Two Bloustein School graduate students – Emily Maciejak MCRP ‘20 and Mathilde Roux EJB ’19, MPP ’20 – were named Presidential Management Fellows finalists by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management earlier this year. The Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program is a highly selective and prestigious two-year paid government fellowship sponsored by the Office of Personnel Management for recent graduate students who seek a fellowship in a United States government agency. The fellowship includes leadership development, training, and rotations among various Federal agencies.
At the Bloustein School, Emily’s focus in the urban planning track has been on land use development and historic preservation, but also has a passion for public transportation. Highly motivated to use her skills and abilities to serve others through a public service career, Emily Maciejak believes that the government is largely responsible for impacting people’s lives. Those who pursue a career in the public sector, she said, need to be prepared to work towards doing the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people as possible.
“The PMF attracted me because it was a unique opportunity to be a part of a change agency bigger than myself, while simultaneously developing me into the leader I hope to be,” Emily said. “In order for the government to make the positive impact necessary to ensure that this is the case, it needs strong leaders who are not afraid to do the right thing, even if it may be the hard thing, or the unfavorable thing. The PMF program has opened the door to the federal government, giving me a highly visible path to apply my skills and knowledge towards real work that will impact all Americans.”
She is interested in gaining experience in more than one agency during her two-year appointment through a rotational assignment, including the Department of Transportation, the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service, or the Department of Housing and Urban Development. “There are so many agencies that work towards missions I am truly excited about, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture. While I’m interested in community planner, transportation specialist, and program and management analyst assignments, I am extremely open to casting a wide net if the Agency’s mission and the job description aligns with my skills, abilities and passions,” she said. “I don’t want to rule any potential fits out simply because they don’t match a specific title.”
Knowing that her path to the Bloustein School and the PMF program was not linear, Emily’s career aspirations remain open to many possibilities. “Long-term, I aspire to apply my government experience to enhance sustainable transit-oriented development initiatives, with my ultimate dream of working on sustainable transportation initiatives within our national parks,” she said. “But I can say that during my time at the Bloustein School, I have been exposed to so many different opportunities in the planning and policy fields that would allow me to make a difference. As long as I am able to use my skills and knowledge to make a positive impact, that is my number one career goal.”
“If you had asked me five years ago where I would end up, never in my wildest dreams would I have predicted this,” Emily concluded. “Knowing that, I am not sure where my PMF future will lead, but I am excited for new beginnings and at the opportunity of getting to be a part of something much larger than myself.”
Mathilde Roux is completing her MPP through the Bloustein School’s 3-1-1 program, having graduated with her undergraduate degree in Planning and Public Policy in May 2019. She is pursuing a concentration in social policy, with a special interest in the intersection of social policy and immigration policy.
Also selected as a 2020 Eagleton Fellow, she has been interning at the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services this spring. Last summer she worked as a Policy and Program intern at the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, as a research Intern for the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, and as a Research Assistant to Dr. Andrea Hetling, strengthening her interests in policy research and analysis as tools to improve policy.
“I applied for the PMF program because I am a strong believer in the power of government, particularly the federal government, to impact the lives of people through policymaking. This is especially true for the types of issues I am most interested in–social policy and immigration policy–which are largely determined at the federal level,” said Mathilde. “State and local governments, as well as nonprofits, play a key role in implementation of policies and programs, but the federal government is extremely influential in establishing rules and regulations and making funding decisions. The opportunities offered to me through the PMF program will enable me to become a part of the policymaking process at the highest level of government, and be exposed to the many ways in which these stakeholders interact and work together toward a common goal.”
Mathilde is interested in working with domestic programs at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor, as well as international programs at the Department of State and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “Because of my interests in both social policy and immigration policy, I am interested in agencies that do very different work. My goal is to combine my two interests over the course of my fellowship appointment through rotational assignments which may enable me to work at the intersection of social and immigration policy.”
Though she hasn’t settled on a particular career path following her PMF rotations, Mathilde knows that the experience in the federal government will be invaluable to the development of her ultimate career destination. “My time at Bloustein School, both as an undergraduate and a graduate student and through my various experiences outside of the classroom, showed me that there are many ways to create positive change, whether working in the public or the private sector,” she said. “There are also many different paths that one can take to create this change—through policy research and analysis, advocacy, or direct service to populations in need. I will use my experiences there to contribute to policymaking in the social and immigration policy spaces, and help create a system that works better for everyone.”
Emily and Mathilde expressed their thanks to the faculty and staff at the Bloustein School, as well as Bloustein PMF alumni, for their assistance with the application process, as well as the support and encouragement throughout their time at the Bloustein School. Although all in-personal PMF events have been postponed, both have been actively participating in the online opportunities offered and are waiting on possible appointment in the next few weeks.