What inspires someone to become a changemaker?
For Jenae Keith, it was an internship with the National Economic Council during the 2012 Obama Administration. It was there she saw firsthand how sound policies could influence decision-making and generate solutions to effect real change. From that moment on, Jenae has asked herself, "How can I use the skills I acquired during my internship to solve problems that I'm passionate about?"
One answer was to further her education. After evaluating several options, including law school and several master's programs, Jenae decided to pursue Harvard Kennedy School's online Public Leadership Credential. "I wanted flexibility -- something that would let me do much of my learning on my own time so as not to disrupt my work schedule. I also wanted the Harvard rigor, the case study method of teaching, and the network." Of course, those weren't the only things that drew Jenae to the program. "The PLC's mission of 'inspiring the next generation of changemakers' really spoke to me. It was exactly what I was looking for."
Twelve months, six (6) six-week courses, and one capstone later, Jenae received her Public Leadership Credential: a formal recognition of her Harvard achievement. Was the experience everything Jenae hoped it would be? "Absolutely! I would 100% do it again. I went into the program to learn how to help address economic challenges, specifically in Black communities, but had no idea where to start. The PLC equipped me with those skills by teaching me how to identify and assess ALL of the causes contributing to a problem; implement a sound, ethical solution; leverage data; and get people to support my suggested solution."
As much as Jenae would like to quickly solve every problem facing her community, the PLC helped her develop both patience and persistence. "Because of everything I learned in this program, I now have a framework I can use in any situation to chip away at a problem and move the needle forward bit by bit to create incremental change. I think that's huge and will help me to be a more effective leader throughout my career and in life."