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University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service student Domenick Lasorsa of Cape Cod, Mass., has published an interactive story-map, “CDBG and HOME: Essential Grants for Mid Sized Cities,” that can be used by city officials throughout the nation. Lasorsa, who will graduate in May with a Master of Public Service degree, worked with the National League of Cities (NLC) to highlight comprehensive research on the benefits of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnership grants in mid-sized cities.
This story-map provides a close look at how mid-sized cities, like Little Rock, are using federal CDBG and HOME grants to benefit their residents and communities. The map also features case studies with video interviews of city leaders around the country.
This research comes at a critical time for cities. On February 12, the Trump Administration released its budget proposal for 2019, that proposes a $3 trillion in domestic cuts over ten years. Those cuts include the sweeping elimination of many federal grant programs – including CDBG and HOME — grants that cities of all sizes use to rehabilitate and build affordable rental housing, repair and improve infrastructure, promote economic development and provide essential services to low- and middle-income people.
“This project is a key tool for cities like Little Rock to show the very real ways in which we leverage these vital federal dollars to augment the impact of the work we do improving the lives of the citizens we serve,” said Mayor Mark Stodola, one of the city leaders interviewed for the project.
Lasorsa’s research graphically displays Little Rock’s use of CDBG and HOME grants and showcases how the funding is being used to effectively meet the community’s development and housing needs, such as the World Changers Housing Rehabilitation program.
“This information is important for city leaders making difficult decisions in the face of federal funding changes. Cities are using these funds to meet the needs of their citizens in a variety of capacities, and this research supports the need for flexible grant funds,” Lasorsa said.
The project is the final of Lasorsa’s three fieldwork projects as a student at the Clinton School. Lasorsa is in his final semester in the school’s Master of Public Service degree program.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Dom in the mayor’s office, as his professor, and now at the NLC,” said Stodola, current President of NLC and adjunct professor at the Clinton School.
After graduating in May, Lasorsa plans to continue working at NLC as the Associate for Veterans and Special Needs, where he supports the organizations work on the Mayors Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness and technical assistance for veterans in cities.
Amie Alexander, a second-year student at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service from Waldron, Ark., has been named to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Next Generation Delegation for the Global Food Security Symposium, set for March 21-22 in Washington D.C.
Alexander is one of only 27 students selected from colleges and universities throughout the United States and around the world. She is the only student representing an Arkansas college or university.
“It is an honor to be selected as one of the 27 Next Generation Delegates to the 2018 Global Food Security Symposium,” Alexander said. “Growing up on a small farm, I have always believed in the power of agriculture to transform and empower lives. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs recognizes the importance of advancing global food security and nutrition in the face of challenges such as urbanization, climate change, and new technologies. As a delegate, I look forward to working with and learning from students, speakers, storytellers, and innovators from across the world who believe in agriculture’s promise to feed an ever-growing population.”
The two-day event will be hosted at Atrium Hall in the Ronald Reagan Building. Prior to a full day of presentations and a report release on March 22, the Council will offer solution sessions to engage in dialogue with global partners. The events will be live streamed through the Council’s website. Live video and features will also be posted to the Global Food and Agriculture Program Facebook page.
Last summer, Alexander traveled to Tokyo, Japan, for her International Public Service Project with the Foreign Agricultural Service, which links U.S. agriculture to the world to enhance export opportunities and global food security. She is completing her final Clinton School field service project with the Association of Arkansas Counties.
Alexander earned her bachelor’s degree in agriculture, food, and life sciences at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She is currently pursuing a concurrent juris doctor at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law.
She is the 2017-18 recipient of the B.A. Rudolph Scholarship. This scholarship is annually awarded by the B.A. Rudolph Foundation, a Washington D.C.-based charitable nonprofit whose mission is to advance and benefit young women interested in public service through educational, financial, and professional support.
Four University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service Students were honored at the Rotary Foundation Banquet on Thursday, Feb. 15. Darlynton Adegor (Delta, Nigeria), Vinay Raj (Chennai, India), Izehi Oriaghan (Lagos, Nigeria), and John Mensah (Accra, Ghana) were recognized as Rotary Foundation Global Grant Scholars.
Each student has received a scholarship that can be used to cover academic and travel costs associated with the Clinton School program.
Adegor and Raj are second-year students at the Clinton School of Public Service. A graduate of Lagos State University and the Nigerian Law School, Adegor has been working with the Washington D.C.-based Syrian Emergency Task Force since June 2017. Raj is a graduate of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences with a master’s degree in public health and a graduate of UA Little Rock with a Ph.D. in bioinformatics.
Oriaghan and Mensah are both first-year students. Oriaghan is a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University with a degree in international relations. Her work experience includes time as Senior Administrative Officer at the Lagos Waste Management Authority under the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment. A graduate of the University of Cape Coast with a degree in social sciences, Mensah worked as an assistant field officer with the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection. As a volunteer, he was as a liaison with the District Social Development Officers (DSDOs) helping to get low-income people enrolled onto social intervention plans in rural communities.
A graduate of Boston University, McCall has worked for several newspapers in the New England area. In addition to writing for her college newspaper, McCall has enjoyed stints at The Boston Globe, The Bay City Banner, and The Newport Daily News.
It was through her work as a journalist – a chance interview while covering a local event in Rhode Island – that sparked McCall’s transition to volunteering and community service.
She served one year in AmeriCorps before moving to Kyrgyzstan for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer.
Her time with AmeriCorps was spent as a Community Outreach Coordinator with Cradles to Crayons, an organization that supplies low-income and homeless children with everyday essentials – clothes, shoes, backpacks, school supplies, and toys.
“I once had the opportunity to go with one of the social workers to deliver these packages, and it was the best feeling in the world,” McCall said. “We went into some of the lower income neighborhoods in Boston. I remember this one house, the girl was like 3 or 4, and I rang the doorbell and she came running to the door. She tore it open and she had this huge smile on her face. Mom and dad were in the doorway and the mom was crying and just mouthed the words ‘Thank you’. It was a beautiful moment.”
In Kyrgyzstan, McCall lived with a host family while working for a women’s crisis center. The experience was complete with cultural and language lessons that included having to learn a Cyrillic alphabet.
“That was probably the most challenging experience, professionally and personally,” McCall said of her time in Kyrgyzstan.
Upon her return to the United States, McCall took a job as a grant writer at Saint Anthony Hospital in Chicago, located in a low-income neighborhood serving primarily African American and Latino communities. She worked there for two years before enrolling at the Clinton School in August 2017.
“One thing my journalism professors always told us was that it’s not always a straight path, and mine definitely hasn’t been. But that’s part of the fun.”
When did you become interested in journalism?
Probably from the time I was 10 years old. I’ve always loved to write and tell stories. In high school I took journalism classes and was on the high school newspaper and the yearbook. It was a pretty easy decision when it came time to look at colleges. I knew I wanted to study journalism.
I looked at schools all across the United States and chose Boston University. They have a good reputation for journalism. It’s always been a passion of mine, writing and telling other peoples’ stories and getting to know people that are different than myself and putting their stories into words.
Were you immediately on the journalism track at Boston University?
I applied to BU’s College of Communication as a freshman. Within the first few classes I knew it was for me. I did the college newspaper, and I had some good internships my junior and senior years. I also had some mentors along the way that helped direct me toward what I was going to do afterward.
The Bay State Banner occurred first. That was my junior year of college. That is the African American newspaper in Boston. I interned there for two years as a reporter and copy editor. Even though I was still in college, the editor there threw me into it. In journalism, that’s how you learn. You can learn so much in the classroom, but until you get out there and start to interview people and learn the landscape, it’s all theory. I’m so grateful to him for throwing me out into the pool and letting me swim.
I did that for two years, and then The Boston Globe sports department was my senior year of college. That was amazing. All the sports teams in Boston were winning. I lived in Kenmore Square, right across the street from Fenway, so you could open the window and faintly hear the announcer.
Being a member of the sports department when all the Boston teams were winning was so exciting. We would do the typical intern tasks – answer phones, take down scores for the football games on Friday nights. I also wrote Red Sox and Bruins game previews. I covered the state championship series for gymnastics. I was a competitive gymnast my whole life, so it was a natural fit.
I learned so much by listening and observing and sometimes having one-on-one conversations. I was so grateful for that experience every single day I walked in the doors.
The Newport Daily News is in Newport, Rhode Island. I moved there after graduation and I was a general assignment reporter. I had really good colleagues. I was probably the youngest reporter there by 20-some years.
What sparked your interest in AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps?
In Newport, I had an opportunity to interview a man from Kenya. He was in town for a community meeting, traveling around the United States with Catholic Relief Services. His story was inspiring and unlike any other I’d written so far.
Basically, his story was that at the age of 23, he was left to care for 15 siblings and cousins because all of the adults in their family had died of AIDS. He was on the track to do very well for himself in Kenya. He gave that all up at the time to care for these siblings and cousins – to make sure they were clothed, fed, educated. This man just had these beautiful brown eyes – lots of people have brown eyes, but I just felt like there was so much soul in there – and I’d never heard a story like his before. It touched me in a place that I hadn’t felt.
After his presentation, I had a chance to talk with him one on one, and one of the questions I asked was, “What can people in America or even right here in Newport do to help families in villages like yours in Kenya?” He looked at me and said, “Christine, you’re doing it right now. You’ve come and you’ve heard my story, and tonight you’re going to write my story, and then tomorrow this entire community is going to know mine and my family’s story.” No one had ever said anything like that to me before, or put journalism in that perspective.
Almost 10 years later, I look back on that and see that he was telling me, in a way, that journalism is a public service. I never thought of it in that context before.
After I turned in my story to the editor, I just started searching for volunteer opportunities and service opportunities. AmeriCorps came up. Peace Corps showed up. Even the Clinton School showed up somewhere in my search that night.
I still love journalism very much, but that man put it in a new light. I thought, “There’s something more. What else can I do?” People talk about following their heart or passion or intuition, and I did that.
I love it. It’s everything and probably more than what I expected. One of the first things that really drew me here were the three projects – Practicum, IPSP, and Capstone. We are in the middle of Practicum right now and I am on a team working with the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas. That’s been a really great experience. My team members and I worked on research the first semester and have been tasked with making a toolkit for businesses in Arkansas to evaluate gender equity in the workplace. This semester, we’ll be doing focus groups, interviews, and surveys that will aid in creating that toolkit.
I really love the Speaker Series here; that was one of the main attractions as well. I’ve met some really wonderful people that I’ve kept in touch with afterwards. The professors have been really helpful in providing a space to talk about career opportunities.
I’m really excited for the second semester and the social entrepreneurship class with Terry Mazany. He is the former CEO of The Chicago Community Trust. I’m really looking forward to his class this semester and more Speaker Series and figuring out IPSP. I have classmates from all over the country and a few international. I feel like I learn something new from them every day. We are all each other’s teachers.
Clinton School students and May 2018 graduates Hannah Bahn (Mercer Island, Wash.) and Brittney Dennis (Little Rock, Ark.) have secured full-time jobs. Bahn will join the faculty at Thaden School in Bentonville, Ark., while Dennis will be the Girls of Promise Coordinator for the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas.
An independent private school, Thaden School’s mission is to provide a balanced and challenging education that ignites in its students a passion for discovery and learning, prepares them to succeed in college, and inspires them to lead lives of integrity, purpose, and responsible global citizenship.
The WFA is the only statewide foundation that focuses solely on women and girls in Arkansas. The mission of the WFA is to engage the community to promote women and girls in Arkansas so they can realize and achieve their full potential.
Bahn and Dennis join fellow 2018 graduates Susanna Creed (Monrovia, Calif.), Mollie Henager (Conway, Ark.), and Domenick Lasorsa (Cape Cod, Mass.) who have already secured full-time positions.
Currently based in Washington D.C. as a Situation Unit Leader with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Kathryn Hisek recently spent nearly two months deployed in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to assist with the relief efforts for Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“I had just started my new job when I deployed to Puerto Rico. I was only a couple of weeks into it, and it was like drinking from a fire hose,” Hisek said. “But I’m very excited. I’m very lucky to be able to do a job that I love.”
Hisek came to the Clinton School with more than her share of disaster response and recovery experience. After earning her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Central Arkansas, she spent a year in AmeriCorps that took her to disaster response situations on the East Coast (Hurricane Sandy) and the Midwest (Oklahoma City Tornados).
Having worked with FEMA since July 2016, she was previously based in Oakland, Calif., and deployed as a Situation Unit Leader to places such as Honolulu, Hawaii, for Hurricanes Madeline and Lester and Carson City, Nev., for response and recovery to winter storms and flooding.
Her recent stint in Puerto Rico offered her the chance to work with her mother, who lives in Hot Springs and deploys with the USDA Forest Service. The El Yunque Forest was heavily affected by the hurricanes, and brought many Forest Service responders to Puerto Rico, as well.
What does your public service interest of disaster relief stem from?
I think it probably started with Hurricane Katrina. I’m from Hot Springs, and we received a few survivors that left New Orleans into our community. Most of the evacuees were minors, whose parents sent them away so that they could recover from the disaster back home. I think that seeing how communities came together after a disaster was a factor in my interest
Then, when I had the chance to do AmeriCorps after I graduated from college, it was through a partnership with FEMA. I got to actually respond to some disasters, including Hurricane Sandy and the Oklahoma City Tornados. I think that was probably what cemented it, my AmeriCorps year.
Definitely. I knew it after my AmeriCorps year was up at the end of 2013. But I wanted to also look into working in recovery and preparedness. After that, I worked with the Red Cross in Houston, doing some preparedness work but mainly in the house fire response program. I also interned with the Red Cross during my final semester at the Clinton School working on an evacuation plan for an earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.
I had heard of the Clinton School, because I went to UCA, and a few of my classmates at the time had gone to grad school there, but I think it kind of got back on my radar when I was looking at grad schools that would match the AmeriCorps education grant that we received. The Clinton School was one of them. I looked into the field research component and was excited about the amount of time I could spend in the field. I knew that I could really find a worthwhile project internationally that I could focus on and receive more disaster recovery experience.
You spent some time in the Philippines. Was that for your IPSP?
I was able to combine my IPSP and Capstone, and spent about seven months in The Philippines. I was working with a Philippines-based international organization, Children and Family Services International, (CFSI). At that point it was around a year and half after Typhoon Haiyan hit and many communities were still recovering.
I was able to complete a program evaluation on CFSI’s livelihood recovery program. I was able to use many of the great skills we learned in Field Research Methods and Data Analysis.
What is your new job?
I worked with FEMA directly out of the Clinton School. My job at the time was on a regional Incident Management Assistance Team in California. Basically, if a disaster occurred in California, Arizona, Nevada, or Hawaii, my team would deploy immediately and set up the initial disaster operations structure. My new job that I just started in October of 2017 is the same position, but I live in D.C., and can respond to any disaster in the country now. I’m on a national team.
My specific position is the Situation Unit Leader, which means that it’s my job to track the current situation, collect information, manage the information, analyze it, and push the information to leadership so they can make decisions on what the next steps are for the disaster operations.
I definitely want this to be my career path. As of right now, I’ve only worked in response with FEMA. Being in D.C., I will be able to explore more of the other programs FEMA has to offer.
I’m not sure what five years from now looks like, but it’s definitely going to be with FEMA.
El Investigador Visitante es un programa a través del Centro para la Filantropía Comunitaria para realizar proyectos innovadores que expandan el trabajo del Centro y del Clinton School para desarrollar mejores prácticas en los sectores sin fines de lucro y filantrópicos.
“Es vital realizar investigaciones que exploren el impacto de la raza en los resultados de salud, políticos y económicos para mejorar las prácticas” indicó la Dra. Charlotte Williams, Catedrática Asociada y Directora del Centro para la Filantropía Comunitaria. “Esta es un área de peritaje del Dr. Rodríguez-Díaz y estamos entusiasmados por compartir los resultados de su trabajo”.
El Dr. Carlos E. Rodríguez-Díaz es Catedrático Asociado en la Escuela Graduada de Salud Pública de la Universidad de Puerto Rico – Recinto de Ciencias Médicas en donde está afiliado al Programa Doctoral en Salud Pública con especialidad en Determinantes Sociales de la Salud y al Centro de Investigación y Evaluación Sociomédica.
“Tener al Dr. Rodríguez-Díaz en nuestra institución proveerá oportunidades educativas a nuestros estudiantes en el Clinton School” estableció el Decano Skip Rutherford. “Él también será parte de la Serie de Presentaciones en el Clinton School, donde discutirá lo que ha ocurrido en Puerto Rico luego del impacto de desastres naturales”. Esta actividad es gratuita para todo el público y se llevará a cabo el jueves, 8 de febrero a las 6:00pm.
El Dr. Rodríguez-Díaz completó un grado de maestría en educación en salud pública y un doctoral en salud pública con especialidad en promoción de la salud comunitaria. Su post-doctorado fue especializado en investigación en salud global y VIH. Además, ha completado otras experiencias académicas en políticas de salud, derechos humanos y diplomacia en salud.
El trabajo del Dr. Rodríguez-Díaz se focaliza en el desarrollo e implementación de intervenciones para reducir inequidades en salud en poblaciones socialmente vulnerabilizadas. Él ha recibido apoyo de agencias gubernamentales, no-gubernamentales, privadas y comunitarias para apoyar sus proyectos relacionados a la atención de los determinantes sociales de inequidades en salud en Puerto Rico, Los Estados Unidos de América y la región del Caribe.
Supervisors: Dr. Malcolm Glover and Kathleen Pate
The Arkansas Historic Decisions Learning Exchange (ARHDLE) is a coalition of museums and learning centers in the state who seek to use public deliberation as a tool to enhance educational programs at their facilities and engage communities in substantive discussions about important issues. As part of the public deliberation process, people are encouraged to listen to one another, explore the unbiased facts of an issue, test ideas, weigh options and balance tradeoffs to find where their diverse interests overlap so that they can better understand each other and act together to confront problems.
Currently, representatives from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville; Delta Cultural Center in Helena-West Helena; MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History in Little Rock; and U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith form the core of ARHDLE. As part of the ARHDLE initiative, Clinton School students are conducting useful research and working with officials from the aforementioned partner institutions to develop new programs based on historic issues. The historical frameworks developed by the students will be used at each facility in a way that encourages participants to think about a difficult public issue from the past and try to find common ground through a facilitated discussion about possible solutions.
Mission Statement: The ARHDLE initiative is made possible by a research grant from the Kettering Foundation. A nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research, Kettering’s primary research question is, what does it take to make democracy work as it should? Kettering’s research is distinctive because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities, and their nation.
“The Clinton School students working on this project are conducting research that inspires collective problem solving. The concept of deliberative democracy, or consensus decision-making, is a foundational element of this practicum project. Each day, students are taking the necessary steps to develop educational frameworks that enlighten people, strengthen civil discourse, and make a difference in the communities where our partner institutions are based.” – Dr. Malcolm Glover, ARHDLE Project Coordinator
Supervisor: Carol Ann Duke
The team will assess the impact of a middle school public service curriculum. The students will work to gather data to show the impact of the curriculum on community partners as well as students and the “whole child” aspects of middle school and career and college preparation.
Mission: To provide all students a quality education through the collaborative efforts of the school, families and all stakeholders to create productive citizens in our ever changing society.
“Our partnership with the Clinton School has afforded our students the opportunity to engage with students from all over the country and hear about their experiences with public service. Our staff is working seamlessly with this year’s Field Placement Team to launch the grade-level curriculum that last year’s team developed. That work is invaluable as we experiment with elements of the curriculum to expose our students to the many facets of public service available to them and determined the efficacy of the curriculum, make revisions, and move forward in preparing our students for robust academic, vocational, and avocational lives as they become members of a global society.” – Carol Ann Duke, Principal