May 2016 Alumni Spotlight
May Alumni Spotlight with Melissa Rosen, MPA ’10
How does life change once a young professional gets their MPA? Melissa Rosen’s success story serves as a reminder that a potent combination of education, professionalism and drive can help an individual achieve great things. Ms. Rosen describes her multi-faceted role at the Jewish Funders Network, the lasting impact her MPA experience has had on her personal and professional life, and more.
You wear numerous hats including member services, grant making, marketing and consulting. Can you tell us about each of these and the challenge of switching between the mindset each demands?
In my current role as Program Manager at the Jewish Funders Network (JFN), and previously at UJA-Federation of New York, I was honored to work with diverse networks of organizations and people, which requires the ability to change hats at a moment’s notice. On any given day, I am juggling the needs and interests of my members, helping to raise the profile of JFN in the community through programs or speaking engagements, and consulting with organizations who are interested in the matching grant initiatives I manage. Each of these areas comes with its own unique challenges and triumphs, but it does mean that I rely heavily on my time-management skills (honed even sharper at Baruch while working full-time and going to class in the evenings!) to make sure that everything gets done.
What changed for you professionally once you’d completed your MPA at the School of Public Affairs?
When I began my MPA, it was after a good deal of soul-searching about the kind of career I wanted. However, I learned so much from the diverse student body at Baruch and their many different opinions and experiences. I continue to be inspired by the dedication that both professors and students showed toward public service and the improvement of our community. Being surrounded by people with such different life and professional experiences prompted me to be more creative about how I approach problem-solving, which is something I continue to do in my life both professionally and personally. It also extended my network and world view in ways that have been surprising and gratifying.
Did your education at Baruch College allow you to apply methods and knowledge from class directly to your work, did you find it to be more experiential in nature, or has it been a bit of both?
It was really a bit of both. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to apply knowledge from my professional work to my coursework, which made juggling full-time work and part-time school much easier. As I progressed through the curriculum, however, I realized that I was also applying what I was learning at the School of Public Affairs, both from my professors and classmates in the field to my work. In fact, my capstone project, an examination of organizational change management, was developed as a direct result of my professional work and classroom learnings overlapping, particularly after hearing from fellow students who were also on the ground in NYC agencies or nonprofits and learning from their experiences as well as my own.