The MPA Program would like to congratulate alumni John McKay on being named the new President and CEO of the Mississippi Manufacturer’s Association (MMA). While working for the MMA, John has helped to evaluate, prepare and support legislation that impacts taxes, workforce development, environmental regulations and transportation. Prior to joining the MMA, John was the ICMA Management Fellow with the Sarasota County Government in Sarasota, Florida, where he supported a variety of county initiatives including public works, budget preparation, communications and financial analytics.
The following is a Q & A with John McKay about his experience in the public sector and his perception of the MPA degree within local government.
Q: Can you describe your educational and professional background in the sector?
J: I graduated from the University of Mississippi (BA – ’02) with a double major in English and Political Science, before relocating to Charleston. After enrolling in the MPA program at CofC, I accepted a position as a graduate assistant at The Joseph P. Riley Jr. Center conducting research and analysis of various community initiatives. Upon completion of my MPA degree, I was accepted as an International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Management Fellow and placed in Sarasota County, FL. After the year-long fellowship, I relocated to Jackson, MS to begin work in government affairs. Additionally, I completed a degree program from the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma in 2012.
Q: With your experience, what is your perception of the value of earning an MPA degree?
J: The education I received through the MPA degree was invaluable. The mixture of nonprofit administration, public policy and analytical writing have all played a major role in my professional development. I would highly recommend pursuing an MPA at CofC for any person interested in government, public policy or nonprofit administration.
Q: What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in public administration?
J: Get as many professional experiences as possible – internships, fellowships, part-time employment – while you are working toward your degree. Also, concentrate heavily on building relationships, whether that is professors, fellow students or local professionals in your specialty. Building this professional network early will pay major dividends as you begin your career.