Ramsey Green, MPA '12

July 28, 2015

Tell us a bit about your hometown.

I was born and raised in San Diego, California.  I've lived in Louisiana for eleven years now, and New Orleans, specifically, for eight years.

What attracted you to Fels?

I was attracted to Fels for a few reasons, namely the focus on state and local government, public finance, and the small size of the program.  I had looked, and visited, a number of other MPA/Urban Planning programs and felt like I could really craft my Fels education into what I wanted, which turned out to be true. I really enjoyed getting to know my fellow Fels students...some incredibly public service-minded folks who were capable of balancing idealistic vision with the practical reality of politics and government.  Two of my Fels classmates were my groomsmen at my wedding, nearly ten years after I met them at orientation.  I really value my Fels experience and the lasting friendships I made during that time.

Tell us a bit about the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program.

PLS is an amazing program, and it's only been around for a year.  It was started last year as a cooperative endeavor of the George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon Johnson presidential libraries.  The objective is to put together 60 individuals with experience in public service--no matter whether they have for-profit, non-profit, government, or military backgrounds--and let them spend six months working together, learning from one another, and learning about leadership from the administrations of four presidents.  At the Clinton Library, we focused on vision, and had an excellent group of administration/cabinet members meet and speak with us about how leaders lay out a strong vision.  At the George W. Bush Library, we focused on decision-making, using the example of the global financial crisis as our case study.  While at the Lyndon Johnson Library, we explored persuasion, and how LBJ used persuasive tactics to get the 1964 Civil Rights Act through a reluctant congress.  Finally, at the George H.W. Bush Library, we had experts and administration veterans meet with us to discuss coalition-building. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton themselves, many of their cabinet members, and presidential top aides joined us for these sessions, including Hank Paulsen, Condoleezza Rice, Jim Baker, Donna Shalala and others. 

So, at these "modules," as we call them, we really came to understand the administrations of these presidents and the unique challenges facing them at the time.  Additionally, a critical part of the program is that scholars have to initiate and develop a "Personal Leadership Project", which is an initiative that has a positive social impact.  My project is focused on creating a company that finances the strengthening of single-family homes against the impact of hurricane-force winds using decreased insurance premiums--a big issue facing residents of South Louisiana and New Orleans, where I live.  

Tell us a bit about pausing your studies to do good work in New Orleans.

During the summer between my first and second year at Fels, I was offered an internship at the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA), which at that time (2006) was the Governor of Louisiana's office focused on figuring out how to guide Louisiana through its recovery from 2005's Hurricane Katrina.  I accepted, and later was offered a position at the Recovery School District. I ended up working for the RSD from 2007-2012, during which time I was promoted and served as the Deputy Superintendent in charge of operations, which meant that I had the honor of leading an incredible team of people, meeting regularly with the public, negotiating with FEMA to increase the amount of money coming to post-Katrina New Orleans schools, and running all the day-to-day operations. It was a remarkable experience and I worked with some amazing people.  In 2012, I was planning to leave government and I knew I wanted to finish my Fels degree, which by then had been on hold for seven years.  So, I moved back to Philadelphia, lived with a friend for the fall semester, and took all the classes I needed to in order to finish, thus graduating in the winter of 2012.  So, I started at Fels in August 2005 and graduated in December 2012...I joke that I should have a doctorate by now.

How did Fels prepare you for these experiences?

The Fels experience is really what you make of it.  The environment is small, which I viewed as an advantage.  The reputation of Fels within Philadelphia is fantastic and its national reputation is growing.  I knew that getting an MPA was right for me because I wanted to work in public service, but I was never totally sure in which sector, so I figured focusing on finance would give me flexibility.  Thankfully, my Fels education has been really transferable, from sector to sector, since by now I have worked in the non-profit, for-profit, and government sectors.  I really appreciated the practical focus of Fels, which in my current line of work--and in the dynamic nature of post-Katrina New Orleans--really is useful.

Tell us about your current job or internship.

While working for the government in Louisiana, as a hobby, I started buying blighted homes, renovating them, and renting them out in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.  That hobby began to grow and I became interested in focusing on it nearly full-time, so I left the RSD in 2012 to do so.  I created a partnership with an existing firm in New Orleans and we've developed a portfolio of commercial and residential real estate in New Orleans. On the consulting side, I have clients from general contractors to non-profits that, in many cases, work in the education/development sectors and need operational help.  I am also an adjunct professor at Tulane University, where I teach in the Homeland Security Studies program.  Finally, I am really involved in my neighborhood, serve on a few local boards, and love living in New Orleans.  My wife and I have a one year-old daughter and we spend as much time as we can together.

Photo by Grant Miller/ Presidential Leadership Scholars Program

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Contact Information

Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania
3814 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: (215) 898-2600
Fax: (215) 746-2829