Nicole Sirju-Johnson, MPA ‘99, PhD ‘11, is associate chief diversity officer at Binghamton University and is part of the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Nicole Sirju-Johnson has always been fascinated with government and the law. Her interest in politics was a deciding factor when she pursued her master’s in public administration (MPA).
“I was attracted to the MPA program because I believed the program could advance my political science background and my passion for change,” says Sirju-Johnson, MPA ’99, PhD ’11.
She says challenges along the way strengthened the skills she uses in her current role as a diversity officer at the University. Her favorite course in policy analysis allowed her to think differently about how agencies make decisions and create programs with minimal resources.
As a master’s student, Sirju-Johnson interned at the Broome County YWCA and assisted the executive director with organizational financing.
“I felt confident going into the job market because I had received my MPA at Binghamton,” Sirju-Johnson says. “Getting my MPA degree also allowed me to apply for competitive jobs in higher education.”
Sirju-Johnson, who started her campus career in undergraduate admissions, says individuals from her master’s program cohort who worked at the University inspired her to seek a role helping students. In 2014, she was appointed associate chief diversity officer of the University. She is responsible for assessing diversity initiatives, addressing issues of equity and assisting with inclusive behavior and policy programs.
Dave Hubeny ‘91, MPA ‘10, is the director of emergency management at the University. His team works to create a safe living, learning and working environment on campus.
“I’m thoroughly impressed with the MPA program,” Sirju-Johnson says. “I truly believe we’re preparing students not just for higher education, but to work in public service.”
Dave Hubeny ’91, MPA ’10, reflects how to turn a passion for helping others into a career. Hubeny learned first-responder skills from volunteer work in Broome and Onondaga counties, but felt that he needed to expand his skills.
“I knew I had to develop the managerial skills, and that’s where the MPA program really helped fill a gap for me,” says Hubeny, director of emergency management at Binghamton University.
Hubeny worked for the University’s Environmental Health and Safety Office as a chemical- and fire-safety specialist before earning his MPA. For over a decade, Hubeny has worked in emergency management at the University, and he became the director of emergency management in 2011.
“Within one year of earning my MPA, I was promoted to a director level,” Hubeny says. “This recognition was a direct reflection of the leadership and managerial skills I refined through the MPA program.”
Hubeny manages the University’s preparedness and response to campus-wide emergencies, from long-term strategic planning to the day-to-day operations if disaster strikes.
“The MPA program has made me better at what I do,” he says. “The skills that it provides graduates are easily transferable to multiple groups and agencies.”
Hubeny says helping people stay safe during unplanned events is immensely gratifying and that he sees the job as a career.
“Where will I be in the next 10 years?” he asks. “I could easily see myself still here.”
Paula Russell ’95, MPA ’08, shares a similar loyalty to her career. Having earned her bachelor’s and master’s at the University, she knows exactly what it means to be a part of the campus community.
Paula Russell ‘95, MPA ‘08, is the senior director of the University’s Center for Learning and Teaching, which provides faculty support for teaching and instruction.
“If you prick me, I bleed green because I’m Binghamton all the way through,” says Russell, senior director of the University’s Center for Learning and Teaching.
She says the program’s emphasis on work in a group taught her how to collaborate with individuals with diverse perspectives.
“It was a very thought-provoking, analytical program that made me get outside of my traditional knowledge areas,” Russell says.
Russell is responsible for managing the different teams that work on agendas catering to students, such as educational communications, commencement and tutoring. She also is an adjunct instructor for an information and technology course.
“I love what I do. I love the people I work with. It’s a very dynamic and vibrant environment,” she says.