September 2019 Alumni Spotlight
September Alumni Spotlight with Ebony Meeks, MPA ‘12
In this month’s alumni spotlight we speak to MPA alumna Ebony Meeks who was involved in both the Obama for America and Hillary for America campaigns. She discusses coming to terms with the campaigns’ different outcomes, her thoughts on the Marxe School, and more.
You’ve been involved in both winning and losing Presidential campaigns; can you talk a bit about your experiences in Obama for America and Hillary for America?
Both experiences were amazing and life changing. During Obama for America I did field communications work in Pennsylvania. I had the opportunity to work and learn the entire state from Erie to Chester Counties. With Hillary for America I had a supervising role at the Headquarters, where I managed multiple states. In both roles, I met and worked with so many talented young people and learned from amazing seasoned political veterans. I would say winning with Obama for America was an exciting but nerve-wracking experience. Pennsylvania is a hard state and John McCain was a formidable candidate, so we didn’t have a crystal clear picture of victory. When we won the state, and ultimately the election, it was surreal.
Conversely, with Hillary for America I had a higher expectations of a tough but strong win. Losing, especially to who we lost to, was devastating and disheartening. To give everything you have and sacrifice relationships, sleep, and sometimes sanity to still come up short is indescribable. It’s obviously much more fun to win, but the growth and experience of working on two historic campaigns was priceless. If I had to, I would do Hillary for America again in a heartbeat, except I’d focus more on Wisconsin!
What do you do as Senior Advisor at the New York City Council? What are you short- and long-term goals?
As Senior Advisor at the New York City Council I focus on Speaker Corey Johnson’s policy priorities. My portfolio includes supporting the Chief of Staff in managing the 50 members of the City Council; budget and finance issues; housing and housing affordability policy; state legislative affairs; and special projects for the Speaker.
My short-term goals are to ensure Speaker Johnson’s leadership of the New York City Council has meaningful impact on New Yorkers now and sets the bar for years to come. One of my long-term goals is to support better working relationships between municipal, state, and federal government structures. Having now worked in various levels of government, I find that coordinating conversations between each level creates a more streamlined practice and sets each entity up for greater success for its constituents. Finding ways to make government work better for its people is big task and while sometimes it requires big ideas and big changes, it can also use a bit of fine tuning and attention to the nuances.
Why did you choose to come to the Marxe School for your MPA? What skills did you walk away with?
I knew I wanted to obtain a graduate degree and I looked at several public policy and public administration programs in the Mid-Atlantic. I wanted a program that was reputable and, almost more importantly, affordable. I’d met several graduates of the Executive MPA program who spoke highly of the Marxe School of Public Affairs. As I began the application process I came across the National Urban Fellows Program which was based at Baruch for many years and it was the perfect match. I came out of the program with budget analysis skills that I didn’t think I could ever grasp. I had a better understanding of nonprofit and foundation work (which I had limited experience with coming from a mostly government background) and I was taught by thoughtful, experienced professors. I received a top notch education with amazing faculty and professional validators.