Alumni Spotlight: Stacy A. Irving, Executive MPA '95

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Stacy A. Irving, Executive MPA ’95, is the Senior Advisor of Homeland Security Planning, Programs & Strategic Partnerships at the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center. Meghan Pierce, MPA '18, sat down with Stacy to discuss the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center, her career, and Fels.

Please describe your organization and its mission:

Now more than ever, connecting the dots before, during, or after an emergency situation occurs is vital to safeguarding our communities and the country.

The Delaware Valley Intelligence Center (DVIC), under the institutional umbrella of the Philadelphia Police Department and is one of 78 fusion centers spread out across the United States that aims to do just that: ensure critical information sharing occurs between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and the private sector. Fusion centers provide interdisciplinary expertise and real-time situational awareness to decision makers at all levels of government. Located in South Philadelphia, the DVIC is tasked with facilitating cross-jurisdictional partnerships with more than 20 federal, state and, local law enforcement agencies and private sector partners on-site at the DVIC to streamline safety and security matters within the region and around the U.S.

Please describe your position and the duties it entails:

I’ve dedicated more than 30 years as a crime prevention practitioner to mitigating the impact of crime and - after the September 11th terrorist attacks- terrorism through a variety of strategies and programs, and by fostering key partnerships between the public and private sectors.

I currently serve as the Senior Advisor for Homeland Security Planning, Programs, and Strategic Partnerships at the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center/Philadelphia Police Department. My role is to develop and manage outreach strategies and to build working partnerships between public and private entities to focus attention on how those sectors can better partner in the crucial struggle against terrorism and crime.

When an incident with terrorist implications occurs overseas or on U.S. soil, it becomes our utmost responsibility to ensure that our private sector partners have accurate and timely information regarding that event in an effort to safeguard and harden potentially-critical national infrastructure targets. To that end, I’ve developed a series of initiatives that open up important lines of communication between law enforcement and our business community. I’m honored to have received the 2016 Award of Excellence in the Field of Fusion Center Outreach from the National Fusion Center Association for these programs.

This includes the creation of the Delaware Valley Regional Roundtable, which is a key partnership between corporate security leaders and federal, state, and local law enforcement officials; this bi-monthly forum has emerged as an important regional network of robust dialogue and information - sharing focused on crime trends and counter-terrorism needs. To further ensure that this information and intelligence pipeline is a “two-way street”, I regularly organize briefings for our law enforcement and private sector partners on trends, preventative strategies, lessons learned, and critical resources.

In addition, to address a vital need of the private sector, namely one of accurate and timely security information, the DVIC - working in partnership with the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) - created a special interactive online community that afforded corporate and private security valuable, real-time access to major events with a direct impact on their economic viability.

This was achieved during the World Meeting of Families / Papal Visit and the Democratic National Convention when we established a “Business Operations Center (BOC) Connect Room” web-link specially designed to provide immediate and interactive communications for the private sector during both of these National Special Security Events. The DVIC’s “Business Operations Room” was recently awarded the 2016 Best of HSIN Gold Award for Event Support by the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN).

How did you become interested in this work?

Prior to joining the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center, I served as the Senior Director of Crime Prevention Services at the Center City District for 20 years with a focus on crime prevention for Philadelphia’s central business district. My work on breaking the cycle of crime, making communities safer, and bringing together law enforcement with neighborhood business and residential communities began when I joined the Philadelphia Commercial Development Corporation, where I served for 15 years as the Manager of Crime Prevention Services. My work then and throughout my career engaged strategies that combined targeted crime prevention, economic development, and revitalization, and strategic partnerships to empower communities and create those institutional alliances.

I knew fairly early on that I would dedicate my professional life to mitigating the impact of crime in the urban marketplace and making communities safer, and that it would be an unconventional path and perspective. I just wasn’t sure how and in what way I would make my mark within the criminal justice profession. So to gain experience and help pay my way through college, I interned, volunteered, or worked in various aspects of the criminal justice field, which in turn provided unique insights and experiences I couldn’t have gained otherwise. Having worked for so many years with such a wide variety of law enforcement, business communities, neighborhoods, and offenders, I’ve garnered unique insights that have enabled me to forge partnerships and obtain a mutual understanding of complex crime and terrorism issues between the public and private sectors throughout the U.S. and abroad.

How has Fels helped your career?

Fels was an invaluable experience for me as it afforded me a network of institutional contacts and relationships with fellow executive students, faculty and guest lecturers. Absorbing lessons from other practitioners who were working in their respective fields also provided valuable insights into local, state, and federal government.

I’d been working in a quasi-public economic development organization with businesses, civic organizations, non-profits, government agencies, and elected officials when I first attended Fels, and it was because of Fels that I gained a clearer understanding of how the public bureaucracy works. I learned the power of removing “silos”, building coalitions, empowering communities, and affecting grass roots change. Government thrives on knowledge, information, influence, and a keen understanding of the political process to achieve power and governance. Fels helps its students demystify all of those elements. In addition, it’s important to note that Fels and the University of Pennsylvania offer an important credential that represents a body of study, applied discipline, expertise, insight, and perspective.

What was your favorite Fels course and why?

It’s difficult to narrow it down to a favorite course as each class built on the previous one to provide an ever-broadening and overlapping context of learning and understanding that in turn illuminated the art and practice of governance and policy formation. I especially enjoyed my classes with Dr. James Spady, Stephen Mullin, and James Humes. Their classes were particularly informative and insightful and never failed to generate spirited dialogue and honest discourse. 

I deeply appreciated the mix of both conventional and unconventional teaching styles, collateral reading, and a diversity of experiences and perspectives shared by my fellow students, lecturers, and faculty at Fels; this is what made it a unique graduate program. I take many lessons from what I learned and how I was taught in my workshops and the briefings I organize, as well as the criminal justice classes I teach as an adjunct at Temple University.

What advice do you have for current Fels students?

My advice to current Fels students is to enjoy and live the Fels experience to the fullest - every hour of it. Make time to genuinely connect with everyone you come in contact with in the program. You may not realize it now, but these are important networks to build upon. Those relationships can ripen into full and valuable friendships over time.

Be passionate about your work and never stop learning or reaching for new challenges. Roll with the punches, and know that there will be some. Take the ups and downs and setbacks in stride. Overcoming mistakes and hurdling career roadblocks (particularly for minorities and women) will ultimately benefit you and teach you the most about thriving in your chosen field. Cultivate a political consciousness and sharpen your political instincts. Learn to read individual intentions, ambitions, and designs.

Take pride in the work; strive for integrity and remain faithful to your word. There’s no stronger bond. A solid work ethic and fidelity to your cause is what builds reputations and earns respect. Stand against injustice and stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves or don’t have the influence or access you may have.

Lastly, strive to maintain a good life-work balance: share your talents, join boards, be an active member of civic and professional organizations; volunteer your time to causes you value. Pave the way for those who will follow. Never forget where you started from and what’s important to you. 

Fels Institute of Government

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

(215) 898-7326

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