Tag: government

Don’t Just Vote, Vote Smart: Resources for Maximizing Your Interests at the Polls

Don’t Just Vote, Vote Smart: Resources for Maximizing Your Interests at the Polls

Voting is an important public right and civic duty. However, voting in a way that maximizes your interests requires more than just checking boxes on a ballot – it takes research.

This research takes time and may seem daunting. Fortunately, there are many existing tools that can help make it easy to answer important questions, like:

  • What do measures and propositions actually do?
  • What do candidates stand for, and what have they done in the past?
  • Who has financed support or opposition campaigns for these propositions and candidates?

We have collected some resources to help you enjoy learning more about the contents of your ballot. However you might be voting this year (by mail, official ballot box, or at the polls), make a plan, and don’t forget to vote by November 3rd

County Voter Guides

Your county voter guide provides a great first look into candidates and initiatives. Every registered voter should have received a county-specific voter guide in the mail that contains:

  • Important logistical information including procedures on how to vote, ballot drop off box locations, and in-person vote center locations,
  • A sample ballot,
  • Brief statements from all candidates running for offices other than U.S. President, and
  • Full text of local measures in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

If you can’t find your paper voter guide, you should be able to find a digital copy on your county’s website (here is the Sacramento county’s voter guide). You can also review a California-wide voter guide produced by the Secretary of State. This contains similar information and should have also come in the mail.

Organizational Voter Guides

Many non-profits and other organizations have voter guides that state which candidates, propositions, or measures the organization supports or opposes. If there are organizations you support (think about those monthly donations you may make), check if they have posted a voter guide for this upcoming election on their website. 

If you would like to read a bit more and learn more about both sides, many non-partisan groups have developed clear and engaging guides for curious voters. We’ve collected a few of our favorites to share with you!

BallotPedia

Ballotpedia is non-partisan, neutral resource that aims to provide people with accurate and objective information about policy and politics. There are many helpful resources on their California webpage, but for this election you may find the following web pages particularly useful:

Voter’s Edge

Voter’s Edge asks you to enter your address and provides you with a sample ballot. Explore candidate endorsements, top priorities, political resumes, and even campaign donor information. This non-partisan non-profit has done the hard work for us, compiling videos from diverse sources, summaries, and organizational information on one centralized sample ballot for you to explore. They even let you save your choices so when you sit down to vote (or head to the polls), you have your selections ready to go. Voter’s Edge provides links to your Easy Voter Guide as well, available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean.

CalMatters

CalMatters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom committed to explaining California policy and politics. They have put together a full-service (and fully-entertaining) voter guide for California’s election:

  • Proposition Guide: Explore both sides of every proposition through an engaging 1-minute video. Scroll down for information about fiscal impacts and additional news stories to educate your vote.
  • Gimme Props: Want to gamify the process? This quiz asks a series of simple questions on each issue to help you understand which side may best align with your ideals.
  • Crossword Puzzle: Looking for further entertainment? Put your prop knowledge to work in this crossword puzzle featuring in-depth knowledge of each proposition! 

Campaign Finance Tools

While Ballotpedia contains a lot of information on campaign finance, the following resources can help you learn more about who financed campaigns supporting or opposing the contents of your ballot:

  • Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), Top 10 Contributors List, November 2020 General Election: The FPPC uses data from the Secretary of State to generate a list of the top 10 contributors to support and opposition campaigns for each proposition on the ballot. This is a great resource to explore first.
  • Secretary of State, Campaign Finance Activity, Propositions & Ballot Measures: Provides the full dataset that the FPPC uses to generate the top 10 contributors list.
  • Secretary of State, Campaign Finance: Candidates & Elected Officials: Provides a full dataset of contributions to each candidate running for a position in the California State Legislature.
  • Federal Election Commission, Browse Data: Provides a full dataset of contributions to each candidate running for U.S. President, the U.S. Senate, or the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Center for Responsive Politics, orgopensecrets.org: Provides great background information on federal-level campaign finance along with the same information as the Federal Election Commission’s webpage listed above.

Friends, Family, and Your Community

This research doesn’t have to be a solitary activity! Sharing notes and talking with others can help you process which candidates, propositions, or measures you truly want to support. You can also help others by encouraging them to do their own research – or you might even send them this blog post!

Path to Public Service Profile Featuring Gloria Earl

Path to Public Service Profile Featuring Gloria Earl

Name: Gloria Earl

Job Title: Regional Support Manager (Staff Services Manager I – Specialist)

Recommended Reading:
People Are Never the Problem – Dr. Robert Watts
We Do Not Make Widgets Ken Miller
Extreme Government Makeover – Ken Miller

Song stuck in your head right now:  “I Smile” by Kirk Franklin


What was your path into public service?

My path into public service began in 2001 with State Compensation Insurance Fund in Fresno, California. My initial title with the state was as a Workers Compensation Insurance Technician (WCIT). I became a Lead WCIT after my first year and received awards for streamlining processes and assisting workers so they could get back to work sooner than anticipated. Although I did not know that I was going into public service, I did know that as a mother of two at the time I was ready for an enhanced income. I also knew that I wanted to stay in an industry that will allow me to help people and I was willing to work hard to support my family. I realized early on the importance of remaining humble, being true to myself by being of service to others, being a lifelong learner, and having a mentor. 

In 2006, I had the opportunity to move my family to Chicago, Illinois where I worked as an Underwriting Assistant for Chubb Insurance and Zurich North America. It was my education, prior insurance experience and state service that helped me meet the qualifications needed to get these positions. Upon returning to California in 2008, I was blessed with the opportunity to get reinstated with the state as a Disability Insurance Program Representative with the Employment Development Department (EDD) in Fresno, California.

It was with EDD that I learned that there were multiple career paths I could follow within the state. I learned of promotional opportunities by volunteering with a non-profit organization very similar to NxtGov, and realized that it was simply a matter of putting forth the time and effort to reach my career goals. I returned to school part-time in late 2010 to obtain a second degree and graduated on May 17, 2013. I was blessed to receive a promotion to an Associate Governmental Program Analyst (AGPA) with the EDD Veteran’s Unit and relocated to Sacramento, California in 2013.

From there, I accepted a position and transferred within EDD to become a Project Manager within the Workforce Services Branch. In 2016, I promoted to an EDD Regional Advisor (Staff Services Manager I -SSM I Specialist). To further enhance my Project Management and Technical Assistant experience, I accepted a position, and lateral transferred to the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB), which is where I work currently as their Regional Support Manager (SSM I – Specialist). 

I have remained in public service for the past 16 years because the state has many opportunities for lifetime learners that have the passion and drive to be of service to others. I remain in public service because I can stay true to passion, inspire and empower others by sharing knowledge, skills, while meeting great people and growing along the way. 

What do you do in your current position, and what is something you are working on right now? 

Currently, as the Regional Support Manager with CWDB, I am blessed to work collaboratively with consultants and other technical assistance providers to provide workforce technical assistance to all 45 Local Workforce Development Boards throughout the state. I was fortunate to take lead on the Governors first workforce initiative that focused on regionalism after the passing of the 2014 Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA). I also have had the opportunity to spearhead the development of innovative tools and resources to help transfer knowledge to regional staff, Executive Leadership and my fellow teammates. I enjoy the opportunity to collaborate with other state agencies to learn from one another, and partner to accomplish workforce system change goals. 

Right now, I work two additional jobs. To constantly remind myself of the importance of customer service, I am a part-time Ticket Taker with the Sacramento Kings. As a lifetime learner, I desired to learn more about the importance of organized labor and workforce laws, so my third job is as the Secretary/Treasurer of the International Alliance Theatrical Stage Employees union. Within the next few years, if not sooner, I aspire to continue enhancing my skills by promoting to a SSM II or SSM III with a state agency that is looking for innovative ways to enhance their business processes/procedures, customer service, succession planning efforts, grant/project management, and staff empowerment. Throughout my career, whether private or public, it has been imperative to work under or surround myself with true leaders and work alongside a team to accomplish goals. I desire to be in a position where I can share my knowledge, experience and passion to help others to help the organization succeed and accomplish their goals, mission, and fulfill its vision.  

What cautionary tip would you give to someone looking for a job in state service? 

BE PATIENT, obtain a mentor/coach that may already be in state service, and understand it is a job trying to get a state job. 

I am not particularly a fan of the process to apply for a state job as a current employee of the state. I have heard nothing nice about the process from individuals desiring to work for the state. The process is way too time-consuming and can be very overwhelming to the average layman. The theory behind the application process seriously needs to be re-evaluated and streamlined in ways to find qualified individuals without taking up weeks of their time to apply for a job. It should be mandatory that hiring managers provide feedback to everyone who is provided an in-person interview. 

What was your strategy for applying to public service positions? In hindsight, would you change your approach?

I did not have a strategy when I applied for a position in public service. When I originally applied, I used the skills I learned in high school on how to properly complete an application and resume. The exam was taken at a physical location with an exam booklet and a scantron. It felt like I was taking the SATs.  The skills gained while in high school and through prior employment helped me get my foot in the door. I truly wish I had exposure to the career opportunities available in public service while I was in high school.  

My advice to anyone looking to begin their career in public service with the state is to be patient and humble. Let the reason you want to work in public service be your motivation. Gain access to mentors/coaches, particularly one that is in state service. Volunteer to gain skills, knowledge, and obtain the fundamentals needed to gain the position you want.  


Check out our other Paths to Public Service Profiles! [slide-anything id=’1779′]

Interested in sharing your story? Let us know!

Servant Leadership: Still Relevant in the 21st Century Workforce

Servant Leadership: Still Relevant in the 21st Century Workforce

Guide Civil Service Leadership Forward Using Servant Leadership

By Tonia Burgess, NxtGov’s Director of Professional Development

 

“The only test of leadership is that somebody follows” – Robert Greenleaf

Change is imminent in the government workforce. According to the 2018 Gallup poll 66 percent of employees in the United States are unhappy, and 13 percent of the remaining 34 percent are disengaged with their jobs.  Emerging leaders should consider conducting a self-examination of their personal “why” before taking a job that can negatively influence the work experience of others. 

As individuals prepare to lead, it is important they assess their intent and motive to lead others.  Ask yourself, who will you lead and how will you lead? The way you answer this question will shape organizational culture.

Traditional leaders lead from a hierarchical perspective that is top-down focused on the executive level, to middle managers, employees, and lastly customers.  Servant leaders take the opposite view.  A servant leader functions from an inverted triangle where customers are at the top, employees next, management, and lastly executive leadership. 

Servant leadership embodies an inverted triangle. A servant leader devotes himself/herself to serving the needs of others; focuses on meeting the needs of those they lead; develops others and brings out the best in them: coaches, mentors, and encourages others; facilitates growth; and builds a sense of community that engages individuals. All of these factors demonstrate the characteristics of a servant leader. 

Funnel Visual of Servant Leadership

Robert Greenleaf a landmark leader introduced the concept of servant leadership during the 20th century. The tenets of his work continue to lend themselves to the discipline of organizational leadership and development. Greenleaf identified three significant organizations he believed were appropriate to facilitate servant leadership and they were: churches, universities, and businesses. And yes, Greenleaf expressly considered government, as a large organization or business. Greenleaf stated, “all holders of power are suspect and all actions that stem from authority are subject to question. Who and how does it serve?” Moreover, he postulated “whoever will be great among you must be your servant.” 

Greenleaf’s, style of leadership may seem unorthodox to many, especially in government.  However, as government evolves in the 21st century with variations in technology and a diverse workforce, the next generations of civil service leaders would do well to explore and adapt key principles of servant leadership to guide government forward.   


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Searching for the Invisible

Searching for the Invisible

NxtGov’s Participation in the Homeless Point-in-Time Count

By Kelly Joy, NxtGov Member

In January, the Community Engagement Team at NxtGov participated in Sacramento’s Point-in-Time count of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness throughout the region. The PIT count relies on hundreds of local volunteers to canvas set geographic areas throughout the county, and every volunteer directly contributes to making the PIT count as accurate and successful as possible. The information obtained during the PIT count gives not only valuable insight into the needs of a vulnerable population, but also potentially increases state and federal funding resources available in the community. Without enough trained volunteers, there are fewer people counted, which means the stories of those people are not heard and their needs are less likely to be met. NxtGov volunteers joined with staff members of the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council and other representatives of state and local government to walk the streets of Sacramento and count the number of people experiencing unsheltered homeless. I was one of the NxtGov members who were proud to participate in such an important event for the community, and happy that our efforts helped make this important event a successful one.

There were dozens of groups of volunteers that walked the streets of Sacramento during the 2019 PIT count. The group I walked with surveyed a northern region in Sacramento’s “grid” area. We interviewed almost twenty people who were sleeping without shelter. We encountered even more that we were unable to interview.

One of the first people we interviewed was sitting on a bench at the light rail station. She said that one thing she would want to change about the homelessness system is the judgment and lack of dignity for people experiencing homelessness. “Sometimes we need a hug to get through it all. Just someone to care,” she said. She added that she felt blessed by God to be where she was in that moment to talk to people who cared to hear her story.

There were two young adults who didn’t “look homeless” by a stereotypical definition, but we interviewed them to make sure. They were both living on the streets. One got emotional and asked if we knew somewhere he could take a shower. I thanked them for their time when we finished the interviews and told them the information they provided would really make a difference. “You promise?” one of the men asked. I replied that I was positive that it would make a difference, and he seemed to be a little reassured by that.

We walked past a man trying to sleep in a planted area next to the sidewalk. He got up and offered to answer our questions. Our conversation was interrupted a number of times for him to answer questions I hadn’t asked him. After my initial confusion, it became clear that he was answering questions from another voice that I couldn’t hear. My heart sank even further when he said that he became homeless four days ago.

We encountered a veteran who responded “You’re doing the homeless count? Oh yeah, it’s January again.” He had been homeless long enough to witness many PIT counts, which take place once every two years. He had also grown up in foster care. I couldn’t help but think of the systems we have that are meant to protect people like him.

We happened across a woman who was living without shelter in a family of five, a rarity to find during the PIT count. She seemed to have a bright spirit, but there were moments during the interview that her answers felt like they carried more weight. “I have been homeless before, but it’s taking me a bit longer to come out of it this time for some reason.”

We encountered another young woman shortly after. The woman suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder due to physical family violence. She was also visibly pregnant.

We encountered a number of people living without shelter. There were a number of times that only one person out of our group of four saw someone. I couldn’t help but wonder to myself how many others were there that we weren’t able to find. Every person we did find, however, will not only contribute to our understanding of who is experiencing homelessness in our state, but also made a lasting impression on all of the volunteers who participated on the night on the count.

I don’t know the names of the people I surveyed since the surveys were anonymous, but I don’t expect that I will ever forget their faces. They were all completely different people with varied needs and experiences, but all were in a very vulnerable situation in that moment. I was glad to be part of a group that was willing to look and see the humanity in what is often considered an “invisible” problem.

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How Can Government Embrace Innovation Without Fear?

How Can Government Embrace Innovation Without Fear?

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Government is risk-averse, and for good reason; but when risk-aversion paralyzes and disables progress and evolution, it’s time for government employees to seek out other options to design and deliver public services. Amidst the layers of bureaucracy, government employees often struggle to see how their work makes an impact. How can employees make the change they want to see in the world? The answer may lie in the evolving world of agile-methodologies and user-centered design.

What if public servants worked directly with the user of a government service in order to deliver immediate value? Passionate public servants could find an opportunity to test out ideas and make adjustments more quickly and effectively than through the traditional path of change in government.

The Challenge
NxtGov Ambassadors and the NxtGov Executive Team considered these issues and developed this challenge statement for fellow public servants:

Users First: Embracing Innovation without Fear

User expectations and our employees’ ability to deliver collaborative, innovative, holistically effective processes and services are dependent on having a flexible and trusting environment that allows us to be experimental and build upon innovative ideas without the fear of failure or repercussion.

How might we eliminate restrictive practices that impose an expectation of perfection and finality that exclude the end-user of the process or service? How might we change the current “traditional” practices that impede our workforce from being agile and adopting human-centered design practices in our daily work?

  • Do you want to cultivate your good ideas into solutions that give value?
  • Do you want to team innovative pathways to California’s most challenging enterprise problems?
  • Do you want to create a culture that can sustain, advance and accelerate services to society?

You Can Help Us Find the Answers

NxtGov is partnering with ORA Systems Inc., APSEA, GovOps and others in the California Innovation Playbook for Government Change Agents (Cal-IPGCA) Training program. The program will address this issue (and others) with help of this year’s cohort of Leaders, Innovators and Change Agents in government.

Are you a government employee interested in participating in the Cal-IPGCA Cohort 2018? One lucky NxtGov member will qualify for a scholarship to participate in this year’s program. Applications are due July 31st.

Feel free to reach out to our NxtGov leadership team or see here to learn more about the Cal-IPGCA program. The program takes place from August 9th- December 6th.

Apply Now

Learn More

DISCLAIMER: This is an unofficial organization that is not connected to any one government entity.