The MPA program visited Laura Crandall ('16) at the City of Burien to learn more about her role as a Local Government Management Fellow (LGMF). The LGMF is a competitive fellowship administered by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Host cities and counties compete for Fellows across the nation. Laura is the first ICMA Fellow from SU’s MPA program. The one to two year fellowship is for those who intend to become City or County Managers. Laura aspired to city management as a career after taking Intro to City Management.

Fellows work on substantial projects. Laura is project managing the City’s software selection and implementation for Parks & Rec and for Community Development. This includes taking the Public Works and Community Development staff through a Lean Kaizen process prior to software selection. She is responsible for implementing the City’s adopted Strategic Plan, which she helped developed as an intern. Laura is responsible for extending and administering the City’s animal care and control, and is performing a comparative analysis of the City’s current provider and the Regional Animal Services of King County to present to Council in November.

The Fellowship helped Laura shift from a career as a school principal into local government. “I couldn’t have done the work I’m doing now without SU’s program. The skills I developed in research and analysis mean that I can provide Burien with good information to make decisions. I’m so grateful for my SU MPA. Not only was it a wonderful experience, I also got a new career.”

In August, MPA staff stopped by to visit MPA Alumnus, Mark Mendez, Recreation Leader for the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department. Mark created two youth programs that he manages in Seattle’s Lake City Neighborhood. The Thornton Creek Alliance Youth program connects teens to nature, teaching them how to preserve and restore the Thornton Creek Watershed, the largest watershed in Seattle. Students learn to address the environmental restoration of the creek system and are connected to service learning, civic participation, team building, and college and career readiness opportunities.

The Lake City Young Leaders program connects youth to community leaders in Lake City; they build strong soft skills and learn about future career opportunities. Their experiences focus on addressing community needs and empowering the teens with the tools to improve their community. 

Mark feels blessed to work in the same neighborhood where he grew up. He credits his previous work experience and knowledge for helping him empower and connect teens to their neighborhood.

Mark reflects, “The MPA program gave me the tools to help make my neighborhood and city a better place!”


In 2005, Dr. James Gore (MPA '89, EdD '01), founded the Jackson Street Music Program (JSMP), a nonprofit focusing on the cultural, social, personal, and professional development of youth through the art of music. Dr. Gore came up with the idea for the first JSMP student project from a study co-authored by former MPA Professor, Paul Sommers. The study looked at the economic impact of Seattle's music industry. The executive summary noted that ‘Seattle’s music industry is composed of both for-profit components, which dominate business activity, and a host of nonprofit organizations that also employ many people and play a key role in our local cultural scene.’ 

Dr. Gore learned about the importance of negotiation and working across sectors in the MPA program; particularly courses that looked at how government, nonprofits, and the private sector affect one another. He recalls, "I was teaching a cohort of 35 students, ages 15 to 18 years old. I wanted them to be able to identify all of the key players involved in Seattle's music industry. They had to negotiate with businesses, nonprofits, the city of Seattle, and communities to understand how all of the elements of the music industry work together."

The students visited the Seattle Center grounds prior to the opening of Seattle’s Bumbershoot, an annual international music and arts festival to look at private-sector sponsorship of each stage, as well as product distribution and other marketing methods used at the festival to provide additional revenue above actual ticket sales. The cohort put together a VIP concert and reception in Seattle University’s Pigott Auditorium with parents, government officials, and members of the community. Finally, the cohort held a mock press conference, facilitated by the Mayor's Director of Communications. Dr. Gore believes that this project served to empower students by introducing them to multiple ways of becoming active in their communities as engaged citizens.

Now in its 11th year, JSMP recently received a City of Seattle Youth Arts Grant for their Youth-Voices radio talk show on Alternative-Talk 1150 KKNW, designed to work with youth on "Storytelling," reflecting on their peers and their community.

Dr. Gore is the Marketing Director of Ariel Media, and a board member of the Historical Central Area Arts Cultural District.


Did you know only 20% of a child’s waking hours are in spent in a classroom?

In June, the MPA program stopped by to visit Stephanie Lennon ('16), Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at School's Out Washington (SOWA). Stephanie is working to advance policies that increase access to funding for afterschool and summer programs statewide and also contributes to national policy work. Focus areas of her work include equitable access to STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics); and high quality summer programs, particularly among low income youth and youth of color. Stephanie works with advocates, policymakers, families, and providers to increase the availability of high quality programming for all of Washington's children and youth. Stephanie comments, "Racial equity is the lens from which we work. We also pay particular attention to rural and low-income areas, and partner with out of school time organizations across the state, including small, culturally-based organizations."

Stephanie is new to the education world; she previously worked with refugee and immigrant populations. However, she felt confident of the skill-set and knowledge acquired from the MPA degree, and was able to successfully apply her education to the requirements of the position. In June she was accepted as a White-Riley-Peterson Education Policy Fellow, and will be working with a small group of fellows from across the country to gain additional skills to advance policy in her home state and at the federal level. After five months in her new position, Stephanie is thrilled to be part of SOWA, advocating for policies that support afterschool and summer learning. More information HERE.