A transformative leader, Gallas served as president of ASPA from 1976-1977. She has been described as a dedicated and committed leader.
ASPA Executive Director Antoinette Samuel expressed deep sorrow over her passing. “As the first female president of ASPA, Nesta led ASPA through an important period in its history and provided a shining example of leadership in the association. She was a committed leader with a passion for public service and believed in the role that ASPA should play in serving as a bridge where practitioners and academicians meet. Her lifetime dedication to effective public administration and strengthening ASPA is without debate. We will miss her dearly.”
She was joined by ASPA President Tom Liou. “We have all benefitted greatly from Nesta’s leadership within ASPA and other organizations dedicated to enhanced public service. She was a pioneer and offered extraordinary guidance in both the academic and practitioner world. Her spirited dedication to teaching a new generation of public servants and educating those in the field was unparalleled. We are grateful for her contributions and will miss her,” said Liou.
In recognition of Gallas’ commitment and service to ASPA, the society is collecting tributes from friends, ASPA members, students and others who knew or were inspired by Gallas.To submit a tribute for inclusion in PA TIMES, print and online editions, please send tribute along with your name, title and affiliation to ASPA’s Communications Director Melissa Williams at email@example.com.
Gallas’ official obituary is reproduced below.
Nesta Mabyn Gallas died in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, 11 August 2012. She was born in Herne Bay, England, on 29 August 1917, the second daughter of William Pring Williams and Katherine Tardrew. Nesta moved to California with her family in 1923. They settled in Santa Monica. She entered college at the age of fifteen and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with honors from UCLA in 1938. While at UCLA she was the May Day Queen and played the cello in the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and chamber music at the Biltmore Hotel.
Following graduation, Nesta worked for the Los Angeles County Civil Service from 1938 to 1942 where she met her future husband, Edward Gallas. Edward and Nesta married in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1943. Following Edward’s service in the Navy during the War, they moved first to Northern California and then with two sons to Honolulu where she worked for the Civil Service Commission and had two daughters.
From 1953 to 1958, Nesta was the first female Personnel Director for the City and County of Honolulu. The family than moved to Los Angeles where she studied for and received a Master’s and Doctorate in Public Administration at the University of Southern California in 1967 and served on the faculty.
Following relocation to New York City, Nesta worked at the United Nations as a Public Administration Officer. From 1968 to 1986 she was a professor at City University of New York, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she was also the Dean of Graduate Studies. She became Professor Emeritus in 1986.
Widely published and a mentor for many women and men, Nesta was active in professional organizations throughout her career. She was elected to membership as a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration in1973. She was the first woman president of the American Society for Public Administration, 1976-77, and she received its Cushman Award for outstanding achievement in advancing the practice of public administration. Nesta co-authored with Edward Gallas and Ernest Friesen the seminal textbook on court management, Managing the Courts.
After retirement, Nesta and Edward worked together on numerous international projects for the World Bank and the State Department (US AID). Their work took them to Jamaica, Moldova, Thailand, and China, among other locations.
Nesta loved art, wine, family and friends. She was a master of drawing people out and never ceased to ask difficult questions, while simultaneously maintaining her own fierce privacy. A lifelong gardener, she designed and tended orchids at her home in Palos Verdes, California, and she created a “things found” sculpture garden in Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Even up to the final moments of her life, Nesta had a passion for examining and understanding her experience.
She was predeceased by Edward Gallas, her beloved husband of sixty-seven years and lifelong colleague. She is survived by her four children: Geoff Gallas of Philadelphia, William (Boo) Gallas and wife, Diane Graner Gallas of Manhattan Beach, California, Karen Gallas and husband, Dave Edwards of Peacham, Vermont, and Stephanie Gallas of Vergennes, Vermont; eleven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.