The MPP program at MSU allows mid-career students the flexibility they need to complete their degree. Jonathan Berman is one of several MPP students who are already engaged in full-time policy work. An Environmental Quality Analyst and Senior Project Manager at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, he entered the program in Fall 2015 with over a dozen years of real-world experience.
Jonathan has long had an interest in environmental issues. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Environmental Policy and Behavior in 2002. Prior to working at the DEQ, he was employed by the Washtenaw County Department of Public Works Solid Waste Program.
Jonathan’s current work involves the review and management of a variety of water infrastructure projects in several municipalities. These include reviews of important water and sewage projects and approval of applications for plant upgrades, water mains, and relief sewers. He manages an impressive forty-one Stormwater Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) grant projects. His work administering state grant and loan assistance programs includes checking eligibility guidelines and ensuring adherence to statutes that protect the health of Michigan’s citizens and its environment.
Jonathan’s work requires attention to detail. This is particularly true when reviewing grant and loan applications for infrastructure projects. Writing is another vital skill he practices both at work and within the MPP program.
The program also allows Jonathan to explore key policy questions related to his work. He found PPL 806, Policy Evaluation, to be one of the most interesting and useful classes so far. This course examines many aspects of policy evaluation as well as program design, implementation, and monitoring.
“After taking this one required class, I am better equipped to make recommendations to my superiors for better program administration as well as to manage my projects from a policy perspective,” Jonathan says.
He has also taken advantage of his specialization courses at MSU’s Institute of Water Research.
“[These courses] have been very helpful to me in building my knowledge of watershed management which is very relevant to the storm water infrastructure projects that I review.”
He plans to further develop his organizational skills as well as improve his knowledge of data analytic software. He notes that prior to his career at DEQ, he did not fully appreciate the utility of computer programs, including commonly used applications like Excel and Access. He recommends that students become familiar with tools like these.
Jonathan’s desire to improve his management skills is reflected in his plans to become involved in a public speaking organization. He has also considered participating in a leadership program.
“I plan to volunteer locally on watershed management issues,” he adds.
Jonathan plans to complete the program in Fall 2018. He hopes to advance along his current career path to a higher specialist or management position. Jonathan’s commitment to his work and initiative in gaining new skills is an excellent example for all our MPP students.