Class of 1972

The National Urban Fellows (NUF) experience was a key turning point in my life. By matching me with Tom Bradley, I was able to hone raw talent into more sophisticated and meaningful mastery and competency. I came to NUF with an adequate education at the baccalaureate level, a sound work ethic developed in the fields of Central California and a sincere desire to serve and be a change agent. The “NUF Bridge,” transported me to an enhanced education, pragmatic and constructive management readiness and expertise, and a superior sense for political and policy issues. The “NUF Bridge,” was the opportunity that transformed my life. I will be forever indebted and grateful.


Class of 1998

National Urban Fellows provides a training ground where participants can really build their skills sets, the confidence, and the networks they need to be able to move policy and drive a goal-setting agenda. Though I went to law school, it was my MPA and my experience at NUF that was the secret sauce to my success.


Class of 1983

My NUF mentorship experience provided me with the unique opportunity to work with NYC policy-makers at a time when they were aggressively pursuing a significant Federal waiver for Medicaid reform and redesigning the public hospital system. The exposure set me up for my 27 years in New York City government where I had the pleasure of working for four Mayors and provided me with the opportunity to create programs that impacted the lives of vulnerable New Yorkers.


Class of 1981

Had it not been for National Urban Fellows, I don’t know where I would be. I may not be at the top of the heap, but I’m pretty high up there. This program changed my life because it allowed me to look at leadership from a different perspective. It helped me to persevere both professionally and personally. I never thought about the NUF experience being difficult because it was fun.


Class of 2005

Ron Kim the first and only Korean American elected to the New York State Assembly is serving his fourth term of office. Ron was a National Urban Fellow in 2004 and upon MPA graduation, he pursued his passion of giving back to community by working at the Federal, State, and local level. He often cites his own experience watching his parents’ challenges as mom-and-pop store owners as inspirations for his career in public service and for his people-focused policy agenda. The National Urban Fellows program has been the stepping stone for Ron’s public advocacy, visibility and return on investment for his neighbors/constituents in Flushing, Queens.


Class of 1990

The National Urban Fellows program introduced me to the importance of understanding institutions, processes, behavior and policy in the field of Public Administration. The academic curriculum was robust, creative and afforded me deep knowledge of theories and case studies in implementation and execution in large organizations. Subsequent to my graduation one of the highlights of my professional career was serving as a Presidential Appointee to the U.S. Department of Commerce as the National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency, Washington, D.C.


Class of 1988

Nina recalls her perspective expanded in 1988 when she left her hometown of 11,000 people to become a National Urban Fellow. She was mentored by Robert Morgenthau – then District Attorney for New York City. I’m in Manhattan, but from New Mexico. I’m a Republican, he’s a Democrat. Suddenly I am immersed in management experience, data analysis, public interest, justice, equity issues and high level policy. It was absolutely fantastic! She kept her public interest focus and has served as a NUF Board Member/Officer for 11 years. She describes National Urban Fellows as the ecosystem of change in America.


Class of 2000

The National Urban Fellows program can be a defining and transformative opportunity — especially for people growing up in working-class and minority communities, as was my experience. A young Latino from Corona, Queens, and eager to serve my community, the National Urban Fellows program at Baruch College allowed me to transform that passion for public service from an avocation into an occupation. I will be forever indebted to those who made this program possible and grateful to all those who continue to do so.


Class of 2011

The National Urban Fellows gave me a life changing opportunity and an invaluable network that I still tap into daily. I was able to meet and gain an incredible mentor through the program, Michelle DePass, who still mentors me and is my sister to this day. I also live life knowing I have my incredibly talented cohort always beside me as my lifeline. When a person is running for office, or leading an organization, or taking on challenges and spaces that are not frequently occupied by people who look like us, a support network is the only way we survive. National Urban Fellows has given me a family and a support network that so many of you are a part of and I have so much that this organization has added to my life.


Class of 2008

So much depends on our networks and as the first generation in my family to go to college, there is so much I just didn’t know. The National Urban Fellows program helped change that for me. It comes with a built-in network of amazing alumni that are there to help, introduce and connect. National Urban Fellows changed the trajectory of my career by expanding my view and understanding of what was possible for me and those like me. And for that I will be forever grateful!.


Class of 1989

The National Urban Fellows is a reflective moment in time for me. It is one of the most positive and major influences in my life that really gave me an opportunity to succeed, both professionally and personally. There were so many “firsts” for me – moving to Cleveland, holding amazing professional positions: working for Cleveland City Council President, completing the Presidential Management Intern Program, working for NASA, and Cleveland State University. Although I valued every professional position, being an Associate Faculty for 15 years for the University of Phoenix is probably one of my most rewarding positions. I am so thankful for my MPA. On a personal note, I am honored that my daughter, Ayris T. Scales ‘03, is a NUF Alumnus. Since 1989, I continue to support the Program and to “pay it forward”. I love NUF!


Class of 1974

Karen I. Duckett, JD, RD (known affectionately as the KID) , has more than 40 years of architecture and planning experience-holding degrees in architecture, urban planning and law. Prior to establishing the firm in 1985. As the Public Projects Director of Atlanta’s Community Development Block Grant Program, she helped to change the landscape of downtown Atlanta. Karen authored and secured funding to implement the Environmental Identification program which gave “ownership” to public housing residents in the definition of exterior space outside their living unit. She was the first woman to head a Planning Department for a city with a population over 350,000. Alongside urbanist Lawrence Halprin, she fostered neighborhood and community self-determination in redevelopment. Through a series of award-winning design projects and buildings, Karen has developed a reputation for designing buildings that are as programmatically and technically innovative as they are cost and resource conscious. An advocate for sustainable design, she began integrating sustainability into every project long before LEED certification became a benchmark. Her most visible achievement is the design of the LEED- Gold Maynard Holbrook Jackson International Terminal in Atlanta, Georgia.


Class of 1976

Harvey Johnson, Jr. received a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from Tennessee State University, and a Master of Arts degree in political science from the University of Cincinnati. He was awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from Tougaloo College. In 1997, Johnson made history by being elected Jackson, Mississippi’s first African-American Mayor. In 2001, Jackson voters again chose Johnson for a second four-year term as Mayor of Mississippi’s Capital City. He was elected to a third term in 2009, making him the longest-serving mayor under the City’s mayor-council form of government, which was instituted in 1985. He left office in June of 2013. Johnson has served on numerous national, regional and local boards and commissions, including serving as President of the National Conference of Black Mayors, a Member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Advisory Council, and a Member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee. He also served on the Board of Directors of National Urban Fellows for 25 years, serving as secretary for 11 years. He is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and a life member of the NAACP. Johnson is also a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. He is a charter member of 100 Black Men of Jackson, Inc. Harvey Johnson, Jr. is married to Kathy Ezell Johnson, and they have two adult children, Harvey, III and Sharla. He is a member of Hope Spring Missionary Baptist Church, where he serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees./span>


Class of 1998

Councilwoman Hattie Portis-Jones, MPA is a second-term council member re-elected November 2017. She served as Mayor Pro Tem (2017) and is a recipient of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development’s Region 3 Economic and Leadership Development Program; Georgia Municipal Association’s (GMA) Certificate of Excellence; and National League of Cities (NLC) University Gold Level Certificate. She is currently an NLC Board of Director serving on its Legislative Action Committee and Chair of NLC’s - Energy Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee; NLC Leadership Fellows; Member, Water Now Alliance; Member, GMA-Federal Policy Advocacy Committee; and Board of Director (Treasurer), Georgia Municipal Black Caucus. As a member of the City’s six-member Legislative Branch, she develops policy, enacts laws for the well being of its 14,000+ citizens and ensures the proper stewardship of its resources. Councilwoman Portis-Jones is a veteran public servant who is semi-retired with extensive municipal government and non-profit experiences in executive positions of administration, finance, public works, and health. She served as a board of director for several non-profit organizations, - locally, nationally and internationally. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including recognition as one of the National Urban Fellows 50 Icons (2019); Woman of Courage in Government (2018); and Who’s Who in Black Atlanta (2017). ./span>


One of the academic requirements of the National Urban Fellows program is the development of a capstone project that is a significant and comprehensive body of work in conjunction with the nine month mentorship assignment. Fellows are assigned a professor for advisement and consultation throughout the capstone process. Capstone completion by Fellows every May represents a milestone in the fellowship program. It requires of Fellows countless hours,  endless review, attention to detail and accuracy, scholarship, exemplary writing skills and most important timely communication and collaboration with their professor.

Linda Fernandez Capstone

Linda Fernandez

Creating Change:
The Role of Artists in Anti-displacement
Robin Selwitz Capstone

Robin Selwitz

Breaking Down Barriers: Exploring Solutions to Obtaining & Returning Employment for Returning Citizens in Our Nation’s Capital