Shanna Midelton – Fellow Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?

Currently, I work at the New York City of Management & Budget (OMB) as the Deputy Assistant Director of the Education Taskforce, where I help lead a team responsible for managing the City's Education budgets. I've also worked in the non-profit sector, serving as the Senior Coordinator of Grants & Operations at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), an organization dedicated to providing humanitarian assistance in crisis countries.

I developed an interest in public sector work very early on as an undergrad student at Lehman College. My very first experience in government was through CUNY's Edward T. Rogowsky Internship Program, where I spent the summer interning on Capitol Hill. Throughout grad school I continued to explore this interest, working on projects at the United Nations and volunteering on local campaigns. Ultimately I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in government and began my career at OMB, four years later I still wonder, "what did I get myself into!"

What is the biggest challenge of your work?

OMB is a very fast paced environment that keeps me on my toes. The biggest challenge by far is balancing the juggling act of wearing multiple hats throughout the day. Most times I need to be an expert at problem solving, whereas some days it could be negotiating or interpreting legislation, all in addition to staying organized and managing a team of extremely talented analysts. The most challenging aspects of the job are the very same things that make it exciting and rewarding.

What is your proudest achievement?

As I look back at my professional and educational accomplishments, I’m proud of the courage and determination it took for me to overcome the challenges of immigrating to the United States as a child, completing two Master's degrees, and building a successful career, all without having access to the resources normally afforded to U.S. citizens such as financial aid. Today, as a U.S. citizen, I'm thankful for this perspective and appreciative of my network of supportive family, friends, and mentors that helped me along the way.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?

The personal attributes that I admire most in great leaders all combine the ability to be fearless and tenacious with the emotional intelligence necessary to make informed, rational decisions. The ability to bring disputing parties together to achieve a common goal certainly requires some if not all of these traits. Some of today’s leaders that immediately come to mind that I believe embody these characteristics are President Obama, Justice Sotomayer and Mellody Hobson.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years I see myself in a leadership position where I can leverage my skills and experiences to influence city-wide policy decisions.

Did you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else? How has that experience changed you?

I've had mentors along the way who have all played a very integral role in my development as a professional. One of them, Professor Bloom at Lehman College, was particularly responsible for helping direct my academic studies towards a path for civic leadership. Recognizing the importance of these critical relationships early on in my life, I’ve always tried to provide guidance specifically to young minorities as much as possible hoping to have a similar impact. I currently serve as a Big Sister with the Big Brother Big Sister Chapter of New York and hope to one day see a citywide mentorship program for women in government.

What do you hope to gain from your CUP Fellows Program experience to help you make a significant and positive impact in your community?

Through CUP, I see the opportunity to connect with other likeminded, motivated professionals, where we can all share and lend our collective experiences to become stronger and more effective leaders. The CUP fellowship has a group of very talented individuals; while it's only been a few months since we’ve introduced to each other, I’ve already developed relationships that I know will be for a lifetime. The CUP fellowship is an experience that I encourage young professionals to pursue.