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A 2015 graduate of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, Tatiana Riddle Hendrix currently works in Washington, D.C., as a Program Officer focusing on combating wildlife trafficking for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
Hendrix’s position with USFWS, which she calls her “dream job,” is the latest stop in a life’s worth of interest in wildlife conservation. She grew up on her parents’ farm in Guy, Ark., an Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary, which has offered a refuge for elephants for nearly 30 years.
The sanctuary exposed her to not only different types of animals, but also to people from across the world who traveled to the sanctuary to visit or learn from the elephants.
“We had lots of researchers who would come, both locally – i.e. a few from Hendrix College and University of Central Arkansas – as well as internationally for research studies or to learn how to better manage elephants,” she said. “It was a huge opportunity for me to meet so many people who were working in elephant management on the conservation side as well as the research side.”
She began working with USFWS in 2012 as an undergraduate at UA Little Rock. Hendrix, who started with USFWS as an intern, would travel to Washington D.C. in the summers while working remotely during the school year. She continued to work with USFWS when she enrolled as a student at the Clinton School in 2013.
“I continued working with USFWS while I was at the Clinton School knowing that I wanted to work there after I graduated,” Hendrix said. “The Clinton School offered me the flexibility to maintain my connection to wildlife conservation.”
Her time as a Clinton School student saw her spend three months in Indonesia working on the Aceh Sustainable Development Caucus for her International Public Service Project. She went on to complete her Capstone project with USFWS and the Division of International Conservation.
I connected with USFWS through a contact of my mother, who has worked in Asian elephant conservation for the last 30 years. Through that person I was introduced to the agency, and I joined a program that is now called “Pathways”, which allows students to work with the federal government while they are in high school or college.
What was it like growing up on your parents’ Elephant Sanctuary?
It was a dream. As kids we didn’t even pay that much attention to the elephants. It was mostly all of the other animals – dogs, cats, horses – and the ability to run around on a huge farm in rural Arkansas. We did have some interaction with the elephants but only when our parents were there.
The interesting part, in addition to the animals, is that I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, including North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. We hosted two-week courses for elephant management, and week-long veterinary workshops. We also hosted Elephant Experience weekends where the general public could sign up to come experience and learn about elephants. Over the years there were a number of visitors to the sanctuary including conservationists, researchers, and elephant enthusiasts.
How did it impact your career interests?
I got to college and I knew that I wanted to work internationally because it was an interest of mine and I had already gained some experience traveling abroad. My mother grew up in Switzerland and her side of the family lives in Europe so we traveled there a lot as kids. I was also really interested in working on wildlife, given my upbringing and my family’s background in elephants. My mother traveled to Asia a lot when we were kids and I was able to learn from her about different conservation issues, giving me a perspective that I wasn’t going to be able to find at a university. It definitely had an impact on my selection of a career choice. I just felt like I couldn’t really go any other way.
I saw it as a place where I was going to be able to get an education on social change and community engagement, which are both key to conservation because so much of wildlife conservation is working with people and trying to develop community-based approaches to conserving wildlife and the natural environment.
I wanted to be around people who were working on women’s issues, education and international development, so I was really seeking that broader perspective on social change and public service.
I saw it as a way for me to get a broader perspective, but also tailor the different projects that I had more control over, like IPSP and Capstone, to be wildlife conservation oriented. The Clinton School definitely gave me the education and experiences that I was looking for, and that have directly supported me in my current career with USFWS.
The University of Arkansas Clinton School’s Master of Public Service degree program enjoyed another strong year in the classroom. With the graduation of its 12th class in May, the program boasts a graduation rate of nearly 90 percent.
With a vision of professional public service at the forefront, the Clinton School of Public Service values both the acquisition of knowledge and the practical application of that knowledge to solving real-world problems, blending a core set of coursework with field service projects and elective courses for a program grounded in distinct principles, but also tailored to individual interests and pursuits.
“The careers our alums pursue highlight the ways in which what they learn at the Clinton School can be applied across a broad array of professions,” Associate Dean Susan Hoffpauir said.
Clinton School graduates continue to thrive in a variety of professional fields, including government, education, and nonprofits, as well as sectors like business development, entrepreneurship, and fundraising.
“A lot of the skills from the Clinton School – the design thinking, committed analysis, all of that – were very present in the work that I did. I am a firm believer that the Clinton School made me better at what I do,” said Kim Caldwell, a 2011 alum who trains the next generation of women political leaders at Annie’s List in Austin, Texas.
In the classroom, Clinton School students learn the concepts and skills necessary to become agents of positive change. They take those lessons and apply them in the field, putting them to action in order to improve their abilities as public servants while making a positive impact on the communities and organizations with which they work.
Brandon Treviño, a 2018 graduate and concurrent Juris Doctor student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, spoke about applying those skills during his International Public Service Project.
“I literally could tell you about specific skills from every class that I put to use in the field,” said Treviño, who completed his IPSP with Awamaki in Ollantaytambo, Peru. “In our field research methods class, we learned how to do interviews, surveys, and data collection. I did all of that with my surveys, and I did a couple of interviews. When we talked about program planning and evaluation, we went over logic models and how to plan these programs. I set up empowerment workshops and created logic models for my organization to use after I left. I used sustainability plans that I learned in our program planning class, and I actually made those for my organization. Even some soft skills that I learned through our global development class and other courses applied in the field. That was really cool to see.”
Through the core courses, students and faculty debate, discuss, and study public service issues surrounding communication, decision-making, conflict resolution, professionalism, law, and ethics, among other topics – issues that translate across all types of organizations, businesses, and walks of life.
Students often learn new lessons or acquire new skills through the core curriculum that provide insights into different types of service work that, prior to the Clinton School, might have been unfamiliar.
“Finding program evaluation as a branch of applied research, I didn’t really know that existed before I came to the Clinton School,” said Andrew Forsman, a 2016 graduate working as an internal evaluator for a group of early childhood education programs at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. “Having such a hands-on, multi-disciplinary approach to research that was all about helping people learn and do good, better, was a perfect match for me.”
The MPS program provides a firm grounding in critical analysis, policy formulation, and problem solving, as well as an opportunity for immersion in outstanding service organizations for students to gain competency in the principles and nuances of public service.
“Personally, my time at the Clinton School and the nimbleness and adaptability that we learned while there – getting thrown into projects starting day one – has played a role in how I’ve led Schlep to approach each new hurdle with an attitude of teamwork and a desire to create,” said Hunter Riley, a 2009 graduate who co-founded Schlep, a tech-enabled local logistics and delivery company in Chicago, Ill.
The Clinton School curriculum is enriched by its renowned speaker and distinguished lecture series, which gives students unprecedented access to leaders in government, politics, business, foreign policy, journalism, and philanthropy addressing issues in public service.
The Clinton School enrolled 34 students in the first-of-its kind Executive Master of Public Service (EMPS) degree program in March 2018. The new two-year program is offered entirely online, giving professionals the enhanced knowledge, skills, and network, they need to advance without relocating or giving up their current employment.
Wesley Prewett (Russellville, Ark.) is spending his summer in Cape Town, South Africa working with Zoona, a mobile technology company developing financial products including money transfers, savings accounts, and credit products for underserved consumers in Zambia and Malawi.
Prewett, who majored in finance and economics at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, entered the Clinton School with public service interests in international development, economic growth, and financial inclusion among others.
This International Public Service Project is Prewett’s second journey to Southern Africa in three summers, following his work in Mozambique with an undergraduate study abroad program in 2016. Prewett conducted economic impact research on a Mozambique chicken farm through the Global Community Development program at UAF.
That trip, Prewett said, helped show him how to turn his degree in economics and finance into a service-oriented career. “That’s when I really decided that economic development and international development were things that I was passionate about,” he said.
Pronounced “Zona,” Zoona was started by two brothers who had a vision of a cashless African economy. Without cash, they thought, the economy would be much safer, faster, and effective for people across the socioeconomic spectrum. The pair created a system within Zambia to provide cheap, safe, and effective ways to move cash from one place to another within the country.
How did you become interested in public service?
I knew going into college that whatever I ended up doing was going to be something service-focused. That’s always been something that interested me – ways that I can use my skills and talents to make the biggest difference possible in the lives of people around me. No matter what I decided to study, I wanted to tie it to service.
Really, I came into economics and finance serendipitously. I didn’t know what I wanted to major in. I always thought of myself as a generalist who was interested in and knowledgeable about a lot of different things. I started college as a biological engineering major, but I realized I didn’t enjoy engineering. I felt like it was stifling.
I switched to the College of Business, took a finance class, and really enjoyed it. I decided to major in finance, but after I got into some of the upper-level finance classes I worried that I wouldn’t be able to turn a finance degree into a service-oriented career.
Then, I went to Mozambique and did economic research and saw that there were places around the world where the financial sector was underdeveloped. There are places around the world where people don’t have access to financial services, and those financial services can be transformative for them.
Was there a catalyst for your service interest?
No, I wouldn’t say there was a specific catalyst. It’s just something that I feel like I have been interested in my entire life. I don’t really have an answer – there’s no specific moment. I just have always felt that I owe the public more than to just go out there and do a job to make money. People who have talent and the ability to help people have the obligation to.
There was never a specific moment, but probably one of the biggest turning points was going to Mozambique. That’s when I really determined that economic development and international development were things I was passionate about. Global economic development is the way to make the most effective use of resources to affect the most people.
I probably could have told you that I would have considered the Clinton School before I could have told you that I was going to graduate with a degree in finance and economics.
What drew you to working with Zoona?
When I was an undergrad, I became really interested in the idea of financial technology as a means of large scale economic development. I thought it was really interesting that technology is becoming increasingly prolific in the developing world and has the power to reach so many people. Increased access to technology could be used as a means to help people out of poverty.
When I was looking for my IPSP, I knew that I wanted to do something related to financial inclusion work in a developing economy. I started looking for organizations by looking at the top investors in the field, people who knew a lot about financial technology and inclusion and I looked at who they were investing in.
A lot of the big investors that I was really impressed with had relationships with Zoona. That caught my interest. I also really wanted to spend an extended amount of time in Cape Town and it just felt like the right fit for me.
The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service is now accepting applications for the second class of its Executive Master of Public Service degree program.
“We are excited to build on the success of our first EMPS class that enrolled in March,“ Dean James L. “Skip” Rutherford said. “This program is designed for working professionals and we look forward to watching it grow and expand.”
The first-of-its-kind EMPS is offered entirely online, giving mid-career professionals the enhanced knowledge, skills, and network needed to advance their careers without relocating or disrupting their personal lives.
Grounded in critical analysis and the formulation of program and policy options, the EMPS teaches students to build stronger communities by understanding, engaging, and transforming complex systems to ensure equity and create positive social change.
The ideal EMPS candidate is a mid-career professional who has demonstrated leadership in his or her career and in his or her personal pursuit of public service and is someone with a strong academic background.
For more information on the program, or to schedule a phone call with the Clinton School admissions team, click here.
Clinton School student Rebecca Webber (Little Rock, Ark.) is currently in Migori, Kenya, for her International Public Service Project with Kenya Relief, where she is working conjunction with the Kenya Relief staff to implement a new medical records system and create an evaluation plan which will serve as the foundation for a monitoring and evaluation program for a new clinic. Below is a reflection, written by Webber, of her early weeks in Kenya.
To catch you up on what is going on, let me start from the beginning.
My husband, Todd, and I met Michael and Sandy Boultinghouse last summer at our church. As we got to know the Boultinghouses better, they shared with us that they had been doing mission work with an organization called Kenya Relief and were planning to take their longest trip yet. They were leaving to spend a year in Migori, Kenya, to help the organization start a self-sustaining farm. They left the US last October and have been in Kenya building a house and cultivating the farm ever since.
Over the course of the last two semesters as a student at the Clinton School, I was able to keep in touch with the Boultinghouses and hear about all of the things that are happening in Migori through the people there. The more I heard from Sandy about Kenya Relief, the more I knew that this was the organization I wanted to work with for my International Public Service Project.
Kenya Relief is an organization that is made up of a school, an orphanage, and a clinic which are all located on the same plot of land in Migori. The orphanage is home to about a hundred children while the school serves five hundred children from all around Migori. The clinic is unique in the area, as it focuses on providing surgical care through several mission teams of doctors, nurses, and surgeons who come for two-week periods to provide safe and affordable surgeries. It is common for people to walk or bike for as many as five hours to the clinic for surgical care they would not otherwise be able to receive.
Through several emails and phone meetings, Steve James, the founder of Kenya Relief, and I designed a project around the implementation of an electronic medical records system at the clinic. The system will allow Kenya Relief to track its service, provide annual reports to stakeholders, and eventually conduct an evaluation of its program to statistically prove the impact on the health of the community.
The first two weeks I spent in Migori were filled with learning new phrases in Luo and Swahili, meeting new people, and trying new things. My very favorite thing about Kenya so far has been the people. Every person I meet says “Mzungu! Hujambo!” (White person! Hello!) and immediately follows that phrase with some variation of “Karibu!” (Welcome!). Many others ask about how “Uncle Obama” is doing (fun fact: President Obama’s ancestors were from the Luo tribe in Kenya and they are very proud of that here in Migori).
Kenyan people greet visitors in their country the way people in the United States might greet family members at Christmas. This experience has already given me a new perspective of what it is like to be in a new place, learning all new ways of doing things. I hope to remember this experience the next time I encounter someone who is visiting the United States.
I think the overarching theme for me so far is how much there is to learn from this place and the people in it. This year, my classmates and I spent a lot of time discussing countries in the global South and their developmental, social, and economic statuses resulting from the processes of colonization and decolonization. In fact, I focused many of my own papers on Kenya because I knew that I would be traveling here this summer to complete my project.
In the beginning, my goal was to learn how to help the people of Kenya. I thought that if I learned why the country was in its current state, I would be able to meet Kenyans where they are, with where they have been in mind, so that I could make their lives better in some way.
However, through the processes of study at the Clinton School, I learned that not only is that particular mindset fairly common for my background, it is destructive at best. Wanting to be of help is not a bad thing, nor do I believe that my heart was necessarily in the wrong place. But your heart can be in the right place even as you cause someone harm.
You see, the point is not that Kenya and its people need my plans. Kenya is the way that it is because so many visitors came here with a plan already in mind. What Kenya needs is listeners and learners with resources. For this reason, I have made it my goal to ask good questions and listen well while I am here.
From your friendly, neighborhood Mzungu,
Rebecca Bryan Webber
Through her role as a McLarty Scholar, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service graduate Mollie Henager has piloted a social network analysis of Vital Voices’ Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship program, VV GROW.
VV GROW is a business accelerator that empowers women entrepreneurs across the world to amplify their role as leaders in their businesses and their communities to create jobs, stimulate long-term economic growth and produce wider social benefits.
Making new business connections is a vital part of VV GROW, as it is a vital part of being a business owner. Henager has used social network analysis to measure the strength of new business connections formed through VV GROW and their impact on business growth.
“Henager has contributed to the overall efforts of Vital Voices to map out the networks we build. Her analysis will serve as a reference for future VV GROW networks, and her recommendations will inform upcoming social network analyses of other Vital Voices programs,” said Alejandra Garcia, Vital Voices’ Director of Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning.
Vital Voices Global Partnership is a non-governmental organization that was established in 1997 with the purpose of investing in women leaders worldwide. Vital Voices implements several programs that seek to empower visionary, innovative women who are committed to improving society. While formal skills training is an essential element of these programs, network-building is one of the most valuable opportunities program fellows receive. In order to measure and visualize the Vital Voices network, several of the organization’s programs have begun piloting social network analyses.
Henager completed her analysis and presented findings to Vital Voices staff in May 2018, completing her required fieldwork with the Clinton School. Henager looks forward to maintaining her connection with VV and the McLarty Scholars network.
About Vital Voices Global Partnership
In 1997, Vital Voices was founded on the belief that women are essential to making progress in their communities. Through their participation in VV programs, women have more opportunity and greater agency to defend political freedoms, strengthen laws, and create jobs.
For more information, visit VitalVoices.org.
The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service’s renowned Speaker Series hosts about 100 programs per year that are free and open to the public. This series not only enhances the education of Clinton School students, but also provides a venue for the public to engage in intellectual discussions on the issues of the day.
The Speaker Series features a diverse array of programs ranging from senators, congressman, cabinet officials, and ambassadors to renowned academics, corporate CEOs, philanthropists, authors, and journalists.
Guests of the series include 47 ambassadors, 23 Pulitzer Prize winners, 12 heads of state, and seven Nobel Prize winners.
Highlights from the 2017-18 year include Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, European Union Ambassador to the United States David O’Sullivan, and the Children of the Little Rock Nine as part of the 60th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School.
The series began in 2004 when Senator Bob Dole of Kansas delivered the inaugural lecture at the request of his former Senate colleague and Clinton School founding dean David Pryor. In 2006, when Skip Rutherford became dean, he expanded the program based on what he had seen while visiting Harvard University.
“I saw so many opportunities for Harvard students to connect with leading academics, newsmakers, and world leaders and I wanted our students to have similar experiences,” Rutherford said. “Nikolai DiPippa has taken the series to an exceptional level. In addition to making programs free for the public, Nikolai does a masterful job connecting our students with the speakers.”
Since then, the Speaker Series has grown to include speakers across all spectrums of politics, news, literary interests, and current events. Senator John McCain, former United States Attorney General Eric Holder, and former Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove are just a few of the political names to appear over the years. Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Jesse Jackson, and George Stephanopoulos are some other notables of the speaker series.
In its 13-year history, the speaker series has hosted nearly 1,300 programs and welcomed more than 200,000 attendees. More than 500,000 people from over 200 countries have viewed the series online.
Clinton School students also benefit from participating in the school’s Speaker Series, which gives students unprecedented access to leaders in government, politics, business, foreign policy, journalism, and philanthropy addressing issues in public service.
“The Speaker Series has definitely been a highlight of my Clinton School experience,” said Christine McCall, Clinton School student from Chicago, Ill. “The public programs are hosted in an intimate setting that provides students and the general public with a space to connect with the speakers. I have been fortunate to introduce a couple of the speakers and get to know them on a more personal level. In return, they have taken the time to speak with me and assist with professional development.”
“The speakers are of high-caliber and represent various industries including journalism, non-profit, community development, government, and the arts, among others,” McCall continued. “There is truly something for everyone and I hope people will take advantage of this valuable program in Little Rock.”
With the launch of the Clinton School’s new online degree, the Executive Master of Public Service, the Speaker Series is used to complement course lessons.
“Recordings from the speakers series were an integral part of the EMPS Foundations class,” said Associate Dean Susan Hoffpauir. “They provided real-world examples of the course content and increased students’ knowledge of how public service is practiced across the globe.”
To watch past speaker series events, visit ClintonSchoolSpeakers.com.
Anna Applebaum (Class 9) has been accepted to the New York University School of Law. Applebaum is a McLarty Scholar and was a Hillary Rodham Clinton fellow at the Georgetown Institute For Women Peace and Security.
Ashley Bachelder (Class 6) will enter the Ph.D. program in Community Research and Action at Vanderbilt University this fall.
Fernando Cutz (Class 6) has been named Acting Deputy Chief of Staff for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Cutz joined USAID in 2012 and spent all of 2017 and part of 2018 working with the National Security Council at the White House.
Mahmoud Mahmoud (Class 5) is running as an Independent in New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District’s November election.
Rina Meutia (Class 2) accepted a new position as a Disaster Risk Management Specialist with the World Bank in Washington D.C. Meutia is working on projects in the South Asia Region.
Josh Stokes (Class 4), a Special Agent with the U.S. State Department-Diplomatic Security Service, will become an Assistant Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, in August.
Sylvia Tran (Class 9) has accepted a new position as Unit Director with the Boys and Girls Club in Bentonville, Ark.
Kristen Alexander (Class 11) and Ben Pope celebrated the birth of their daughter, Zinnia Alexander Pope.
John Delurey (Class 8) married Megan Odenthal on June 8 in Stuart, Fla.
James Mitchell (Class 3), who works as a Program Associate at Winrock International, married Molly Fincher on June 23 in Searcy, Ark.
Rebecca Morrison (Class 5) and Ben Kaufman (Class 5) first met at the Clinton School. The two are now married, living in northwest Arkansas, and new parents of twins, Louise Tydings and Elizabeth Brennan.
Nathan Watson (Class 10) married Anna Clark on June 9 on Packard Point Ranch outside of Fort Smith, Ark.
Executive Master of Public Service student Renee Tyler has been selected to participate in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) reciprocal professional exchange program as part of Professional Fellows Programs. The program will send Tyler to Thailand for two weeks in September, offering opportunities for educational exchanges between United States and Southeast Asian leaders.
Tyler has worked as the Assistant Public Works Director for the City of Dubuque, Iowa, since 2016. Previously, she worked for the City of Little Rock as a Parts and Special Projects Manager for Fleet Acquisition.
Since 2010, the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) has managed Professional Fellows Programs, funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).
The overall goal of the program is to create a global network of emerging local government leaders to positively impact practices at their organizations and in their communities by enriching their leadership skills and cultural understanding and by providing opportunities for knowledge exchange and ongoing collaboration.
The program has brought professionals from Asian/Pacific countries to the United States for visits that include Fellowships in local governments. Staff from the host jurisdictions then have an opportunity for a return visit to their Fellow’s Asian/Pacific country.
These reciprocal exchanges have expanded their horizons and reinforced the value of global knowledge sharing.
Tyler is one of 34 students enrolled in the Clinton School’s first-of-its-kind EMPS degree program. The new two-year program is offered entirely online, giving professionals the enhanced knowledge, skills, and network, they need to advance without relocating or giving up their current employment.