ASPA Award

Knowledge in Action:

SPPD Fellowship Program Earns ASPA Award

By Cristy Lytal

William Kelly

Photo by Tom Queally
William Kelly MPA ’74, left, with Carl Alameda MPA ’05, MPL ’06, president of the American Society of Public Administration’s Los Angeles metro chapter

The first class of graduates from the USC City/County Management Fellowship program just received their diplomas in May and already the program has earned an award from the public administration community.

Formed in 2006, the program is an innovative collaboration between the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development, alumni executives in city management and the California International City/County Management Association.

During a recent banquet, the Los Angeles Metro Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) honored the fellowship program and its chair, William Kelly ’74 with the 2009 ASPA Chapter President’s Award, which celebrates significant contributions to public service and developing future leaders. The event was held at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

According to Kelly, the interim city manager of Yorba Linda, the program was established in response to the growing concern of city managers statewide “that there wasn’t a next generation coming in, getting ready to be city managers.”

The program’s goal is to groom the future of city and county managers in Southern California, across the nation and abroad.

Each year, approximately eight Master of Public Administration students who demonstrate a history of public service and commitment to future careers in local government management are selected as fellows.

In addition to scholarships of $12,000 per year for two years, fellows receive academic and professional support from faculty, staff and local government professionals.

“It’s a great privilege to be in the fellowship program because the students really have unusual access to a lot of these city managers,” said SPPD professor Shui Yan Tang, former director of the MPA program. “A board of city and county managers comes almost every month to have a luncheon with the students and tell them about the ins and outs of local government management.

“We help match them with internships in city managers’ offices. We provide funding for students to go to professional conferences. And we are expecting that, as the fellowship grows, the older recipients will come back and coach the current students.”

The networking opportunities already have paid off for many of the MPA graduates who earned a fellowship and currently are working for local cities or Los Angeles County.

“One of the fellows even works for me here in Yorba Linda,” Kelly noted. “His father is also a city manager on the City/County Management Fellowship board, so now we have a two-generation relationship of a board member and a fellow.”

Receiving an award from ASPA – one of the most respected professional organizations in public administration for more than 60 years – underlines how quickly the fellowship program has earned a high-profile reputation in the field.

“The fellowship program is now quite well-known by local government people in the region,” Tang said. “Our fellowship is one of the few of its kind nationwide that has been established, and I’m hoping that it becomes a model for other professional associations and universities to follow in preparing the next generation of leadership in the profession.”