2013 Public Administration Conference: Day One

Yesterday, the School of Government kicked off the 2013 Public Administration Conference at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Public Administration Conference is an opportunity for MPA@UNC students to visit the campus, explore some of today’s toughest workplace challenges, and exchange ideas with fellow students, alumni, faculty, and thought leaders from across the nation.

The day started with a dynamic session, “Engaging Women in Public Administration,” which highlighted numerous contributions that women have made to the field.

Marilu Goodyear, director of the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas, presented a riveting speech titled, “A Woman’s Journey from Girl to Mentor.” She shared her experience being a leader in a field that is dominated by men, emphasizing how she holds true to values instilled in her by her parents and how she strives to achieve work-life balance. “I know what I’m doing at any given moment is the best thing that I can do—at that moment.”

Goodyear provided insight to the women (and men) in the room, exclaiming that in order to reach your career goals, you must become comfortable with being vulnerable. “In all of my career, when I haven’t gotten what I’ve wanted, I’ve learned that there’s always another way,” Goodyear said. “It’s not always a straight line, but it is definitely possible.”

Shannon Allred Decker, North Carolina Commerce Secretary, delivered the conference keynote address. Appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory in January 2013, Decker shared her “Case for Change,” a revolutionary approach she’s taking to revitalize North Carolina’s economic health. She highlighted five tenets of economic growth for the state: health; education; economic development; arts, tourism, and culture; and the quality of life in the environment.“Economic development is a community effort,” Decker stated. “You will not grow if your community doesn’t have a plan.”

Later in the day, former US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood delivered the esteemed Deil S. Wright Lecture. LaHood served as US Secretary of Transportation from 2009 to 2013 and oversaw implementation of the Recovery Act, one of the country’s most significant public works programs since the New Deal. A Republican who served in a Democratic administration, LaHood stressed the importance of bipartisanship in US government. “Compromise is not a bad word,” LaHood exclaimed. “In leadership jobs, the most important quality to have is listening.” He encouraged students in the audience to work hard, be open, and be willing to work with people who may not agree with them. “I don’t want young people to be discouraged by what you see happening in Washington. We need you to get involved.”