Fels Inclusive Public Leadership Series Celebrates Its First Year

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Brian Ong, MPA '18
May 4, 2017

On April 19, the Fels Institute of Government concluded its semester-long Inclusive Public Leadership Series. The Inclusive Public Leadership series was rooted in widespread interest in civic engagement following the 2016 presidential election. Fels MPA students collectively identified the need to deepen their own civic skills in order to become informed and active participants in the political process. The resulting non-partisan workshop series aimed to provide students of all political affiliations with a robust toolkit for action. 

The last speaker of the series was Ryan Hancock, who is of counsel and chair of the Employment Law Department at Willig, Williams & Davidson. Given the complexity of putting the complex U.S. legal system into political context, Mr. Hancock was invited to speak on the different layers of U.S. law. 

Mr. Hancock began the discussion with a basic overview of some legal definitions and asked students to consider whether or not the law and/or lawyers are integral in changing public policy. He, with his decade-plus of legal experience, argued that understanding and navigating the law was helpful, but certainly not the primary way of being a change agent. 

I found his insight especially interesting because I worked in law firms prior to coming to Fels and found that a number of attorneys entered politics or previously held public office. While I agreed that having a J.D. should not be a requirement for influencing policy or running for public office, it may provide a distinct advantage over the competition. 

The success of the Inclusive Public Leadership Series was the result of commitment by MPA candidate Meredith Wilson Chang, who largely coordinated the event series. The ten-speaker series she launched supplemented our coursework with practical hard and soft skills and gave us an opportunity to speak to and network with professionals from diverse backgrounds – from a member of the Obama administration to a community organizer from South Philly.  

These speakers provided us with real-world insight on how to navigate intergroup differences, how to organize a community, how to run a campaign, and more. Despite the diverse speakers and skill sets they sought to pass on to us, there was one constant – each of them spoke with expertise and passion. 

On behalf of our cohort, I want to thank Meredith for doing an excellent job in coordinating the Inclusive Public Leadership Series and hope that it becomes a fixture for future Fels cohorts. 

Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326

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