Alumni Spotlight

November Alumni Spotlight with Madeleine Villanueva, MPA ‘14

November 15 Alumni Spotlight

Raised in a working-class Bronx community, Madeleine knows all too well the need for social justice and equality in our complex modern society. We speak about her time in the esteemed National Urban Fellows program and her current role at The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc.

What did you take away from the National Urban Fellows program? Who would you recommend it to?
The National Urban Fellows program provided a much greater understanding of the interplay between the public, private and non-profit domains, as well as practice in budget creation, policy recommendations and statistical analysis. This was not only obtained via theory, but also from an insider's perspective as the program includes a nine-month mentorship component. This component provides involvement in meaningful projects and roles and leadership development at well regarded public, private and non-profit entities. Moreover, the program has provided an extended network of cohorts, alumni, colleagues and professors, who have been continuously encountered in my professional and personal circles.

I would recommend the program to anyone aspiring to become involved in the socio-economic-political issues of the day.

Tell us about your current role, Family Child Care Business Specialist at The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. How did you segue your Fellowship into this permanent position at the company?
My mentorship site was The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. (CHCF). It was an ideal partnership as it merged my financial background with my interest in education and desire to serve underprivileged communities. The project I undertook at CHCF was designing a financial curriculum tailored specifically for family child care providers. The first step was to conduct an assessment of the financial practices and needs of this sector. The assessment evolved into a white paper, "Unleashing the Economic Power of Family Child Care Providers," documenting the research and recommendations for supporting family child care providers. I was invited to join as full-time staff post-graduation.

What are some vital projects you're currently working on?
In June I had the opportunity to present the white paper at a convening that drew a diverse audience of elected officials, policy makers, city agency representatives, private sector participants, and other nonprofit sector stakeholders.

One of the recommendations put forth in the white paper was the creation of a clearinghouse that would serve as a comprehensive online resource for family child care providers. I am presently co-designing, creating content, and curating information for this clearinghouse. The first rollout will be in English followed by Spanish and eventually other languages.

How did your degree prepare you these projects?
The guidance and critique obtained on my Capstone from Professor Friedman and Professor Hector Cordero-Guzman were directly applicable to the financial needs assessment and white paper. Professor Savas' introduction to PERT and GANTT charts were useful in the planning of the convening, while Professor Williams' course assisted with the creation of the budget for the event. At the convening I was presenting the aggregate findings of surveys, questionnaires, interviews and other research—data heavy information. From Professor Waisanen I knew the importance of the first seven seconds and that "emotions not facts" win people over. Most beneficially, I had experience with the Pecha Kucha style of presenting and while not precisely followed, it did inform my approach. This format allowed me to tell a story that resonated, even with an unexpected change in the time allotted. The presentation has prompted conversations from various sectors towards the inclusion of family child care providers in policy making decisions, budget allocations at all levels of government for services that promote growth and sustainability and the development of products and services in the private sectors that are designed to meet the unique needs of this group of small business owners.

I am extremely appreciative of the Baruch School of Public Affairs and National Urban Fellows experience, the knowledge gained, and the relationships formed. A special shout out to the class of 2014 and to Professor Sullivan for his role in the forging of UNUM.