University at Albany
 

Rockefeller Graduates Named Excelsior Service Fellows

Seven recent Rockefeller College graduates have been named Excelsior Service Fellows. Created in 2013, the Fellowship Program is designed to attract talented graduates from colleges, universities, and professional schools across the country called to careers in public service. Fellows work full-time in the Executive Branch of New York State government for two years. 

The Excelsior Service Fellowship Program provides talented individuals a chance to play a policy-influencing role in New York State and the opportunity to work on the most pressing policy issues of our time.  The program hopes to retain the most talented graduates to work for the state and train them to become future leaders within state government.

Fellows were chosen through a competitive application and interview process that was open to both graduate students and undergraduates.


The 2014-2016 Excelsior Fellows from Rockefeller College


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Samantha Baldock

Fellowship Placement: Empire State Development, New York, NY

Hometown: Reno, NV

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Science in Economics and International Business with a minor in Spanish, University of Nevada, Reno

Graduate Degree: Master of Public Administration

Internship Locations:

  • Primary Care Development Corporation, New York, NY
  • New York State Division of Budget
  • Fellow for the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society placed at the Center for Economic Growth

How did Rockefeller College help prepare you for this fellowship?

Samantha: Rockefeller College offered me the opportunity to combine my education inside the classroom with valuable internship experiences in both the nonprofit and public sectors. Throughout the program, the professors consistently mixed theory and concepts with real-life examples, which made the curriculum practical, relevant, and realistic. I feel that the knowledge I gained and the skills sets I developed while at Rockefeller have aided me in becoming a more efficient and effective public servant.

Briefly describe how you feel about being selected for the fellowship and what you are looking forward to during the fellowship.

Samantha: I am excited to serve the citizens of New York as an Excelsior Service Fellow. I view this Fellowship as a chance to learn more about the public sector, while also growing professionally. I never would have predicted that this would be the position that I would take at the end of my time at Rockefeller, but I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to work within the field of public policy and effect change for the state of New York.


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Amanda Levit

Fellowship Placement: Department of Environmental Conservation, Environmental Justice Office, Albany, NY

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy, University at Albany, SUNY

Graduate Degree: Master of Public Administration

Internship Locations:

  • UAlbany Office of Undergraduate Education – Office of Student Engagement
  • New York State Department of Civil Service

How did Rockefeller College help prepare you for this fellowship?

Amanda: Rockefeller College had excellent classes and inspiring professors and staff that gave me access to real-life scenarios and work experiences that prepared me for this fellowship. Working as a graduate assistant for student engagement in the Office of Undergraduate Education, I developed an interest in program management. Working and taking classes simultaneously enabled me to apply what I was learning on a regular basis. Additionally, learning alongside a diverse cohort raised the bar for me every day in the program. Rockefeller has helped me grow personally and professionally.

Briefly describe how you feel about being selected for the fellowship and what you are looking forward to during the fellowship.

Amanda: I am honored to be selected and feel privileged to serve in New York State government as an Excelsior Fellow. I am looking forward to proudly representing Rockefeller College and making the best impact I can as an Excelsior Fellow.


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Manuel Pardo

Fellowship Placement: Office of General Services, NYSPro (NYS Procurement), Albany, NY

Hometown: Castleton, NY

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Union College

Graduate Degree: Master of Public Administration

Internship Locations:

  • National Center for Security & Preparedness
  • NYS Governor's Office of Employee Relations

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Laura Salkowe

Fellowship Placement: NYS Office of Mental Health, Office of Financial Management, Albany, NY

Hometown: Greenwich, NY

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University at Albany, SUNY

Graduate Degree: Master of Public Administration

Internship Locations:

  • Healthcare Association of New York State, Rensselear, NY
  • Department of Civil Service-Division of Classification and Compensation, Albany NY
  • KPMG, Albany, NY
  • NYS Office of Mental Health (through CWGCS Fellowship)

How did Rockefeller College help prepare you for this fellowship?

Laura: Rockefeller College has prepared me for the Excelsior Fellowship by providing me with coursework that is applicable to my career interest in public health policy. The courses at Rockefeller have challenged me to think critically and to be a problem-solver. Furthermore, Rockefeller College has provided me with multiple work experience opportunities to build my leadership and professional skills. I discovered my passion for healthcare policy my first semester in the public administration program when I interned at the Health Care Association of New York State, where I analyzed policies, and advocated for hospitals throughout New York State. My work at the New York State Department of Civil Service has provided me with a unique understanding of the organizational structure and critical functions of state agencies. These experiences have solidified my interest in pursuing a career as a public servant with a focus on health policy and delivery of services. Rockefeller College's Center for Women in Government & Civil Society Fellowship is an intensive leadership program that empowers women to become leaders in the public policy arena. My placement at the Office of Mental Health has given me the opportunity to take on real public health policy issues and to work to find solutions.

Briefly describe how you feel about being selected for the fellowship and what you are looking forward to during the fellowship.

Laura: I am very excited for the Excelsior Fellowship opportunity. I am looking forward to meeting and working with like-minded fellows with a passion for learning and developing themselves professionally. Through this fellowship I hope to expand my network and further understand New York State public policy.


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Anthony Tomaselli

Fellowship Placement: Office of General Services, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Development Program

Hometown: Seaford, NY

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Arts in History and Secondary Education and Youth Services from Queens College (CUNY)

Graduate degree: Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Stony Brook University (SUNY); Master of Public Administration from Rockefeller College

Internship Location: New York State Office of Emergency Management

How did Rockefeller College help prepare you for this fellowship?

Anthony: I feel confident and prepared for the Excelsior Fellowship thanks to Rockefeller College's knowledgeable professors and challenging curriculum. Rockefeller College also helped me secure an internship at the New York State Office of Emergency Management that provided meaningful experience I will take with me into the fellowship. I had the opportunity during the internship to work as part of a team on projects of real value to the agency and state as a whole. Most importantly, Rockefeller College connected me with a vast, international network of students, teachers, alumni, and associates extending far beyond Albany that I can count on for support throughout the fellowship and the rest of my career in public service.

Briefly describe how you feel about being selected for the fellowship and what you are looking forward to during the fellowship.

Anthony: I am honored to have been selected as an Excelsior Fellow. My goal has always been to serve the public in some capacity and the fellowship is a great opportunity to make positive contributions to the State of New York.


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Katherine Truby

Fellowship Placement: Department of Health, Office of Health Insurance Programs, Albany, NY

Hometown: Liverpool, NY

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish from SUNY College at Oswego

Graduate Degrees: Master of Arts in Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Studies from the University at Albany; PhD in Political Science from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, University at Albany

Internship Location: NYS Department of Health, Office of Health Insurance Programs

How did Rockefeller College help prepare you for this fellowship?

Katherine: I had really positive and productive relationships with faculty members at Rockefeller, and I think this prepared me for my fellowship more than anything. On many occasions, I was responsible for overseeing parts of large research projects, ranging from actually doing research to assisting in the planning and implementation of international workshops. On one project in particular, I was able to work with political leaders in two countries, as well as policy stakeholders and communities. That feeds directly into the kind of work I'll be doing through the fellowship. Working closely and collaboratively with faculty members helped me hone the skills necessary to excel in this fellowship.

Briefly describe how you feel about being selected for the fellowship and what you are looking forward to during the fellowship.

Katherine: Having lived in New York my entire life, I personally feel honored to have been selected for the Excelsior Fellowship Program and excited about the opportunity to serve the people of New York State. I'm really looking forward to continuing my work on Medicaid policy in the Office of Health Insurance Programs alongside a really great group of people.


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Kristina Wieneke

Fellowship Placement: Gaming Commission, Office of Communications, Schenectady, NY

Hometown: Cork, Ireland

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University at Albany, SUNY; coursework completed at University College Cork, Ireland

Internship Locations:

  • New York State Assembly
  • New York StateWatch
  • Project on Violent Conflict
  • Bolton-St. Johns

How did Rockefeller College help prepare you for this fellowship?

Kristina: Rockefeller gave me all of the tools necessary to be a candidate for the Excelsior Program. I really found my brain stimulated by the coursework I took with Aneela Salman, Anne Hildreth and Bruce Gyory and that helped guide me towards a career in New York politics. Truly, it is a combination of every opportunity I was afforded through Rockefeller College that motivated me to pursue the fellowship — I had the grades, I had the relevant internship experience and I had the encouragement of the 'Rockefeller Family.' That is honestly the best way to describe the Rockefeller experience — a family.

Briefly describe how you feel about being selected for the fellowship and what you are looking forward to during the fellowship.

Kristina: I'm incredibly excited about the opportunity and feel that it came at the best time possible. I could not have dreamed of a better opportunity than the Excelsior Service Fellowship Program as this truly encompasses my passion for public service, my eagerness to keep learning and my desire to be challenged. Moving from Ireland at the age of 21 to embark on the goal of achieving a career in New York State government was a huge step. Being selected for this program is proof to me that anything can be accomplished when you put your mind to it.

I look forward to these next two years, both in my capacity as an Excelsior Fellow for New York's Gaming Commission and as an ambassador for the University that afforded me this opportunity. I also look forward to having an active role in policymaking for New York State, particularly in an agency that is such a hot-topic area right now. I am already familiar with the names of a number of people working there and believe I have a lot to learn from them. Being in the communications office, I'm also thrilled about the political aspect of this fellowship placement. All in all, I know it will be a huge learning experience and I'm looking forward to see what I can bring to the table.