The School of Public Affairs hosted a “Summer Public Service Weekend” on July 28-30, 2017, where a diverse group of 24 students from 14 states and 21 universities traveled to Denver to learn about the wide range of opportunities available in the field of public service. The theme for the event was “Reaching the Peak of Public Service in the Mile High City.”
The weekend was sponsored by the Public Policy and International Affairs Program (PPIA), a nonprofit organization that has been supporting efforts to increase diversity in public service for more than 30 years. By being awarded a bid to host a weekend, SPA joined the ranks of other prestigious universities that have hosted these weekends in the past.
Students participated in a number of activities over three days, including a tour of the State Capitol, career panels, workshops, a case study on the opioid abuse epidemic, and presentations from local experts on policy topics such as marijuana legalization, education policy, immigration, and environmental management.
MPA Student Association officers Monica Cutler and Sonya Hansen, along with MPA alumnus Raymael Blackwell ’16, hosted activities on Saturday evening to explore downtown Denver. Current students Meghan Steineker and Mark Gray served as student counselors for the weekend. Photos from different activities can be viewed in the slideshow below.
Feedback from the participants was very enthusiastic and positive:
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to each of you for your part in what was the greatest learning experience of my collegiate career thus far. This weekend’s PPIA conference challenged me to think about the issues I am passionate about with more intention, compassion, and spirit than I have in a very long time. The diversity of backgrounds represented by the various speakers truly validated my experiences as a first generation college student from a low income background, and affirmed my hopes that out there in the world of public service, there is space for me.
Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity. PPIA is a great program. I will definitely recommend it to friends and never forget what I learned. Thank you again and everyone else at the University of Colorado Denver. I’m so happy I got to see and embrace your city and expand my knowledge on public policy. The rest of the country has a lot to learn from Colorado and I intend to help them learn it.
I want to thank you again for hosting us this weekend for your first PPIA Public Service Weekend at the University of Colorado Denver campus. It was an amazing experience that I hope to go back to my campus and share the knowledge I learned from all the speakers and workshops to be able to pursue a career in public service.
Speakers for the weekend included:
- Representative James Coleman — District 7, Colorado House of Representatives
- Sherry Corcoran — Community Resource Officer, Parker Police Department
- Erik Estrada (MPA ’06) — Senior Corporate Counsel, Level 3 Communications
- Christopher Herndon (MPA ’13) — City Council, District 8
- Mike King (MPA ’98) — Director of Planning, Denver Water
- Michelle Kivela — Acting Town Administrator, Town of Parker
- Lewis Koski — Lecturer, School of Public Affairs and Co-Founder, Freedman & Koski, Inc.
- Emily Parker — Policy Analyst, Education Commission of the States
- Alisha Reis — Interim Town Manager, City of Georgetown
- Dannette Robberson — Management Assistant, Town Administrator and Town Council, Town of Parker
- Denise Taylor — Director, Colorado City and County Association
- Jamie C. Torres (MA ’04) — Deputy Director, Agency for Human Rights & Community Partnerships, Denver
- Mark Turner — Senior Director of Public Policy, Colorado Nonprofit Association
- Michael Vente — Research and Information Policy Officer, Colorado Department of Higher Education
- Heidi Williams (BA ’17) — Mayor, City of Thornton
- Natalie Williams (MPA ’07) — Director of Talent and Strategy, Jefferson County
Several SPA faculty members also gave presentations or conducted workshops with the students, including Parker Baxter, Dr. Jane Hansberry, Dr. Sean McCandless and Dr. Chris Weible. SPA Ph.D. student Alan Kennedy-Shaffer gave a presentation on immigration policy. A PDF of speaker bios is available for download.
A number of sponsor organizations helped make the weekend possible:
- Colorado City and County Management Association (along with programming support)
- CU Denver Office of Diversity and Inclusion
- Adams County
- International Hispanic Network
Congratulations and thanks to Brendan Hardy, Kathryn Werner, Wendy Bolyard and Ashley Ecklund, who pulled the program together and coordinated all the logistics, and to Antoinette Sandoval, who helped submit the winning proposal to PPIA!