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Meet the 2013 Policy Council: Robert Kaestner and Jane Waldfogel

August 29, 2013 11:00 AM

Each December, the membership votes for a new cohort to serve a staggered four-year term of office in the Association’s Policy Council. Previously, the membership elected seven new members while APPAM’s Committee of Institutional Representatives elected three additional persons. As of this year, members will vote for three individuals to serve on the cohort, two academic members and one practitioner. The Committee of Institutional Representatives will vote for one institutional representative for the Policy Council at their meeting in November and one student member will be appointed to the Council.

Last year, the membership voted for Robert Kaestner as part of the new Policy Council cohort. Serving until 2016, Kaestner joins Colleen Barry, David Johnson, Mark Long, Jodi Sandfort, Laura Peck, and Lucie Schmidt as the newly-elected Council members. In 2011, the membership voted for Jane Waldfogel, who serves until 2015 with the Policy Council cohort that includes Scott Allard, Marcy Carlson, Swati Desai, Barbara Devaney, Susan Dynarski, and Joyce Manchester.

Jane_Waldfogel2Jane Waldfogel is a professor of social work and public affairs at Columbia University School of Social Work and a visiting professor at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics. Waldfogel received her Ph.D. in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She has written extensively on the impact of public policies on child and family well-being. Her current research includes studies of work-family policies, improving the measurement of poverty, and understanding social mobility across countries.

Bob_KaestnerRobert Kaestner is a professor at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) of the University of Illinois. His work is an integration of research, education, and public engagement activities. Last year, Kaestner briefed newly elected Illinois legislators on the budgetary consequences of the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion for the state. His academic research is concentrated in health, social, and labor policy, publishing more than 100 articles in various professional journals. His research is interdisciplinary and he has coauthored papers with physicians, sociologists, and developmental psychologists.

What do you see as APPAM's biggest strength?

Kaestner: APPAM's biggest strength is its membership. The combination of academic expertise, and professional policymaking and managerial experience provides an ideal platform to advance knowledge aimed at improving public policy.

Waldfogel: APPAM has a unique role in the public policy world—it is THE public policy association and the sponsor of the premier Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (JPAM) and conference.

How can that strength be leveraged in the coming year?

Waldfogel: We are starting in a very good place. Both the Journal and conference are stronger than they have ever been. We just need to continue to build on those strengths.

What priorities do you have for the Policy Council in your coming term?

Kaestner: My priorities for the Policy Council are: 1) to maintain, and if possible improve, the quality of the Fall Research Conference, and 2) keep the cost of participation in APPAM and its events as low as possible.

Waldfogel: We need to figure out a way to make the operations of the Policy Council more efficient. Reducing the size of the Council is one step in that direction, but we can do more, such as using technology to reduce the time spent in in-person meetings.

In your opinion, what are the two biggest issues facing the Association today?

Kaestner: An important issue that APPAM faces is how to increase its visibility in policymaking circles without alienating members or some constituents. At a minimum, APPAM should provide more high-profile forums where critical policy issues of the day are debated by members and constituents. Pushing beyond this goal, cautiously, APPAM should have a mechanism for weighing in on important policy issues of the day in a non-partisan, evidence-based manner. To accomplish this latter objective, APPAM would have to increase resources dedicated to formulating and preparing a policy position that would be widely shared by its membership.

Waldfogel: My top priority is to increase the reach of APPAM as an international organization. Alongside that, we need to continue to reach out across disciplines - not all public policy researchers and practitioners are trained in public policy schools.

Do you have ideas on how to tackle those issues?

Waldfogel: I think we need to more actively invite international and interdisciplinary submissions, both to the fall conference and to the Journal. We might also consider adding international and interdisciplinary members to other parts of the leadership, such as the Policy Council and JPAM editorial board.

What long-term strategy would you like the Policy Council to consider for the Association?

Kaestner: See my prior answer regarding issues facing the Association. In addition, I would like the Policy Council to create a forum for members to offer their ideas to the Policy Council about potential activities that should be on APPAM's agenda.

Waldfogel: In the long-run, I'd like to see us become more international and more interdisciplinary.

What excites you about the coming year?

Waldfogel: The Fall Research Conference is going to be great!

How do you think members can best leverage their APPAM membership?

Kaestner: Members can leverage their membership by attending APPAM conferences and events. However, APPAM members should propose ideas to the Policy Council and Executive Committee. APPAM is a democratic organization that can only benefit from the ideas and creativity of its membership.

Waldfogel: Come to the fall conference, attend sessions in areas you know less well, and make sure to save plenty of time to network and to catch up with old friends.



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