Alumni Q&A: Allison Springer, MPA 2016

Allison Springer graduated from CIPA this past May with a concentration in Environmental Policy.  She now works as a campaign coordinator for Outdoors America Open Space Institute, located in Washington, DC.

“CIPA’s value is its flexibility and it is the responsibility of the student to take advantage of the multitude of opportunities that Cornell has to offer. If you are a self-motivator who likes to challenge yourself, and designing your degree program excites you, than CIPA is the right choice. You will be able to take fascinating classes with some of the best professors in the country.”  –Allison

There are a lot of MPA programs around—what made you choose CIPA over other programs you were considering?

Choosing CIPA was a choice that I made with my partner, who is a Cornell MPA/MBA dual degree student. CIPA was an excellent choice because it provided both of us the academic rigor, professional development opportunities, and flexibility in our degree programs so we could pursue our individual interests while in the program.

What are your long-term career goals?  How did CIPA help prepare you for these?

My long term career goal is to work on environmental legislation at the national level, whether as an advocate or policymaker. The CIPA program provided a diverse and well-rounded set of options that allowed me to pursue my interests while also achieving academic excellence. For me, the best part about the CIPA program was tailoring my coursework, projects, and research to focus on environmental issues that I am passionate about whether freshwater, air pollution, or public lands. The greatest value was in building a toolkit of knowledge and expertise in the environmental policy field – which I am tapping into in my current position in DC.

What are the top three reasons that CIPA was a good fit for you?

  1. Academic rigor. I enjoyed the challenging coursework that I chose for my degree. I appreciated that we were encouraged to take classes all over campus and gain exposure to multiple disciplines that were relevant to our field.
  2. Cornell and Ithaca community. Going through the CIPA program introduced me to a variety of different people at Cornell and Ithaca. I appreciated the opportunity to immerse in a small community and build a network that will continue to grow in the coming years.
  3. Financial support. CIPA is a very generous program. Because of the grant funding that I received, I was able to focus on my studies and not stress about looming financial responsibilities.

Are there any particular “stand out” experiences at CIPA that had a lasting impact on you?

I developed my Capstone project from the work that I was doing as an Advisory Councilmember for Climate Changers. Climate Changers is a nonprofit which was founded in August 2015 and has fiscal sponsorship with the Cornell Center for Transformative Action. In Fall 2015, I enrolled in Capstone and decided to bring a Climate Changers project to the class to see if any of my peers were interested in participating. I was fortunate to have a dynamic team of CIPA fellows, Marcus Franklin, Shamir Shehab, and Vincy Zhu, all work on the Climate Changers Capstone report. We successfully gave organizational development, fundraising, communications, and constituency building recommendations to the client, which have been absolutely critical to our growth. Capstone was a great experience for me because I honed in my project management skills and was able to work on a project I was passionate about. I appreciate that the instructors, Laurie Miller and Carrie Young, encouraged me to create a Climate Changers project.

How would you describe the sense of community you find at CIPA?

I made really great friends in CIPA and built a robust professional network in the CIPA program and beyond while I was at Cornell. A wonderful aspect of the CIPA program is that everyone has different interests, but they are rooted in the resolve to be public administrators, policymakers, and civil servants. While we are all very different in our interests, we all have the desire to serve and contribute to society. For me, that sense of community is grounded in these values and is something that all CIPA students share. In the future, I look forward to seeing all of the great accomplishments of my peers in the field of public administration.

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