Where Are They Now? Former ICMA President Sarah Hazel

Sarah Hazel giving us a thumbs up from her Charlotte office

Sarah Hazel giving us a thumbs up from her Charlotte office

1. What was your favorite part of being an ICMA Officer?

I really enjoyed working with my classmates and providing a forum for service-minded students to explore their local government interests and a platform to put on events that enhanced all of our learning experiences. A few favorites: Career Shadow Day, NC State/ UNC Mixer, and Dinner with Tom Lundy!

2. Where are you working now and what are your responsibilities?

I am a second year ICMA Fellow working in the City Manager’s Office in the City of Charlotte managing special projects and doing analysis. Right now I am currently managing a civic engagement project that aims to test an innovative model of engaging residents in diverse neighborhoods to redesign their public space. I am also leading a citywide records management initiative and organizing a Technical Assistance Panel with the Urban Land Institute that will bring experts from all over the Country to explore opportunities for mobility, investment and development in the SouthPark area of Charlotte.

3. What part of your ICMA experience have you applied to your current job?

As an officer, I worked with my fellow leaders and student members to enhance our learning experience above and beyond what was required. Often times, we were putting on events when we had busy work and school schedules and had to lead with passion and purpose. Managing citywide, cross-departmental projects, is often similar, where team members have their normal responsibilities in addition to the work we are committing to for the special initiative. I had a chance to hone some new leadership skills in ICMA that make me a better leader in the professional environment.

4. What advice would you give to current MPA students that you wish someone had told you?

Don’t sweat your final semester. Be confident and proud of the work you have done. Stand tall and proud and rock that portfolio presentation. Cherish this special time with great faculty, MPA staff, friends, peers, and future colleagues.

5. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope to be in a strong position to connect people with opportunities to shape their communities and organizations, either in City Leadership or working with an organization that partners with local government.

Where Are They Now? Former ICMA Secretary Amanda Stratton

Amanda representing Carolina at her Buncombe County Office

Amanda representing Carolina at her Buncombe County Office

  1. What was your favorite part of being an ICMA Officer?

Being an ICMA officer gave me the opportunity to work closely with great colleagues, professors, alumni, and advisors, and was a great chance to practice collaboration among MPA programs. Our experiences certainly drove my commitment to local government.

 

  1. Where are you working now, and what are your responsibilities?

I work as a Human Services Program Consultant for Buncombe County Health and Human Services. My responsibilities vary widely, but generally focus on research and analysis of potential initiatives and external communication. I also have the opportunity to support the Buncombe County Service Foundation, a nonprofit entity that supports the programs of Buncombe County Government. I have worked on everything from implementing a staff-training portal to the coordination of meetings on housing and homelessness for our Board of Directors to leading results teams with staff to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.

 

  1. What part of your ICMA experience have you applied to your current job?

During my year as an ICMA officer, our group was still very new, and we were working hard to establish our roots as a top-notch student organization. This involved gathering a lot of input from students, faculty, and advisors on what events and topics would be useful. It meant we had a lot of research to do on what other chapters were doing that made them successful. And, it required follow-through to ensure our vision was achieved. In my current job, I work with a team in a similar capacity—gathering input and research and helping implement initiatives to ensure Buncombe County maintains high quality service for our citizens.

 

  1. What advice would you give to current MPA students that you wish someone had told you?

It’s going to work out! Yes, juggling grad school, work, assistantships, and personal commitments is tough! You might not land your dream job right away—but every single experience is preparing you in some way for what is to come. Keep pushing. Keep dreaming. Keep connecting. And keep preparing for job interviews!

 

  1. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years I will have 10 more years of experience working for an agency that puts quality and service first. I will have built valuable connections and skills that will continue propelling me forward. I love where I live and I love what I do, and I hope to be lucky enough to continue here as a public servant for many more years!

 

 

Where Are They Now? Former ICMA Co-Communications Chair Brittany Bennett

brittany photo

1. What was your favorite part of being an ICMA Officer?

I enjoyed the camaraderie of working with the fellow officers (we had a great group of smart, fun people) and planning events.

2. Where are you working now and what are your responsibilities?

I started working at [self-help.org] Self-Help in Durham after graduating from the MPA program as the Development, Policy and Impact Associate. I do a lot of reporting to government and private funders, manage compliance for a couple of government programs we use, and help with some of our fundraising. I also get to work on special projects, such as facilitating a working group that’s exploring ways we can better engage with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and working on an internal initiative around race and criminal justice issues.

3. What part of your ICMA experience have you applied to your current job?

I’ve been able to use the teamwork and discussion facilitation skills that were honed as an ICMA officer. The experience of leading my peers was really valuable in giving me the confidence to do so in my current job.

4. What advice would you give to current MPA students that you wish someone had told you?

I’d say don’t worry about being prepared for a job. You have more skills and are learning more than you realize.

5. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I see myself continuing to do work that provides opportunities and makes communities great for everyone in them.

 

Beep, Beep: Driver Safety School with the Hillsborough Police Department

By Stephanie Olson

Police Training Photo

Me out on the course!

I have admired the work police officers do since I was young. Two of my cousins serve their communities in the police force, so naturally I grew up thinking police officers were the coolest. When I heard about the opportunity to volunteer with the Hillsborough Police Department, I jumped at the chance to show my appreciation to a community of professionals who give so much of themselves to keep our communities safe. Plus, I was going to get to spend a day with friends watching cars speed through a track of obstacles—what a fun way to spend a Friday!

The driver safety course is a yearly training opportunity organized by Hillsborough’s town manager, Eric Peterson. During the all-day training, driving instructors teach police officers how to safely handle their vehicles. Our day started off with officers pushing their cars to the limit, learning to recognize the signs of losing vehicle control. Next, distractions—like inflatable deer, stoplights, and a even a remote-controlled dog!—were added to the course to test officers’ decision making abilities while driving. Finally, officers responded to a dispatch, which added an extra layer of complications and helped officers recognize their limits and how to safely respond to emergencies.

Before the police driver training, I never knew the challenges officers face while patrolling in their vehicles. During our lunch break, one of the officers took me out on the course, explaining all of the devices he has to pay attention to in his car when responding to emergencies. There’s a camera, laptop, radio speaker, hand-held radio, and siren switches on top of all of the typical car parts. I’m sure I’m missing something; I was overwhelmed just hearing about all of the car’s gadgets!

Police officers spend a majority of their time in police cars, patrolling and sometimes engaging in car chases. Driver training courses like this one can save cities money on insurance policies, decrease officer-involved driving accidents, and even save lives. After witnessing this training, there is no way I can deny its importance. This is why I encourage MPA students—future community leaders—to get involved in unique experiences like this to learn first-hand what best practices look like.

To top off my awesome day, I got a chance to take a spin around the course! While my instructor was great, I think it’s safe to say being a police officer is not in my future. On behalf of the UNC MPA program, I want to thank Eric Peterson and the Hillsborough Police Department for such a fun and insightful day. And also, a huge thank you to ICMA for providing students with opportunities like this to learn from our community leaders.

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