Alumni Spotlight: Phillip Chen

Alumni Spotlight: Q&A with Phillip Chen, MPA ’05

Phillip Chen Phillip Chen

Phillip Chen is a graduate of the Master of Public Administration program at USC’s Price School of Public Policy. This past November, he was elected to the Walnut Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees.

Currently, Chen works as the health deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, where he is responsible for helping formulate policy in all aspects of county health, public health and mental health services. He also serves as a reserve deputy for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

What are your duties and responsibilities as a member of the Walnut Valley Unified School Board?

As a school board member, I have legislative, executive and quasi-judicial powers. Our board must develop, implement and assess policy; institute sound employee relations; conduct open meetings; recognize and conform to the legal mandates imposed by state and federal laws; and govern within the limits of a delegation of state authority.

Additionally, the board has an obligation to assess its successes and failures; inform the public of all deliberations and decisions; promote accountability; avoid abuse of power; enhance public understanding of its mission; conform to standards of ethical behave or; provide a framework for setting goals; and develop strategic plans for the accomplishment of those goals.

Election Celebration Phillip Chen, front left, celebrates his election to the Walnut Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees.

What initially piqued your interest in running for the school board?

For my entire adult life, I have been involved in education and politics. I have worked for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich as his health policy deputy for seven years and have taught as an adjunct faculty member at Cal State Fullerton for six years. In addition to teaching, I am also a doctorate candidate at the Rossier School of Education. I am passionate about public service and education, and felt that serving on the School Board would be able to combine the two.

In your new role, what is the issue that you would like to address first?

My priority is public safety, by enhancing the communication between the sheriff’s department that patrol our school district and the students, parents and staff within our district.

What goals do you hope to accomplish during your four-year term?

  • Establish a healthy lunch program within our 15 schools.
  • Establish an internship program for our two high schools in the Walnut Valley Unified School District.
  • Create a public-private partnership between the business sector and our school district to increase our school district foundation’s resources.

How did the MPA program help prepare you professionally, and now, politically?

The MPA program was vital to my success professionally and politically. The MPA program taught me the role of administration in governance as well as the importance of creating public and private partnerships within the community.

What lessons from USC Price School have you been apply in your work?

Attending and graduating from the USC Price School is one of my greatest life experiences. The faculty, staff and my fellow students were deeply vested in my success. This team mentality and culture embodied by the USC Price School — that was something I emulated, which greatly contributed to our success.