Very Local Government-y with Emily Leuning

Posted on June 12, 2014

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ELGL meet Emily. Emily meet ELGL. Emily is ELGL’s new public affairs assistant. How did she get here? We’ll have her tell you that.

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Hello Fellow ELGL members! I am excited to be ELGL’s new Public Affairs Assistant, and I look forward to connecting with you all to make the public sector as Knope-tastic as possible.

My path to local government began, as all of ours did, the day I was born (I mean, technically it’s true, right?). In all seriousness (and as dorky as it sounds), I have been interested in governance and community involvement for as far back as I can remember. Whether it was community service with my Girl Scout troop, volunteering at the senior center with my dad or staying up late to watch the Clinton/Dole election results when I was ten years old, government and serving the local community have always been an important part of my life.

download (3)After a relatively wholesome upbringing in a small town in southern Minnesota (yes, similar to Lake Wobegon for you Garrison Keillor fans… anyone? Midwest ELGL members maybe?), I decided I needed to experience something new. Not that Oregon is less than wholesome, but I decide to leave the great Midwest in favor of the regular West.

I attended the University of Oregon where I received my BA in International Studies with a focus on development in Africa and the Middle East. I studied abroad in Greece, was an intern in Ethiopia and studied six languages (some for just a term, some for two or three years or more). Doesn’t sound very local government-y, does it? Perhaps not, but what is more important in a local government setting than understanding and being able to communicate effectively with diverse audiences?

tumblr_inline_mgxmbgfns11qas9c0After I completed my undergraduate work, I was offered a job with a study abroad organization in Portland and moved to the big city. I spent three and a half years working as a Student Services Coordinator for eight different programs in Europe and Africa. This involved keeping student materials up to date, seeking out changes in visa application procedures and communicating program details to external audiences. I was the main point of contact for all inquiries regarding my programs and was also responsible for sending out a survey to students upon the completion of each program.

When the organization decided to move to Eugene, I looked for a job that would allow me to remain in Portland. I had started the Master of Public Administration program at Portland State University and wanted to stay close to the community of friends I had built in Portland (not to mention all of the fabulousness Portland has to offer). I found a position at Portland State University, again in international higher ed, but this time working with students coming from around the world to study at PSU. I admitted students from South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and most of Western Europe and issued visa documents needed for entry into the U.S.

Valerie Plummer, Executive Director, Oregon Microenterprise Network from AEO on Vimeo.

Throughout the duration of my MPA program, I had been coming to the realization that world of international education was not where I wanted to spend the rest of my professional life. Luckily for me, I found a PA 509 “Integrative Experience” (a capstone internship) with the Oregon Microenterprise Network (OMEN), a small non-profit working with entrepreneurs throughout the state. During the course of my internship, a position within the organization became available, and I am now the Assistant Manager of MarketLink, our market research program which provides industry research to people trying to start their own businesses in Oregon. I have really enjoyed connecting with entrepreneurs and microenterprise development organizations throughout the state.

In my new role with ELGL, I look forward to working more closely with the leadership team and all of you members to continue to share innovative ideas regarding local government. I’ll also suggest that we start providing waffles with extra whipped cream at ELGL events.

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