Connor Reed, Indiana University sophomore, returns to discuss the “Orv’s” influence among local government practitioners.
The Impact of the “Orv”
In my previous article, I offered perspectives on local government from the view of an undergraduate, just beginning to become familiar with the field, the policies and the people that make a community succeed. The next logical step would be to look at local government from the standpoint of the graduate student. Poised, established and capable, these students are on the forefront of bringing innovative and impactful change to cities all over the world.
To understand this demographic, I didn’t need to look any further than the Local Government Management Association at Indiana University. This organization is mostly comprised of MPA students in the School of Public & Environmental Affairs. They are my good friends and, without a doubt, the people I look up to the most as an aspiring local government leader.
To learn about how graduate students in LGMA came to pursue a career in local government, I sent out an email with this prompt:
Describe how you came to have an interest in local government management. When did you realize that this was a field you wanted to work in? Were there any individuals who influenced your decision? What do you hope to accomplish in local government? How do you think local government can do a better job of attracting talented young professionals?
The responses were an interesting blend of diverse anecdotes and singular influential factors that almost every student could relate to.
The Path to Local Government
Almost every graduate student had stumbled into the field of local government by happenstance. Circumstances had ultimately led to their pursuit of the discipline in surprising ways. From internships to family influences, each student altered their initial ideas of where they were going and opted for community management and development.
Undergraduate students in every focus from environmental management to international education found an interest in local government in various ways, all sharing one common theme: real-world experience. Interning in city offices, meeting professionals in the field and maintaining a passion for changing the community, no matter what major, all steered graduate students toward local government.
“Singular Influential Factor”
This interest in local government was solidified by our previously mentioned singular influential factor. This is Mr. Orville Powell. Mr. Powell is a former city manager, city management consultant, author and professor in the School of Public & Environmental Affairs. The recipient of numerous teaching awards and accolades, Powell is beyond a doubt one of the most inspiring and insightful professors at Indiana University. Almost every MPA student noted how influential “Orv” was in their pursuit of local government.
Professor Powell invests in his students and gives them opportunities to capture their potential in a field that is hungry for young professionals. LGMA Vice President Alisha Corwin recalled how influential Orv has been in her pursuit of local government, saying: “He spoke so passionately about his experiences as a City Manager and the change he was able to make in the towns he managed. Orville has taught me everything I know about local government management and is by far the best professor I have ever had the privilege of learning from.”
This is one of many testimonies from the MPA students in local government management. Orville Powell is not only an outstanding professor; he is also a powerful speaker and an engaging leader to the graduates and undergraduates who study under him. Indeed, hearing Orv speak is what drew me to local government as well.
Broadening the Talent Pool
Responses were fairly consistent on how local government can attract a talented workforce. Local government professionals must engage universities and high schools to foster a greater interest in the field. Many of the graduate students did not become fully invested in their pursuits until they had experienced the dynamicity and impact of local government by chance first.
To reach out to students and allow them to explore local government through undergraduate internships and educational curriculum is the key to bringing in talented professionals. These are students filled with passion, innovation and a human capital that cannot be matched, thanks to professors like Orville Powell and organizations like LGMA.
Interacting and learning from the graduates in LGMA has been an incredible opportunity, and it is certainly what I have enjoyed most since joining the organization. Seeing their passion and ability inspires me to pursue local government and gives me great hope for their future and mine.