Excelsior Service Fellow
Office of Justice Research and Performance at the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services
Josephine Lew is no stranger to public service. The native from Astoria, Queens has already had a career that has allowed her to work in job development for those with epilepsy and cognitive disabilities, handle case work for domestic violence survivors, and even assist city inmates with self- sufficiency needs.
It's no doubt that her career highlights and recent MPA from Baruch College helped Josephine earn a spot into the inaugural Excelsior Service Fellowship. Recently announced by Governor Cuomo, the fellowship gives 80 talented graduates from colleges, universities, graduate, law and professional schools a two-year position at a state government agency, where they will participate in policy-making and daily operations.
Appointed to the Office of Justice Research and Performance at the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, Josephine is learning about program evaluation, government contracts, effective interventions, and evidence-based practices in criminal justice programming and policy."It's great to see the amazing work that state agencies are currently doing and the innovative initiatives Governor Cuomo has implemented during his tenure thus far," she says.
Josephine credits her passion for public service to her experiences growing up in affordable housing and benefiting from education preparation programs. "These programs equipped me with the tools to overcome barriers of poverty and achieve my educational and career goals," she says.
Starting her career at the Epilepsy Institute in New York City, Josephine went on to provide case management work for domestic violence survivors at Sanctuary for Families, and served as a Benefits Advisor at Rikers Island Single Stop, part of the Center for Urban Community Services. Another position that she held with NPower Technology Service Corps in Harlem allowed her to manage a workforce development program that provided free IT training to underserved 18-25-year olds.
"While working in various direct service roles, I realized that I wanted to do more than make an impact on an individual level. I eventually wanted to implement change on a larger, systemic scale, and that inspired me to go into the public sector. "
Earning her MPA degree at Baruch College, Josephine says, was helpful in understanding the role of government agencies in addressing society problems and in improving the lives of the public. "Through my educational career at Baruch, I fine-tuned my abilities to identify and analyze problems, and design and implement effective solutions," she says. "I learned not only from experienced professors, but from knowledgeable, diverse classmates. Courses like 'Research and Analysis,' and 'Nonprofit and Public Management' have been especially applicable."
Josephine says her fellowship has allowed her to gain valuable experience in program evaluation, which she feels is a much-needed skill for improving service delivery of programs that serve the public. In the future, she hopes to continue working to shape social justice change.
Written by Celene McDermott