In dedication to our leaders in public service, this week we are featuring a three part series on former fellows from the renowned City Hall Fellows program. The City Hall Fellows program was founded in 2007 by Bethany Rubin Henderson, an alumnus of the New York City Urban Fellows Program (1998-99), and has grown to a highly competitive leadership program that trains cohorts of young professionals for positions in public service in San Francisco, Houston and Baton Rouge. Ryan Wythe was a 2010 City Hall Fellow in San Francisco, where he was placed in the Controller’s Office as a performance analyst for various public health and human services projects in San Francisco. While Ryan was a fellow, he learned valuable professional development skills, analytical skills and a continued passion for public service.
By Ryan Wythe
My commitment to public service started much sooner than my participation in City Hall Fellows. While studying international development and public policy at UC Berkeley, I was selected as a Blum Center for Developing Economies Fellow that allowed me to conduct primary research in Ugunja, Kenya. My research focused on poverty alleviation and permaculture techniques that allowed women farmers to provide more nutritious and affordable foods to their families. It was also while I was a student that I began volunteering with the Berkeley Needle Exchange Emergency Distribution (NEED).
City Hall Fellows was the perfect opportunity for me to integrate my interests in public health, social justice and increasing the effectiveness of local government to better serve its most vulnerable populations. As a City Hall Fellow, I supported projects such as integrating behavioral health care with primary care in all of San Francisco’s city-run clinics, conducted an analysis of long-term care spending for the Human Services Agency to help better support their program needs, and assisted the Department of Public Health to analyze the effectiveness of different treatment programs for substance users. Because of the hands-on nature of City Hall Fellows, I was exposed to the intersections of politics, economics and, sometimes, a personality-driven process that shaped much of local government.
I use this experience in my current work as a Research Assistant for Resource Development Associates – an Oakland-based, mission-driven consulting firm that conducts program evaluation, grant writing and technical assistance for mental health and substance use projects run by county government agencies. One of my greatest strengths is working with public-sector clients who are facing many different political, funding and bureaucratic constraints in their work. Undoubtedly due to my fellowship with City Hall Fellows, I am able to easily empathize with my clients and engage in effective problem solving to help public health projects move forward to serve their intended communities.
Beyond my day-job, I volunteer with Berkeley NEED where I do the organization’s grant writing, data collection and analysis, contract execution and fundraising. I am also a member of Bay Area Mutual Aid, an informal group of social workers or people involved in social work that like to meet monthly and support each other in their work, facilitate workshops about social work and social justice, and create more opportunities for social workers to be involved in their communities. This fall, I started taking classes at the local community college to finish pre-requisite courses for nursing school. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work in local government with City Hall Fellows and hopes to leverage his fellowship experience through public health nursing.
Ryan Wythe earned his B.A. in International Development and Global Poverty at the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently a Research Assistant with an Oakland-based consulting firm working on several program evaluations for Mental Health Services Act projects, supporting the evaluation of Public Safety and Criminal Justice Realignment (AB109) programs in Bay Area counties and co-facilitating a resident-driven assessment of the public health system in the Southeast sector of San Francisco.
© Victoria Johnson 2012, all rights reserved.