Students, Alumni Hold Leadership Roles in APPAM

Rachel Perera, Rachel Swanger, and Lauren Davis

Rachel Perera, Rachel Swanger, and Lauren Davis

Photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

February 15, 2019

Following the January election of two Pardee RAND students to the APPAM Policy Council and Student Advisory Committee, four members of the Pardee RAND community now have leadership roles in the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

  • Lauren Davis (cohort '15) is a student representative on the Policy Council
  • Alison Jacknowitz ('99) is an institutional representative on the Policy Council
  • Rachel Perera ('16) is a member of the Student Advisory Committee
  • Michael Shires ('90) is APPAM Secretary

Upon hearing of the alumni roles, Davis said, "Pardee RAND is small in comparison to other schools in [terms of] the number of students and alumni we have, so it's great that we have so much representation at APPAM."

"One of the main reasons I wanted to get involved was to help increase the profile of Pardee RAND at the national level."

—Lauren Davis

She added, "One of the main reasons I wanted to get involved was to help increase the profile of Pardee RAND at the national level, and I thought the best way was to take a leading role in an organization like APPAM that represents public policy and policy analysis."

Shires, associate dean for strategy and special projects at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, was glad to hear of Davis and Perera's involvement. "I'm excited there's a new generation of Pardee RAND students who are getting involved," he said.

Jacknowitz agreed. "APPAM does a really good job of involving students and expanding the policy community," she said. "It's great to see students participating."

Associate Dean Rachel Swanger also expressed excitement about Davis and Perera. "Lauren has continuously demonstrated enthusiasm for and commitment to APPAM and its important role in facilitating communication across organizations about public policy analysis," Swanger said. "And Rachel has readily taken on volunteer leadership positions at Pardee RAND and beyond. She is adept at bringing people together for effective and productive dialogue."

Swanger is Pardee RAND's institutional representative to APPAM and until recently was also on the Policy Council (she served from 2014 through 2017).

Student members of the APPAM Policy Council have the same responsibilities as other members but provide a student perspective. Davis will serve on committees and help make decisions that impact the direction of the organization, setting policies and developing strategies that affect the membership as a whole.

"I'm excited there's a new generation of Pardee RAND students who are getting involved."

—Michael Shires '90

Swanger said of Davis, "I can attest that she has all the skills and attributes necessary to be an active and effective contributor."

Members of the SAC help to plan and set the agenda for three or four sessions of student-relevant content at the annual Fall Conference. They select session topics, identify and recruit the speakers, and moderate the sessions held during the conference. They also staff the Student Lounge at the conference, work on the APPAM podcast, and organize informal regional networking events.

Perera said she is excited to begin. "Threaded throughout my research and professional experience is a strong commitment to promoting the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion and a desire to create community within our field in ways that promote those values," she said. "I look forward to bringing that perspective to my work on the SAC."

Davis said she didn't have a specific agenda in running for the council, but added, "I know there's an interest among students in learning about emerging and cutting edge methods that can be applied to the field of public policy, so I'd like to encourage that on the council if I can."

Before being elected to the Policy Council, Davis was chair of the SAC in 2018, and she helped to organize the first APPAM student networking event for the greater Los Angeles area.

"I look forward to bringing [an inclusive] perspective to my work on the SAC."

—Rachel Perera '16

"I've met a lot of great people both regionally, through the student conference, and by attending the fall conferences," Davis said. "I've been able to meet people whose research I've read. To meet them in person and hear them talk about their current research is really exciting."

Jacknowitz said APPAM has been an important part of her career. She has been involved since she was a Pardee RAND student and is now the senior associate dean for academic affairs and a professor of public administration at American University's School of Public Affairs. She has been American University's institutional representative for more than a decade and joined the Policy Council in late 2018.

"I love attending the annual Fall Conference, getting to see colleagues and hear about their research," she said.

She's also excited — as a member of the Policy Council's Spring Conference committee — to help shape this year's event, with the theme "Are We Preparing Our Students for Success? Employment Outlooks for Policy Graduate Students."

"APPAM does a really good job of involving students and expanding the policy community."

—Alison Jacknowitz '99

She recommends that students get involved in APPAM early in their academic careers. "Start by attending the regional conferences, and apply to present a poster or be on a panel at the Fall Conference. Those are all great experiences," she said.

Shires, who has also been involved in APPAM continuously since his days at Pardee RAND, said the opportunities APPAM offers for networking is one of its key strengths. "Professional associations are all about connections, meeting people and connecting with individuals," he said. He recommends that more students attend APPAM conferences and events: "Get together and discuss common interests with scholars and students from other institutions and organizations."

"I'm proud of the essential role that the organization has played in building bridges between policy scholars, policy analysis, and policy makers," he said.

"There's a natural synergy between RAND's interdisciplinary approach to solving policy problems, and Pardee RAND's role in APPAM," he added. "Pardee students started the Los Angeles Policy Symposium, which is now the APPAM California Regional Student Conference. Pardee RAND students naturally fuel the growth of APPAM, and the association has been a great resource for students."

Dean Susan Marquis was enthusiastic about the school's role in the organization. "Pardee RAND is doing great things with APPAM. Rachel [Swanger] has been a terrific leader, ensuring Pardee RAND is an influential voice in APPAM and that APPAM has the leadership it needs."

Pardee RAND was one of the founding members of APPAM in 1978. The professional organization is dedicated to improving public policy and management by fostering excellence in research, analysis, and education.

—Monica Hertzman