December 2023 Student Spotlight
In this spotlight MPA student Lauren Deering tells us about her role in civic engagement at the New York Public Library and their “artivism program, her Marxe MPA experience, her background in nonprofit music education, and more.
Tell us about your role as Civic Engagement Coordinator at the New York Public Library.
I serve as the Coordinator of Civic Engagement Programming at The New York Public Library, a role within the Community Outreach and Engagement team that supports 88 neighborhood branches across three boroughs: the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. In this capacity, one of my primary responsibilities is to establish opportunities for engagement, outreach, and partnerships with community-based organizations, city agencies, and local community leaders. NYPL offers a diverse range of high quality resources, programs, and opportunities to our patrons, allowing them to actively engage and participate in civic life within their communities.
One of the most fulfilling aspects of my position is collaborating with colleagues, both within my team and throughout NYPL. This collaboration includes working alongside dedicated librarians, staff, and educators to design civic programs and opportunities that foster joy, curiosity, and knowledge. A prime example of this is our “Artivism” program, which emerged from community conversations and focuses on showcasing the work of local community artists. Artivism, or “Art” and “Activism”, serves as a platform to spotlight individuals who have made a significant civic and community impact through their art, which has included community muralists, rap artists, and jazz musicians. The Artivism program encapsulates the diversity and creativity of our communities, initiating meaningful conversations and ensuring that community voices are heard in innovative ways.
Experiencing the community connections that develop through our programs and within NYPL branches is truly inspiring. NYPL branches not only serve as hubs of civic knowledge, but play a pivotal role in nurturing positive community attitudes and creating opportunities for civic empowerment. I take pride in my work, and I share NYPL’s vision around civic engagement and community building. Through NYPL civics programs, we build positive community attitudes, create opportunities for empowerment, and support patrons in developing the tools and skills they need to become civically engaged and active members of their community.
You gave a lecture this past semester for students on how to approach case study research. What got you interested in this subject?
I had the privilege of presenting a lecture titled “Case Study Walkthrough” on my Case Study Research process for Professor Neil Hernandez’s PAF 9120- Public and Nonprofit Management I class in Spring 2023. I was honored by the invitation, as it provided me with the opportunity to share my knowledge and experiences with my fellow classmates and colleagues. Having been a student in the same class during the previous Fall 2022 semester, I recognized the potential of the lecture to alleviate the apprehension associated with researching, sourcing, and structuring a case study. The process can initially seem overwhelming, and I wanted to offer insights from my own journey–as I found it to be a meaningful project, that provided me with a new perspective on effective leadership and nonprofit management. I also wanted to highlight the exceptional resources available at the Marxe School that supported me throughout my case study process. This included support from the amazing staff at the Writing Center and Newman Library.
The lecture presentation was a great learning experience for me, and an opportunity to try something new–which is something I am always striving for in my own learning and professional development at the Marxe School.
Can you talk a bit about your Marxe MPA experience? Any favorite courses or professors?
I am currently in my fourth semester at the Marxe School, and have greatly enjoyed my experience as an MPA student. Prior to my first semester in Fall 2022, I was nervous about starting school after such a long break (almost 10 years), especially considering I hadn’t taken a higher level math course since high school.
Despite my initial nerves, I am happy to report that my experience at the Marxe School within the MPA program has been both supportive and exciting. Each semester, from Public and Nonprofit Management I to Urban Economic Development, Budgeting and Financial Analysis, and Data Collection and Description, I have found each course to be an integral piece of a holistic experience that has given me the confidence to explore new topics, ideas, and pathways towards public service and nonprofit management.
Across my experiences within the MPA program– the coursework, readings, and assignments have been meaningful and valuable to my professional skill sets and development, as well as broadening my understanding of community issues within New York City. My fellow students have been a great source of support and encouragement. From group projects to WhatsApp chats, I’ve found the community here at Marxe to be fantastic. I’m grateful to have had this experience so far, and I’m excited to continue my graduate studies at the Marxe School.
Tell us about your background in nonprofit music education. How did you get involved?
My introduction to nonprofit music education organizations came during my undergraduate studies in Music Education, where I pursued an internship opportunity. As someone who has always been passionate about music and its ability to create communities, I was eager to contribute to the field. In high school, I made friends and formed social connections through participating in marching band and a free community band for high school and college-aged students. Thanks to my exceptional teachers, I was able to further my musical abilities and continue my studies in college. My own experience as a student musician had taught me the value of a support network, and I was eager to share this type of educational environment with others.
Over the years, I have worked in various roles within nonprofit music organizations in both New Jersey and New York, including development, communications, student services, and programming. My experience in nonprofit music education has allowed me to develop valuable skills as both a team member and manager, and I am passionate and dedicated to furthering my professional development in the field of arts, culture, and (now libraries) through my MPA studies at the Marxe School.