6 Leadership Roles for the MPA

Obtaining an MPA degree is the ideal preparation for assuming a leadership role in today’s public and nonprofit sectors. MPA graduates are in demand in agencies and organizations that focus on topics as diverse as healthcare policy and international relations. Here are just six examples of leadership positions perfect for a qualified MPA graduate.

City Manager


Image via Flickr by Seattle Municipal Archives

The city manager is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the city government agencies and departments. He or she is also responsible for developing and executing the budget, determining which items are prioritized. City managers attend all city council meetings, although they do not vote, and liaise with and advise council members. This position is also responsible for public relations, typically meeting with citizens and citizens groups. In the past, city managers often had engineering or technical backgrounds, but today, the preferred qualifications include an MPA degree and several years of experience in city government.

Public Affairs Director

The public affairs director is responsible for maintaining a positive public image for an organization or government agency. He or she develops a media strategy and cultivates good relationships with members of the press. The public affairs director works closely with the organization’s CEO to formulate and achieve long- and short-term goals. This position also acts as the executive editor of all of the organization’s written communications including websites, newsletters, and annual reports. Job growth for public relations specialists is above average.

Director of Economic Development

All levels of government employ public administration professionals to devise, implement, and oversee programs and policies that strengthen the economic base of a city or state. The director of economic development works with other government officials to attract new businesses to the region, strengthen existing ones, and stimulate economic growth through special programs and projects.

News Analyst

Many TV news stations and newspapers hire MPA graduates to provide analysis on politics and the workings of government. The educational background of MPAs make them especially qualified to provide insight and commentary on complex public policies and programs and the government’s response to the issues of the day.

Nonprofit Association Executive Director

One of the most rewarding leadership roles for those with an MPA is directing the work of a nonprofit organization devoted to a cause he or she is passionate about. The nonprofit executive is the public face of the organization and often leads fundraising activities. They are also responsible for implementing the programs and policies outlined in the mission statement; they usually report to a board of directors.

Policy Manager

Elected officials, government agencies, and think tanks all look for skilled MPA graduates to work as policy analysts and managers. In this role, MPAs evaluate the timeliness and effectiveness of existing policies and make recommendations for change. They may also be tasked with developing new policies to address social welfare issues, environmental concerns, and economic conditions.

An MPA can be the key to unlocking leadership opportunities for highly motivated individuals with a strong desire to effect positive change in society.

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