ELGL’s mission is to connect, communicate, and educate. In this ongoing series, ELGL members tell their story including how they got into local government.
Jessica Spencer (LinkedIn) is a management assistant and public information officer for the Village of Westchester, IL. She graduated with an MPA from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
My story begins…
…..in undergrad and with a realization that I didn’t want to be an elementary school teacher anymore, but rather work in government, specifically for the Federal Depository Insurance Corporation (FDIC). This occurred to me as I worked as a teller. I realized that I wanted to effect policy and operations during my time in banking, to make banking easier for people to understand. So I changed courses in undergrad and finished with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration.
This is what led me to pursue my Masters in Public Administration (MPA) at the University of Illinois Springfield. I thought the combination of understanding the private sector and how to navigate the public sector would be a great benefit. During my MPA, I found local government to be more fitting for me, allowing for interaction with people while still being able to directly effect change and make peoples’ lives easier.
My friends think that local government is…
….basically like an episode of Parks and Recreation. While I still have to do a little explaining as to what I do on a daily basis, it provides a point of reference for them albeit, a funny one.
The defining moment of my life was…
….making a commitment to myself at 17 to finish my Bachelors before I get married and my Masters before I have kids, and then doing it.
I am interested in a lengthy local government career if…
…..For me, there is no “if.” I feel like I have found a field where I can use all of the skill set that I have developed in and outside of the classroom and where I can have a significant impact on a daily basis.
I aspire to…
.….affect change and to make the lives of any community that I am serving better. I look forward to a career where I can make a lasting impression on residents and staff.
If you want to interview someone interesting, you should contact……
…..Gloria Simo. She was my Intro to PA professor in grad school and is my mentor and friend now. Gloria is an amazing person who goes out of way to help people and pushes you to reach your potential. She seems to know just about everyone in local government in the Chicagoland area! She is so knowledgeable about all things Public Administration, I can’t imagine this part of my journey without her guidance!
I think more people would pursue a local government if…..
….they understood that no day is the same. Every day presents new challenges and new rewards, and you just have to roll with the punches, but that’s what keeps in interesting and fun. I think more people would be interested in this field if they how much local government affects their daily lives.
I think professional networking associations are…..
….ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. In searching for a position after graduating, I attended any and all networking events I could get invited to. My first job in local government was a referral to me from my mentor. I think it’s vital to the Public Administration field to create those connections in order to bring more qualified and interested people into our communities. And, it’s just as important for the ones with 20 years of experience as it is for the recent graduates.
I think bumper stickers are…..
….something interesting to read in traffic. Not my cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make me smile or think when I read one!
My story ends……
hopefully no time soon! I have been in my current position for about 10 months now and every day is more interesting than the last. I hope to be the most effective that I can be in this position, which requires me to keep learning every day. Just because I’m not earning college credit anymore (right now!) doesn’t mean there isn’t something to gain from each experience.
For the next person that you interview, you should ask……
…..”“If you won a huge lottery, how would you spend your money?”
- Rob Cooke, British Columbia, Canada
- Kristin Donald, Apex Park and Recreation
- Matt Wojnowski, City of Killeen, Texas
- Paula Dennison, City of Stillwater, OK
- Taylor Paton, City of Richardson, TX
- Brandon Turner, City of Roanoke, VA
- Cassie Tucker, City of Southlake, TX
- Jim Healy, Village of Richfield, WI
- Matt Monedero, City of Garland, TX
- Justin Tramble, State Bar of Georgia
- Aimee Kane, City of Boulder, CO
- Jessica Beise, City of Victoria, MN
- Emily Vincent, City of Olathe, KS
- Toy Beeninga, City of Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Heidi York, Person County (NC) Manager
- Barack Matite, City of Eudora, KS
- Cathy Wilson, Town of Carrboro, NC
- India Adams, Albemarle County, VA
- Derek Matheson, Kent (WA) Chief Administrative Officer
- Darwin Wade, City of Grand Prairie, TX
- Adam Lincoln, City of Lakewood, WA