Career Crossroads Leads Shroff to Public Service Leadership

Story by Dwain Hebda

Had Madhav Shroff (’19) not reached a personal and career crossroads, he might never have discovered his love for public service.

Shroff graduated from Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts in Hot Springs and Carnegie Mellon University before returning home to attend the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where he completed his master’s degree in biomedical science. Everything aligned for him to attend medical school, except for one thing: he discovered he didn’t want a career in medicine.

“I’d reached a crisis where I decided I didn’t want to be a doctor, but I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do,” he said.

Shroff instead enrolled in AmeriCorps, serving two terms with City Year Little Rock at J.A. Fair High School. The work captivated him in ways medicine never did, but at the end of that time he was no closer to knowing where to channel this new passion professionally.

“I knew I loved teaching and working, but I didn’t know how to turn that into a career,” he said. “I decided to apply to both the Clinton School of Public Service and the UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law. I was accepted into both and did the concurrent JD-MPS program, starting in 2016.”

The Clinton School of Public Service picked up where his practical experience left off, giving him the formal tools to create change in the community.

“The Clinton School grounded me in this evidenced-based approach,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of ways to do good but the Clinton School directed me in a way to connect with people who already knew how to do this work in Arkansas. At the same time, it taught me how to apply a scientific approach to doing public service in the state.”

In addition to his legal studies and the classroom instruction, the Clinton School’s practical experience requirements were particularly impactful, Shroff said.

“On my Practicum project, I would say that I had never been a part of a more diverse team,” he said of his team’s work with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas. “I have always come from this very academic background and while I was already open to other people’s viewpoints, the Clinton School challenged me. It challenged me to understand more diverse viewpoints and processes that I wasn’t systematically comfortable with.”

From there, Shroff traveled to Sri Lanka where his International Public Service Project landed him with the Asia Foundation. There he worked on improving mediation resources to help keep lenders and defaulted borrowers out of the court system. Finally, his Capstone work was performed back home in Central Arkansas.

“I worked with the Little Rock Age-Friendly Commission, which had just launched and was just trying to figure out its goals,” he said. “I program planned the path the commission should take and created a survey to send to everybody so everything they did was well-informed.”

After dabbling in private legal practice, Shroff moved into the nonprofit world following graduation, and is now the Equity Officer for Public Policy and Public Affairs with the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in Little Rock. In that role, he finds the lessons of the Clinton School of Public Service come into play almost daily.

“My job is to ensure that Arkansas is equitable in terms of public policy and public affairs through economic, educational, and race equity,” he said. “It’s a nebulous kind of thing. In order to do the work that I do, I have to be well-informed by literature and well-informed by evidence. You also have to have strong writing skills, and I think those three are all things the Clinton School taught and developed in me.”

As for what he’d tell another prospective student about a Clinton School education, Shroff is effusive in describing the benefits of the school.

“First, I always say that the field project experience is great,” he said. “Practicum leading into the International Public Service Project leading into Capstone gets you into the field and doing real work. There’s no better way to learn.

“Second, the people that you meet at the Clinton School are some of my lifelong friends, and I think that it’s good to have a network of friends that you can kind of rely on and bounce ideas off of. And finally, the Clinton School definitely opened doors for me. The school is known in Arkansas and I meet Clinton School students from all over the state. From a networking standpoint, that’s been huge.”

Madhav Shroff, a 2019 graduate of the Clinton School of Public Service and concurrent graduate of the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is currently the Equity Officer for Public Policy and Public Affairs at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *