We caught up with James Clinton as he completed his Master of Public Policy degree in spring 2020. Clinton is originally from Crystal Lake, Illinois.
What are your plans after graduation?
I am fortunate to be starting a full time position with ServeMinnesota, the nonprofit that runs Minnesota's AmeriCorps programs, in June. I'll be working as a development manager, and helping to manage grants, annual campaigns, and strategic partnerships. Before coming to the Humphrey School, I was particularly interested in government and nonprofit collaborations to strengthen local democratic institutions, and ServeMinnesota is an ideal fit for those interests.
In addition to development work, I'll have the opportunity to work on evaluation projects and communications as well. I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunity and owe a lot to the Humphrey School and the University of Minnesota. I'm also planning to marry my longtime partner, Madeline, in the fall. We are tentatively planning on an in-person ceremony, but will get married this year regardless!
Any longer term goals?
I hope to continue to work in the nonprofit and public sectors in the Twin Cities. Once I gain more professional experience, I'd like to join a task force or organizational board to support broadband development in Greater Minnesota. Eventually, I would like more of my work to explicitly focus on strengthening democratic institutions in rural areas as well.
Why did you choose to attend the Humphrey School?
I worked for a short time in nonprofits, local government, and local newspapers in southeastern Minnesota. I had the opportunity to be a part of wonderful projects, but felt like I needed to sharpen my skill set and broaden my perspective in order to be as effective in my work as possible.
During that time, the professionals I learned the most from had experience with the Humphrey School. Over and over again, various project leads, statewide collaborators, and impressive consultants were either Humphrey grads or had a connection to the School. I knew it was the best path for me, and I actually didn't apply anywhere else. I'm glad I was accepted!
What are your most important takeaways from your time at the Humphrey School?
Several things come to mind. Learning to think from an overarching mission, to long-term strategy, to concrete day-to-day activities was extremely helpful. I also enjoyed the core courses, as they helped me learn enough about key social science disciplines to understand how they can be useful–or not–when trying to advocate for positive change.
Finally, the importance of working together. Taking the time to connect with those you work with, understand each other's goals, and 'check in' with one another is incredibly important when working on complex projects. Acknowledging that we are people doing this work and not just productivity machines has been an important, but unexpected, key takeaway.