March Newsletter
03/06/2024, 09:15:01 AM

March Newsletter

Inflation Nation and the 2024 Elections

A panel of experts will examine the uncertainty over navigating monetary policy after the Federal Reserve hiked its benchmark interest rate to the highest level in over two decades on the next Hobby Hour at noon, Wednesday, March 27. The panel, including the Hobby School's Dean Jim Granato and Professor Sunny Wong, and Rice University's Mark P. Jones, will also address how the state of the economy will affect decisions at the ballot box and share their perspectives on the economy's – and the central bank's – trajectory. Professor of Practice Chase Untermeyer will moderate the discussion.


Artist Samora Pinderhughes in Houston

Multidisciplinary artist Samora Pinderhughes will lead a thought-provoking lecture centered around the music, art and collaboration behind his newest endeavor, The Healing Project, at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19, in the Rockwell Pavilion at the M.D. Anderson Library. Readers may recognize Pinderhughes from his national presence, including his concert on National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk. He excels as a composer, pianist and vocalist known for compassionately addressing sociopolitical issues and heavy concepts, such as trauma, healing and grief.


Pinderhughes will culminate his Houston visit with a community performance co-hosted with the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the historic Eldorado Ballroom in Third Ward, at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 21.


The Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center sponsors lectures, visiting professorships, conferences and other programs that promote the study of ethics and leadership. The events are free, but space is limited.

We the Texans: A Symposium on the State of Democracy

Members of the Hobby School community joined The Texas Tribune on Feb. 27 at the University of Houston-Downtown for a day-long symposium examining the state of democracy.


The Hobby School was proud to co-host the event, which convened a range of experts in multiple fields on subjects aligned with the school's mission to explore civic engagement and policy issues at a deeper level. The symposium started with a conversation about democracy at a national level and then turned to Texas-speciļ¬c topics, including voter turnout, the media landscape and local challenges governing communities. Master of Public Policy/Master of Social Work candidate Lorenzo Salinas was a panelist discussing how young Texans positively impact their communities beyond the ballot box with Alvin City Councilmember Joel Castro and Rice University alumna Vivian Zheng.


The program ended with facilitated discussions at roundtables led by Hobby School students, reflecting on democracy-related issues in Texas, key takeaways from the panels and how Texans can best tackle our state's problems through community initiatives and innovative and collaborative solutions.

Photo Highlights

Support the Hobby School on UH Giving Day

Celebrate UH Giving Day on March 7 by investing in a future state-of-the-art space for Hobby School students, alumni and the community. The University of Houston is celebrating its 97th birthday, and we are marking the milestone with a call to action in support of the Hobby School of Public Affairs Building Fund. Your contribution of any amount contributes to constructing a cutting-edge learning environment for the next generation to engage in transformative education, preparing them to address society's most complex challenges. Join us in building a foundation for future leaders.

Give Now



2024 Harris County Primary Elections

The survey results were widely covered in online and broadcast media, including KHOU TV Channel 11, KTRH News, Houston Chronicle, Houston Public Media, Austin American Statesman, The Dallas Morning News, Texas Monthly, The Texas Standard and Newsweek.

U.S. Census Bureau director: Importance of data in policy

The Hobby School welcomed Robert L. Santos, director of the U.S. Census Bureau, to the University of Houston on Feb. 8 to discuss his career in public service and the bureau's role in the democratic process. Dean Jim Granato sat down with Santos to share how the Hobby School's approach to interdisciplinary coursework and quantitative training aligns with the bureau's mission of advancing scientific understanding and facilitating informed decisions as the leading data source in the country.


Santos also met with Hobby School faculty and researchers to discuss continuing to integrate census data into its projects and initiatives, including recent vulnerability and disaster recovery studies and an upcoming panel survey for the Houston area. The director later connected with Hobby School students for a lunch-and-learn session to share his academic background in mathematics, public service career opportunities and how pivotal the next generation will be in the bureau's future. The campus visit was part of a series of trips by the U.S. Census Bureau to educational institutions across the country to strengthen relationships, understand communities and build partnerships.



The Danger Imperative with Michael Sierra-Arévalo

Sociologist Michael Sierra-Arévalo will address the culture of violence within law enforcement institutions at 2 p.m., Friday, April 5, in the Honors Commons at the M.D. Anderson Library as part of the restorative justice lecture series hosted by the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center.


Sierra-Arévalo’s book, "The Danger Imperative: Violence, Death, and the Soul of Policing," delves into the underlying forces behind police behavior through research and field examination, drawing from over 100 interviews and 1,000 hours with law enforcement officers. Attendees can purchase a copy of the book at the lecture for signing by the author from Kindred Stories, a local bookstore in the Third Ward community. Registration is free but required.

Public Officials of the Year Luncheon, April 19

Save the date to recognize exceptional Houston area public officials at the 13th Public Officials of the Year Awards Luncheon, 12 p.m.-1:30 p.m., Friday, April 19, in the UH Student Center South, Houston Room. A networking mixer will be held nearby in the Skyline Room from 11 a.m. to noon.


The Master of Public Administration program will honor four public service leaders who serve their communities through dynamic problem-solving, innovative and ethical leadership, improving the lives of others and tackling complex challenges through collaboration.


The annual awards ceremony benefits the scholarship fund for graduate students in the Master of Public Administration program. The MPA is designed to advance the careers of professionals seeking to improve their communities through public service. It prepares graduates to lead organizations, manage complex projects and serve the public through collaboration and strategy. Be on the lookout for more information.

Putting public service into practice

Hobby Schools students experienced classroom visits from local elected officials, practitioners and community leaders in February.


Harris County Deputy County Administrator Leah Barton detailed a profile of county government as a guest speaker in the graduate public management class taught by the Hobby School's Sara Sands. Students in the course develop the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively manage public organizations.


Master of Public Administration candidate Chris Burbridge and his Rice University colleague Domenique Montgomery spoke with students in the public policy laboratory course about the role of nonprofit organizations in connecting communities to resources and advocating for policy reform. Burbridge is an assistant director at the Center for Civic Leadership, where he leads assessment strategies around the center's programming and initiatives. The public policy laboratory course introduces students to Houston, civic engagement, policy issues and local infrastructure.


Texas state Rep. Ann Johnson met with Civic Houston Interns led by the Hobby School’s Jessica Ruland O’Connor to discuss her experience as a former Harris County Attorney’s Office prosecutor and chief prosecutor of its Human Trafficking Section, as well as serving as vice chair of the House General Investigating Committee. Civic Houston Interns apply what they learn in the classroom to governmental offices in the Houston region and with area nonprofit and private organizations and electoral campaigns.



Advisor’s work highlighted



Congratulations are in store for Next Generation Leadership Academy scholar Emily Cruz for being selected as the NextGen Service Corp Ambassador. The position is a liaison between the member campus program and The Volcker Alliance, which organizes the national initiative across America. Cruz will apply learned leadership and organizational skills to engage fellow academy students in a University of Houston event, network with other program ambassadors, share experiences and participate in professional development activities.


Cruz is a senior majoring in political science and Spanish with a minor in quantitative social science. She joined the leadership academy to further develop the research and analytical skills she learned through her Civic Houston Internship Program experiences with Teach for America and the League of Women Voters of Houston.

“NextGen has supported my leadership skills by enabling me to collaborate with leaders from diverse backgrounds, viewpoints and fields. This experience has enhanced my ability to work effectively alongside others, where I have learned to leverage differing passions and strengths in group project planning, resulting in more cohesive teamwork and positive outcomes.” - Emily Cruz

Applications for the 2024-2025 Next Generation Leadership Academy cohort are being accepted through May 31, 2024.

Harris County internship applications are open through April 5

The Hobby School is accepting applications for the 2024 Harris Fellows through Friday, April 5. The full-time summer internship is for undergraduates and post-baccalaureates interested in working in a county office on constituent services, research, policy analysis and other special projects. The program provides students with outside-of-the-classroom experience within the nation’s third-largest county.


“I worked on various projects, including identifying the vulnerability of precincts and researching loan assistance programs throughout the U.S. to compare them to Harris County’s projects. I’ve developed community profiles for each precinct by organizing census tract data on equity metrics.”Alexis Boehmer, 2023 Harris Fellows

Leland Fellows Check-In

After one month in Washington, D.C., the 2024 Leland Fellows are finding their foothold in the heartland of national politics and policymaking. The congressional interns have attended committee meetings, embraced professional networking, studied food insecurity issues via a local food pantry, walked the historic streets of the nation's capital and navigated public transit. They also took time from their busy schedule as Capitol Hill interns to cheer on the Houston Texans in the NFL playoffs and paused for snow days to relax. Stay tuned for more on their transformative journey in public service.

Hobby School in the News


Hobby School reports on the 2024 Harris County Democratic primary elections sustained media attention throughout February in more than 165 articles, covering a wide range of Democratic primary election opinion trends in key county, state and congressional seats.

Complete List of Hobby School Media

Hobby Happenings


Hobby School Happenings captures lectures, events, application deadlines, programs and collaborations hosted or co-sponsored by the Hobby School and its centers. Mark your calendars and join us for the next Hobby School happening.


Tuesday, March 7
UH Giving Day



Tuesday, March 19, 2 p.m.
A Space for Healing with Samora Pinderhughes

Artist Lecture
Rockwell Pavilion, M.D. Anderson Library


Wednesday, March 20, 9 a.m.
Houston Matters Political Roundup, Renée Cross

Houston Public Media’s News 88.7
Listen Online


Thursday, March 21, 6:30 p.m.
The Healing Project with Samora Pinderhughes

Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts
Eldorado Ballroom, 2310 Elgin St.


Wednesday, March 27, Noon
The Hobby Hour: Inflation Nation and 2024 Elections



Wednesday, March 27, 4 p.m.
Ethical Leadership in the Age of AI

Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center Student Scholars Project
Honors College Commons, M.D. Anderson Library


Sunday, March 31
2024 Social Economy and Enterprise Academy Internship

Application Deadline


Tuesday, April 2, 5:30 p.m.
Graduate School Information Session


Tuesday, April 5
2024 Harris Fellows

Application Deadline


Tuesday, April 5, 2 p.m.
The Danger Imperative: Violence, Death, and the Soul of Policing

Michael Sierra-Arévalo, University of Texas-Austin
Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center Restorative Justice Lecture Series
Honors Commons, M.D. Anderson Library


Wednesday, April 10, 9 a.m.
Houston Matters Political Roundup, Renée Cross

Houston Public Media’s News 88.7
Listen Online


Wednesday, April 17, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Gulf Coast Hydrogen Ecosystem: Opportunities and Solutions
UH Energy Symposium Series

Theater Room, Student Center South


Friday, April 19
13th Annual Public Officials of the Year Luncheon
Student Center South, University of Houston

Save the Date


Monday, April 22, 5:15-7 p.m.
How Things Really Work: Hobby School Student Workshop

Room 144, Bates Law Building


Thursday, April 25, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Government & Non-Profit Career Mixer

Multipurpose Room, Student Center South



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