Essentials

ESSENTIALS: A PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
for Early- and Mid-Career Professionals in New York Public Service
2021 – 2022
Sponsored by
The New York State Academy for Public Administration (SAPA) 

Program Mission             

The State Academy for Public Administration (SAPA) promotes excellence in public service and fosters commitment to the highest standards of performance and integrity in public administration throughout New York State. One of the ways we strive to meet this mission is by providing professional development opportunities for early- and mid-career professionals in state and local government and in nongovernmental organizations working with government. 

Essentials is a professional development program that has two objectives: (1) to enable its participants to learn more about career-related issues of state public administration set in larger contexts and (2) to encourage participants to network with and mentor one another and with SAPA board members who are mid-career and senior public administrators in New York State.

The larger goal of the program is to provide participants a sense of belonging to a larger public administration community and a culture of people dedicated to public service in New York. The program also affords the opportunity for participants to form lasting professional relationships with other members of the public administration community.

Essentials is open to early- and mid-career professionals who seek or recently obtained a managerial position (overseeing a program area and/or staff) in state or local government or in a nongovernmental organization working with government. Participants range from Excelsior Fellows committed to finding a career in state management to fifteen-year veterans in state government who have recently secured a management position. 

Program Description
We will meet six times, on the first Wednesday of each month, from October 6, 2021 to April 6, 2022, except January. In the past, we met from 5:30 PM to 6:45 PM in the Office of the State Comptroller, 110 State Street, just below Lodge Street. Thereafter, we reconvened at an optional social hour at a nearby restaurant-bar. In 2021-2022, as in 2020-2021, we will meet by Zoom.

During each session, participants will learn from and interact with one another and a senior practitioner and SAPA board members. Each month, the speaker will focus on a topic that relates to a larger issue or theme of direct practical relevance to state and local public service today (see topic list below). Speakers will incorporate hypotheticals and activities that encourage lively discussion that relates the presentation to participants’ current jobs and career plans. During the social hour, when we can resume them, we will adjourn to a local establishment where participants will have an opportunity to network and socialize with one another, mentors, and guests over snacks on us and drinks on you.

Participants who successfully complete the program will receive a certification of completion and become SAPA members, with free dues for the remainder of 2022.

Presentation and Discussion Topics:
Our presentations will explore a broad range of topics that encourage participants to look up and see the forest but feature speakers who are thoughtful practitioners who can bring these topics down to earth. 

October 6, 2021, Wednesday – Two Cultures of Administration
Every agency has two mindsets that can multiply or divide any team effort. On one hand, there is the institutional orientation, typically represented by line managers, budget officers, HR, and the legal/contract/counsel’s office who try to maintain institutional interests, enforce the rules, and keep the agency’s mission on task, on budget, and on schedule. On the other hand, there is the program orientation peopled by the scientists, experts, and program staff who may be less concerned about the rules and more concerned about “getting the job done” and achieving their program’s goals. When institutionalists are perceived as “can’t do” people, or when program specialists feel honor-bound to skirt the rules, the agency’s mission and morale may suffer. How can institutionalists and program specialists in your agency overcome differences to move the agency’s missions forward and to change when change is called for? Presenters to be invited: Paul Shatsoff, former Director of Administration Governor’s Office of Employee Relations, and former Adjunct Professor, Rockefeller College (University of Albany); and Stephen Schechter, Professor, Russell Sage College, who has worked for or served on various federal, state, and local commissions.

This session also will introduce the Essentials program, its participants, and the basics of how to network (an activity that people praise but few feel comfortable doing). 

November 3, 2021, Wednesday – Politics and the Permanent Bureaucracy
Much has been made of the tension between the needs of elected officials and their appointees and the policies that have been put into place by civil servants in the permanent bureaucracy or what is disparagingly referred to as the so-called “Deep State.”  How should agencies reconcile the needs of these two constituencies? How should agencies accommodate the demands for political change? Presenter (to be invited): David S. Liebschutz, Public Service Professor, Rockefeller College (University at Albany) and a proud member of the bureaucracy at federal, state and local levels.

December 1, 2021, Wednesday – Working for the Hollow State
Can public administration be deep and hollow at the same time? The hollow state here refers to two major trends of public service — a dwindling state government workforce and an increased range of outside nongovernmental and intergovernmental partners. What do these trends mean for you in carrying out your responsibilities, in who you work with, and how you succeed interacting with these outside entities who often-times are inside state agencies? Presenter: to be invited, Richard Rose, retired, Director, Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision, Adult, Career, and Continuing Education Services, NYS Education Department; currently Professor of Educational Leadership, Russell Sage College.

(No meeting January)

February 2, 2022, Wednesday –The Ethical Administrator
Public service is a noble profession, but how easy is it to do the right thing? For example, what should you do if you think your supervisor or a co-worker is engaged in active unethical behavior, or a co-worker is spending hours a day on personal business? What are the benchmarks of ethical behavior and how do you deal with unethical behavior in the workplace? In this session, our presenter will engage participants in the topic and its hypotheticals. Presenter to be invited: Sorelle Brauth, former Director of Administration, NYS Department of Public Service.

March 2, 2022, Wednesday –Implicit Bias
We cannot begin to understand workplace diversity until we understand implicit bias in ourselves and others and how to deal with it. Presenter to be invited: Michael Washington, Director of Diversity and Inclusion Management, NYS Department of Civil Service.

April 6, 2022, Wednesday – Navigating the N.Y.S. Civil Service System
Guided discussion on how the NYS civil service system can work for you along with tricks of the trade when it comes to career mobility. Topics include advancing within the system as well as transferability and provisions 52.6 and 70.1.  Speakers to be invited: Carlos Millán (Human Resource Specialist 1, Personnel, NYS Department of Taxation and Finance), and Paul Shatsoff (see above).

For more information, contact: Stephen Schechter, SAPA Program Chair at schecs@sage.edu. To talk with an Essentials graduate, please contact the person who nominated you.