A SUNY/CID Project Promotes Public Service Leadership in Haiti 

A community meeting last week in Akayè, Haiti, brought local leaders together with members of the SUNY/CID team. (Photo courtesy of CID)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 4, 2020) — Staff members from the State University of New York’s Center for International Development (SUNY/CID) won a U.S. State Department grant for public service projects to support its efforts to strengthen public service leadership in Haiti.

The Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund grant went Heather Senecal and Cecelia Skott of SUNY/CID; Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy Assistant Professor Susan Appe; and SUNY New Paltz Professor Amy Nitza for their project, “Reimagining Haiti: Public Service Leadership.” The group is working closely with the Haiti Development Institute (HDI) to strengthen civil society and community leaders in Akayè, Haiti, by creating the groundwork for an Institute of Public Service. 


The youth in Akayè, Haiti, will paint murals and be involved in other in activities related to the "Reimagining Haiti: Public Service Leadership" grant. Above, a summer camp in 2018 used soccer as a way to teach leadership and decision making skills. (Photo by Heather Senecal)

Through community meetings and dialogues that began in January, the project will develop curricula for public servants, focusing on hands-on learning methods to build leadership skills. Additional civic engagement work will focus on local schools in Akayè, where students will work with local artists to design a mural depicting themes of public service and leadership. The project runs through May.

"We are grateful to the U.S. State Department and Partners of the Americas for this grant, which will allow us build a bridge from current efforts to future projects in Akayè, Haiti,” Senecal said. “This project was jointly borne out of inspiration from the work of the State University of New York (SUNY) to plan for educational, economic and social programs for sustainable community development in Haiti as well as an ongoing discussion with HDI about their goal of setting up an Institute of Public Service."

The Citizen Diplomacy grants support public service projects using the skills and knowledge of U.S. citizen alumni who have traveled abroad on U.S. government-funded exchange programs. Senecal and Skott were Peace Corp volunteers, and Appe and Nitza were Fulbright Scholars.

The grant will support the development of three leadership modules for public servants that will initially be run by HDI until the Institute of Public Service is up and running. The goal of the Institute is to create and advance the development of the public interest in Haiti and train community members who can then collectively solve local public problems.

"I applaud my colleagues’ continued commitment to public service. Their time and efforts in this work — outside of their responsibilities at SUNY/CID — are an inspiration to the University community," said SUNY/CID Director Gina Volynsky.

A leading university-based international development center dedicated to enhancing the knowledge and practice of governance and policymaking, SUNY/CID is part of UAlbany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. It draws upon SUNY’s extensive intellectual and technical resources, and serves as a key component of the University's commitment to excellence in international education, cross-cultural exchange, and sustainable development.

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