Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, November 26, 2012

Harvey applies analysis skills to help state protect communities

Teague Harvey

Teague Harvey's academic preparation for the Master of Public Affairs program was somewhat unusual: She double-majored in history and vocal performance at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Yet, she also pursued her interest in public affairs through part-time work with the Office of the Governor's Department of Constituent Services. That experience coupled with the example her father set through his public service as board chair for Windsor, a town just north of Madison, for about 20 years prompted Harvey look to the La Follette School for graduate training. She enrolled at La Follette in fall 2010 through its accelerated program that allows admitted, eligible undergraduates to begin taking courses toward earning a master's degree in domestic or international public affairs with a fifth year of study.

"As a classical opera singer preparing my senior recital, the youngest student at La Follette and a historian finishing my thesis on American colonial music propaganda, I was surprised to find myself surrounded by economists and statisticians," Harvey says. "However, I quickly realized that there were many common denominators between my classmates and I. My passion for analytical problem-solving and commitment to civic engagement are qualities that every La Follette student exemplifies. Both my professors and my classmates were a wealth of knowledge and creativity."

That the faculty embraces student individuality also drew Harvey to the school. "Despite my atypical journey to the MPA program, I quickly discovered a sense of belonging amidst the diverse course options," she says. "My history and music background fostered strong analytical skills and endless interpretive creativity, which are not unlike the abilities required of La Follette students."

Classes like Policy Analysis, Public Management and Public Budgeting broadened Harvey's worldview and sharpened her practical analysis skills. "These research and analysis techniques have been invaluable in my work experiences," says Harvey, who graduated in 2012 and joined the Wisconsin Department of Justice as a budget and policy analyst. "I oversee the entire State Crime Laboratory System, as well as the Handgun Hotline and concealed carry license budgets," she says. "I also wrote a budget paper that was included in DOJ's biennial budget request, which will be sent to the Legislature. This paper requested increased state funding for the Wisconsin Statewide Information Center, the state's intelligence fusion center."

Protecting communities doesn't always mean carrying a badge; sometimes it is a matter of exploring policy alternatives or finding creative ways to maximize public resources. Harvey says. "The La Follette School is well known for equipping graduates with an equal balance of quantitative and qualitative skills," she says. "Building upon this foundation, I have learned that budget and policy analysts can have a powerful impact of departmental operations. Creating an administrative environment that enables effective law enforcement is integral to ensuring public safety. Analysts can also challenge the status quo and help managers assess their capabilities through a fresh perspective."

After leaving the governor's office, Harvey joined the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs as the assistant to the Wisconsin Homeland Security Council. "I coordinated Council meetings and produced the 2011 Annual Report on Wisconsin's Homeland Security," she says. "This task involved interpreting and presenting information on law enforcement, emergency management, military, and public preparedness activities. Law enforcement is often most effective when it embraces community policing."

The principle of community involvement carries over into Harvey's life outside work. "I believe that policymakers should be involved in and knowledgeable about the community they intend to serve," Harvey says. Accordingly, she held several leadership positions on campus and in the community. She served as first-year student representative for the La Follette School Student Association; as editor-in-chief of the UW-Madison history journal; on the board of directors for Wisconsin Student Lobby, a nonpartisan, policy-oriented group that provides advocacy and research training to undergraduate students; and on the board of directors for the Dane County League of Women Voters.

Harvey notes that her passion for law enforcement research was facilitated by the flexibility of the La Follette School, which allows students to take courses through other departments. She conducted research under Michael Scott, a professor at the Law School's Frank Remington Center and the founder of the National Center for Problem-Oriented Policing. His courses emphasize an in-depth approach toward solving criminal justice problems and allowed Harvey to research topics that supplemented her La Follette skill set, such as the effectiveness of the campus police department's response to homeland security threats, legal authority surrounding police discretion and management of rehabilitative programs.

Through the Advanced Public Management course, Harvey honed her performance management skills and analyzed statewide interoperability efforts. Her capstone project was a realistic exercise in conducting and presenting collaborative analysis for the city of Milwaukee's fire department.

"Even though I was initially intimidated by the rigorous quantitative courses, I have only positive things to say about my MPA experience," Harvey says. "The classes were small, the professors were approachable, and the advising and career coordinators were endlessly helpful to me. I was told by two different agencies that they interviewed me partially because of the La Follette School's strong reputation."

"The Department of Justice is an excellent match for my public policy interests," Harvey continues. "I hope to continue to assist law enforcement agencies in researching problem-oriented policing strategies, which often include budgetary efficiencies. A delicate balance of data-driven policies and understanding of the community can enable officers to deter criminals and mitigate terrorism threats. While homeland security might not appeal to everyone, I am energized to see women become civically engaged and active public managers in underrepresented fields — I believe very strongly in giving women a seat at the policymaking table for homeland security and law enforcement discussions.

"The best policy solutions are discovered when diversity of thought is celebrated. The La Follette School strengthened my confidence to pursue these ideals."