Former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker is collaborating with the state’s newly elected officials for a program that is in partnership with the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. (Courtesy Photo)

By Mark F. Gray

The University of Maryland has teamed with another trained professional from the government sector to give it’s students a real life perspective on how the daily operations work.  Former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker will now collaborate with the state’s newly elected officials in a program that will be a partnership with the university’s School of Public Policy.

In a story first reported by Maryland Matters, the two-term former County Executive is working to develop a training institute for newly elected county and city officials.  Since Baker left office in January, he has also been appointed to a position on the University of Maryland Medical System Board of Directors.

The program will offer inexperienced elected county leaders practical advice on staffing and their transition into power. It also is expected to provide opportunities for them to network with more experienced officeholders and other newcomers in political leadership positions.  Baker is reportedly hoping the program will eventually be expanded to include top non-elected personnel, such as chief administrative officers, their deputies and city managers.

“There is no program, once you become county executive, where you go and learn the ins and outs from people who’ve done it before,” Baker told Maryland Matters.

It is expected to be patterned after the training that new members of Congress receive at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. According to its website,The Harvard Kennedy School is the global leader of public policy and public leadership education.  It offers an online professional credential program that prepares political leaders and legislators to represent and make an immediate political impact in their communities.

Many colleges and universities around the nation have been employing trained, experienced professionals who bring real world experience to campus to add to the academic process.  The courses designed by faculty at Harvard Kennedy School uses strategies from the adjunct faculty members to help students develop critical thinking skills and help learners improve their decision-making, leadership and policy-making skills, while moving to become effective public leaders.

“I think it’s going to be great for us and will give us a chance to highlight the work that Maryland is already doing with its great leadership program,” Baker stated.

As many professionals who make their way in teaching, Baker is using previously established relationships to help enrich the quality of the  potential program. After serving two years as head of the nonprofit County Executives of America, Baker is apparently trying to leverage that relationship to allow the organization to become a partner with the new leadership institute.

“We might want to do something in D.C. in partnership with [the National Association of Counties] at their office, when the county executives are here for lobbying, but the bulk of it will be at [the College Park campus],” Baker said.

The potential for this relationship may add to the legacy of President Wallace D. Loh as he enters what may be he his final year as the leader of University.

“The expertise and experience that [Baker] brings, joined with the academic assets of the University of Maryland, will result in an outstanding leadership and training” program, Loh said in a statement.

Full details of the program won’t be released until sometime this fall.

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

Baker Collaborating With UMD For Leadership Program

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