St. Petersburg College’s Public Policy and Administration program held their 16th bi-annual Leadership Speaker Series luncheon at the Seminole Campus on Wednesday, Nov. 13.
The Speaker Series was designed to be both informative for Public Policy students, with a featured speaker who addresses topics like leadership and public service, and also a great way for them to gain experience in the realm of networking events. Public Policy and Administration Instructor-in-Charge Jeff Kronschnabl said that the fact that the college has supported the bi-annual program for eight years speaks to its value.
“For many of our students, these luncheons are their first business lunch experience,” Kronschnabl said. “They have been fortunate to be exposed to leaders who bring international, national, state and local perspectives on government operations.”
This semester’s speaker was Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton. Burton, who recently took the helm at the County, described how an internship with the City of Cincinnati paved his career path in city and county government, and advised the students to seek out an internship. He also noted how much he enjoyed working for the people.
“It’s a great profession,” Burton said. “I’ve enjoyed seeing how projects impact people’s lives.”
He also outlined three principals of leadership: relationships, innovation and vision, noting that they are interrelated.
“You have to embrace change,” he said. “Too often we want to win a disagreement, but sometimes a conversation will create something even better than the idea you began with.”
Susan Demers, Dean of the Public Policy and Administration program, closed out the program after an active question and answer session. She offered the aspiring public servants a bit of advice about the magnitude of those positions.
“Remember, when you are working in public service,” she said, “the decisions you make affect many people that you will never see.”
Kronschnabl said Burton was a clear choice to tell his story of the value of community service.
“Mr. Burton did an outstanding job conveying that message,” he said. “He clearly demonstrated not only his expertise in government operations, but his approachability for our students and our program.”