The School of Professional Studies launched its innovative Master of Public Administration for Senior Leadership (MPA-SL) program on Aug. 9, with a dinner, attended by Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty and Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early. Dinner was followed by a panel discussion on the issues and challenges of the opioid crisis chaired by Brendan Little, policy director for the City of Boston Office of Recovery Services.
The two-year MPA-SL program is designed for emerging and established public sector professionals who want to boost their influence and grow their capacity to drive change. As part of the program, participants attend seven weekend sessions — called residency sessions — in cities across New England where they meet with experts to address pressing local policy challenges.
At the Aug. 9 event, Petty spoke about the power of municipal government to effect positive change in Worcester and took questions from the program participants in a spirited discussion. Early, an SPS faculty member, discussed his office’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis. He emphasized its opioid task force, which brings together government leaders, law enforcement, healthcare professionals, and stakeholders to respond to the problems of opioid addiction and opioid-related deaths.
Little delivered an interactive presentation about the opioid crisis, providing context on the regional and local scale of the problem, and discussed several of his office’s initiatives to treat and curtail opioid addiction. The initiatives include outreach workers, an engagement center, harm-reduction and syringe-exchange services, and recovery services and treatment programs. Little also serves as an expert resource for MPA-SL students when they confront similar issues in their communities.
Senior Leadership program director, and former Worcester Mayor, Joe O’Brien commented on the program’s strengths, saying, “Our classes are led by accomplished academic leaders and former public managers who will work collaboratively with students to solve real world problems. It is an exceptional opportunity for career development that is flexible and rewarding.”
Students gain relevant skills to tackle the most difficult problems facing their region, he noted, and also gain a resource network of policy experts. The goal is to create skilled, nimble public sector leaders able to handle policy challenges with confidence.