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Alumna named federal Presidential Management Fellow

Nov. 25, 2005

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University alumna Dawn Heuschel of Parma Heights, Ohio, has been selected for a highly competitive fellowship that puts recipients on a fast track to management jobs in the federal government.

Heuschel, who earned a master of development administration degree from WMU in 2004, was one of 639 finalists out of more than 3000 applicants to be named 2005-06 Presidential Management Fellows. She began serving her fellowship Oct. 17 at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.

The ITC is an independent, nonpartisan, quasi-judicial federal agency that provides trade expertise to both the legislative and executive branches of government, determines the impact of imports on U.S. industries, and directs actions against certain unfair trade practices, such as patent, trademark and copyright infringement.

"This is a major achievement for Dawn," says Dr. Kevin Corder, chair of WMU's Department of Political Science. "The Presidential Management Fellowship program is very competitive and, to my knowledge, this is the first time a WMU student has been successful in the competition."

A two-year paid program, the PMF provides special training and employment opportunities within the federal government and can be used as a stepping stone to highly visible and respected leadership positions. It is geared toward outstanding master's, law and doctoral-level students and includes 80-hours of formal classroom training each year as well as challenging assignments, accelerated promotions and opportunities to network between federal agencies.

President Jimmy Carter launched the PMF in 1977 as an internship program to help agencies meet their workforce and succession planning needs. President George W. Bush revamped the program in 2003, making it a fellowship program and toughing completion requirements.

Prospective fellows are nominated by their schools and participate in a rigorous assessment process overseen by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. At the semi-finalist level, this process involves a day-long event that features a proctored written exercise, an oral presentation and a group exercise.

Those selected as finalists vie to be hired by specific federal agencies and if they gain employment, are exposed to domestic and international issues in such areas as public administration, technology, science, criminal justice, health and financial management.

Heuschel says she applied for a position at the ITC because of her educational background and long-held interest in trade as it relates to development. In addition to her master of development administration degree from WMU, she has a bachelor's degree in political science, with minors in international and women's studies, from Ohio State University.

"When the position at ITC was announced, I was very interested due to the fact that the position was located in the office of the director of administration," she adds. "Because the agency is small--only about 375 employees--I was drawn to the fact that I would be able to gain a clearer understanding of a larger variety of management tasks, as opposed to those that one might be exposed to at a larger agency."

Heuschel, who reports to the director of administration, is serving as a management analyst and currently works with the budget officer on budget execution issues. She is in the early stages of analyzing labor cost data that has been assigned to various trade investigations.

"About 75 percent of our budget is spent on labor, and 80 percent of the agency's workload is in trade investigations," Heuschel says. "Over the course of the next two years, I'll have the opportunity to work with trade analysts and economists to carry out a trade investigation, and I'm hoping to gain exposure to the legislative branch as well."

She also says she is pleased with her new job because the ITC places a strong emphasis on employee development.

"It has been rated among the highest agencies in employee training and development and among the highest in employee job satisfaction," she says. "It truly is a positive organizational culture recognizing the value of encouraging its employees to challenge themselves and build upon their skills."

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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