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Meet our Fellows: Ms. Antoinette Samuel ('09)

Antoinette A. Samuel served as deputy executive director of the National League of Cities (NLC) from 2013 to her retirement in 2019. NLC is the nation’s oldest and largest national organization representing municipal governments. At NLC, Ms. Samuel was responsible for applied research, digital engagement, marketing, membership development, conferences and meetings, finance and administration, governance, and talent management. She was also responsible for implementation of the organization’s three-year strategic plan. Ms. Samuel has 20 years of association management experience, with a focus on organizations representing the public service sector. Before joining NLC, Ms. Samuel was executive director of the American Society of Public Administration from 2004 to 2013. Ms. Samuel received her BA from Chatham College in Pittsburgh, PA, and her master’s in public administration (MPA) from Texas Southern University. She is a certified association executive (CAE) and was inducted as a Fellow of the American Society of Association Executives in 2012.

Here is a recent interview with Antoinette:

  1. What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

If I answer this question for this exact period of my life, I’d have to say that in retirement I thoroughly enjoy giving back!I seek to still be relevant to the field and thus contribute, until I’m not! As a recent retiree (as of January 2019), what I had enjoyed most about my work was the opportunity to manage organizations towards their best capacity to do the public good. I’m a natural organizer, I get fulfillment from bringing order to chaos, meaning to effort, and purpose to the routine. I spent my career in organizational management and executive leadership. Therefore, my career, found a connection with my nature.

  1. How did you get involved in public service and what motivates you to continue your work?

I began my career as an intern with the City of Houston. It was a course requirement for my MPA program. So, what began as something required, became a lifelong commitment to public service, and a love for local government.After many years working in local government, I was able to move to a national level. Working for such organizations as the National Leagues of Cities and the American Society for Public Administration. I had a perfect career path that threaded my love for executive management with my commitment to public service. While I was very fortunate, I must admit I was also very strategic in my career decisions, which led me to this perfect marriage of purposes.

  1. What advice would you give someone entering the Public Administration field?

Be aspirational. The public service field is so vast, so comprehensive in its reach, that the options for fulfillment, growth and development are endless. Also, our country, our democracy needs talented, passionate, ethical, and diverse academics and practitioners. There is no other field where leadership is inherent! The public service creates and maintains; it experiments and corrects; it protects and serves; and at its best, it is the great equalizer. How great is that!

  1. Looking at the present and into the future, what do you think a public administration “Grand Challenge” is or might be?

It matters not the particular challenge. The public service has always had, and met, challenge. Our field must find a way to articulate any Grand Challenge as an opportunity to make a difference. There is a passion among those who will follow us. They are committed to living responsibly and making life on earth better for all. It is the public service that “contributes to the public good”. The Grand Challenge is to bring this ethos to any problem, to the passions of the youth, and to the aspirations for the future.

  1. Reflecting on your career, is there a highlight, a greatest accomplishment or a funny story you’d like to share?

One of the greatest highlights of my career was actually my nine years working as ASPA’s executive director. It was during a time of rebirth and emergence from what was, to what could be!

ASPA had membership and financial challenges. Also, there was a real deficit in our organizational morale. But, with the commitment from our volunteers, staff and leadership, we emerged strong and certain that ASPA had a future. And, kudos to those current ASPA leaders who continue on this path.

  1. If you could make a soundtrack to your life what is one song that would need to be on your playlist?

I Will Survive

  1. What was your first job?

Program Manager with the Area Agency on Aging of Houston/Harris County. I remember making an appointment with the department director. I stated that I had just received my degree, and I understood there was an opening and I wanted to be considered. I got the job. I eventually became the executive director.As a matter of pride, a lot of what I proposed in my masters’ thesis for a service delivery system for the elderly, I was able to implement over my 14 years with the city.

  1. What is your favorite time of the year and why?

I love the Spring. It’s a time of birth, renewal, anticipation, and sunshine!

  1. What is the best part about where you live?

I live in a rural part of Maryland, Saint Mary’s County. I love the open land, the water, and the work ethic of our local farmers. So funny for a city girl, right!!

  1. What is your pizza order?

Arugula, prosciutto, and mozzarella.

  1. If you could have a dinner party with anyone in history, who would you have dinner with and why?

Nelson Mandela. Today, we have a fascination with superheroes. It would be wonderful to meet a true superhero!

									 Antoinette Samuel
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