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NEW @ THE ACADEMY

Meet our Fellows: Stan Soloway (‘16)

Stan Soloway is President & CEO of Celero Strategies, LLC, a full-service strategic consultancy focused on the federal market. Celero Strategies is Soloway’s latest step in a career during which he has become widely regarded as one of the nation’s leading experts on the federal market, the factors and dynamics that drive it and how to translate that expertise into meaningful strategies and action. With Celero, Soloway’s goal is to combine two core passions:  helping good companies bring innovative solutions to government and helping government significantly improve its performance and delivery of service. Prior to founding Celero Strategies in January, 2016, Stan served for 15 years as the President & CEO of the Professional Services Council, the largest and most influential national association of government technology and professional services firms. While at PSC, Soloway was the industry’s leading voice, policy strategist and resource for both government and the private sector. He regularly testified before Congress, was a prolific writer, appeared often on radio and television; and was routinely sought out by both corporate and government organizations to discuss current market trends, dynamics and strategies. He has also been a contributing author for books published by Cambridge University, Harvard Law School Center for the Business of Government.

Stan was the recipient of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Government Technology Leadership Award and, in 2015, was inducted into the Greater Washington Government Contractor Hall of Fame. He also was named the IT Industry Executive of the Year in 2013 by Government Computer News; has regularly been named one of the 100 most influential business leaders in Washington (Washington Business Journal) and one of the 100 most influential figures in national defense (Defense News and Gannett). He is a three-time winner of the Federal 100 Award for his leadership in federal information technology and is a Fellow of both the National Academy of Public Administration and the National Contract Management Association, where he also serves on the Executive Advisory Board. He is a principal at the Partnership for Public Service where he serves as a Senior Advisor to Government Executives (SAGE) and in 2016 was appointed to the Community Advisory Board of WAMU Radio, Washington, DC’s National Public Radio outlet. During the second half of the Clinton Administration, Stan served as the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense and was responsible for wide-ranging reforms to defense acquisition and technology policy and practices, and broader department-wide re-engineering.  In recognition of his leadership in the department, Stan was awarded both the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service and the Secretary of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. As passionate believer in the importance and value of public service, Stan also served from 2007 to 2013 as a Senate-confirmed member of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps and other national service programs, and is a major source of funding and leadership for community service organizations across the nation. Earlier in his career he was a public policy and public affairs consultant for nearly 20 years. He also co-produced the acclaimed PBS series “Great Confrontations at the Oxford Union.”

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Here is a recent interview with Stan:

  1. How did you get involved in public service?

I was raised in an environment where "service", in whatever form it might take, was highly valued. And I've been involved in policy and public affairs since my first job in Washington more than forty years ago.  But it wasn't until the Clinton Administration and its National Performance Review/Re-inventing Government initiatives that I got deeply involved with government itself, culminating is an entirely unexpected opportunity to go to the defense department to head up acquisition and broader defense reform.  The three-plus years I spent there were incredibly rewarding and really solidified my desire to spend the rest of my career in positions that enabled me to have some small impact on the direction of government.  In addition, in 2007 I was fortunate to be nominated and confirmed to a seat on the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which gave me even more opportunity to engage in national service issues about which I was so passionate.

  1. Looking at the present and into the future, what do you think a public administration “Grand Challenge” is or might be?

 I can think of nothing more important than fundamentally transforming the way the government deals with its human capital challenges. The problems are enormous and any effort to address them must take into close account the dramatic ways in which the nature of work and workforces have changed. The two NAPA reports on human capital represented good starts but even though I had the privilege of working on one of them, I'm not sure they went far enough.  Given the tectonic shifts we are experiencing across the economy, we need to fundamentally rethink what federal employees will be doing in the near future and how we can overcome the political, cultural, and policy barrier to aligning government with those shifts, all without losing sight of the critical importance of what it means to be a "civil servant."

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

Without a doubt, the highlight and most significant moment of my career was when I got an entirely unexpected call from the White House to see if I was interested in going into DoD under Secretary Bill Cohen. It was not something I had ever contemplated doing and at first I was hesitant, fearful about being swallowed up by the bureaucracy, giving up the time I had been able to dedicate to our kids and family life, etc.  But within a very short time after I started, I realized it was an extraordinary opportunity and learning experience.  I loved every minute of it and it really formed the foundation for everything I've done since.

  1. What is the best advice someone gave you?

My dad, who had a half dozen, disparate careers, always urged us to pursue whatever it was that gave us purpose and passion. As a result, my career has never had a linear or logical progression and I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to do many different things. In addition to the 30 years I've spent in and around government, which became and remained a passion from my time in DoD, I've had the chance to run political campaigns, produce specials for public television, develop a series for commercial television (that, of course, was never produced), write, do strategic consulting, and more.  Even when I was running the Professional Services Council, the wide range of issues and communities we dealt with was one of the most appealing parts of the job. It's made for a consistently interesting and energizing career.

  1. What inspires you?

I must admit that these days, inspiration is harder than ever to come by. That may be a function of age or of the era we find ourselves in. But I am occasionally, and happily, inspired by leaders--in politics, industry, or really any field--who I feel are not only smart and unusually capable, but also very grounded and authentic. Those traits are often talked about but all too rarely present in one person. And like most people, I am awed by those who have done things that are genuinely extraordinary--from the famous about whom I read or some of the winners each year of the Service to America Medals (SAMMIES). Very often my reaction is "I've got nothin."

  1. What did/do you want to be when you grow up?

I originally wanted to be in sports broadcasting, which I did a lot of in college. And the first job out of college was to be as a producer of a nightly sports talk show in my hometown of Boston. But, weeks before I was to start, the host was fired and the job disappeared. After banging around the city for several months looking for another job in broadcasting, I gave up and decided to pursue my other great interest: politics and policy. So, I packed up my car and moved to DC. I originally thought I would be here for a few years and then leave. That was 43 years ago and I never left.

  1. What was the last book you read?

I am currently reading Michael Lewis's "The Fifth Risk."  Very sobering and in many ways, frightening. And while my guilty pleasure is in reading thrillers, the next book on my list is "Sapiens."

  1. What was your first job?

Working for a small, start-up public affairs and political firm.

  1. What is the best part about where you live?

We have lived on Capitol Hill for over 40 years. We raised our kids here and plan to remain here long after we retire. It is an exceptional neighborhood.  When we moved here, our thought was to stay for five years, flip the house and move to the suburbs. But we fell in love with the area and never left. While it is in the middle of a city, it is often said that the residential part of Capitol Hill is like "a small town." It is an engaged, friendly, diverse, and welcoming community. 

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