Jessica Sotelo is the Executive Director of Partners for Prosperity: New Beginnings for Eastern Idaho, an asset building, poverty reduction organization serving several regions in Idaho. She earned her MPA from Maxwell in 2002, and also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies from Idaho State University.
After leaving Maxwell, Jessica went home to Idaho and was hired to lead the regional community through a strategic planning process for poverty reduction. As a result, a new nonprofit organization was born that has received national attention for its work in asset building such as workforce development, financial education, grassroots organizing, minority business development and more. Under Jessica’s leadership, Partners for Prosperity was awarded an $11 million dollar grant to implement the plan, and since then has leveraged nearly $50 million dollars to implement its programs.
Jessica shares, “I now have experience in nonprofit startup as well as management, and I also work as a consultant for other nonprofits and organizations. I am considered an expert in not only poverty and asset building issues but also strategic management and leadership. Recently, I’ve begun to work more in the public policy arena at the state level on issues of predatory lending and education. This is an exciting time and I feel like the sky is the limit!”
In looking back at her time at Maxwell, Jessica credits the MPA program with preparing her to think critically, write concisely and present herself as a professional public servant. She explains, “I have the education, skills and experience to direct a multi-million dollar organization that serves thousands of people and beneficially impacts many people. Much of my work is on the cutting edge of community development, public-private partnerships, and much more. The Maxwell MPA not only helped me with the instant credibility behind the degree but also the tools necessary for the rubber to hit the road, so to speak. Maxwell is the real deal.”
When asked about her favorite classes at Maxwell, Health Services Management and Policy (HSMP) with Thomas Dennison, Aging and Policy with Doug Wolf, and Public Organizations and Management all top Jessica’s list. “The combination of theory with real world application is a strength of the HSMP program. Also, I have found in my current work that the aging population has an impact that reaches beyond social service and government programs into areas of economic and workforce development and much more.”
She continues, “Public organizations and management was very useful for a number of reasons. First of all it helped me learn how to digest a large amount of information and narrow it down to the nuts and bolts in a concise format. This class also introduced me to the concept of the elevator speech which is something I’ve used countless times since then. All of the core classes have turned out to be helpful. I think of public budgeting every year when we prepare the annual budget. Thankfully I’ve mastered Excel since that course!”
Her advice for those considering Maxwell? “Choose Maxwell! You will work hard, learn to play well with others and communicate more effectively. Don’t think that Maxwell is only for those interested in public service at the federal level. Many Maxwell grads-in fact I think probably most of the Maxwell grads end up working at the local and state levels in their own communities. ‘Big Change’ happens at the local and state levels and it’s an amazing experience to be part of it. The beauty of the Maxwell program is that you are prepared for any type of public service and you leave united in the pursuit to ‘transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.'”
Jessica can be contacted at email@example.com.
To read more alumni profiles, visit the Office of Alumni Relations website.