Public Service...My Passion

ARTICLE | Apr 12, 2016

This article is part of our #WorkforceWednesday series. Keep a look out for articles on a regular basis that focus on a range of issues around the workforce of tomorrow. To introduce this series, we are focusing on the idea of "Local Government as the Employer of Choice" -- take a look at the article below from a former Alliance Board Member on her decision and inspiration to take the public service route. We also want to hear why you chose a career in public service. Leave us a comment below, hop over to our question in the Knowledge Network, or email us at ideas@transformgov.org!

We all come to our careers in public service in different ways and for different reasons.  Many are driven by the opportunity to "make a difference."  Others may be motivated by work that is varied and challenging.  To some others, it may simply be a job.  For me, my interest and love of public service originated from a different source. . .my Dad!

As a child, when the other kids were out playing, I was the one that was taken to council meetings when important issues were facing our community or neighborhood.    He made sure that I knew the name of our mayor and our school superintendent.  He also made sure that I knew how important it was to be an active and involved citizen of my community and educated about what was going on around me. And perhaps most importantly that "giving" and not just "taking" was what I needed to do throughout my life.

My Dad was a public servant.  He was a math teacher, a football and basketball coach in an inner city school district for more than 33 years.  He managed the community pool during his off-time in the summer. He was also a decorated WWII veteran--a B-17 pilot and prisoner of war.  He loved his country, his community, and believed in the great things that can be accomplished by people when they work together toward a common goal. He was a role model to me and was also my hero.    And, while he never told me what career to pursue, I suppose my destiny was always to work in public service.

During my 32-year career, I had many proud moments where I knew my choice to be a public servant was the right one.  Some of my favorite moments were when, as a team, our staff was challenged to do more than thought they could. . . and succeeded!  Whether in the face of a devastating natural disaster or through our challenging efforts to create a higher performing organization--expecting leadership and management skill development by all of our staff--I was always heartened to see those “shining stars” who truly worked together to make a difference to those we serve.   

My favorite stories have always been about the people who make our organizations great. . .the bravery of our police and fire personnel, the backbreaking work of our public works staff and the caring and patience of our administrative personnel in dealing with nearly every irrational, angry or crazy question or incident one could imagine.  This is the work of the public servant, regardless of position or location in the organization, regardless of pay grade or title.  They demonstrate that when we work together with a shared vision, with a purpose and commitment to the importance and value of public service, and a true commitment to working together to build community, we can accomplish anything! 

People often say that if you had the opportunity to have dinner with one person past or present, who would it be.  For me, I would love to have just one more opportunity to thank my Dad for everything he did in his life and for the incredible influence he had on mine.  I hope in some small way, I have been able to contribute, make a difference and to pay forward his message of the importance and value of public service.    

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