Faculty Directory

Johnson Institute Honors Admiral Thad Allen

03/31/2011

3/31/2011

Story by Christine Waller

Name some of the largest and most devastating crises that the U.S. has faced in recent history, and it is almost certain that Admiral Thad Allen (ret.) was there. Before retiring, Admiral Allen was the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard where he led recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina. More recently he led the federal government’s response to the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. For his leadership during these crises and more, Admiral Allen is the recipient of this year’s Exemplary Leadership Award from the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership.

“Each year, we give this award to a person who demonstrates exemplary leadership as well as a commitment to the Johnson Institute’s core values of ethics, accountability and responsibility,” said Dr. Kevin Kearns, Director of the Johnson Institute.

Effective leadership is a particularly difficult challenge during times of turbulence or crisis, especially when a series of events conspire to create uncertainty and chaos for organizations, regions and communities.

While introducing Admiral Allen, Dr. Kearns said, “Such circumstances [crises] demand a brand of leadership that transcends any formal definition of leadership or list of tasks available in a text book.”

A few characteristics of leaders who succeed in a crisis include their ability to discern facts and understand the context. They establish priorities without ignoring long-term goals and solutions. They practice extraordinary communications skills, and they effectively delegate, direct and coordinate tasks.

“Above all,” said Dr. Kearns, “they lead ethically, with integrity and accountability.”

Admiral Allen is highly regarded by both Democrats and Republicans for his leadership, professionalism and integrity. In 2005, Admiral Allen was given full command of Katrina relief efforts and was chosen by President Obama to serve as the National incident Commander for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill disaster. During the oil spill, Admiral Allen managed a volunteer core of 45,000 people. Before retiring at age 61, Admiral Allen served an illustrious career with the U.S. Coast Guard, achieving the rank of Admiral and serving in the highest position, Commandant.

Admiral Allen also shared his thoughts about leadership and expressed his gratitude for the Exemplary Leadership Award. His talk, entitled “Leadership in a Crisis,” identified a series of recent changes in the world that have complicated the way leaders manage complex events.

“In general, we’re dealing with a more complicated world that presents greater vulnerabilities,” Admiral Allen said. “We now have more people, and greater concentrations of them, living in coastal areas and large cities. We simply have more people at risk. We’re dealing with important challenges like climate change and global trade.”

In addition to society’s increased exposure to risk, Admiral Allen argued that new organizational forms that encourage public participation change how we should respond to a crisis.

“We will never have a disaster in this country, ever again, that does not involve the public,” Admiral Allen said. “They bring resources, passion and commitment to the cause. We must find outlets to bring these groups into our response.”

A third societal shift that has changed the way leaders manage a crisis includes the gamut of threats and other issues that do not have any notion of political boundaries.

“We’re talking about weather, germs, and data packages,” Admiral Allen said. “And the global commons are more challenging to manage than ever. These involve space, the internet and the ocean.”

For Admiral Allen, the goal is to not only prevent incidents from occurring.
“Our goal ought to be to interrupt the supply chain of trouble,” he said. “We can change regulatory systems for offshore drilling or raise safety standards for highway driving, but we can’t prevent everything from happening.”

Given this viewpoint of leadership, it is imperative that students of public policy learn basic skills and competencies that allow them to function at an optimal level against an unknown event.

“We need to create people who are going to be leaders of consequence when they’re called on to perform. Great leaders are great learners. You become a better leader by being a better person and you become a better person by being a better learner,” said Admiral Allen.

Admiral Allen’s methodology for responding to a crisis involves creating a mental model of what the problem is, correctly assessing what needs to be done and giving directions accordingly. Making decisions with a specific methodology equips leaders to explain their response process afterward, even if the outcome was not wholly successful.

Former Pennsylvania Governor and retired U.S. Attorney General, Dick Thornburgh, delivered a response to Admiral Allen’s presentation.

“Admiral Allen is a true exemplar of a leader,” Governor Thornburgh said. “We rely in this country on our supply of leaders in times of crisis.”

Governor Thornburgh understands what this reliance is about from firsthand experience managing the three-mile island nuclear disaster in 1979.

Great consensus was reached among all presenters that public servants have a much larger mandate than simply going to school and learning how a bureaucracy works.

“There’s a duty being placed on us to become bigger than we are,” Admiral Allen said. “The best definition of leadership that I know is that it is the ability to reconcile opportunity and competency.”

The Johnson Institute enhances professional and institutional ethics and accountability in public leadership through teaching, research, hands-on training programs, and the annual Exemplary Leadership Award ceremony. For more information, visit http://www.johnsoninstitute-gspia.org.
 

Related Media

Dean Keeler Hosts Receptions in China

Dean Keeler and Ariel Armony, the new Pitt Senior Director of International Programs, hosted receptions for incoming Pitt students and Pitt alumni in Beijing on June 3 and Shanghai on June 4.  Both receptions attracted more attendees than any previous Pitt events in China.  More than 10 GSPIA students and alumni were present at each reception. 

The Ford Institute for Human Security will host an "Open House" at 12:15 p.m. Wed., Sept. 9 in 3930 Posvar Hall. Please stop by the Ford Institute open house Wednesday, September 9th.  Meet the Director, affiliated faculty and staff to learn about the opportunities and resources available to students.  We will discuss Ford’s publication series, student working groups, volunteer opportunities, and extensive resources that are available to all.  Connect with other GSPIA students majoring in Human Security and other students passionate about this topic.  Everyone is welcome!  Light lunch will be served. For more information, contact Diane Cohen, drc51@pitt.edu

GSPIA Hosts Regional Shale Drilling Workshop

The boom in Pennsylvania shale drilling has been one of the most controversial and financially lucrative issues in the state’s public debate.  As GSPIA assistant professor Ilia Murtazashvili has pointed out, “The shale boom has been accompanied by many studies of the environmental and ecological consequences of hydraulic fracturing. Much less is known about governance of the shale boom, in particular the different ways that communities have responded to opportunities and challenges presented by the changing environment of shale extraction.”  In order to fill this gap, Murtazashvili and associate professor Sabina Deitrick took advantage of the Provost’s Year of Sustainability funding to host a workshop in May with the University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for Social and Urban Research to discuss the regional impact of shale gas drilling on governance and the economy.

Not long ago, incoming graduate student Hanifa Nakiryow was gainfully employed until her ex-husband went to extreme measures.  Corrosive acid was thrown on her face outside of their home. Shortly thereafter, Nakiryowa found herself recovering in a Uganda hospital and later was treated in the U.K. and the U.S. Upon recovery, Nakiryow decided to found the Centre for Rehabilitation of Survivors of Acid and Burns Violence and continue her education.

Nakiryow’s story became more widely known, after her host family GSPIA Professor Lou Picard, and his wife, Professor Pauline Greenlick of Mt. Lebanon, created a documentary featuring Nakiryow’s plight. Nakiryow’s story has touch many. She will attend graduate school this fall on a full scholarship she received from GSPIA.

Professors Picard, and Greenlick, are hosting a fundraiser for Nakiryow at 4 – 7:30 pm, Sunday, June 21at Rodef Shalom Congregation in Oakland.

Linghui Zhu (MPA ’15) Hired by the World Bank

We are pleased to announce that Linghui Zhu (MPA ’15) has just received an entry-level position at the World Bank.  Zhu is the first of our Chinese alumni to be hired by “The Bank,” where 16 other GSPIA alumni are currently employed.  Victoria Stanley (MPIA ’96), a Senior Project Officer at the World Bank, serves on our Board of Visitors.

Please join Dean John Keeler and your fellow alumni at the GSPIA DC Alumni Reception from 6-8 pm, Tues., June 16 in the Foxhall Ballroom of the Dupont Circle Hotel. Light hors d’oeuvres will be served with complimentary soda; cash bar. To RSVP by June 11, click here.


We just received a note from one of our Distinguished Alumnus Award winners, Sofien Effendi  (MPIA ’75, PhD ‘78), with some great news about four of our alumni in Indonesia.

Dr. Effendi  has been appointed by the new President of Indonesia as Commissioner and Chairman of the newly established Indonesian Civil Service Commission which will oversee the application of a merit system in the selection and appointment of senior executives in all government agencies of the country.

Weber Provides Perspective on Oil and Gas Development

Science Magazine reporter Eric Hand recently spoke to GSPIA Assistant Professor Jeremy Weber about the loss of land brought about through the latest technologies in oil and gas development. Read article.

GSPIA will host an alumni networking event at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, June 11 at Perle (25 Market Square, Pittsburgh). Hors d'oeuvres provided; cash bar. RSVP to jean.hale@gspia.pitt.edu.

Climate Change, Social Stress & Migration: Implications for Conflict & Cooperation

The Ford Institute recently hosted a lecture entitled “Climate Change, Social Stress & Migration: Implications for Conflict & Cooperation,”  featuring Dr. Susan F. Martin from Georgetown University and Dr. Daniel W. Bromley from the University of Wisconsin.


  
 Text/HTML
Minimize

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
3601 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260

Sitemap  |  Privacy Policy  |  Pitt Home