Degree: MPlanning, 1988
Location: St. Paul, MN
Barbara Sporlein has spent her entire professional career in public service. She recently made the transition from planning director for the City of Minneapolis to the deputy commissioner of Minnesota Housing, the state's affordable housing bank, which offers products and services to help Minnesotans buy and fix up homes and supports the development and preservation of affordable rental housing. In 2010,Sporlein was one of the recipients of the Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Awards.
Why did you choose the Humphrey School?
I wanted a program that emphasized public policy and common good as the core framework instead of design. I wanted a program that was located in an older, core city—in this case, it is in the middle of two older core cities in a larger metropolitan area, with access to developing and rural areas—the complete package. I also wanted an accredited planning program with a good reputation.
Why is the Humphrey School unique?
The Humphrey School is unique because it has strong collaborations with other institutions and programs, such as Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, Center for Survey Research, Center for Transportation Studies, Geography Department, Urban Studies Program, Metropolitan Design Center, and more. Also unique and an important option for students is the flexibility in degree programs—students can select one of the defined existing degrees, dual degrees with other schools, or create their own degree programs.
What would you say was a highlight of your Humphrey experience?
One of the biggest influences of my Humphrey experience has been the importance of mentoring. Because of the many gifts I received through great mentoring during my tenure at the Humphrey School, I, too, spend a great deal of time mentoring young students. I have participated in the Humphrey mentor program for some 15 years, I look to the Humphrey School for interns, I have participated in hundreds of informational interviews (never turned one down!), I try to participate in as many events with prospective and newly admitted Humphrey students as I can, and I try to serve as an informal mentor to colleagues in the places where I have worked. The personal and professional gifts of mentoring are many.
March 15, 2012