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University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service second-year student Connor Donovan is serving as a research analyst for the United States Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China, this fall. Donovan arrived in Beijing in late September and began work on October 10.
Donovan’s work includes studying the latest U.S.-China trade friction and its impact on U.S. companies and entrepreneurs and recommend ways the U.S. government may mitigate negative effects of higher import tariffs.
He will also help identify trade barriers to U.S. exports to China, analyze the impact of these barriers, and work with Foreign Commercial Service Officers and other trade diplomats at the Embassy to assist U.S. companies, especially small- and medium-sized exporters, with overcoming such barriers through commercial diplomacy and trade promotion activities. These activities may include, among others, trade missions, single-company promotional events, and matchmaking between U.S. companies and potential Chinese private sector business partners.
“I have had the opportunity to take on several projects as they have arisen, including taking notes during U.S.-China Foreign Commercial Service consultations or escorting guests in and out of the embassy during special events,” Donovan said. “However, day-to-day I have primarily been focusing on a larger research project related to fair trade between the United States, China, and the rest of the countries involved in the World Trade Organization (WTO).”
The U.S. Commercial Service, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, is an official Foreign Service agency, with offices in 65 major global markets and across the United States, including in Arkansas. Among its main goals are to increase U.S. economic growth and job creation through promoting U.S. exports and facilitating private foreign direct investment into the United States.
Donovan spent the summer of 2017 in France working with CESi Engineering School to help plan for the creation of a technopôle – a center of high-tech manufacturing and information-based quaternary industry – in the city of Angoulême.
He graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 2013 and UA Little Rock in 2017 with a degree in international business with a Chinese concentration. In addition to being voted the university’s Student Government Association President as a senior, Donovan was the recipient of the Whitbeck Memorial Award in May 2017 as the top graduating senior. He helped to establish the Arkansas Association of Students, an organization representing SGAs for public universities and community colleges in Arkansas.
“My internship experience has solidified my overall desire to pursue some sort of career that will enable me to build intercultural relationships with and between others,” Donovan said. “As I have experienced through my internship here at the embassy and through projects I have witnessed or have been a part of back in Little Rock, lives can be enriched and beneficial outcomes can be reached for all when we actively and passionately pursue building cross-cultural communication, understanding, and collaboration.”
Starting a new tradition at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, students enrolled in the Executive Master of Public Service degree program have submitted a piece of digital media – podcasts, documentaries, online lectures, etc. – that they recommend for others.
This year’s submissions include topics ranging from veteran homelessness and leadership to conversations with Jane Goodall and Paulo Freire. Eleven different TED Talks made the list, including two from Brené Brown.
Some choices were reflective of the students’ specific professions and personal interests. Kristina Root, who works as a superintendent at Mississippi River State Park, selected the podcast “Diversity in Parks.” For Valerie Carpenter, who has a strong interest in veteran homelessness, recommended a conversation on the topic from NPR.
From NPR, a tale of two cities. In New Orleans, there are signs of hope that veteran homelessness can be solved. But Los Angeles presents a very different picture.
On any given night, more than 450,000 people in the United States are locked up in jail simply because they don’t have enough money to pay bail. The sums in question are often around $500: easy for some to pay, impossible for others. This has real human consequences – people lose jobs, homes and lives, and it drives racial disparities in the legal system. In this powerful talk, Robin Steinberg outlines the plan for The Bail Project — an unprecedented national revolving bail fund to fight mass incarceration.
“A Conversation with Jane Goodall” – The Milken Institute
Conservation superstar Jane Goodall talked about her early life and the need to protect other species and our environment and ecosystems at #MIGlobal.
Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.
The Hunting Ground – Netflix
This exposé tackles the disturbing epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses and school officials’ efforts to cover up the crimes.
Four-star general Stanley McChrystal shares what he learned about leadership over his decades in the military. How can you build a sense of shared purpose among people of many ages and skill sets? By listening and learning — and addressing the possibility of failure.
“A Conversation with Paulo Freire” – The International Literacy Institute
Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire’s last public interview, given to The International Literary Institute in 1996.
Photographer Boniface Mwangi wanted to protest against corruption in his home country of Kenya. So he made a plan: He and some friends would stand up and heckle during a public mass meeting. But when the moment came … he stood alone. What happened next, he says, showed him who he truly was. As he says, “There are two most powerful days in your life. The day you are born, and the day you discover why.”
When a kid commits a crime, the US justice system has a choice: prosecute to the full extent of the law, or take a step back and ask if saddling young people with criminal records is the right thing to do every time. In this searching talk, Adam Foss, a prosecutor with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Boston, makes his case for a reformed justice system that replaces wrath with opportunity, changing people’s lives for the better instead of ruining them.
Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.
Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy argues that “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can boost feelings of confidence, and might have an impact on our chances for success.
In an engaging and personal talk — with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks — human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America’s justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country’s black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. These issues, which are wrapped up in America’s unexamined history, are rarely talked about with this level of candor, insight and persuasiveness.
“Diversity in Parks” – Park Leaders Show
Park Leaders is about connecting the gap between the wisdom of those who did with the passion of those who will.
Trust is the foundation for everything we do. But what do we do when it’s broken? In an eye-opening talk, Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei gives a crash course in trust: how to build it, maintain it and rebuild it — something she worked on during a recent stint at Uber. “If we can learn to trust one another more, we can have unprecedented human progress,” Frei says.
Organizations are often run according to “the super-chicken model,” where the value is placed on star employees who outperform others. And yet, this isn’t what drives the most high-achieving teams. Business leader Margaret Heffernan observes that it is social cohesion — built every coffee break, every time one team member asks another for help — that leads over time to great results. It’s a radical rethink of what drives us to do our best work, and what it means to be a leader. Because as Heffernan points out: “Companies don’t have ideas. Only people do.”
We give scientists and engineers great technical training, but we’re not as good at teaching ethical decision-making or building character. Take, for example, the environmental crisis that recently unfolded in Flint, Michigan – and the professionals there who did nothing to fix it. Siddhartha Roy helped prove that Flint’s water was contaminated, and he tells a story of science in service to the public good, calling on the next generation of scientists and engineers to dedicate their work to protecting people and the planet.
Nouroudine Alassane (Class 10) is in Namibia on a consultation assignment for Barefoot College after having previously done consulting work in Senegal and Benin. He is a project manager for a beekeeping and honey project for a program in Benin, funded by the U.S. Embassy in Benin.
Reggie Ballard (Class 12) has been named Director of the Public Charter School Unit at the Arkansas Department of Education.
Marquita Little (Class 3) has been announced as the Urban League of Arkansas’ new President and CEO. Little was previously the Health Policy Director at Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.
Julie Meyer (Class 5) began her position with ThedaCare, a community health system based in Menasha, Wisc., as its Director of Behavioral Health Services.
Katie Powell Rachid (Class 8) is living and working in Singapore as a Case Manager at the Association of Women for Action and Research, a non-governmental organization concerned with promoting gender equality.
Josh Snyder (Class 12) recently accepted a position as an online reporter and weekend editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock.
Nathan Watson (Class 10) recently accepted a position as a consultant with Deloitte, a multinational professional services firm, working in the government and public service practice and focusing on workforce transformation and workforce development issues.
Fernando Cutz (Class 6) was recently announced as a senior associate with The Cohen Group after spending the previous six years in various government positions, including tours of the White House under both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump.
Alumni in the News
Clinton School graduate Kelly Fleming has been announced as a National Philanthropy Day honoree by the Arkansas Chapter the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Fleming is the Director of Development at the Arkansas Arts Center. She is also featured on the cover of November’s Inviting Arkansas as the publication’s Outstanding Fundraising Professional.
University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service associate professor Christina Standerfer will retire at the end of the 2018-19 academic year. Standerfer, who joined the Clinton School in 2007, has also served as Faculty Director of the Office of Community Engagement since 2016.
“I have had the privilege of working with inspiring students and colleagues here at the Clinton School for thirteen years,” Standerfer said. “Our shared discussions and actions that led to better and more just social worlds have been highlights of my career in higher education. I am grateful, humbled, and ready for the next chapter of my life.”
Standerfer served as a 2012-13 Fulbright Lecturing Scholar at University Marin Barleti in Tirana, Albania. During her time in Albania, she worked with U.N. Women and the U.S. Embassy delivering workshops and reports on public speaking, policy debate, conflict transformation, and effective advocacy. Subsequently, she served as a Fulbright Scholar peer reviewer for applicants seeking placement in Eastern European countries. She is currently a Fulbright Scholar Alumni Ambassador.
“Christy has played significant Clinton School roles both in and out of the classroom,” Dean James L. “Skip” Rutherford III said. She’s an excellent professor, a mentor for many students past and present and has been actively involved in numerous civic engagement initiatives.”
In her role with the Office of Community Engagement, Standerfer has overseen more than 100 field service projects, including nearly 80 international projects.
“Christy is the epitome of a public servant,” Associate Dean Susan Hoffpauir said. “She has dedicated her career to advancing the public good through social justice and has given her time and shared her talents unselfishly. She has been a role model and a mentor to hundreds of students, many of whom credit her with their passion for service. She’s also a tireless colleague who’s always willing to step up and do what needs to be done. I will miss her immensely.”
Standerfer has over 20 years of experience developing and presenting workshops, research, and reports on volunteer recruitment, community capacity building, networking, and effective communication skills. She has collaborated with over 30 nonprofit and governmental organizations designing workshops and community meetings; facilitated more than 20 community meetings on issues of homeless populations, racial and ethnic tensions, immigration, and building healthy communities; and produced and delivered more than 20 written reports to nonprofit and governmental agencies related to need assessments, evaluations, and recommendations.
In addition, she has published articles on nonprofit accountability, the changing nature of civil society, and the importance of understanding the role of public discourse in facilitating social justice.
Traci Berry, currently enrolled in the Executive Master of Public Service degree program at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, has been named trail coordinator for the new mountain-biking Northwoods Trail System in Hot Springs.
Berry, who previously served as race director of Raid the Rock Adventure Race in central Arkansas, will begin her new job with the Hot Springs trails on November 1.
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to serve the City of Hot Springs as the Visit Hot Springs Northwoods Trails Coordinator,” Berry said. “What is happening in Arkansas with trails has already proven to both have an impact economically as well as a direct impact on the health of our communities. In this position, I will be able to combine my passion for outdoor activities and the environment with community development and outreach.”
The Northwoods trails system is a 44.6-mile system of mountain biking trails on the city-owned Northwoods/Cedar Glades properties in the northern section of Hot Springs. Visit Hot Springs partnered with the Walton Family Foundation on the project.
In addition to her work with Raid the Rock Adventure Race, Berry also volunteers with the Central Arkansas Trail Alliance and the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. She was a zip-line canopy tour manager/guide at the Buffalo River Canopy Tour in Ponca, Ark., as well as the POSTOAK Canopy Tours in Tulsa.
Berry is a health and physical education graduate of Henderson State University, where she was on the basketball team, and holds a master’s degree in education administration from UA Little Rock.
She has been a teacher/coach at schools in Mayflower, Bentonville, and Little Rock.
A ribbon-cutting for the Northwoods trail system Phase One will be held the afternoon of Friday, November 16, at the Water Works Trail Head.
City Manager of Dubuque, Iowa, Mike Van Milligen has appointed Renee Tyler to be the city’s next director of transportation services. Tyler, currently enrolled in the Clinton School’s Executive Master of Public Service degree program, serves as the city’s assistant public works director and will assume her new responsibilities on Nov. 5.
“I am extremely excited about this new opportunity,” Tyler said. “The city of Dubuque provides an extraordinary level of service for its citizens. Public transportation and parking are two of the biggest challenges any city faces. Our transportation department has thrived over the last several years due to innovative measures and a commitment to servicing the citizens and the surrounding community. I am looking forward to leading this great department as we continue building and servicing the needs of the citizens.”
As director of transportation services, Tyler will be responsible for the operation of The Jule, Dubuque’s public transit system with fixed-route bus service and door-to-door paratransit mini-bus service, and management of the city’s parking system, including public ramps, lots, and parking meters. She will serve as project manager for the department, coordinate vehicle and major equipment purchases, analyze ridership and route performance, manage and maintain all parking facilities/assets and enforcement activities, control and administer budgets for the transit and parking activities, and be responsible for departmental marketing programs and activities.
Tyler joined the City of Dubuque staff as assistant public works director in December 2016. In this role, she assists with administrative responsibilities for the department along with operational activities for the city’s street and sewer maintenance activities, traffic signals and street lighting maintenance, riverfront maintenance, snow and ice control operations, and flood control activities. She manages a staff of 40 and activity budgets of over $8.5 million.
Prior to coming to Dubuque, Tyler was employed by the City of Little Rock from 2013 to 2016 as fleet acquisition, parts, and special projects manager. She served as a divisional manager and was responsible for vehicle procurement, acquisitions, parts, and inventory control for the city’s 1,400 fleet assets. Tyler also implemented a performance measurement system, acted as legislative and state government liaison for fleet issues, ensured grant compliance, identified alternative energy and fueling projects, and managed the division’s annual budget.
Tyler’s previous experience includes serving as executive administrator to the CEO of RVM Enterprises, an eDiscovery and consulting services firm in New York, N.Y.; chief of staff to New Jersey Assemblyman Jerry Green in the New Jersey General Assembly in Plainfield, N.J.; and assistant to the CEO of the Promontory Financial Group in New York, N.Y.
Tyler earned a bachelor’s degree in social welfare from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She recently participated in the International City/County Management Association’s (ICMA) Professional Fellows Program funded by the U.S. State Department, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She is also a member of the American Public Works Association (APWA), a 2018 graduate of APWA’s Emerging Leaders Academy, the APWA National Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Iowa APWA Legislative and Governance Committee, the Dubuque County Historic Preservation Commission, a 2016 graduate of the Executive Leadership Institute sponsored by the National Association of Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), and is past vice president of the Arkansas Public Fleet Professionals Association.
Her volunteer experience includes the Junior Achievement of the Heartland in Dubuque middle schools, Art Porter Music Foundation, Our House Shelter, and Little Rock Junior League.
University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service graduate Fernando Cutz (Class 6) was recently announced as a senior associate with The Cohen Group after spending the previous six years in various government positions, including tours of the White House under both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump.
Headed by former Senator and Secretary of Defense William Cohen, The Cohen Group is a global consulting firm offering advice on tactical and strategic opportunities in various market.
“The Cohen Group is a strategic advisory firm that assists companies with business development, market entry, regulatory issues, and other challenges and opportunities around the world, particularly in emerging markets,” Cutz said. “While the firm does work across the globe, I’m especially focused on Latin America.”
Cutz worked in numerous roles and departments in his six years with the U.S. government. He entered government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) where he started as a Presidential Management Fellow before working as a Communications Analyst and the Special Assistant to the Administrator for National Security Affairs.
He worked on President Obama’s National Security Council Staff in the Office of Global Engagement at the White House and later served as a Special Advisor for President Obama’s trip to Cuba. He has also served in Bogotá, Colombia, as an advisor for USAID’s work with the Colombian peace process with the FARC, and in Georgetown, Guyana, as USAID’s Principal Officer.
Cutz went on to serve as Senior Advisor to National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and Deputy National Security Advisor Maj. Gen. Rick Waddell. He also served as Director for South America and acting Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs under President Trump at the White House National Security Council.
Working in government was Cutz’s goal since college, when an internship with the U.S. Embassy in Portugal opened his eyes to the possibilities and he “fell in love with the job” immediately.
“I’ve always loved following the news very closely,” Cutz said. “I saw that in government you have the opportunity to not just follow the news, but create and shape the news every single day.”
That desire to work in government played a role in Cutz’s decision to attend the Clinton School after graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in international relations and political science. After looking at programs around the country he chose the Clinton School in part because of its unique field service component.
“Not only do you have the academic program that will prepare you and get you that degree, but you also have these three incredible field experiences that offer you opportunities that no other program in the country offers you,” Cutz said. “You graduate not just with a degree and academic knowledge, which are important and valuable, but also this resume that is already significant.”
In his short period since leaving government Cutz has already been booked as a speaker to share his experiences. He spoke at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., in September and will speak to the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., in late October.
“It’s been a surprise to me,” Cutz said of the speaking requests. “To the extent that folks are interested in having me talk or share experiences or give my take on certain events of the world, I’m of course more than happy to do that.”
Early in college I wanted to be a lawyer, but the summer after sophomore year I did this internship with the U.S. Embassy in Portugal and I got there and I absolutely loved the job, just fell in love with it. I thought it would be a huge honor and incredible responsibility to be a part of that team that’s trying to work on these gigantic projects for the greater good. That became my goal, really from that summer on, and through the rest of college and the Clinton School.
What went into your decision to attend the Clinton School?
I knew I wanted to go into government but I didn’t know specifics. I was looking at several different master’s programs, mainly in foreign policy and foreign affairs, when the Clinton School came on my radar. I met with Alex Thomas, I met with Dean Rutherford, and they were very persuasive in the argument that other programs have great academic programs and you leave after two intense years with a degree that you can point to, which is great, but at the Clinton School, not only do you have the academic program that will prepare you and get you that degree, but you also have these three incredible field experiences that offer you opportunities that no other program in the country offers you.
Folks look at your resume when you are straight out of grad school and they assume you’ve had many years of work experience before you’re applying for jobs. The field experience, the knowledge you gain through that, the ability to interact, the ability to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, that’s the kind of stuff that always has drawn me.
What are the topics of your speaking engagements?
I focus on policy, which was always my interest. It’s why I was in government. To the extent that I can shed light on why we made certain policy decisions while I was in the room, I’m happy to do so.
I’ve also seen different reasons for decision making, both under President Obama and under President Trump. Some of the stuff has stayed pretty consistent, while some of the stuff has changed quite a bit. But, I understand the policy angles from both sides and I see value from both sides and I’m always happy to have a conversation or dialogue or shed light on what the sides are.
What’s next for you?
I used to have these grand ambitions for what I want to be doing in five or ten years, but I’ve found that all four tours I had at the White House were by surprise – not anything I aspired for. I was called in, given a situation, and went to work. This position I have now was a surprise to me. I think there’s a certain acceptance and flexibility you have to have. Whatever is next, I’ll embrace that.
Dr. Charlotte Williams, associate professor and Director of the Center on Community Philanthropy at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, has been announced as the keynote speaker at the Indiana Blacks in Philanthropy Conference (IBIP), set for Nov. 4-5 in Gary, Indiana.
Hosted by Indiana University Northwest, the conference was created to engage and inspire minority populations in the philanthropic sector.
“Embracing racial equity as a value and committing to diversity and inclusion are important steps to improving performance across the philanthropic sector,” Williams said. “My goal is to share insights from our journey and promising practices from the field.”
IBIP aims to educate and empower black communities in philanthropic endeavors, such as providing peer support and professional development for grant makers and trustees; expanding philanthropy within black communities; and mentoring students and young professionals to ensure future generations of philanthropic leaders.
With the theme of “Advancing Equity Across the Sector,” the conference will provide opportunities to explore efforts to make an impact within one’s region and state. It aims to expose students of color, who might not be aware of the opportunities that exist in philanthropy, to the resources of the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and provide them with valuable networking opportunities with working professionals.
Under Williams’ leadership, the Center on Community Philanthropy was recently selected as one of 14 inaugural grantees of the Racial Equity in Philanthropy Fund (REP). REP is a collaborative of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Ford Foundation and is based at Borealis Philanthropy. This work inspired the theme of Williams’ talk for the IBIP conference, which focuses on how community philanthropy can build capacity within the sector to advance racial equity.
A business administration graduate from Howard University, Williams earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in public health from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Williams develops and manages key projects of The Center that focus on building community-based solutions and programs dedicated to eliminating disparities, promoting social justice, and advancing racial equity.
The IBIP Conference is free and open to the public. Space is limited and registration is required. Interested parties can register for both the conference and reception at iun.edu/ibipevent.
Christine Sumner (Class 7) recently completed her Ph.D. in animal welfare from the University of British Columbia and has accepted a position in New Zealand as a Scientific Officer for the NZ Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NZSPCA).
Burt Hicks (Class 7) and Hilary Trudell (Class 6) are among the more than 60 individuals from across Arkansas selected for Leadership Arkansas Class XIII.
Kelly Fleming (Class 7), director of development for the Arkansas Arts Center, has been announced as a National Philanthropy Day honoree by the Arkansas Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Brandon Mathews (Class 9), who works as the associate director of campus resources for the Colleges and Universities Food Bank Alliance, contributed to the first-ever national survey of campus food pantries.
Andrew Treviño (Class 12) was part of the team that applied for a $10.3M grant to focus on improving prevention and treatment services throughout Arkansas that was recently awarded to the Division of Adult, Aging and Behavioral Health Services at the Arkansas Department of Human Services. Treviño has worked as an opioid treatment policy coordinator with ADHS since April 2018.
Anna Strong (Class 5) discussed the work at Arkansas Children’s Hospital to combat food insecurity in a recent US News story.