Three Master of City and Regional Planning students from the Bloustein School – Channing Bickford, Julene Paul, and Ai Yamanaka – have been named Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) finalists by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The Presidential Management Fellows 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.
“Channing, Julene, and Ai are outstanding students who have demonstrated their commitment in their field of study,” said Bloustein School Dean James W. Hughes. “The opportunity to work with various federal agencies will broaden their experience and enable them to better address important issues while in public service.”
Channing Bickford’s philosophy of service to the community began while in college, where studied at the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies and participated in an independent study abroad to Beijing. He worked with Future Generations China to plan, promote, carry out and solicit corporate donations for the “Green Long March,” a nation-wide youth conservation movement. After graduating with a degree in International Studies and concentrating in Chinese environmental development as well as green architecture he returned to Beijing where he earned a CELTA language teaching certification and a Level 4 HSK Chinese Language Proficiency Certification. He lived in Beijing for five years, working as a language and communications instructor at various schools and companies while also teaching at the Xin Xin Migrant School and volunteering as a photographic image technician with Operation Smile Handan mission.
At the Bloustein School he held dual concentrations in environment/physical planning and in transportation planning. He has continued his commitment to service, co-founding the “Spokes Education” bicycle safety program for disadvantaged youth in New Brunswick, and working to start a student-led service group to strengthen ties to the community. More recently, he worked as a ferry policy intern at the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance in New York City, and was selected as a 2015 Louis Berger Fellow, a selective program which allows Bloustein students to undertake a comprehensive fellowship and earn credit during a professional internship experience with Louis Berger. With past professional experience in China and Chinese language experience Channing was assigned to the Louis Berger Hong Kong office, where translated and synthesized documents to better understand the scope and specifics of the Yinchaun intermodal transit hub project. He also researched and compiled case studies of intermodal transit hubs in Europe and North America to assist the client’s understanding the function of a transit hub and also see funding options employed by other projects.
As a student research assistant for the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center, Julene Paul worked on projects for the New Jersey Pedestrian and Bicycle Resource Center as well as wrote a literature review for a report investigating barriers to cycling facing minorities for the New Jersey Department of Transportation. She also collaborated on a project about local food security efforts in New Brunswick for Elijah’s Promise as a research assistant with the Ralph W. Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement. More recently, she was a graduate management intern at Port Authority of New York New Jersey, supporting various projects related to the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) transit system. She gained additional experience assisting the Business Process Analysis Division in tasks related to PATH’s statistical reporting, analysis, business planning, FTA/NTD reporting, Title VI statistical reporting, origin and destination surveys, and special ad-hoc surveys, studies, and data requests.
“I applied to the PMF program because I am very interested in a career in government, and believe strongly in public service. My previous work in regional planning and transit has shown me the important role that federal policies and funding have on local planning decisions,” Julene said. “Understanding and engaging in the federal policy process provides a rare and important opportunity to affect policy on a broad level, and would like to work in bridging the gap between high-level policy decisions and community impacts.
During her time at Bloustein, Ai Yamanaka worked for the Bloustein School’s Environmental Analysis and Communications Research Group, where she authored a report on the risks of climate change for socially vulnerable populations in New Jersey. She also worked for the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority under their Enterprise Asset Management department with the Division of Car Equipment on component serialization and database management. In 2015 Ai was selected as a Louis Berger Fellow, a selective program which allows Bloustein students to undertake a comprehensive fellowship and earn credit during a professional internship experience with Louis Berger. At the conclusion of their first year of study at the Bloustein School, Fellows embark on a full-time summer internship assigned to one of the company’s international projects. Ai was assigned to the Paris office, where she conducted a prefeasibility analysis for the new deep-sea port being built along the coast of Uruguay at the Berger Group’s Paris office. With guidance from senior transportation planners, she performed a full cost-benefit analysis forecasting commodity demand for the new port based on trade statistics and projected growth rates for the area.
More recently, Ai worked at the Bloustein School’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development as a policy and planning researcher, where she performed econometric analysis of National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B) data to determine retention of STEM workforce following college graduation.
“I knew the PMF program would be a great opportunity to explore a career in the federal government. I’ve always been interested in trying to find the best avenues for affecting meaningful planning and policy changes, and I believe that PMF provides that chance,” said Ai. “I would be interested to learn more about the Department of State, Department of Transportation, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but mostly I hope to be in a dynamic and challenging position that exposes me to some of the most pressing environmental, political, and economic challenges we face as well as be a part of an organization that enables positive change for society.”
Established by Executive Order in 1977, the PMF Program draws graduate students from a variety of academic disciplines and diverse backgrounds to the Federal service. The PMF program selects men and women who have a clear commitment and interest in the leadership and management of public policies and programs. The two-year paid program includes 80 hours of formal classroom training each year, challenging assignments, accelerated promotions, and opportunities to network between agencies. Fellows are hired by agencies and given exposure to domestic and international issues in such areas as public administration, technology, science, criminal justice, health, and financial management. Fellows often use this experience as a stepping stone to highly visible and respected leadership positions in the Federal Government.
Out of 6,050 applications, just 808 were selected as semi-finalists; and 552 were selected as finalists. In addition to the three Bloustein School students, Rutgers students Kristina Martorano (Rutgers-Camden) and Raymond O’Brien (Rutgers-Newark) are also finalists.