County Administrator Pickels To Attend Harvard Kennedy School

Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014 8:00 pm | Updated: 11:45 pm, Thu Mar 27, 2014.

By Mara Knaub, Yuma Sun staff writer

Robert Pickels started out as an attorney. Somewhere along the way, he ended up as Yuma County administrator.

“Although I feel that I have been somewhat successful in the latter role, I think that Yuma County would benefit from having an administrator that more thoroughly understands the academic and philosophical tenets of that position, along with proven methods for managing the varied issues we encounter in local government,” he explained.

Pickels will now have the chance to receive more formal training as a public administrator. He will be attending a program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, which is geared toward senior executives in state and local governments.

Kari Kent, president of the Arizona City/County Manager’s Association, announced this week that Pickels has been awarded one of two 2014 scholarships to attend the Harvard University Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program.

“I am very honored by the selection to attend the Harvard program. In my application, I talked about how my career goals and path have changed over the past several years,” Pickels said.

“Ultimately, my hope is that completion of this program will make me a better public servant for our community and reinforce many of the methods we currently use in Yuma County government,” he added.

For three weeks in July, Pickels will be immersed in an intensive, interactive program designed to help participants learn innovative ways of managing the real-world challenges and crises of government.

The program balances traditional and hands-on learning experiences to help seasoned public officials meet the changing needs of their constituents and communities.

The program operates as an interactive classroom, where faculty and participants work together on real-life case studies and learn from each other. One of the most frequently cited problems of public officials is how to create and engage in public discourse about difficult subjects.

Participants will be in an environment where the classroom serves as a forum for raising difficult issues and practicing the skill of creating and maintaining a conversation that leads to change.