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Harvard students to visit Topeka

Students from Harvard Kennedy School’s (HKS) Taubman Center for State and Local Government will be visiting the City of Topeka in January.

The visit is part of the Center’s annual Transition Term program. The program embeds HKS students in the offices of newly elected mayors, county executives, and governors to provide students with a unique learning opportunity, while helping officials accelerate key initiatives as they shift from campaigning to governing.

During the program, Topeka Mayor Michael Padilla will be paired with three HKS students. The students will join Padilla full-time for three weeks in January.

“Shortly after the election I was given the opportunity to attend the Harvard John F. Kennedy Institute of Politics at Cambridge. As a participant, I interacted with a wide range of newly elected and seasoned Mayor’s from across the country. Sharing our paths to a mayor’s seat, it was clear that the same commitment to serve our community is our common driving force. I listened to problem solving that encouraged progressive and sometimes bold action. Looking at issues from different perspectives is the goal of this Transition Term Team. ‘Learning how the sausage is made’ at the local government level will engage the graduate students in many aspects of Topeka’s governing body,” said Mayor-elect Padilla.

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The students will help to accelerate projects based on the City’s priorities to include researching, conducting data analysis, drafting memos, engaging with stakeholders, and responding to rapidly evolving needs that arise during the intense early weeks of governing. “Transition Term provides students with critical on-the-ground experience working with new mayors, county executives, and governors at a time when these administrations are most in need of extra capacity,” said Professor Jeffrey Liebman, Director of the Taubman Center. “We are excited to announce the largest and most diverse cohort of mayors and students yet and look forward to seeing the real-world impact of this program in the weeks to come.” Topeka is one of 13 communities to have been selected for this program. The full list of participating communities is below:

  1. Mayor-elect Andre Dickens, Atlanta, Georgia
  2. Mayor Michelle Wu, Boston, Massachusetts
  3. Mayor-elect Aftab Pureval, Cincinnati, Ohio
  4. Mayor-elect Justin Bibb, Cleveland, Ohio
  5. Mayor-elect Daniel Rickenmann, Columbia, South Carolina
  6. County Executive-elect Brenton Davis, Erie County, Pennsylvania
  7. Mayor Brian DePeña, Lawrence, Massachusetts
  8. Mayor-elect Edward Gainey, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  9. Mayor-elect Malik Evans, Rochester, New York
  10. Mayor-elect Katjana Ballantyne, Somerville, Massachusetts
  11. Mayor-elect Ken Welch, St. Petersburg, Florida
  12. Mayor Caroline Simmons, Stamford, Connecticut
  13. Mayor-elect Michael Padilla, Topeka, Kansas

You can learn more about the program here: https://www.hks.harvard.edu/centers/taubman/students/transition-term.

–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice

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