Humphrey School News—May 10, 2018

Alan Roy Uses Coursework, New Skills to Tackle Disparities in His Tribal Community

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Humphrey School graduate Alan Roy in cap and gown at commencement. He is wearing a feather in honor of his White Earth heritage.
Alan Roy honored his White Earth heritage at commencement by wearing a feather on his cap and a Pendleton scarf, which was a gift from tribal elders. Photo: Bruce Wilcox

Alan Roy accomplished a lot in the years before he began his graduate studies at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Now that he received his Master of Public Affairs (MPA) degree at the School's commencement ceremony in May, he’s ready to tackle some bigger goals.

Roy, 34, is a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe in northern Minnesota, and was elected June 12 as a tribal council member and secretary-treasurer of the band. Roy campaigned for the office for the past two years, at the same time he was pursuing his MPA. 

“I want to make things better for all of Minnesota but especially tribal communities, because we’re experiencing some of the highest levels of social, economic, and health disparities in the state,” he says.

Roy’s Humphrey School coursework has already benefitted White Earth. Through his action-learning project in 2016, he helped secure more than $5 million in state funding for the tribe to address economic disparities.

“I was adopting classroom concepts like policy analysis and stakeholder analysis, which I was learning at the Humphrey School, to make the case for this funding,” Roy says.

Roy’s ongoing work on behalf of White Earth helped earn him the University’s 2017 Mary A. McEvoy Award for Public Engagement and Leadership. Last year he also received a Humphrey School award for Best MPA Paper, and the Integrative Leadership Case Award from the Center for Integrative Leadership.

Roy currently works with the state of Minnesota’s Veteran Employment Services program. A veteran himself, Roy deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009 with the 1st Cavalry Division, and continues to serve as a captain in the US Army Reserves. Roy and his wife have three children.

“My time at the Humphrey School helped me develop lasting relationships and find allies, and showed me how to work in a team to address real-world public problems,” says Roy. “I learned a great deal about policy, analytics, and leadership at the Humphrey School, and those skills will serve me and my tribe well for decades to come.”

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