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Celebrating Women's History Month: Enid Beaumont

Enid Beaumont: Intrepid Adventurer and Public Administrator

By: Diane Disney

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By: Marilyn Rubin

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Intrepid. That’s been the essence of Enid Beaumont her whole career, whether wrangling consensus across the Big Seven (the nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations of state and local government officials), managing executive education programs internationally, organizing NAPA Fellows to train over a thousand Senior Executives, or simply travelling to some 88 countries, many times to improve public administration. With prodigious talent, sheer determination, and a respectful manner, Enid has repeatedly ignored obstacles or swept them aside to get the job done.

Friends and colleagues have often admired her moxie. That was demonstrated on a trip to Nepal several decades ago, when she broke her ankle but continued the two-week climb anyway, thanks to an ingenious brace created by her Indian doctors. Or when she managed to buy a D.C. condominium in the 1970s, when a woman on her own was generally blocked from the mortgage market. Whatever the challenge, Enid has met it head-on and has prevailed.

With a political science degree from UCLA, she began her career as a personnel administrator for the government of Hawaii, where she met Nesta Gallas. She soon was drawn to New York City where she had to maneuver through mostly male environments at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and then at U.S. AID. Steeped in the practice of public administration, and drawn to international work, she began her graduate studies in the field at New York University, where she earned a master’s and then her Ph.D. in 1972.

Enid would spend several years at NYU as a professor in the Public Administration Program and as a beloved, if strict, mentor to many graduate students. She sat on Marilyn's dissertation committee, for example, creating a friendship and professional bond that has lasted some 50 years. She would go on to serve on the editorial boards of numerous public administration journals, and be an adjunct faculty member at George Mason University and Johns Hopkins. Education and training were in her blood, as the rest of her career testifies.

From 1988 to 1992, Enid worked to build the National Institute of Public Administration at NAPA, where she was a vice president. She also undertook the educational and developmental aspects of the new Presidential Management Intern (PMI) program, working with OPM and stressing the academic/practitioner exchange. In addition, more than 1,000 senior governmental executives from diverse agencies participated in educational programs she created with NAPA Fellows as faculty.

For 12 years Enid was executive director of the Academy of State and Local Government, as the first female in such a position in any Big Seven organization. She loved this job because of the opportunity it gave her to work across federal, state, and local governments and to file amicus briefs before the Supreme Court. But her work was not limited to the U.S., as she was a principal in numerous international educational ventures, including those in Macedonia and Iraq. Wherever there was a need for education or training to improve public administration, Enid Beaumont seemed to be involved and collaborating, as she believed that many minds working together would be better than one mind alone trying to address challenges.

In 1982 she was elected a NAPA Fellow and over the next 40 years served on its board, chaired standing panels, served on special project panels, and made such significant contributions that she was given the George Graham Award for Exceptional Service to the Academy. A nearly lifelong member of ASPA, Enid served as its president (1991-92), among other roles. In 2019 she received the Association's Nesta M. Gallas Award for Exemplary Public Service, an award given in recognition of careers characterized by efforts to uphold legal and ethical standards and to advance gender equity. (She had helped create this award to honor her longtime friend.)

Recognized for decades as a leader in the field, Enid also continued her involvement informally. Aside from acting as mentor to countless young people, she also became part of a half-century-old informal gathering of NAPA Senior Fellows (including Dwight Ink, Chuck Bingman, Diane Disney, and others) who met monthly for lunch to bemoan the travails of the civil service and plan ways to make things better.

Enid Beaumont has never given up or given in. Indeed, when asked what might be a “Grand Challenge” in public administration, she said, “Describing the thrill of the public sector, the responsibility, and the authority, and that people can have fantastic careers. We struggle to help them make those choices.” She remains an intrepid advocate for the field and the importance of cross-level collaboration.

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