1. Job Title and Organization.
2. Briefly describe your role.
I conduct research and teach graduate students from multiple professional schools. My passion is bringing together people with diverse perspectives to work on consequential, complex, and often divisive public problems. Through my research, teaching, and community service, I examine the perils and potential of dialogues and efforts to share decision-making in contexts involving longstanding patterns of racism or other forms of disenfranchisement. For example, I work in partnership with public agencies and community leaders on community-police relationships, rural-urban competition for transportation investment, and coordination between tribal and county governments. As a former public manager myself, I love to learn from the example of skilled practitioners, and I keep a hand in practice through continuing to design and facilitate community engagement efforts. I love conveying the lessons learned from these experiences to professionals through my teaching about frameworks and skills for shared leadership, stakeholder engagement processes, and qualitative research.
3. Why did you choose the Ph.D. program at UCI?
I was living in Southern California and looking at local programs. When I met Martha Feldman, who would subsequently be my advisor, I was completely taken with her intellect, her interest in how public managers do their work, and the caring and respect she demonstrated toward me as a prospective advisee. The advising relationship is crucial for Ph.D. students and my first impressions were correct: Martha turned out to be an exceptional advisor. I cannot imagine anyone who would have so richly supported and stimulated my intellectual and professional growth. And, there were multiple other PPD faculty members who wisely and generously guided me whenever I asked for help, from research design to navigating the job market. I had been accepted into higher profile Ph.D. programs but I have never once regretted choosing UCI.
4. How did your experience at UCI shape your career path?
My advisor and other faculty members inspired me to become a professor. Their positive model of mentorship gave me strong opinions about how to shape my current school's new Ph.D. program. I continue to draw on the strong foundation PPD gave me in research methods and writing. Almost 10 years later, there is still a strong connection between my dissertation work on inclusive public management and my current scholarship and teaching on public engagement, managing public and nonprofit organizations, and boundary-spanning leadership.
5. What advice or insight do you have for UCI alumni and students interested in your career field?
Being a professor is a challenging and rewarding profession. It can be stressful. In my experience, if you do it for your own satisfaction, not to impress anyone, it is very enjoyable. In my case, the satisfaction comes from the pleasure of teaching and conducting research and the opportunities to contribute to problem-solving in public affairs. In my pre-tenure period, I decided not to become so obsessed with research productivity that I shorted other parts of life that are fundamentally important to me. So, I have stayed connected with family, friends, and community, which is probably one of the reasons I continue to love my job. There's certainly privilege involved in making it as an academic, and as a white woman, I feel I have a responsibility to persistently use my position to shake up power dynamics in academia. Regardless of where you find yourself relative to privilege, I suggest you keep an eye on the balance of learning and labor to address inequality, and specifically that you step up your efforts if you're benefiting mostly from being educated about inequality instead of doing the work to address it.