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Clark announces new executive director for MPA senior leadership program

Paying forward a passion for public service
MPA Senior leadership group
“Helping leaders learn from collaboration is something that I have found very beneficial in my own MPA experience and this just seemed like a natural continuation,” says Bob Spellane, new executive director of Clark’s MPA Senior Leadership program (seated front row, far right, with current program students and staff).


The field of public administration is constantly changing, presenting new challenges as well as opportunities to better serve our communities. Clark University’s School of Professional Studies developed its MPA Senior Leadership program to be uniquely tailored to the needs of emerging and accomplished public leaders who want to boost their influence and grow their capacity to drive change in the public sector.

The program, launched in Fall 2019, has experienced a strong start with an outstanding group of students. When inaugural executive director Joseph O’Brien, former Worcester mayor, stepped down recently, John G. LaBrie, dean of the School of Professional Studies and associate provost for professional education, announced that Robert Spellane had accepted the position of acting Executive Director for the program. LaBrie said, “Bob brings years of public policy experience and expertise to the program.  We are excited to have Bob as part of the Senior Leadership program.”

Spellane’s career has been defined by a deep commitment to public service. He served five terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, representing the 13th Worcester district from 2001-2011, working on key issues like marriage equality, affordable healthcare, and pension reform. He is currently Vice President of Business Development at the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, a non-profit association offering a broad range of technical assistance to the state’s 52 community health centers, which provide innovative primary care to over one million medically underserved Massachusetts residents.

As a strong proponent of well-rounded people serving in the public space, agreeing to helm Clark’s premier public leadership program was a natural fit. “The idea of being able to recruit and identify professionals who have this same belief in public service and bring them together to learn and collaborate on different issues was a powerful draw,” he said.

MPA Cohort members
MPA SL cohort members at a residency session

The two-year MPA-SL program is designed for emerging and established public sector professionals who want to boost their influence, make a greater impact, and tackle bolder challenges. The program’s online format is supplemented by weekend residency sessions in cities across New England where participants meet with experts to address pressing local policy challenges. Students also benefit from one-on-one executive coaching and media training.

“This program is ideal for people who have a passion for public service or an interest in public service as it gives them opportunities and the resources to have a strong foundation to develop different growth paths within public service,” Spellane noted.

Spellane wants to expand the reach of the MPA-SL program because he believes that Clark’s program is not just for state and municipal employees. “If you’re working in the nonprofit sector or the private sector interacting with state and local governments, this program is a great fit for you. It provides opportunities to learn and think differently, and to network with those at different levels of government,” he said.

He is also impressed by the program’s personalized coaching and media training, components unique to the MPA-SL program. “This program seems much more realistic to me and has the foundation to become the premier MPA program for the region,” he said.

The coaching provides continuation based on the individual’s goals and objectives. “And since so much of what public service leaders have to deal with in today’s world involves the 24/7 news cycle and the impact of perception in the public sphere, media training is vital,” he noted.

Spellane received his undergraduate degree in political science from Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia and an MPA from the McCormack Graduate School at the University of Massachusetts Boston. “I always want to advocate for something that I believe in,” he said, noting that public service has long been his passion. He wants to pay his experience forward to other public service leaders, bringing his expertise to Clark’s program designed to maximize leadership potential.