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Mazza Fellowship Provides Local Government Experience to MPA Student Nate Cole

January 17, 2024

He is the fourth recipient of the Dominic F. Mazza County Management Fellowship, named in honor of a 1985 alumnus.

Nate Cole joined the Maxwell School’s top-ranked master of public administration (M.P.A.) program last summer with a good idea of what he wanted to do upon completing his studies.

Nate Cole
Nate Cole

“I want to work in local government,” says Cole, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from St. Bonaventure University in 2023. “I think that local government is where you see the impact of what you do.”

While taking courses such as State and Local Financial Management at Maxwell, the Livonia, New York, native is gaining practical experience in local government through a fellowship that honors a Maxwell M.P.A. alumnus who devoted himself to public service.

As the recipient of Livingston County’s Dominic F. Mazza County Management Fellowship, Cole has a front-row seat to the inner workings of county government and, just a few months in, has had opportunities to work on critical issues like housing.

“We’re trying to find ways to attract developers,” he explains of the county of roughly 62,000. He says affordable and available housing is a big need in the largely rural county located about 100 miles southeast of Syracuse.

The fellowship’s namesake, Mazza, is retired and resides in Albany. Three years after earning a Maxwell School M.P.A. in 1985, he became Livingston County’s first administrator, serving until 2009. He is credited with professionalizing the budget process, overseeing the modernization of the county’s facilities and centralizing services, among numerous accomplishments. In addition, he is the former president of the New York State City/County Management Association (NYSCMA) and has taught ethics and budget training programs for the New York State Association of Counties for many years.

“It is an honor to be in this program,” says Cole. “The fellowship has provided unique opportunities that I wouldn’t be able to get in school. One that stands out to me is attending the strategic planning meeting with the board of supervisors. In that meeting, I was able to see how the county government makes decisions about its plans. That strategic planning is what really drives what the county’s goals are for the future.”

Also beneficial: Mentorship from Livingston County Administrator Ian Coyle. “He has shown me what it takes to be a county administrator,” says Cole. “I’ve learned about his philosophy of what is important in local government.”

“I want to work in local government. I think that local government is where you see the impact of what you do.”

Nate Cole, M.P.A. student

Cole is the fourth recipient of the fellowship.

“Fellowships and formal internship programs are a great way to introduce people like Nate to career path possibilities in the field of local government management,” says Coyle. “In this fellowship, he has the opportunity to work directly with me as county administrator and has participated in strategic planning work sessions, shared services panel discussions and economic development department meetings.”

Cole’s interest in local government began in high school and grew during his undergraduate studies. He interned with former New York Congressman Chris Jacobs and gained experience working with Empire State Development’s Rochester office.

At Maxwell, Cole has gained experiences outside the classroom that have furthered his career interest. For instance, he was among a group of students who were sponsored to attend the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) annual conference in Austin, Texas, this past fall. Comprised of those appointed to local government roles, the ICMA has long included a strong network of Maxwell alumni, many of whom studied public administration.

“I was able to meet and talk with a lot of local government professionals and Maxwell alumni,” says Cole of the experience.

He has also attended numerous panels and events that he says have provided valuable insights, starting with the M.P.A. colloquium that served as an introduction to the Maxwell School; events included an alumni panel, “What is a public service perspective?” More recently, he took part in Maxwell’s Local Government Day, organized to inspire students and forge connections with alumni and friends.

When considering graduate schools, Cole says he looked at several options offering M.P.A. programs. But, he says, “Maxwell was the obvious and first choice. It has been great.”

By Steve Buchiere

Published in the Spring 2024 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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