4 Prominent Politicians Who Started in Public Administration

A master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) will push the doors of your political career wide open. There are a number of professionals who started with an MPA degree and worked their way toward greatness in their individual fields. Here are some famous MPA graduates you may already know, as well as a quick peek into their diverse career paths.

Ray Kelly

Known for serving the city of New York as Police Commissioner, Raymond Walter Kelly (or Ray Kelly) started with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration before getting his MPA from Harvard. Kelly was known as the longest-serving NYPD Commissioner in history and the first to hold the position for two non-consecutive tenures (1992–1994 and 2002–2013).

Aside from his famous work as commissioner, Kelly held 25 other command positions over the life of his career. In 2013, Kelly was nominated for Secretary of Homeland Security and considered “very well qualified for the job” by President Barack Obama, though Kelly never confirmed or denied interest in the position.

Greg Mathis

As a judge and TV celebrity, Judge Greg Mathis started out with a rough past growing up on the streets of Detroit. Despite numerous arrests and time spent in jail, Mathis was able to move on to get his degree in Public Administration from Ypsilanti and begin working in Detroit’s City Hall. He started as an unpaid intern before getting a position as an assistant to a city council member.

Greg Mathis later went on to go to law school but was denied his license for several years due to his criminal past. He became a district court judge for Michigan’s 36th District in 1995 as the youngest in the state to hold this position.

Shaun Donovan

Currently the Director of Office of Management and Budget, Shaun Donovan earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University with his master’s degrees in Public Administration and Architecture. He previously served as the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development before moving to the position of United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. From there he was appointed by Barack Obama to move to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget in 2014 and confirmed by the Senate in a vote of 75-22.

David Petraeus

He might be more infamous than famous due to his resignation during an FBI investigation in 2012, but look where an MPA got David Petraeus. As the director of the CIA, Petraeus attended Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth before getting his master’s in public administration and doctorate in international relations from Princeton University. He worked in a number of military positions before being appointed as the director of the CIA in 2011.

Clearly the career paths for a Master of Public Administration are as varied as possible. If you are considering a political career, you will be able to move in nearly any direction. Many of these famous political figures didn’t start in the limelight, but moved up from humble beginnings due to hard work and smart career moves.