University at Albany

Jasmine A. Clemons, MPA ’16
Tribal Transit Program Manager, Federal Transit Administration

If you had to condense your job description into an elevator pitch, how would it read?

Jasmine: I administer the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) national $35 million grant programs for public transit projects that meet the growing needs of rural tribal communities. This includes providing outreach, oversight, and technical assistance to FTA's regional offices, federally recognized tribal recipients, and state program managers.

What does your day-to-day look like at FTA?

Jasmine: I am sure you are shocked to hear that I spend most of my days in meetings. My office manages the bulk of FTA’s over $15 billion in grants, so this involves a high level of coordination among program managers and leadership. I also field questions from our regional offices and tribal grant recipients directly, mostly dealing with unique but sometimes complicated grant issues. I’m also usually spending time creating or editing outreach materials such as presentations or case studies.

What about your job inspires/excites you every day?

Jasmine: I firmly believe that access to public transit is a civil right, so ensuring that tribal communities can expand or improve their service, often across hundreds of miles of rural communities, aligns with my passion for equity.

How did Rockefeller College prepare you for your career?

Jasmine: I spent over a decade in the private sector before ultimately deciding to change careers. The MPA program taught me how to tie my established sales and marketing skills to my future public sector work, while filling in the gaps to mold me into what I think is a well-rounded public servant. Also, internships at UUP, NYSDOT, and NYS Division of the Budget gave me opportunities to see that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to policymaking.

Was there anyone in particular at Rockefeller College who left a lasting impact on you?

Jasmine: Jennifer MacLaughlin, the former Director of Internships & Career Services, saw something in me when I arrived and patiently coached me on how to sell my background to future employers as well as apply strategically for internships. I definitely would not have become a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) without her guidance and push. Also, Dina Refki and the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society! I was a Fellow in 2017 and that program gave me invaluable professional development and mentorship.

How did the PMF help prepare you for your new position?

Jasmine: Thanks to Rockefeller, I came into the PMF program better prepared than many of my peers. The PMF application and interview process at the time was intense, but the Office of Career Development had us well prepared and frankly, Welcome Week was 10 times worse than the PMF group exercise, behavioral interview, and written exercise. Once I was appointed at FTA, being a PMF allowed me a mentor that guided me on the agency culture and strategic career planning, and she introduced me to higher level staff that I normally would not have interacted with otherwise. An added plus of PMF was the opportunity to detail at the Office of Management and Budget, where I learned the agency’s administrative role across all of the Executive branches.

What is one piece of advice you would share with a current Rockefeller student?

Jasmine: Don’t be afraid! Whether it’s fear of rejection, of the unknown, or if you have imposter syndrome, you must give up fear in order to take advantage of all the opportunities Rockefeller can provide. I would not have applied to my fellowships, internships, or asked for informational interviews if I had listened to the fear inside my head.

When you're not on the job, where can you be found?

Jasmine: I spend the majority of my free time volunteering and/or sitting on the board for many different organizations, including Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, the Junior League, and New Leaders Council of DC. I’m really passionate about community involvement and civic engagement.