Local Government Innovation & Redesign

To support local government redesign efforts and recognize the innovative work already underway, the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center has partnered with state associations to create the Local Government Innovation & Redesign Guide and host a yearly Local Government Innovations Awards ceremony.

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About Our Blog

pubTalk: Public and Nonprofit Leadership in Action

Dear pubTalk bloggers,

pubTalk is a blog produced by the staff, faculty, and graduate assistants of the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. It is our hope that pubTalk will create a bridge between University research and community practice and be a forum for an exchange of ideas among all of us working for the common good.

You might be the executive director of a nonprofit organization or the program manager for a county agency, but whatever you may be doing, your work is taking place in a changing landscape. Government is no longer the main provider of public programs – many sectors are involved in policymaking and implementation. Therefore, public affairs are being conducted through networks of relationships among many groups and organizations.

pubTalk is about starting a conversation within this network. Much like what you do at your favorite hangout, we hope you’ll help this blog become an interesting place to spend some time by adding your own perspective and ideas in the comments. We also welcome any ideas you may have for posts, which you can email to us at pnlc@umn.edu.

So, for all you potential pubTalkers out there, grab a comfy seat and a drink and join us in conversation!


The pubTalk team

Site design and Humphrey blog project

pubTalk was designed in Summer and Fall 2008 by Graham Lampa, Project Lead for the "Emphasizing the 'Public' in Public Affairs" initiative. This project, funded by a Service and Process Improvement Fund grant from the University of Minnesota's Office of Service and Continuous Improvement, created weblogs for the Humphrey research centers to allow faculty and staff to publish their research and jump into the ongoing conversations taking place online within their policy areas. The other blogs can be accessed from the Humphrey blog digest.

Blog authors

Ahna Minge

WashingtonSquarePark1.jpgAhna Minge is a Graduate Assistant at the PNLC and a first year Master of Public Policy student. Originally from northern Minnesota, Ahna graduate from Macalester College with a degree in Political Science. She has spent several years working in local government. At the Humphrey School, Ahna is particularly interested in policy analysis and public leadership.

Ahna's favorite place to pubTalk - debate current issues and public affairs - is at a sunny table on one of the city's great patios.

Amelia Brunelle

Amelia xmas 09.jpg Amelia Brunelle is a graduate student pursing dual masters in public policy at the Humphrey School and in business management at the Carlson School. Originally from Georgia, Amelia earned a Bachelors of Science in music business from Northeastern University in Boston, and spent the last few years working in non-profit development and hospital administration. She returned to studies to acquire additional quantitative and program evaluation skills in order to ideally bring increased efficiency to the public or non-profit sector in the future.

Amelia's favorite place to pubTalk - debate current issues and public affairs - is at Acadia Café, just a short walk from the West Bank campus, over a black bean burger and any IPA brew she hasn't yet tried.

Barbara Crosby


Barbara Crosby is an associate professor at the Humphrey Institute and academic co-director of the Center for Integrative Leadership. She has taught and written extensively about leadership and public policy, women in leadership, media and public policy, and strategic planning, including co-authoring the award winning Leadership for the Common Good (second edition, 2005) and serving as an associate editor of Leadership Quarterly. A frequent speaker at conferences and workshops, she has conducted training for senior managers of nonprofit, business and government organizations in the United States, the United Kingdom, Poland, and Ukraine. She is a former gubernatorial press secretary and speech writer. She also has been a newspaper reporter and editor.

Barbara’s favorite place to pubTalk – debate current issues and public affairs – is anywhere fellow leadership and public policy junkies hang out.

Emily Saunoi-Sandgren

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Emily Saunoi-Sandgren is the PNLC’s Research Fellow. She has the exciting and challenging job of doing all things research for the Center, including project management, fund development, and her personal favorite, crunching numbers! Before coming to the PNLC, Emily dabbled in the world of nonprofits, which gave her the bug to get a master’s degree in public policy from the Humphrey Institute. Emily is also a graduate of St. Olaf College where she ambitiously completed a triple degree in psychology, French and women’s studies.

Emily’s favorite place to pubTalk – debate current issues and public affairs – is Café Barbette in Uptown. There’s nothing like a good talk over mussels and fries!

Gary DeCramer


Gary DeCramer is a farm kid from SW Minnesota with a significant background in public service, including serving as a state senator representing the Southwestern region of Minnesota, as the state director of USDA Rural Development, as the principle planning analyst for Hennepin County’s Office of Planning and Development, as a senior fellow in the Humphrey Institute’s State and Local Policy Program and the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies, and as the interim president of Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. Gary is currently the director of the Humphrey Institute’s mid-career Master of Public Affairs program where he has the pleasure of working with amazing mid-career leaders. Gary’s areas of expertise are in political leadership, ethical and reflective practice, program evaluation, rural development, and board governance.

Gary’s favorite place to pubTalk – debate current issues and public affairs – is the kitchen table.

Hunter Gordon

Hunter Gordon is a graduate assistant with the PNLC and a first year Master of Public Policy student. Originally from North Dakota, he graduated from the University of North Dakota with degrees in philosophy and political science. He then spent time in San Francisco as a fellow in the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs, before moving to Minneapolis/St. Paul, where he has worked in the nonprofit sector as an outreach coordinator and grant writer. He came to the Humphrey School to develop skills in nonprofit leadership that will enable him to have an impact on social policy.

Hunter's favorite place to pubTalk--debate current issues and public affairs--is with his classmates in the Jernberg Lounge.

Jackie Aman

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Jackie Aman is a Graduate Assistant at the PNLC and a second year MPP student. Originally from Missouri, Jackie graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2005 with a degree in Sociology and Spanish. She has spent the past 5 years working both domestically and abroad in the nonprofit sector and is eager to explore areas of program evaluation, sustainable program development, governance, and organizational structure - especially as these topics relate to faith-based organizations that work internationally.

Jackie's favorite place to pubTalk - debate current issues and public affairs - is with her husband and friends at any NE Minneapolis establishment that serves tater tots and microbrews.

Janine Fugate

Janine Fugate has worked in the nonprofit sector since 1997 and is currently Assistant Vice President of Communications for a national nonprofit headquartered in Minneapolis, where she has been responsible for all aspects of communications, marketing and public relations. A self-admitted "nonprofit geek" who "will never go back to corporate work again," Janine began working toward her MPA degree in Spring 2009 to cement that pledge. A devoted mom of two, Janine is eager to leave the world a better place for her children. She is also a contributing blogger to The Scholarship Coach on USNews.com.

Janine's favorite place to pubTalk is usually during an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Jay Kiedrowski


Jay Kiedrowski is a senior fellow at the Humphrey Institute where he teaches courses in public and nonprofit financial management, organizational development, and integrative leadership. Jay has decades of experience in public service and the private sector, including a prolific career in investment management with the Norwest/Wells Fargo organization. He retired from his position as executive vice president in 2004. Before joining Norwest/Wells Fargo, Jay was Commissioner of Finance and Chief Financial Officer for the State of Minnesota reporting to the governor. Prior to that, he was the Budget Director for the City of Minneapolis reporting to the mayor. He started his career working for the Minnesota Senate in urban and tax research. Jay has also been active in leadership of numerous nonprofit organizations for over 30 years.

Jay’s favorite place to pubTalk – debate current issues and public affairs – is in the living room before dinner.

Jerry Zhao


A native of China, Zhirong "Jerry" Zhao is an assistant professor at the Humphrey Institute where he focuses on local and nonprofit financial issues, in particular how local government and nonprofit agencies manage to generate sufficient revenue under ever-increasing constraints; how the financial structure of public or nonprofit organizations affect the pattern and effectiveness of public service delivery; and how public and nonprofit organizations interact--vertically or horizontally--in budgetary and service decision making. In his earlier career as an urban planner, Jerry consulted for many local governments across China.

Jerry’s favorite place to pubTalk – debate current issues and public affairs – is his blog: Fiscal Issues & Geeky Stuff. It is fun to post, but it is a lot more fun to see a comment and then to comment on a comment.

Jodi Sandfort

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Jodi Sandfort is an Associate Professor at the Humphrey Institute where she helps students learn more about how organizations work and what can be done to make them work better. She has particular expertise in organizations focused on helping our most disadvantaged citizens, both nonprofits and government. Jodi has spent her career moving back and forth between professional practice and academia. Most recently, she directed the human service program at the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis. Her current research focuses on organizations and fields involved in social policy, such as human services, early childhood, and welfare. She is very interested in the structures established by public policy but also how people and groups can exert leadership to change and improve those structures. She believes that much can be learned from crossing boundaries and tries to do so daily.

Jodi’s favorite place to pubTalk – debate current issues and public affairs – around her dining room table, with a glass of wine, her husband, two young sons, friends and family (many of whom don’t agree with her!).

Joe Soss

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Joe Soss is the Cowles Chair for the Study of Public Service at the Humphrey Institute and a Professor of Political Science. His research and teaching explore the interplay of democratic politics, social and economic inequalities, and public policy. He has a longstanding interest in questions of policy governance and citizen agency, particularly as these issues relate to socially marginal groups. His recent work focuses on racial politics and the organization of welfare and criminal justice policy.

Joe’s favorite place to pubTalk – debate current issues and public affairs – is Cabin #9 at Lost River State Park, West Virginia.

John Bryson


John Bryson is a professor at the Humphrey Institute where he works in the areas of leadership, strategic management, and the design of organizational and community change processes. He wrote the best-selling and award-winning book, Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations (third edition, 2004), and co-wrote the award-winning Leadership for the Common Good (second edition, 2005). He has also consulted with a wide variety of governing bodies, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit corporations in North America and Europe. John has received a number of scholarly awards for his work and is a fellow if the National Academy of Public Administration.

John’s favorite place to pubTalk – debate current issues and public affairs – is on ski lifts on big mountains.

Karen McCauley


With a background in British Fiction of the Victorian Period, Karen McCauley brings a Brontëan slant to the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center. She is currently embroiled in a skirmish of readings concerning Revolutionary America and 18th century Great Britain, from which no end to hostilities can be seen.

When not in the redoubts of Yorktown, Karen is the associate administrator for the PNLC. Her favorite place to pubTalk is over a Guinness, around a fire, in the autumn.

Kate Conners


Kate has an extensive background in the creation of educational digital media and is currently the Technology Enhanced Learning Coordinator for the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. In her capacity she collaborates with faculty as they integrate academic technology into their curriculum.

Kim Borton

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Kim Borton is the PNLC’s Associate Director. In this capacity, Kim leads overall operations for the Center, including the development of professional and executive training, program management, communications, budgeting, and fund development. Kim’s professional interests include nonprofit management and advocacy, youth and community development, and women’s issues. She’s thrilled that her role at the PNLC enables her to partner with folks working in and studying public affairs. Kim also serves as a trustee for the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota; a working group member of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship’s Minnesota Works Together; a member of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy; and a volunteer with the Citizens League.

Kim’s favorite place to pubTalk – debate current issues and public affairs – is Bryant Lake Bowl. What could be better than brawling politics out over beer and bowling?

Laura Logsdon

Laura Logsdon is a first year graduate student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs focusing in public and nonprofit leadership and management. Originally from Ames, Iowa, Laura graduated from the University of Iowa with degrees in history and English in 2009. She spent the last two years working as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and a Volunteer Center. Laura's interests include city management, civic engagement, and sustainability and will be interning this year at the Metropolitan Council.

Laura's favorite place to pubTalk - debate current issues and public affairs - is with friends in the hallways of the Humphrey School and at any of the lovely eating and drinking places the Twin Cities offers.

Leah Lundquist

Leah Lundquist.jpgLeah Lundquist is a Graduate Assistant at the Center for Integrative Leadership and an MPP student (2012). Originally from Wyoming, Leah graduated from Luther College with degrees in biology and English. She has spent the past 4 years working in organizational effectiveness and grantmaking regionally, nationally, and internationally in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector. While at the Humphrey, she is exploring the areas of cross-sector leadership, evaluation, and social innovation.

Leah's favorite place to pubTalk - debate current issues and public affairs - is anywhere in the Northwoods of Minnesota or the mountains of Colorado. There's nothing like a good view and fresh air for a new perspective on issues!

Maura Shramko

Maura Shramko is an MPP student and a research assistant at the PNLC. Her education and work has had her gravitating between the Twin Cities and Managua, Nicaragua, where she has been involved in education and the nonprofit sector. Currently, her interests include community-based organizing and working towards social justice specifically around issues of race, class, gender, sexuality and nationality.

Her favorite place to PubTalk--debate current issues and public affairs - is on the net, with her sister and best friend who both live in NYC.

Melissa Stone


Melissa Stone is an associate professor at the Humphrey Institute where she specializes in nonprofit management. Her teaching and research focuses on governance and strategic management of nonprofit organizations and cross-sector partnerships as policy implementation tools. Before coming to the Humphrey, Melissa was on the faculty at the Boston University School of Management, Associate Director of Yale University’s Program on Non-Profit Organizations, and the founder of two social service nonprofit organizations in Alaska where she also conducted statewide and national workshops on organizational planning, social policy development, and advocacy.

Melissa’s favorite place to pubTalk – debate current issues and public affairs – is very early in the morning over coffee and the newspaper (yes, she still reads a paper copy of the news) with her husband, Paul.

Rebecca Orrick

Rebecca Orrick is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota and a research assistant with the PNLC. She is working toward completing a dual master's degree in public policy and social work, and is in her second year of graduate studies. Originally from the Washington DC area, she has fallen in love with the Twin Cities and intends to make it her permanent home. Rebecca's research interests include issues affecting the homeless, ex-offender, immigrant, and mentally ill populations in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. She is currently an intern at Hennepin County's Department of Human Services and Public Health.

Rebecca's favorite place to pubTalk - debate current issues and public affairs- is over some homemade beer around her living room table.

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Past authors

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs or the University of Minnesota. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the University of Minnesota or the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.