas to post images and videos, upload links and files, and add commentary. This visual organization tool puts all of your resources into one simple platform. It is ideal for groups that need to upload and share content, but can also be used by individual students and teachers to organize projects or as an alternative presentation tool.

2. Infographics — Infographics are a great way to visually represent complex concepts. They allow the creator to meaningfully illustrate data as statistics, timelines, processes, and more. The platform enables users to create custom infographics. Users are able to choose from thousands of design templates or create their own infographics from scratch.

3. Video and Image Capturing — Recording your computer screen can be an easy way to create tutorials and short videos for students to watch outside of class or incorporate into other e-learning formats such as e-cases. Jing by TechSmith is a tool that allows users to capture videos and images directly from their screen. When paired withScreencast, products and can be uploaded and shared on the web.

4. Stock Images — Finding engaging images is an important component of developing multimedia materials. However, searching for images online and navigating licensing requirements can be arduous. Three sites have simplified this process; Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash all offer free high quality stock images and videos available under the Creative Commons CC0 license.

By: Becca Beets
Rebecca Beets, Research Assistant – Becca is currently pursuing an M.S. in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy at the Humphrey School. Prior to moving to Minnesota, she spent four years working in the science-policy nexus at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her interests are in the intersections of science, policy, law, ethics and communication – with an emphasis on issues related to emerging technologies. Becca joined the Hubert Project in May 2015. She previously worked in the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center helping to plan the 2015 Public Management Research Association conference, and with the Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Intertwining Practice and Theory

"Students from the 2015 class of PA5190 in action, practicing facilitation skills to convene a challenging multi-stakeholder conversation about labeling genetically-modified produce."

I have been in various events recently where I was asked to speak or share my experience at the Humphrey School. “Which perspective would you like me to share?” I had the privilege of doing my Masters degree here, am an active alumnus, and now working as staff and adjunct instructor, thus giving me a way to experience the Humphrey School on many levels. There is usually an angle that was sought for, and I would be asked to speak from that one perspective. After one of such event recently – an information session hosted by the Admissions team – I thought to myself, “Well, what of my experience do I enjoy or find rewarding?” 

That was a difficult question. I valued my experience here as a student, and I love the interactions I am having (yay mentor program!) with current students due to my status as an alumnus. But for now, my favorite experience(s) are that as a staff person and an adjunct instructor. Both of these experiences allow me to combine practice and theory, and have them reinforce each other in a way that keeps me rejuvenated in the work I do, be it in the classroom or out engaging community partners.

My work – one I affectionately call my practice – involves a blend of human-centered design principles and the Art of Hosting methodologies. It is in the intersection of these practices that I find myself most engaged and challenged to grow and be better. Both practices share similar tenets: the practice of empathy and consideration for others, the ability to get a group to work together on knotty, difficult problems, and the nurturing of emergent ideas and solutions. Most of my work is in the human services area, one that is often riddled with complex policies, stigma and mistrust, and an increasingly jaded workforce struggling to do good by those they serve and adhering to seemingly impossible administrative hurdles. We partner closely with state agencies, counties and local service providers, and it can be dangerously easy for me to feel too much for the challenges within this field and the people in this system. The practice of self-care, or as Jodi eloquently puts it in her blog post, hosting oneself, is crucial to do good work continuously in this space.

It turns out, fascinatingly, that one of my act of self-care or hosting myself is my role as an adjunct instructor. I was invited to co-teach on the Spring 2015 PA5190 Section 01 course, Leadership to Address Global Grand Challenges, a course that provided students the opportunity to learn and practice integrative leadership and facilitation methods, all in an intensive one-week period. It was a course that I had fond memories of, having taken it the year before.

It was a humbling and exhilarating experience to find myself in a space where I had to deconstruct my practice to present them as theory to my students, to surface what had become tacit knowledge, and create ways to ensure my students got to learn them too. The questions asked by my students, the perspectives and experiences they shared with me, and the learning environment fostered by my co-instructors (I had a teaching team of six!) created a wonderful little microcosm for me to reflect on my practice. It was hard work to teach a course, but it was also my time to remind myself of why I do the work I do, and to learn from my students what they see in the practices I have taken for granted. The experience made me see my daily work as a program manager in a whole new light.

I have taught that course twice, now, and I am eagerly looking forward to the next year to do it again. In two weeks, the second-half of the Spring 2016 semester begins, and my new course PA5190 Sec 02 Human-Centered Public Service Redesign will begin. It is a new course, and will allow me to explore another area of my practice (the human-centered design aspect; my other course was more steeped in the Art of Hosting concepts). New students, a whole new experience, and an opportunity to host myself in a shared space with others.

By: Sook Jin Ong
Sook Jin (MPP '12) is the manager of a partnership between the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center and the Minnesota Department of Human Services to engage the state and counties in systems redesign, and to improve service delivery in the human services sector. Ong comes from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with prior experience in the corporate sector. She earned her bachelor’s degree in management and economics from the University of Sydney, Australia. Her current research interests and practice are in the application of human-centered design principles to public sector innovation, policy implementation practices, and leadership. She will be teaching the Spring 2016 PA5190 Sec 02 course, Human-Centered Public Service Redesign (starts March 24, 2016).