ATLANTA — Public servant Jamilah Stephens, PMP®, a project manager in the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Innovation & Performance, is creating and supporting opportunities for tomorrow’s leaders to explore public service careers. Founder of a new networking association and new scholarship in the Andrew Young School, she’s leading others to the sector she loves.
“One of my missions in life is to expose students to the rewarding and influential career fields that are available in this sector,” Stephens said. “You can witness the direct impact of your work and create lasting change for everyday citizens, enriching their lives for many years to come. That is why I love it so much.”
Having worked in state and local government, Stephens’ dedication drives her to pay it forward. Her future began in 2006 while she took courses in the M.P.A. program, earned a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management and Social Enterprise, and worked as a graduate research assistant for then professor, now U.S. representative, Carolyn Bourdeaux.
Stephens entered the local arena as a special assistant to the City of College Park’s city manager in 2007. In this position, she picked up an expression from her manager that would prove to have a lasting impact on her career.
“Jamilah, local government is where the rubber hits the road.”
She soon expanded to statewide service as a public affairs officer with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice and senior project manager for the state’s Department of Drivers Services Program Management Office.
Soon after entering her current position with the Mayor’s Office of Innovation and Performance, Stephens founded the Georgia chapter of the International City/County Management Association’s Women Leading Government. Through this organization, she helps create career development opportunities for graduate students and working professionals who aspire to work in the public sector.
Stephens’ successes have also fueled her to reach back and support the next generation of public servants by endowing the “Neida Perry Endowed Scholarship for Public Service.” Established in loving memory of her late grandmother, the scholarship is her effort to impart a rich legacy of service and enrichment that will encourage and inspire future leaders while also providing financial assistance to support them along their journey.
“My grandmother instilled in our family the importance of education. As a part of her legacy, I hope this scholarship will make it easier for students to gain exposure and pursue career paths in the public sector.”
Stephens recognizes her time at the Andrew Young School has provided her a launching pad for furthering her life’s work while inspiring this dedication in others.
“Jamilah really embodies the Georgia State University DNA,” said Amanda Puché, director of development. “There is this continual self-improvement that I think is such an important thing to hold on to. After you graduate, that is not it; your learning is not over. You keep building and bettering yourself, and she does that.”
Story by Victoria Bowden, M.P.P. Candidate