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NEW @ THE ACADEMY

Meet our Fellows: Dr. Laura Bloomberg (‘19)

Laura Bloomberg, PhD, has served as dean of the Humphrey School since June 2017. Prior to her appointment to dean she served as associate dean for four years, during which time she led efforts to support the global expansion of the School, establish a national pathway program for college students underrepresented in public affairs programs, launch a Master of Human Rights degree program, and develop the Mandela Washington Fellowship program to support young leaders from countries across Africa.

Dr. Bloomberg is a tenured, full professor and has taught courses on leadership and management, educational innovation, and program evaluation. She is a three-time recipient of awards for teaching and advising (Humphrey School students' award for Instructor of the Year in 2010 and 2011; University of Minnesota Outstanding Faculty Member Award from the Council of Graduate Students in 2011).

Bloomberg's research focuses on community-based leadership, program evaluation, public value creation, cross-cultural dialogue, and educational policy. She has published policy research on these areas of focus in addition to cross-agency leadership and collaboration, and educational policy analysis. The co-edited volume Public Value and Public Administration (Bryson, Crosby, and Bloomberg, 2015) received a Best Book Award for research from the American Society of Public Administration.

Bloomberg has consulted on program evaluation and education policy initiatives in Canada, China, Cyprus, and in countries across Africa and the European Union. She has worked with several states, federal agencies, and indigenous nations to improve civic leadership and education systems across the United States.

Bloomberg is board chair of the nationwide Public Policy and International Affairs program (PPIA), which is committed promoting the inclusion and full participation of underrepresented groups in public service. She serves on the executive council of the national Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), considered the global standard in public service education. She serves on and formerly chaired NASPAA’s Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation (COPRA), which reviews and accredits public affairs degree programs across the United States and in a dozen countries across the globe.

Bloomberg holds a bachelor’s degree in special education from St. Cloud State University, master's degrees in psychometrics and educational psychology from Cornell University, and a PhD in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota.

Here is a recent interview with Dr. Bloomberg:

  1. How did you get involved in public service?

Ever since I was a young child I wanted to work with and support people with disabilities, so I set my sights on becoming a special education teacher, which became my first career.  I quickly realized, however, that my far greater passion was to help to create the kinds of systems and policies and societal structures that would allow everyone, regardless of their ability or income or background or education level, to be successful in navigating a healthy and fulfilling life.  This, to me, is the imperative of public service.  So, I transition from classroom teaching to ever broadening roles focused on leading learning systems and public policy.

  1. Which of the Academy’s 12 Grand Challenges resonates most with you?

Fostering social equity, without doubt.  It is what drives me every single day.  From my perspective, if we fail to apply an equity lens as we address any other grand challenge (climate change, water, data privacy, government accountability, whatever) we are simply perpetuating the inequities that prevent us from being a just society.

  1. Reflecting on your career thus far, is there a highlight, a greatest accomplishment or a funny story you’d like to share?

As the dean of a public policy school in a public institution, a tremendous highlight for me is that I've had the great good fortune of serving public educational institutions in just about every capacity imaginable:  I've been a classroom teacher in a rural high school, an elected school board member in a suburban school district, a high school principal in an urban low income community, a college professor, a parent of kids who attended public grade schools and completed their education in public graduate schools, and now I'm an administrator in a public land grant institution.  I consider this an incomparable honor and opportunity.

  1. What advice would you give someone wanting to start a career in public service?

Set ambitious goals for yourself and work hard to achieve them but also be alert for and open to unanticipated opportunities along the way. A detour from your planned trajectory might just turn out to make all the difference in your life's work. 

  1. What was the best trip you’ve ever taken?

The first time I visited South Africa was the best trip I've ever taken.  The entire continent of Africa is so full of wisdom and knowledge and potential that is too often invisible to Americans.  Certainly, it was invisible to me as a European American growing up in the Midwest.  There was something powerful and inspiring about standing at the very southern tip of the African continent in the Western Cape and looking north across the gorgeous county of South Africa that moved me greatly.

  1. What was the last book you read or one that you would recommend?

One of my favorite books, that I just finished reading for the second time, is Madam Secretary: A Memoir by Madeleine Albright (2003).  She has long been an inspiration to me, and I try hard to emulate her level of grit and good-natured determination when my own professional path seems particularly hard or full of pitfalls.

  1. Do you have a favorite podcast, journal, newspaper, or other kind of media?

I am a print media news junkie and most days read the New York Times, my local Minneapolis Star Tribune, scan the Washington Post and then turn to the Chronicle of Higher Education.  I have tried hard to get in the habit of listening to podcasts as I run or workout, but I find I really much prefer listening to music during that time.

  1. What do you work toward in your free time?

Absolutely nothing!  I really try to keep my free time free of obligations or expectations.  My husband and I may head out on a long meandering walk with no destination or pre-planned route whatsoever.  Likewise when I play the piano or run---I'm not practicing for a concert or training for a marathon.  I have no intentions of being the best at these things.  I'm simply playing or running (or biking or swimming) because it brings me a sense of peace and wellbeing.

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