Student Spotlight: Haley Schanne, M.S./M.P.A. Presents at Virtual ARNOVA Conference

My name is Haley Schanne, and I am a third-year student in the concurrent M.S. in Environmental and Sustainability Studies/Master of Public Administration program. Earlier in November, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to present my thesis work at the 49th Annual Conference of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA). My thesis, called “Behind these Googly Eyes: Measuring Nonprofit Motivations toward Public-Private Environmental Partnerships”, centers on determining what motivated the business, government, and nonprofit sectors in Baltimore, Maryland to partner with one another to create and maintain a healthier Inner Harbor, as seen through the “eyes” of Mr. Trash Wheel.

Mr Trash Wheel feasts on garbage in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. | © Waterfront Partnership

This journey began back in October of 2019, when my advisor, Dr. Judy Millesen, asked me to write a paper proposal for the spring conference of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) that was taking place in Anaheim, California in April 2020. My proposal was accepted and Dr. Millesen and I began working on the paper, but the conference was ultimately cancelled due to COVID-19.

Dr. Millesen, knowing how excited I was about the paper, which was turning into my thesis by Spring 2020, then asked me to submit a proposal for ARNOVA, which she greatly assisted me with throughout the process. We found out in June that the proposal had been accepted, and from there the work began. We worked closely with one another to write the paper and construct the presentation over the months leading up to the presentation on November 13th, 2020.

I was given the opportunity to practice my presentation and receive feedback from my peers during a meeting of the Environmental Policy Research grouped headed by Dr. Annette Watson and Dr. Matthew Nowlin. This group is comprised of faculty, staff, and students conducting research on environmental policy of all kinds. Their feedback, questions, and input really helped Dr. Millesen and I refine the presentation and helped boost my confidence in virtual presentations. I also got to practice during the Graduate School’s annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition, and I was able to apply what I learned from that experience to my ARNOVA presentation.

One of the first things I noticed while navigating the virtual conference platform was that some of the authors I cited in my own paper were in attendance at the conference! Getting to virtually rub elbows with the people whose work has paved the way for my own was inspiring and only a little intimidating. I was sure to attend as many sessions as I could, including the opening plenary session that featured Dr. Megan Ming Francis from the University of Washington, and Vanessa Nakate, a climate activist from Uganda. Getting to see all the different presentation topics and styles was a great learning experience for me, and I learned so much from my peers at the conference.

My presentation group was moderated by Dr. Millesen, and featured researchers from the University of North Texas as well as Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien in Vienna, Austria. We presented on topics that related to nonprofit-business interactions, and we each got to answer questions from those who attended our session at the end. In our session, I was able to learn so much from my co-presenters’ research, see how our projects overlap, and gain insight into the field of public administration in so many new ways.

Me with Dr. Millesen at the end of the presentation!

It was an incredible honor to attend the ARNOVA conference as a master’s student and to learn from the best and brightest in the field of nonprofit and voluntary action research. I got great feedback and I’m excited to carry this experience forward as my research progresses!

To learn more about the concurrent M.S./M.P.A. program, visit To hear more about Haley’s experience in the concurrent program, watch her video testimonial here.

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