USC Price School of Public Policy

Presidential Management Fellows

SPPD Celebrates Three Presidential Management Fellows

By Cristy Lytal

Alyssa Newton Alyssa Newton MPA ’10
Photo by Tom Queally

Members of SPPD’s class of 2010 are already ascending the ranks at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), thanks to the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program.

Master of public administration graduates Jeffrey Glenn and Alyssa Newton, and master of public policy graduate Todd Muehlenbeck have all placed into the prestigious program, which is administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and designed to groom future government leaders.

As PMF fellows, they will be serving as federal government employees for two years, with the possibility of transitioning into regular, full-time employment at the end of this term. They’ll also enjoy the potential for accelerated promotion, and participate in 160 hours of formal classroom training and a four- to six-month long developmental assignment.

“What’s really neat about it is that it opens doors in terms of the federal government very quickly,” said Newton.

As a result, the fellowships are highly coveted. Of the more than 8,000 students nominated by their universities, approximately 800 became finalists based on the results of an entrance exam including logic, writing, and personal history sections.

Todd Muehlenbeck Todd Muehlenbeck MPP ’10

After being chosen as finalists, Glenn, Newton, and Muehlenbeck flew to Washington, DC, to attend a three-day federal job fair. Each did approximately a dozen interviews and walked away with multiple offers.

Muehlenbeck will be working at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where he accepted a GS-9 position in the program analysis and evaluation office. He’ll be determining which of the agency’s extraordinary funding requests, if granted, would result in the creation of the most feasible and effective programs.

Muehlenbeck — who also has a master’s in history from the University of California, Irvine, and a bachelor’s in English from the University of California, Berkeley — credits SPPD with preparing him for the job.

“I’ve actually been working at CREATE, which is the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, at USC,” he said. “It’s a DHS-funded research institution that involves a lot of the people from our department of engineering and the School of Policy, Planning, and Development. I’ve worked on grants with three or four components of DHS in my work at CREATE. So that was an amazing opportunity and helped me get the job offers that I did.”

Jeff Glenn Jeffrey Glenn MPA ’10
Photo by Tom Queally

Glenn — who studied international relations at Brigham Young University prior to attending SPPD — accepted a GS-9 position with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of cancer prevention and control in Atlanta.

“A lot of countries, specifically developing countries, don’t have a national cancer registry, so there’s no way of knowing which types of cancer are there and how prevalent they are,” he said. “So the CDC is doing some work where they provide technical assistance to other countries so they can set up national cancer registries. I’ll be doing the coordination part: strategizing and figuring out where they should be, what they should be doing there, and how to do it.”

Cancer is an issue that hits close to home for Glenn.

“I’ve had some cancer in my family,” he said, “and actually, the summer before I started at USC, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I’m fine now. So that’s one of the reasons that it appeals to me, too.”

Newton — who worked in homeland security and emergency management for the State of California prior to coming to SPPD — accepted a GS-11 position at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s office of international affairs.

“FEMA has a lot of mutual aid compacts with other countries, and so I’ll be doing some of the policy discussions,” she said. “And then any time there’s an international disaster, I’ll be doing a lot of consular stuff. I’ll be working with people that come here, and a lot of it will be how we can help each other in terms of expertise. And I’ll be doing some dealing with domestic emergencies.”

Newton calls this position her “dream job, at least on paper.”

“In Sacramento, I worked the massive fire seasons in 2007 and 2008,” she said. “You see all these people, and it ruins their lives. So I just felt really passionate about emergency management and how we can better prepare people to deal with disasters. And I’ve always been really interested in international issues. This job is just a perfect mix of everything I wanted.”