#NCLGBA21 Recap Series: Combining Creativity and Data in a Budgeting Career

Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring reflections on the 2021 Summer Conference. If you would like to share your experience, please email admin@nclgba.org.

Our next #NCLGBA21 Conference Recap comes from Ashlee Anderson, one of the scholarship winners for the 2021 Summer Conference, and MPA Candidate at North Carolina Central University.

Hello fellow budgeting enthusiast! To all I did not have the opportunity to personally meet at the conference, my name is Ashlee Anderson, and I am currently in my second year of the Master of Public Administration program at North Carolina Central University. I am so honored to be selected as one of the Summer 2021 NCLGBA Conference scholarship recipients. I honestly did not have much experience with the public sector, particularly budgeting prior to this summer’s conference. However, my attendance at the NCLGBA Summer Conference in Wilmington opened my eyes to the many careers in budgeting offered state- and nationwide. Before attending the conference, I had other interests in the Public Administration field but frankly no desire to pursue careers in budgeting. I now admit that with the exposure experienced over the course of 3 days at this amazing conference, I have fallen in love with budgeting.

There were many insightful sessions opened my eyes to the fact that budgeting isn’t just about the numbers but about the impact we as public administrators are able to make through allocating funds. I particularly enjoyed the breakout sessions with Andrew Kleine and Alex Norman. Andrew’s session, “Turning Curves: How to get Better Results for Customers and Communities,” really drove home for me the integral role of budgeters in building an equitable community. Andrew shared the importance of being results-oriented and broke down how to use Results Based Accountability to ensure these results are achieved. In this mini session Andrew broke down how to use strategic planning and performance management to effectively use this tool.

I consider myself a creative and felt a sense of relief while attending Alex Norman’s session, “How I Learned to Stop Using Words and Love Design.” Prior to this session I feared that a career in the public sector meant trading creativity for policy, data, and reports. Seeing Alex present this same information in a creative way energized me and made me realize that in a budgeting career I will be able to marry my passion for creating and my love of data. After Alex’s session I felt I had gained new knowledge on how to present information to the public in a way that is Simple, Shareable, and Sexy and I now look forward to using these new skills in a future career.

I was most personally impacted by Thursday’s session: “Diversity is More than Just a (Buzz) Word”. Keyana Walston and Justin Amos did an amazing job facilitating what can sometimes be a difficult conversation and I am so thankful for the panelists who were so courageous in sharing their personal stories. After hearing their experiences, I felt even more empowered in my decision to pursue a career as a public administrator. As a black female I was especially taken by Patrice Toney’s experience, and later learning from her that there are currently only 3 black female budgeting directors, I understood why representation is so important.

Without this experience, and meeting and hearing the experiences of members of the public budgeting community, I would have never considered a career in public budgeting. I am so thankful to not only get out of the house for a beautiful weekend at the Wilmington Riverfront and put on actual clothes, but also to have been afforded the opportunity to be surrounded by such an amazing, diverse, and experienced group of public servants. I can’t wait to attend again in the future, perhaps as a member as the public budgeting community myself.