Public Service Appreciation Week! was established in 1985 and is in its thirty-sixth year. During these worldwide public health and financial crises, we are witnessing the testing of public leadership and public service as we have never seen before. The Public Leadership competencies needed to effectively address daily decisions during this crisis have become the essence of our personal sense of well-being and trust in governance systems. There could be no better time than May of 2020 to celebrate and thank our public servants who are on the front lines working to keep us safe.
This crisis has also exposed the critical interdependencies between public leaders and their citizens, public leaders in different levels of governance systems (local, state, federal), leaders in different countries, and finally leaders in different sectors (private, public and nonprofit). These relationships have become transparent as never before. Our hope is that these interdependencies will result in strengthened partnerships, and greater invests in hiring and developing highly skilled public leaders who can meet the challenges today, tomorrow and in the future.
If you would like to share your story, or the story of a public sector leader you admire or aspire to be like be sure to tag it with #PSRW on social media so everyone can learn from their actions and celebrate their service.
What We’re Watching and Playing:
Please take time to learn more about great public leaders who changed the course of public policy and laws over the last century. The PBS American Experience series celebrates two of the many Public Servants who dedicated their lives to making a difference for all of us:
Learn about Dr. Harvey Wiley, a medical doctor and chemist at the Department of Agriculture who became the father of safe food legislation and food labelling for Americans. His decades of work ultimately resulted in the laws we have today and the creation of the Food and Drug Administration. To understand his decades of advocacy and work, watch the The Poison Squad now streaming on PBS.
As we also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this year, learn about Rachel Carson the Mother of the Modern Environmental Movement in the US. She was a marine biologist who went to work at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1936. During the 1950s Rachel Carson researched the effects of pesticides on our food and the environment. She published Silent Spring (1962), which exposed the use of pesticides, especially DDT (later banned). The book led to a presidential commission that largely endorsed her findings. and helped to bring environmental protection to the forefront. The documentary about her life was created by PBS. The film can be purchased from PBS or streamed on PBS in some areas or found on Amazon (streaming or rental).
If you have children or grandchildren at home they can also learn about public service. Check out free games from iCivics where children learn how to run a local government or the federal government iCivics was started by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to help students be more informed and active citizens.
What We’re Reading:
Public Service and our Democracy. This opinion piece by Harry Boyte and Dennis Ross recalls the tradition of work-centered, “all hands on deck” citizenship, and argues today’s COVID-19 crisis is resurfacing both specific health leaders who are “citizen professionals” and a larger civic ethos and model of democratic governance.
The Kettering Foundation published this brief white paper on public work and citizenship, discussing the civic empowerment of public work.