Entering its 30th year, the Master of Science in Public Affairs (MSPA) Program has trained hundreds of public sector leaders.
MSPA alums recently joined Associate Dean and Graduate Program Director Connie Chan and program faculty to celebrate this milestone year, to hear from a distinguished alumni panel, and to meet current and prospective students in the MSPA program.
“This MSPA alumni gathering and Pi Alpha Alpha induction ceremony were a wonderful celebration of excellence,” explains Ira A. Jackson, dean of the McCormack Graduate School, home of the graduate program. “Everyone could feel the energy and good vibes—from the alums and current students to the prospects who are considering enrollment. The panelists were impressive and conveyed a good deal of wisdom and helpful advice,” said Jackson.
Chan hosted the event which featured a career panel, honor society induction, and alumni networking reception. “It was great to have so many public affairs faculty present to celebrate the intellectual and professional achievements of their former students. I know that everyone felt the respect, affection, and gratitude students have for our faculty’s dedication and caring."
Mary Grant ‘86, president of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and a proud alumna of the first MSPA graduating class (then offered at the former McCormack Institute) gave an inspiring talk on the important role that public higher education plays in providing professional training for Massachusetts citizens. She noted that she herself is a product of the public higher education system which gave her an opportunity, as the daughter of working class parents, to attend the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and then to earn a Masters of Public Affairs degree at UMass Boston, both affordable public institutions. President Grant then went on to earn her PhD in social policy at Brandeis University. She has served in many key leadership roles and has been awarded many honors since then, including an honorary doctorate from Williams College in 2012.
Other MSPA alumni panelists included Hilda Mejia Abreu '92, the executive director of program partnerships at Liaison International; Kerri Cleghorn Lai '08, a senior major gifts officer at the National Brain Tumor Society; Darrell LeMar '09, a strategic planning manager at the Massachusetts Marketing Partnership; Robert Spellane '11, the director of community and business development at the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers; and Michael Sulprizio'11, the director of operations at the Boston Centers for Youth and Families.
Fifteen MSPA alumni were also inducted into the Pi Alpha Alpha, the national honor society for public administration at the April 16 event. They include Kerri Cleghorn Lai '08, Kathleen Fallon ’95, Stephanie Hirst ’07, Kim Lawrence ’98, Darrell LeMar ’09, Shawn MacMaster ’13, Kathleen McCauley ’13, Michelle Nadow ’00, Sean Navin ’13, Matthew Poirier ’08, Stacy Randell ’13, Jill Reynolds ’02, Jen Suave Driggs ’08, Tim Sullivan ’95, and Amy Sutherland’13.
Proudly speaking to his faculty colleagues, Dean Jackson noted, “The MSPA is a jewel in the crown of McCormack. Thank you all for helping it to make us shine. Hat's off to you for 30 years of making a big difference in the lives of 400 graduates committed to public service and to making a positive difference in society.”