MPA students bring expertise, passion to address regional challenges

For immediate release…
Friday – May 24, 2013

- When Jim Kaufman set about selecting a requisite capstone project for his Northern Kentucky University Master of Public Administration degree, he picked a topic close to home.

He decided to work on creating a network to help local families experiencing childhood apraxia of speech, or CAS. This neurological motor speech disorder doesn’t allow messages to go from the brain to those parts of the body – jaw, lips and tongue – that are needed to produce intelligible speech. In most cases, the exact cause of CAS is unknown and, unlike common speech delays, children do not outgrow it.

While many have never heard of CAS, Kaufman and his family were already all too familiar. His son, Liam, was diagnosed with CAS in 2012. He wanted to help other families in the region by increasing awareness of CAS and improving access to information and recourses to help those families deal with the challenges and frustrations his has experienced firsthand.

“A major hurdle we encountered was a lack of clear and concise information regarding the various services that were available and the process parents must follow to get the best possible treatment for their child,” Kaufman said. “Adding to the complexity for many parents in this region is the fact that services are county-based and vary significantly from one jurisdiction to the next. There were no readily identifiable resources that brought all of the information together to help inform parents how to access services, assistance and support.”

Kaufman had discovered childhood apraxia networks or clearinghouses in other cities, such as Toledo. So for his capstone, he developed a business plan for the Childhood Apraxia Network (CAN) of Greater Cincinnati, which included a mission statement, market analysis, proposed services, potential board members, fundraising and volunteer management plans, and marketing and social media ideas. He has already begun recruiting board members for CAN and has created a Facebook page:

Students enrolled in the NKU MPA program must complete the capstone course prior to graduating. Under the guidance of Dr. Julie Olberding, these projects extend far beyond the classroom. Last spring, projects ranged from Kaufman’s CAS work to an examination of financing options for the Brent Spence Bridge.

Projects from last spring included:

  • Elizabeth Fricke worked with the City of Covington to study financing options for the Brent Spence Bridge. Her paper identified different funding mechanisms – federal, state, local and private – that have been used to develop major infrastructure projects across the country. It also summarized literature on public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects and best practices in this area.

  • John P. Scott evaluated the United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s Request for Proposals (RFP) process, which is a key part of the organization’s efforts to mobilize partners and resources to create “sustained community change.” Scott’s project assessed participant satisfaction with the RFP process and identified potential continuous learning and improvement strategies for the United Way to implement during the next RFP cycle.

  • Billie Jo Wood worked with Vision 2015 to conduct research that will help guide the organization in developing the next regional plan for northern Kentucky. She created a database of peer regions and their planning processes, developed questions to interview planning bodies in a sub-set of these peer regions and identified key indicators to measure demographic, educational and economic factors in northern Kentucky counties.

  • In partnership with the Campbell County Drug Free Alliance (CCDFA), Jeremy Moore and Allyn Reinecke helped to develop a grant application to Drug Free Communities, a federal program that provides funding to community-based coalitions organized to prevent youth substance use. If selected, the CCDFA would be awarded a total of $625,000 – or $125,000 per year for five years – which would fund a full-time staff person.

  • Victoria Vogelgesang and Beth Volpenhein partnered on a project to assess and build awareness of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Clermont County, Ohio. They conducted surveys of three stakeholder groups: NAMI program participants; NAMI “affiliates” including former participants, family members, donors, event attendees and others; and the general public, primarily those in the eastern parts of Clermont County.

  • At the request of the Kentucky City/County Management Association (KCCMA), Michael Price examined the transfer of “know-how” from retired and current local government managers to the next generation. Knowledge transfer in local government is a critical issue in light of the fact that a large number of managers will retire during the next 5-10 years, potentially leaving a “knowledge gap.” Price will present his findings at the KCCMA’s conference in October.

  • Anthony Rees focused on the potential use of iPads as mobile data terminals for the Union Township (Ohio) Police Department as a strategy to become more effective and efficient due to staff reduction in recent years. He surveyed police officers in Union Township and three comparable departments to assess their attitudes and experiences regarding new technology. He also conducted a cost analysis, drafted policies to guide officers’ use of the equipment, developed a training program and designed an implementation plan.

  • Jonathan Arthur and Gargi Sarkar assisted Anderson Township Transportation Advisory Committee with updating the Anderson Trails project, which is designed to enhance walkways and trails and improve non-vehicular access to schools, libraries, parks, retail areas, etc. The MPA students helped to gather data on proposed sidewalk improvement projects and develop a “benefit factor” for each project that was used in prioritizing them.

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