ATLANTA —Alumna Jannine Miller, director of planning at the Georgia Department of Transportation, has advice for Andrew Young School policy students preparing to enter careers in public service.
“Every industry relies on the government in some way, shape or form, whether for laws and regulations that have to be passed, processes and procedures that have to be followed for safety and efficacy, funding and permits. You name it. Government touches it.”
Miller speaks from experience. Her career path has traversed public and private sectors and all levels of government. She began working on economic development and transportation planning in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget shortly after earning her MPA. Later, as the transportation policy adviser to Gov. Sonny Perdue, she worked on large-scale policy planning.
“We did some major overhauls in transportation governance funding then,” she said. “Our budget was about two billion dollars, but we never had a strategic plan for how to invest this money. So, we worked with the Georgia General Assembly to establish the director of planning position. It enabled us to put the funding plan into place.”
Miller had a few more stops on her career path before assuming the position herself. First, as director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, then in the private sector where she worked in the supply chain finance division of The Home Depot. She returned to government work at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, recruiting companies to relocate offices, manufacturing plants and distribution centers across Georgia.
In 2017, Miller’s career path took her to Washington, D.C., to work for two cabinet secretaries: first, as Senior Adviser for Rural Infrastructure under Secretary Sonny Perdue, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and later as Senior Adviser to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.
Miller said her time at the USDA further enriched her understanding of the ways the government interacts with various industries.
“The USDA has probably one of the broadest perspectives in federal government. While they certainly help farmers, that’s only part of it. They also invest in rural infrastructure, rural electric systems, rural broadband and rural water systems. They help rural businesses grow and develop. They house the U.S. Forest Service. That’s millions of acres of public lands throughout the country. And they also run food assistance programs like SNAP and school lunches.”
When Miller returned to Georgia in 2020, she was appointed to the Georgia Department of Transportation position she helped create a decade earlier. In this capacity, she oversees planning projects supported by about three billion dollars in federal and state funds.
“Transportation is an important area of public policy,” she said. “It’s important for our citizens who commute to work; it’s important for our folks to be able to get to healthcare appointments; it’s important for visitors to be able to travel around the state and for trucks to be able to deliver cargo to us.”
Knowing this, Miller doesn’t take her responsibility in helping to maintain and develop Georgia’s roads, highways and bridges lightly.
“Infrastructure is very complex,” she said. “We’re always interacting with local governments and locally elected officials. We do the work collaboratively, even though the final decision-making comes to my desk.”
Miller credits Georgia State with creating the foundation for her exciting career.
“It’s been so wonderful to experience this growth,” she said. “None of it would have been possible without Georgia State, certainly not without my MPA at Andrew Young, where the opportunities are broad and deep. So students, make the most of it. Volunteer, do an internship, just get your foot in the door and get real-world exposure. The sky’s the limit for anybody who attends our school.”
Story by Sumar Deen