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Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance.

Fellow Spotlight: Roderick Hickman

Fellow Spotlight: Roderick Hickman

Roderick Hickman is a nationally acclaimed corrections executive, reformer, federal court monitor, and consultant. Professionally he is recognized for his work in leading the historic reorganization of corrections in California, the largest government reorganization in California history. Additionally, he is credited with returning rehabilitation to the mission of California corrections.

Who or what inspired you to enter into public service?

I was inspired to enter public service by my parents. My father was a career United States Air Force non-commissioned officer, and my mother was a public school teacher. After retirement, my father started another career in California State government and encouraged me to explore that opportunity.

What is your favorite class you ever taught or took and why?

I entered California State government as a correctional officer. While attending the basic training, academy administrative staff asked me to consider becoming an instructor. After graduating top of my class, I was assigned to an institution, where I gained valuable experience and expertise in correctional policy and practices. Subsequently, I was asked again about becoming involved in training. I took the opportunity and became an academy faculty member. During the assignment, I availed myself to more training and education and thrived in the environment. My favorite subject matter was leadership development, an area that became my professional area of expertise and passion.

What advice would you give to those interested in pursuing public policy or public administration as a career?

My counsel to anyone entering public service is to remember they are there to serve even though the reward may not always be instantaneous. However, their influence in developing sound, compassionate public policy will eventually improve the lives of people. Lastly, I would counsel them to be committed, patient and adhere to their values; and they should not be swayed by self-proclaimed contemporary influencers. Their primary goal should be to become a principled leader and influence will be a natural outcome.

What area of public policy interests you the most and why?

The area of public policy I am most interested in is criminal justice. Criminal justice policy impacts all citizens in meaningful ways, including corrections policy, health care policy, mental health policy, policing policy, education policy and even fiscal policy. Improvement in this public policy area will have far-reaching and beneficial social impact.

What is your favorite cuisine?

My father and mother’s families are from Louisiana. Like most folks with a southern background, I like well-seasoned food and the fun that comes with its preparation and consumption.

Creole cooking and barbecue are my favorite cuisines. Since I have spent my adult life in California and have traveled extensively, I have developed an enjoyment of wine tasting. As a result, I enjoy pairing my favorite dishes with good wines from around the world.

What is your favorite hobby or activity that you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy traveling and learning from others, confirming my belief that people are more the same than different. If we embrace our sameness and minimize our differences, we can make positive change.

Who in your life has been an Influential mentor or inspiration for you?

My parents are my most influential mentors because they modeled how to serve others.

I have also been mentored by another great American, the late Frances Hesselbein. She was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, leader of the Drucker Foundation and Leader to Leader Institute, Girl Scouts of America, and the Hesselbein Leadership Institute. Frances said and believed “In times of challenge, people are looking for leadership. To live is to serve.” Francis Hesselbein greatly influenced me, and I carry her teachings with me daily.

What was your dream job as a child?

I always wanted to lead and make things better for people. Politics and public administration have always been my passions.

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