Alumni Spotlight

September Alumni Spotlight with Michelle Malanga, Executive MPA ‘13

September Alumni Spotlight

An Executive MPA education at the School of Public Affairs can provide limitless opportunity; and Michelle Malanga is the embodiment of this sentiment. She discusses her current position (six years in the making!), her time with Executive Cohort 28, and the dream come true of seeing ethics, compassion, and science working in concert.

What drew you to your current role working for the Center for Lymphoid Malignancies?
I am working with a physician-scientist, Owen O’Connor, M.D., PhD who I’ve wanted to work with for some time. Earlier in my career I met Dr. O’Connor whose incredible work and team-building amongst his staff impressed me so much I asked if I could join his team. Unfortunately there were no openings but he promised to call me when he had a vacancy. Nearly 6 years later I received a call.

Owen (he insists that his staff call him by his first name) was quite pleased that I had completed my Masters work at Baruch and that my focus continued to be on research compliance and patient advocacy in research. My expertise in compliance to federal, state and institutional regulatory requirements governing the conduct of clinical research has been a main focus throughout my research career. And working at Columbia University allows me (in fact, invites me) to develop and introduce new ideas that will advance the mission of the University. It’s a welcoming environment with doors readily available for its employees to enter and move through with a positive vision. Just when healthcare was/is becoming a hardened business, the Centers for Lymphoid Malignancies at Columbia maintains its emphasis on patient care, cutting-edge science and ethics….a true trifecta!

What have your biggest accomplishments been so far as Regulatory Coordinator? What’s next?
My title of Regulatory Coordinator is a misnomer and will be changing soon to adequately reflect my role in working with institutional and federal policies in conducting clinical research. My biggest accomplishments in my overall career thus far have been in forming partnerships across institutional departments and outside partners and getting “buy-in” from those who I work with. It can be challenging to work together towards a common good while balancing and maintaining institutional and governmental requirements necessary to achieve a greater good.

How has your Executive MPA at the School of Public Affairs prepared you for your career, so far?
My experiences in the Executive program at Baruch’s School of Public Affairs have been and continue to be the fuel in my career so where do I begin?

Dean Birdsell’s important teachings on how to best to give presentations and data publicly; John Casey on the challenges and successes in working with international communities; Dr. Peter Dobkin-Hall on providing an expansive history of the non-profit; Dr. Savas for his lessons on NYC government and politics; Drs. Chen and Mays on ever-important budgetary responsibilities; Dr. Korenman on the reality of economics; Dr. Waisanen on using media to communicate your mission; Drs. Seltzer on philanthropy in the non-profit world; Dr. Marwell on the difficulties faced when working in bureaucracies; and David Mensah for helping me communicate my internal message. I am so very proud to have this feather in my cap and will not doubt do all my professors proud…I’m not done yet so keep an eye out!

What’s next?
As I mentioned earlier, we are currently forming a global consortium with an emphasis on private: public partnerships in clinical research on a global level. We will be working across three continents (Asia, Europe and North America).

The challenges ahead will be new for me and will allow me to utilize all that the many lessons I’ve obtained from my MPA. I am most confident in my abilities and know that all my colleagues from Baruch – fellow classmates from Cohort 28 and my professors – will be there to answer a question or provide me with needed information or just be there to listen.

I am part of the Baruch School of Public Affairs family now…there is no greater gift.