- PPIA Fellows:
- 32% African American
- 32% Latinx
- 25% Asian American/Pacific Islander
- 10% Caucasian
- 1% Other
- PPIA Alumni Careers:
- 30% Non-Profit/NGO
- 27% Private Sector
- 23% Public Sector (Federal)
- 20% Public Sector (State)
The Public Policy and International Affairs Program (PPIA) is a not-for-profit that has been supporting efforts to increase diversity in public service for 39 years. PPIA believes that our society is best served by public managers, policy makers, and community leaders who represent diverse backgrounds and perspectives. To achieve this goal, PPIA has a focus on students from groups who are underrepresented in leadership positions in government, nonprofits, international organizations and other institutional settings. Furthermore, international affairs are increasingly mixed with local concerns. Addressing such global issues make diversity a critical goal in professional public service.
PPIA’s core programming includes:
The Junior Summer Institute (JSI): A rigorous academic, fully-funded fellowship program that provides student training and financial support for graduate school and facilitates ongoing professional development.
An alumni association of approximately 4,000 PPIA JSI Fellows from across the nation.
A Graduate School Consortium: A consortium of more than 50 top public and international affairs graduate programs in the nation.
Public Service Weekends: Free three-day conferences held across the country to introduce even more students to the broad range of opportunities available in public service.
A flourishing democratic society that is governed by caring, skilled and pioneering professionals and community leaders who are representative of the full spectrum of America.
To promote the inclusion and full participation of underrepresented groups in public service and to advance their leadership roles throughout our civic institutions serving domestic and international affairs.
Gilbert Collins is the Director of Global Health Programs at Princeton University, and sits on the board of directors of the nonprofit organization PPIA. In this interview, he offers perspectives on PPIA’s impact in equipping students to pursue careers in public policy and international affairs.
First of all, what is PPIA?
The Public Policy and International Affairs Program (PPIA) has been supporting efforts to increase diversity in public service for 39 years. PPIA believes that society is best served by public managers, policy makers, and community leaders who represent diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
PPIA offers several programs for undergraduate students from groups who are underrepresented in government, nonprofits, international organizations and other institutional settings. PPIA’s flagship programs are its Junior Summer Institutes (JSIs), which are intensive seven-week educational programs hosted by five universities that prepare students for graduate study and policy-focused careers.
How did you first get involved?
I grew up African-American in Milwaukee with a love of foreign languages and cultures. I dreamed of serving in an international context, so I majored in Government in college. As I started considering options after college, I learned about PPIA from the career services office. I applied to the JSI program, was accepted, and spent the summer before my senior year studying policy analysis, international diplomacy, microeconomics, and statistics at Princeton University as a JSI student.
How did that experience influence your next steps after college?
JSI taught me analytical skills needed for success in international affairs, and exposed me to the wide range of policy-focused graduate programs available at various universities. I also became part of a supportive community of JSI alumni throughout the public, private and nonprofit sectors who have offered me support and encouragement along with valuable professional networking opportunities.
After completing JSI and graduating from college, I returned to Princeton to pursue a Master in Public Affairs degree. I went on to fifteen years of federal service, first in humanitarian relief with the U.S. Agency for International Development and then in development work in southern Africa with the Peace Corps. In 2014, I returned to Princeton’s public policy school as Director of Graduate Student Life, during which I had the privilege of coming full circle and serving as Princeton’s JSI Director myself.
How are the mechanisms of policymaking changing to adapt to a post-pandemic world?
This pandemic highlights many often-ignored truths in policy circles. Policymakers must consider the interconnectedness of global society. Isolation is elusive; physical, social, economic, or technological events in one area can have profound impacts elsewhere. Relatedly, the disparate toll the pandemic has taken on various socioeconomic and
demographic groups underlines the fact that policy responses must meet the needs of often dissimilar beneficiaries. Further, policymakers must not be prisoners of the moment. While working to address today’s challenges, they must also look to invest in solutions to other issues lurking just over the horizon. Preparation and strategic investments today can greatly decrease the costs that will be borne by future generations.