UTC RAVE Alert

Alumni Spotlights

Katie Harbison Headshot

Katie Harbison

MPA, 2007

President, Chambliss Center for Children

Advice to current MPA students: "Don’t just trudge through, learn all that you can! You never know when you will need to use some of the knowledge or skills that you learned in those classes. It has definitely been useful for me in my non-profit career."

Chuck Shoopman Headshot

Chuck Shoopman

MPA, 2007

Assistant Vice President, University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service

Advice to current MPA students: “Pursuing public service as a career is challenging, invigorating, occasionally frustrating, often satisfying and absolutely worth the investment of your energy and talent. Enjoy your journey!”

Reginald Smith Headshot

Reginald F. Smith II

MPA, 2012

Executive Director, The Bethlehem Center

Advice to current MPA students: “Take advantage of all of your professors insights and knowledge while taking advantage of everything the program has to offer. Fully engaging with professors, peers and the program will be beneficial to you not only during your time in the program but beyond as well.”

Sarah Marczynski

Sarah Marczynski

MPA, 2013

Liturgy and Music Program Coordinator, Christ Church Episcopal, Greenville, SC

“UTC’s MPA program is an excellent mix of students with different interest areas. The program allowed me to concentrate on the arts as my specific interest, but I heard from and learned from professors and students studying higher education, public health, environmental policy, and local governments. Not only did this make me a better student, it has made me a better professional – one who has connections in different fields and realizes that best practices may be found outside my field.”

Trinette Ballard

Trinette Ballard

MPA, 2007

Marketing and Communications, U.S. Dept. of Transportation Federal Highway Administration

Advice to current MPA students: “Choose a career in this field because you care about people and improving their quality of life. A career in Public Administration is public service. You must be committed to serving honorably and give your best all the time. Never limit your potential to make an impact. The graduate program helped me understand the commitment that comes with working in the area of Public Administration. You must be dedicated to improving the quality of life for those you serve in this field.”

Sherry Marlow Ormsby

Sherry Marlow Ormsby

MPA, 2006

Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research, UTK, 2017

Executive Director, University of Tennessee Chattanooga; Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Institutional Research

Advice to current MPA students: “First, do not shy away from opportunities outside your comfort zone. I’ve found, for me, these are areas with the most growth and unexpected enjoyment. Secondly, find a balance between work, school, and personal life. While graduate school can be difficult, your support system is the foundation of your success. Spending time with family and friends provides an opportunity for down time allowing you to rest and recharge. Good luck!”

Scott Hutcheson

Scott Hutcheson

MPA, 1995

Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration, Walden University, 2013

Associate Director, Purdue Agile Strategy Lab, Purdue University

On the value of the MPA degree: "I would not be where I am in my career if it was not for my UTC MPA degree. It helped open so many doors, each one leading to new opportunities." Advice to current MPA students: "The knowledge and insights you are gaining in this program will equip you with exactly what you need to make meaningful change that will impact the lives of real people."

Nikki Poarch Ringenberg

Nikki Poarch Ringenberg

MPA, 2009

Senior Director of Membership and Grants, Nashville Academy of Medicine

Advice to current MPA students: “It’s worth it!”

“The most beneficial thing I learned in graduate school has been how to work with a diverse group of people to complete a project. Most of my classes included a group assignment of some sort, but two classes my last semester really taught me several valuable lessons about working with a larger group to complete a project. A close second is definitely how to use software to the fullest to work smarter and evaluate data.”

headshot of Donyel Johnson

Donyel Johnson

MPA, 2015

Chief Development Officer, Boys and Girls Clubs of Chattanooga

“Choosing a career in the public sector is the most rewarding way one can contribute to society and earn a living. The MPA Program at UTC gave me the skills and connections needed to effectively lead in the multifaceted environment of nonprofits.”

Chealsea Sadler Headshot

Chealsea Sadler

MPA, 2017

Grants Specialist, City of Chattanooga

“The most beneficial thing from my graduate career was first-hand accounts about working in the public sector from my professors who were either prior or active public servants. Their real-life stories and advice shed a brighter light on the lessons I learned from my textbooks; what they taught me was a valuable addition to a normal education.”

Brett Elder

Brett Elder

MPA, 2016

Financial Performance Manager, Tennessee Division of TennCare

Advice to current students: "The best thing you can do is prepare yourself to inform the decision-making process as much as possible. Using the tools this MPA program provides you will help you become a more informative and engaging contributor to the decisions that public organizations make." ... and ... "Excel skills are highly marketable—just FYI."

Bradley Bell

Bradley Bell

MPA, 2017

Assistant Director, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s New Student and Family Programs Office

“One of the most beneficial things that I have gained through my graduate career is the art of being resourceful. The MPA program teaches individuals time and time again that developing partnerships with other organizations or departments can significantly make your organization more efficient and effective. While working in higher education, I have seen this to be true.”

Nancy Sutherland

Nancy Sutherland

MPA, 2009

Executive Director, Southeast Tennessee Human Resource Agency

“No matter your age, no matter your family composition, you can find time to improve your employment goals through education – UTC’s MPA program is the perfect opportunity.”

Political Science and Public Service

Political Science and Public Service