ASPA's Brightest Rising Stars

This year, ASPA reached out to its Chapters and asked each of them which students in their communities were doing amazing things and were future public administrators to watch. Below you'll find the names of those called out by their Chapters for recognition. Congratulations to each of them for receiving these kudos from their peers and colleagues!


Full Name: Paula Acevedo
Email: paceved2@gmail.com
Chapter: National Capital Area Chapter

Where do you work? Council for a Strong America
What is your title there? Research Associate

Bio:
Paula currently works for an advocacy member organization as part of its research team. Her previous experiences include education, fiscal and trade policy and political campaigns and community organizing. A graduate of American University's School of Public Affairs with a Master's in public administration, Paula is knowledgeable on the administrative functions essential to policy analysis and the skills necessary to conduct the actual studies. She received a Bachelor in Business Administration from Florida Atlantic University.

What is your five-year plan?
In five years, Paula sees herself working for a government agency either at the local, state or federal level.


Full Name: Laura Bleiler
Chapter: Central Pennsylvania Chapter

Where do you work? Pathways

Bio:
Laura Bleiler received her MPA from West Chester University in May 2017. She took a Pathways position with the United States government this summer. Prior to working as a researcher, Ms. Bleiler was the government affairs intern with the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, where she designed surveys, conducted research, presented findings at conferences and published two academic articles. Her work focused on various areas pertinent to Pennsylvania counties, such as effects of the 2015-16 state budget impasse, assessment and taxation and a variety of human services topics.

What is your five-year plan?
Ideally, I would like to be working in Washington, D.C. in the federal government. My hope is to be able to work on behalf of the American people and be a positive agent for change within communities.


Full Name: Nagesh Chopra
Email: nageshchopra@gmail.com
Chapter: Oklahoma Chapter

Where do you work? City of Edmond
What is your title there? Finance Administrative Support

Bio:
Nagesh Chopra, a Master’s graduate in public administration from University of Central Oklahoma, works part time as a finance administrative support with City of Edmond. Born and raised in India, he started his career in the hospitality industry before moving to United States in 2006. He worked as night general manager for downtown Detroit Riverside Hotel for three years analyzing budgets, forecasting room inventory and managing payroll. He moved to Oklahoma in 2013 and has since then been actively involved in getting a sound understanding of municipal government, learning bank reconciliation and use of new technologies like GIS.

What is your five-year plan?
I see myself at a managerial position in municipal government in finance, improvising self-sustainable municipal infrastructures with an eye on the future to assist citizen involvement, workforce interaction and bridge the resource-sharing gap at different levels of government.


Full Name: Amanda Donelan
Email: a.donelan@twc.com

Where do you work? Covington Police Department
What is your title there? Captain, Patrol bureau Commander

Bio:
Amanda Donelan has been with the Covington Police Department for 21 years. She has been a Captain for the last eight years, rotating command responsibilities between the investigations, administration and patrol bureaus. Capt. Donelan graduated from Northern Kentucky University with her Master’s of public administration in July 2017 with a certificate in nonprofit management.  She is currently active on the boards of the Kentucky Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics and Supporting Latino Families in Northern Kentucky. This year, Amanda was named NKU’s 2016-2017 Distinguished Graduate.

What is your five-year plan?
I plan to retire from policing and embark on a new career in nonprofit management, or in city management for a smaller community.


Full Name: Jasmine Gales
Email: jasminecartergales@gmail.com
Chapter: Tennessee Chapter
 
Bio:
Jasmine Gales recently received her MPA with a certificate in public policy from Tennessee State University. She has interned with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which further ignited her preexisting passion for civil rights and social justice. She has worked with the City of Goodlettsville, Tenn., to develop and implement a Neighborhood Enhancement Project, which was acknowledged through resolution by the city’s Board of Commissioners. Jasmine has worked on the campaign for Nashville Mayor, Megan Barry, and interned with the Nashville Chamber of Commerce focusing on education policy. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Urban League Young Professionals and the Tennessee City Manager Association.

What is your five-year plan?
I see myself continuing to be an advocate for marginalized communities and a voice for social justice issues. In five years, I hope to have begun laying the foundation to run for local office.


Full Name: Alexandria Ingley
Chapter: COASPA (Central Ohio)

Where do you work? United Way of Central Ohio
What is your title there? Donor Services Coordinator

Bio:
A nonprofit professional with a deep commitment to addressing social disparities and complex issues within communities via strategies such as collective impact, system-wide policy solutions, and neighborhood capacity building. A lifelong learner, I continuously seek out opportunities to experience new things. Chicago-born, Cleveland-native, Columbus-adventurer, I am a happily settled Midwesterner but love to travel. A recent biking enthusiast, I am rediscovering Columbus through the new perspective of its streets and trails.

What is your five-year plan?
Continually to contribute to the fundamental work of reducing poverty and improving the quality of life within Central Ohio.


Full Name: Laura M. Keyes
Email: laura.keyes@unt.edu
Chapter: North Texas
 
Where do you work? University of North Texas
What is your title there? Lecturer

Bio:
Laura Keyes holds a Ph.D. in public administration and management from the University of North Texas. Currently she serves as a lecturer in the Department of Public Administration. She conducted a national study on aging and the role of local governments. Her dissertation research examines the phenomenon of age-friendly policy adoption within cities using bureaucratic responsiveness theory. To date, she has authored and co-authored nine publications covering topics on local governments, aging policy, public policy in peer reviewed and book chapters. During her tenure with the Atlanta Regional Commission she advanced housing and transportation policy and services for older adults.

What is your five-year plan?
Over the next five years, as a junior faculty member, I want to advance my research agenda gaining insight on the broader health and aging policy processes. Further, I want to have local impact in my community translating research into practice through service on a board of my state commission on aging or local aging and/or health services nonprofit.


Full Name: George C. Labonte
Email: labonte@police.wrentham.ma.us
Chapter: Rhode Island (RIASPA)

Where are you currently in school? Roger Williams University
What degree are you pursuing and in what program? Master's in public administration
When do you expect to graduate? I graduated this past May

Do you currently work full or part time and if so, where? Yes, for the Wrentham Police Department
What is your title there? Police Lieutenant

Bio:
George is a lieutenant for the Wrentham Police Department in Massachusetts, where he has worked for the past 15 years. As lieutenant, he is responsible for patrol operations, the mission toward accreditation, is the training coordinator for the department, is involved in crime analysis, as well as many other administrative functions.  He was selected as an ASPA Founders' Fellow for 2015—the first for a Roger Williams University student. He was recently named the Outstanding MPA Graduate for the graduating class of 2017.

What is your five-year plan?
Would like to secure an executive position in the law enforcement or related field.


Full Name: Nathan Law
Chapter: Indiana

Where do you work? Economics Center
What is your title there? Research Associate

Bio:
I graduated from Ball State in 2015 with a Bachelors degree, and in 2017 with a Master’s of public administration. My area of focus throughout my studies was community and economic development. I worked at the Center for Business and Economic Research as a graduate research assistant while in graduate school. I worked on numerous research projects both within the Center for Business and Economic Research and as part of my course work, as well as policy analysis projects.

What is your five-year plan?
I hope to pursue a doctorate in public policy after spending a few years working in research.


Full Name: Rene Lazaro Hernandez
Email: Rene.Hernandez1@fiu.edu
Chapter: South Florida Chapter

Where are you currently in school? Florida International University
What degree are you pursuing and in what program? Master's degree in public administration
When do you expect to graduate? April 2018

Bio:
Rene has more than 13 years of professional experience, with extensive leadership and operational abilities in large and complex environments, most recently as regional activity manager overseeing critical operations for a global outfit based in Athens, Greece focused on engineering, production and distribution of building materials. He holds an Associate’s degree from Miami Dade College and a Bachelor’s degree from Florida International University, and currently is completing an Executive Master’s of Public Administration.

What is your five-year plan?
In five years, I would love to have increased my skill level enough that I am able to direct government operations with success. I enjoy challenging work, and I love public service, so I would be thrilled to be able to combine the two, continuing to work in leadership roles but with a public aspect to it.


Full Name: Juliet Lee
Email: juliet.lee@usc.edu
Chapter: Sacramento

Where are you currently in school? University of Southern California
What degree are you pursuing and in what program? EDD in higher education administration
When do you expect to graduate? August 2017

Do you currently work full or part time and if so, where? Yes, at the University of Southern California Price School of Public Policy in Sacramento
What is your title there? Senior Administrator for External Relations

Bio:
This year I was elected to the position of vice president of the Sacramento Chapter of ASPA. Over the past few years, I have enjoyed working as a part of ASPA Sacramento’s Executive Council in helping to create programming and networking opportunities for the students and public servants in the region. I received my MPA degree from USC Price in 2012 and am currently pursuing a EDD from USC Rossier School of Education.

What is your five-year plan?
In five years, I hope I'm still learning, growing and working in higher education. I also expect to be live tweeting from the 2022 ASPA National Conference!


Full Name: Bo McCall
Email: bo.mccall@kcmo.org
Chapter: Greater Kansas City

Where do you work? City of Kansas City, Missouri
What is your title there? Performance Analyst

Bio:
Bo McCall is a recent MPA graduate from the University of Kansas with an emphasis in performance management. During his time as a graduate student at KU, Bo worked as a research assistant on a study of big data initiatives in 65 large cities for the IBM Center for The Business of Government. He currently works as a performance analyst in the City Manager’s Office of Performance Management for the City of Kansas City, Missouri. He has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas.

What is your five-year plan?
My employment with Kansas City, Mo., has been a fantastic exposure to the role that performance management plays in building public trust and improving the program outcomes of government services. Whatever professional role may best fit me in five years, I intend to continue working for a government organization that fundamentally values data-driven management.


Full Name: Rick Morgan
Email: rmorg033@fiu.edu
Chapter: South Florida Chapter

Where are you currently in school? Florida International University
What degree are you pursuing and in what program? Bachelor's degree in public administration
When do you expect to graduate? May 2018

Do you currently work full or part time and if so, where? Yes, for Miami-Dade County
What is your title there? Library Assistant and Circulation Services

Bio:
I first lobbied government in first grade when I wrote to the governor and offered my allowance of 50 cents/week to resolve a teachers’ strike. My first career was in health care as a pediatric registered respiratory therapist. In 2010, I incorporated a 501(c )3 nonprofit to help meet quality of life needs for kids in the hospital.  Although I loved my career, I yearned to make a greater impact so I took a leap of faith and left my job. I joined the campaign of a nonprofit expert running for county commissioner who overturned the powerful incumbent.

What is your five-year plan?
After graduating with my BPA, I hope to continue graduate research with Florida International University while working as an administrator for local government.


Full Name: Doug Patrick, MPA
Email: doug.patrick@alvis180.org
Chapter: Central Ohio Chapter
 
Where do you currently work? Alvis
What is your title there? Program Manager

Bio:
After graduating from Franklin University's MPA program, I attained a job at Alvis, a nonprofit agency with 50 years of experience providing highly effective reentry treatment programs for individuals who have spent time in the criminal justice system. I personally oversee the Career Pathways program funded by the U.S. Department of Labor via the $1.36 million T2W3 grant. We provide industry-recognized credentials and employment opportunities to participants who display barriers to reentry. With a credentialing attainment rate above 70 percent and a placement rate of 60 percent, the Career Pathways program has been extremely successful increasing employment, reducing recidivism and ultimately rebuilding lives.

What is your five-year plan?
I see myself continuing these reentry efforts as it truly is a passion of mine to restore lives by offering education and employment opportunities to those with significant barriers to successful reentry. There is nothing more rewarding to me to see an individual come into my office with a smile from ear-to-ear because he or she earned a legitimate paycheck for the first time.


Full Name: Josh Rueschhoff
Chapter: Kansas

Where do you work? Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit
What is your title there? Auditor

Bio:
Josh Rueschhoff is an auditor with the Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit. He has been with the division since January 2016 and holds a Master’s of public administration from Wichita State University. Prior to joining Post Audit, Josh worked with Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters as the agency’s nonprofit management intern and was also a research assistant for the Kansas Public Finance Center and the Center for Urban Studies at Wichita State University.

What is your five-year plan?
Evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of public programs and agencies.


Full Name: Katie Sears
Email: ksears@lasvegasnevada.gov

Chapter: Southern Nevada Chapter

Where do you work? City of Las Vegas Department of Planning
What is your title there? Management Analyst

Bio:
I'm a native Las Vegas and a proud UNLV alumni! I received my Bachelors degree from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2014. I'm currently completing my Master’s in public administration at the UNLV Greenspun College of Urban Affairs—School of Public Policy and Leadership. I've worked for the City of Las Vegas since 2013 and I recently accepted the amazing opportunity of working for the City of Las Vegas Planning department as a management analyst. I'm passionate about public service, specifically within urban development.

What is your five-year plan?
I'm excited to advance my career in the fabulous city of Las Vegas! As a new professional, my goal is to learn and contribute to the development of the Las Vegas valley, as well as increasing my personal growth as a potential community leader.


Full Name: Josh Sherrick
Email: joshua.sherrick@greensboro-nc.gov
Chapter: Piedmont Triad Chapter, Greensboro NC
 
Where do you work?City of Greensboro
What is your title there?Arts & Events Superintendent

Bio:
I am dedicated to improving the quality of life in my community by implementing government services focused in culture building and artistic expression. Cultural branding and accessible special events provide opportunities to all residents to experience their community in unique ways.

What is your five-year plan?
I hope to serve as an assistant city manager of a mid-size city, using my community needs-based approach to inspire and lead multiple service providing departments.


Full Name: Madeline Sloan
Email: sloanmadeline1112@gmail.com
Chapter: SC- Lowcountry
 
Where do you work? Police Executive Research Forum
What is your title there? Senior Research Assistant

Bio:
My journey in higher education began at York College of Pennsylvania where I received my Bachelor’s degree. Upon graduation, I relocated to Charleston, S.C., where I worked as a police officer while pursuing my MPA from the College of Charleston. During this time, I had the opportunity to present at the SECoPA and ASPA conferences, which challenged me to take a leap in my career, both professionally and academically. Most recently, I accepted a position with the Police Executive Research Forum in Washington, D.C. and will begin my doctoral studies at George Mason University this fall.

What is your five-year plan?
I am deeply passionate about advancing the law enforcement profession, particularly through policy and research. I hope to be a relevant actor in this arena on a national scale.


Full Name: John Wagner
Chapter: Buffalo Chapter

Where do you work? Department of Veterans Affairs
What is your title there? Rating Veterans Service Representative

Bio:
John attended the State University of New York at Plattsburgh and received his Bachelor’s degree in 2007 through the G.I. Bill based on his service in the Navy. In 2008, he accepted employment as a claims assistant with the Department of Veterans Affairs at the regional official in Buffalo, N.Y. In 2010 he was promoted to the position of veterans service representative. In 2015, he was promoted to his current position of rating representative, where he makes legal determinations in regards to disability claims. He is currently a continuing student with Buffalo State in the MPA program and a member of Pi Alpha Alpha.

What is your five-year plan?
I see myself working in public service in multiple capacities and furthering my education to better understand and serve the public interests.


Full Name: Justin Williams-Blackwell
Email: jwilliams-blackwell@hhgg.org
Chapter: Piedmont Triad Chapter (Greensboro, NC)

Where are you currently in school? University of North Carolina—Greensboro
What degree are you pursuing and in what program? Master's degree in Public Administration
When do you expect to graduate? December 2018

Do you currently work full or part time and if so, where? Yes, for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Greensboro
What is your title there? Neighborhood Outreach and Homebuyer Education Coordinator

Bio:
Justin Williams-Blackwell entered the University of North Carolina—Greensboro’s MPA program in the Fall of 2016. Justin holds a Bachelor’s degree from Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. After undergraduate studies, he dedicated two years to public service with the AmeriCorps National program in Greensboro, N.C. The past three years, Justin has been a routine speaker on housing related issues and been employed by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Greensboro. His responsibilities have ranged from resource procurement to community education. Recently, he was promoted to neighborhood outreach and homebuyer education coordinator.

What is your five-year plan?
In five years, I envision myself working within a nonprofit or local government agency in the areas of affordable housing, child welfare or employment regulations. Additionally, I intend to further educate my community about issues concerning equity and politics through instructing workshops and courses at the community college level.


Full Name: Scott Wolfe
Email: j_scott_wolfe@yahoo.com
Chapter: Greater Louisville Chapter
 
Where do you currently work? State of Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury
What is your title there? Legislative Auditor II

Bio:
I majored in political science and communications in undergrad and public administration for graduate school at Western Kentucky University. I worked in mortgage customer service, as a teller in a local bank and as a peer counselor in a STEM boarding school. For the past three years I have worked as an auditor for the State of Tennessee performing sunset audits of state agencies and programs. I serve on the Greater Louisville ASPA board; I participated in Mentor Tennessee and taught economic classes at a local high school in an effort to give back to the community.

What is your five-year plan?
In five years I hope to be advancing in my career either with the State of Tennessee or with an institution of higher learning and being more involved in community service.


Full Name: Shontel Zamora
Email: szamora@csusb.edu
Chapter: Inland Empire

Where are you currently in school? California State University—San Bernardino
What degree are you pursuing and in what program? Master's degree in public administration
When do you expect to graduate? June 2017

Do you currently work full or part time and if so, where? Yes, for California State University—San Bernardino
What is your title there? Events Analyst

Bio:
I was born and raised in Southern California. I knew how valuable a good education could be and I wanted to help my family. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree and obtained my paralegal certificate. I am set to graduate with an MPA with a concentration in Leadership. I have served on several boards including ASPA and IPI, as well as taken part in the California Citizen Initiative Review Pilot Program.

What is your five-year plan?
In five years I hope to be in a executive position within the public sector and possibly pursuing my Ph.D. or J.D.


Full Name: Sasha Zapata
Email: zapata.sasha23@gmail.com
Chapter: Rhode Island

Where do you work? Rhode Island Quality Institute
What is your title there? Project Manager

Bio:
Sasha Zapata is a recent MPA graduate and serves as project manager on the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative at Rhode Island Quality Institute. The Initiative is designed to help clinicians achieve large-scale health transformation. It is designed to support more than 140,000 clinician practices over the next four years in sharing, adapting and further developing their comprehensive quality improvement strategies.

What is your five-year plan?
Continuing to work in the nonprofit sector and seeking new opportunities in the public administration field that have a positive impact on the community whether that be a new position or volunteer work.