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ASPA Keystone State Chapter Annual Awards Program

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By David Margolis
May 17, 2020

ASPA’s Keystone State Chapter held its annual Public Service Recognition Week awards event as a virtual meeting, replacing its traditional banquet format. Award categories and criteria for this year focused on the good work in which Keystone State Chapter members are engaging, innovative public service partnerships and students. The Chapter also recognized Millersville University, Penn State Harrisburg and West Chester University for their partnerships with the Chapter during the past year. Below are details about the award winners. Congratulations to all!

Chapter Lifetime Achievement Award: Marita Kelley

Marita Kelley’s 37-year public service career has included myriad financial and municipal management positions. Currently, she is central office regional director for the Department of Community and Economic Development. She has demonstrated ASPA principles including professional and non-partisan public service in her role as City of Harrisburg financial recovery coordinator. In 2011, Kelley initiated the effort to reactivate the Keystone State Chapter.  Subsequently, she served as chapter president and continues to contribute as a member of the Board of Directors.

Chapter Leadership Award: Tyler Sova

Tyler Sova is improving the effectiveness of chapter operations through his leadership on an in-house project to migrate both the Chapter website and email account to more manageable and affordable options. As an MPA student, he received the Chapter’s Student Paper Award and is a member of Pi Alpha Alpha. He is pursuing his public service career with the Federal General Services Administration as a financial management analyst. 

Innovative Public Service Partnership Award: The Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT)

For more than 10 years, CONNECT has been a pioneer in regional collaboration. More than 30 municipalities in Allegheny County participate as equal partners to identify policy challenges and advocate for collective solutions.  In addition to government officials, CONNECT engages private sector, nonprofit and foundation partners.  The University of Pittsburgh Center for Metropolitan Studies provides administrative and intellectual support that includes Graduate School of Public and International Affairs student interns. Three cross-sector policy working groups cover environmental and economic development, infrastructure and utilities coordination and public safety, health, and human resources.

Innovative Public Service Partnership Award: The City of Harrisburg and Penn State Harrisburg

Two related initiatives have engaged City of Harrisburg officials with Penn State Harrisburg graduate and undergraduate students. In an affordable housing capstone project, MPA students built upon a prior city housing study to develop a broad range of recommendations. In the second initiative, skills taught in a required course for undergraduate public policy majors were directed toward practical research projects regarding neighborhood blight, gender discrimination and underutilization of Reservoir Park. With support from Harrisburg government leaders and the School of Public Affairs, this partnership provides an ongoing means for city and university talent to combine their problem-solving skills to address issues of importance to Harrisburg residents.

Outstanding Scholar-Practitioner Award: Jennifer Bert

This new award category was created to recognize an individual who is working in a public administration field while pursuing graduate studies. As an MPA student at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, Jennifer Bert exemplified the ASPA ideal of bringing together research and practice. Her doctoral dissertation, titled “An Evaluation of the Family Self-Sufficiency Program in Pittsburgh Using Event History Analysis,” directly contributes to her work at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

Outstanding Student Award and Student Paper Award: Huiting Qi

For only the second time in seven years, the Keystone State Chapter honored an individual with two student awards. Huiting Qi earned the Outstanding Student Award for her doctoral studies at the Penn State Harrisburg School of Public Affairs (SPA) and the Student Paper Award for her recently published article, titled  “Strengthening the rule of law in collaborative governance.”  Qi served as a program project manager in Beijing local government before coming to SPA, where she has been a research and a teaching assistant.  

Outstanding Student Award: Emma Yourd

Emma Yourd majored in urban affairs and planning with a minor in policy research and analysis at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. She maintained a 4.0 grade point average in her MPA course work and received the Dean’s Award. She was engaged with professional associations and deeply involved in internships where she demonstrated an extensive commitment to public service.

Outstanding Student Award: John Tintera

John Tintera is completing his undergraduate degree at Millersville University with an impressive academic record and a passion for public service. In addition to scholarly achievements, he participated in multiple campus public service activities and was elected president of the Student Government Association. His volunteerism included work with local nonprofit organizations and he was selected for an internship with the Governor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs where he interacted with stakeholders across Pennsylvania.


Author: David Margolis is a 43-year ASPA member and is president of the Keystone State Chapter that now serves all regions of Pennsylvania.  He can be contacted at [email protected]

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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