Archive for election

Congrats to Bill de Blasio!

Congrats Bill!  Bill de Blasio was elected mayor of New York City yesterday (read more).  Did we mention he’s a SIPA alum — MIA 1987.


The SIPA Advantage

When you’re looking at schools as an undergraduate, there are books websites, and guidance counselors to help you choose the right “fit” for you. Large or small, urban or rural, there are a bevy of resources to help you navigate what these features will mean in terms of your education and extracurricular activities. As a grad student, you’re left mostly on your own to discern the differences between the most competitive foreign and public policy schools, so I wanted to share five things that I feel make SIPA stand out among its competitors.


  1. Location. You already know that SIPA has a close relationship with the United Nations, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the resources available to public policy students in New York City.  Hundreds of non-profits, private companies, the New York Stock Exchange and the government of the largest city in the United States are all located here, providing limitless consulting and internship opportunities. In addition, everyone who’s anyone in global politics and commerce travels through New York City, and more likely than not they come to speak at our school.  In any given day we might have Japan’s Minister of Finance, the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity, and the CEO of Bloomberg in our building. The trouble isn’t finding a lecture that you want to attend, the trouble is fitting them all in!
  2. Professors. Due to the school’s prestige and location, we have some of the best Professors in the world. From Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz to sustainable development expert Jeff Sachs to associate Professors who are leaders in the real world. Last year I look Campaign Management from Jef Pollock, American Association of Political Consultants’ Pollster of the Year and Women and Power from Ernst and Young Executive and Healthcare Business Association’s Woman of the Year, Carolyn Buck-Luce. Whatever your interest, a SIPA education practically guarantees you access to experts in your field.
  3. Columbia University. In addition to all that’s available to students at SIPA itself, a SIPA education means you are part of the Columbia University network.  This means an introduction to literally thousands of alumni all over the world. It also means the opportunity to take classes at any of Columbia’s distinguished graduate schools for credit toward your degree. This year I am taking a class on Elections with Political Science PhD students, a class on Election Law at the prestigious Columbia Law School and a class at Columbia School of Journalism with Washington Post reporter Thomas Edsall. My area of public policy is pretty clear but whether you are passionate about education, defense strategy, health care or development opportunities await you all across our university.
  4. Size. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about finding my place at one of the biggest public policy schools in the world, but it turned out to be one of the things I like best about SIPA.  I get to study alongside and learn from over 1000 professionals from 52 countries. When a practical or policy question arises and I need an answer; I am almost guaranteed to find an expert among my classmates. When a candidate I was working for had an event with Bill Clinton,  I was able to reach out to one of his interns at the Clinton Global Initiative to find an address to send a thank you note. When my blog went viral in the campaign world, my more technologically inclined classmates helped teach me best practices for social media. SIPA’s size allows us to offer the most classes, clubs, and extracurricular opportunities of any of the top public or foreign policy schools as well as the wealth of information that is the SIPA community itself.
  5. Flexibility. Compared to other public policy programs, SIPA’s MPA curriculum is extremely flexible. SIPA students graduate with a solid foundation in economics, statistics, and management practice, but are free to choose the subjects that most interest them within these fields, as well as from one of the country’s largest selections of electives. For students like me who enter SIPA with a very specific interest, for me it was election systems and civic engagement, this means we are always able to take classes in our field. For students who enter with a broader interest, this means they are free to explore no matter where their interests take them.


This post was contributed by Nancy Leeds.  Nancy is a Democratic Campaign Operative and blogger pursuing her MPA in Social Policy and Management at SIPA. 

Election Day

Go Vote!

Columbia University and SIPA is closed on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6th.  We’ll be back in the office on Wednesday so don’t despair!

In the meantime, check out this great project and related information from SIPA!, an exciting project and website to promote civic engagement and information awareness launched earlier this semester. Professor Ester Fuchs, Director of the Urban and Social Policy (USP) concentration, the USP program coordinator and SIPA Alumni, Nina Robbins (’11) and their team have developed an incredible and comprehensive website for voters in New York City.

The website also reflects any and all changes in poll sites due to Hurricane Sandy and any other changes leading up to Election Day.


[Under the direction of Columbia University Public Affairs Professor Ester Fuchs, is a non-partisan voter education website that provides New York City citizens with easy access to election information in English, Spanish and Chinese. Simply by entering their address, users receive polling place information (including a map and directions), a customized list of candidates with links to websites, and sample ballots tailored to their district that will appear on their ballot on Election Day.

 During the past 20 years, turnout in New York City mayoral elections has dropped by a staggering 40 percent.

 “Building on research showing that easily accessible election information can lead to higher voter turnout, we wanted to create an online portal that provides citizens with everything they need to know about elections in one place,” said Fuchs.

 In addition to the convenient polling place locator, citizens can also sign up for election reminders, access registration and absentee ballot applications and link to non-partisan civic resources like the Citizens Union and the Campaign Finance Board Voter Guide.

 The project was originally conceived by Columbia graduate William von Mueffling, a former student of Fuchs’ who expressed frustration after wasting several hours searching various city and state websites to locate who was on his district’s ballot and where he was supposed to vote. Mr. von Mueffling grew “tired of going to vote and only seeing candidates for the first time when they were up for election.”

 Consequently, von Mueffling issued a challenge to Fuchs last year, telling her if she was able to collect the data and develop an outreach plan, he would fund the website project.

“Now, with one key stroke, information-starved New Yorkers can learn in advance who they will be voting for as well as see links to the candidates’ web pages,” von Mueffling said. “With the website, now there is “no reason not to vote.”]  — excerpt taken from the project’s October 26 press release.


Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime

In April authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann visited to speak to at a joint SIPA/School of Journalism event about their best-selling book, Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime. The discussion was moderated by Columbia University’s Alan Brinkley and co-hosted by SIPA and the Graduate School of Journalism. You can watch the discussion below:

SIPASA Elections

The following was contributed by Anesa Diaz-Uda, a second-year MPA student.


The climatic end of my time as a SIPASA board member came way back on Thursday, November 19th – Election Day.  My last charge on SIPASA was to organize and run this election to determine the incoming SIPASA board.

Despite the immense amount of work leading up to Election Day (by myself, the rest of the Board, and all the candidates), Election Day came and went without a hitch.

The polls opened at 8am, and closed at 4pm.  At 4pm we ceremoniously broke into our ballot box (a duck-taped shut cardboard box), and began counting ballots.  Each of the programs electing boards had different color ballots to make counting easier for us.  We counted right on the 4th floor (across the way from the Admissions Office), and had our results within a few hours.

Election Pic

We coordinated with the Deans, and announced our results at the Deans/ SIPASA monthly Happy Hour at the 6th floor lounge.  The lounge was packed with students, faculty and administrators waiting in anticipation for our results –nerves not as high with all the wine available.

100% of MPA DP students, 59% of MIA students, and 50% of MPA students voted.  Clear winners were determined (no run offs were necessary –thank goodness!), and the drinking/ dancing commenced on the 6th floor with DJ Rob.

Election Pic 2

GLIPA (Gays and Lesbians in International and Public Affairs) continued the festivities with their Thanksgiving Kick-Off Party at Madame X.

In all the day and our term ended on a high note. To read more about the election, you can follow this link to one of our school news papers.

Election Pic 3

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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