student Spotlight

May Student Spotlight with Justine Billups, MPA '17

May 17 Student Spotlight

From learning tactics to combatting youth unemployment to coordination of important press conferences an MPA at the Marxe School can provide exciting, enriching and even unforeseen connections and opportunities. Justine tells us about her experience serving a crucial administration role in the NYPD, the intensive program on youth unemployment in Poznan, Poland, and more.

How has your MPA served your experience as Senior Police Administrative Aide in the NYPD?
My current assignment with the NYPD is in the office of Deputy Commissioner of Administration (DCA). This office engages in three primary activities: facilitation of communication between different bureaus and divisions within the NYPD; morale enhancement and employee wellbeing; and liaison to the Department’s 39 fraternal, religious, and ethnic organizations. In addition, the office is responsible for certain special projects for the Police Commissioner’s Office.

When I was promoted to Senior Police Administrative Aide in October 2016, I was challenged to coordinate and lead projects, as well as taking on a supervisory role where I was now responsible for the work product of those I supervised. The experiences which I gained from public management courses such as Leadership & Strategy in Public Affairs were a great asset for working in a high demand office and transitioning from entry-level to supervisory role. This course helped me to identify key aspects of leadership in a public position, and instilling in me the confidence to lead effectively.

What are some critical projects you’ve worked on for the NYPD?
Working for the NYPD has afforded me the opportunity to participate in some amazing projects. Most recently I was part of the team that organized the Police Commissioner’s Annual Women’s Conference for 2017. The conference was slated to coincide with Women’s History Month as a way to honor the many contributions made by women to the NYPD. Currently, women make up only about 17% of NYPD officers. The goal was to reach that 17% to empower and encourage them to advance in a traditionally male dominated field.
Over 800 women of all ranks and titles attended the conference. Guest Speakers were chosen from a diverse background of business, law enforcement, and entertainment including: Gayle King, co-host of “CBS This Morning” and Editor-at-large of O, the Oprah Magazine; Janee’ Harteau, Chief of the Minneapolis Police Department; and Kimberly Hatchett, Executive Director, Morgan Stanley. Attendees left the conference feeling appreciated, motivated, and inspired. As with many large scale productions, there was considerable behind-the-scenes logistics work that the office of DCA was responsible for.

The project I am most proud to have participated in was the coordination of events leading to a press conference regarding the renewal of the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act (Zadroga Bill). The Zadroga Bill is legislation that establishes the World Trade Center Health Program. The bill ensures that those first-responders who have suffered long-term medical affects from their work at ground zero after the 9/11 attacks, continue to receive monitoring and treatment. A press conference consisted of a collaboration of senators, artists and NYPD members of service who worked during the 9/11 attacks. The Society of Illustrators, a collection of artists, donated paintings that depicted the stories of our NYPD 9/11 heroes. These paintings were displayed in the Senate Rotunda building alongside the subjects of the artwork while Senators Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand lobbied for the passage of the Zadroga Bill, which passed later that day. The goal of the events that day were to increase awareness and conclusively demonstrate the importance of remembering those who are still dealing with the consequences of their heroic actions in the wake of 9/11.

Although these projects may not fall directly Department’s mission to “arrest bad guys”, I believe that these projects such as the Women’s Conference and employee wellbeing are critical to the overall mission of the NYPD as a public institution. I feel that investing in the members of the NYPD’s well-being is crucial to the officers’ ability to effectively serve the public.

Can you recall one of your most meaningful experiences at the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs?
The most meaningful experience at the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs was serving as an Ambassador. As an Ambassador I represented the school at various functions, speaking to prospective and newly admitted students. I was able to provide them with genuine insight from a current student’s perspective. The students were so grateful for the open and honest conversation. In fact, I have a few students who I have met at events where I served as ambassador that I still keep in contact with and we provide support for each other through the program.

As the first in my family to graduate college, I understood the challenges of trying to navigate the post graduate system without guidance. However, with the help of the great staff of the advisement office, professors, fellow students and learning from trial and error, I successfully arrived to my final semester as a graduate student. Although grateful for the assistance I wished I had someone that could share their experience. Serving as an Ambassador was my way of giving back to the Marxe community.

You recently went on an intensive two-week program on youth unemployment at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland. Can you tell us about that experience including what it was like to work with students from the five other European countries and the presentations your group created?
The Marxe School provided me a great opportunity to travel to Europe to explore the problems and solutions related to youth unemployment. I met great people from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Poland and Sweden and experienced the beautiful, rich city of Poznan, Poland. While in Poznan, we visited the labor office and technology park to gain information about how Poland is working to improve youth unemployment.

The first portion of the program consisted of presentations by each country outlining the demographics, challenges, legislation and programs pertaining to youth unemployment. I learned that each country has similar challenges in areas such as immigration, education and closing the skills gap. The Marxe group presented challenges of youth unemployment in the United States. My research explored federal and state policies and programs. The students from the other countries appreciated the look into how differently rural and urban state governments deal with the issue of youth unemployment.

The second portion of the program focused more on solutions. We worked in groups with representatives from each country. My group was tasked with creating a video portraying self-employment as a solution to end youth unemployment. Working in such a diverse group added a broader perspective and creativity to this project. We decided to create an entertaining video which told the story of a young woman who struggled to find a traditional place of employment but explored various methods of entrepreneurship. In a short period of time our group was able to create something amusing while containing well-researched programs which assist young entrepreneurs.

Overall, the most valuable takeaway from the program was that although we are from all different parts of the world, we are more similar than different.