Amanda Guslani, a USF Master of Public Administration alumna, is an Associate Communications Officer at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, where she strategically uses technology to give the foundation’s accomplishments new life. In honor of the foundation’s 50th anniversary, the digital stories she creates showcase the Foundation’s past accomplishments and future endeavors in every social area they seek to impact.
“My MPA experience has set me up for success in my current position at the Packard Foundation by equipping me with the knowledge and tools needed to effectively contribute to the philanthropic sector,” said Guslani. The Packard Foundation promotes lasting change in the areas of conservation and science, the environment, children, families and communities, population and reproductive health, and their local communities.
“Many of the professors and classes I took while in the MPA program got me to think critically about how the government and public sectors are managing our communities in partnership with the nonprofit sector,” Guslani explained. “Specifically, Professor Richard Callahan, really opened my eyes to the nuances and complexities of the public sector.”
Over the course of this year, Guslani is working to showcase the Foundation’s 50-year history through digital storytelling. “I’m helping the foundation use and implement digital tools, such as social media, into different program areas to tell each program’s story in a more visual and engaging way,” Guslani stated. “The Foundation’s 50th anniversary has provided a time for us to recognize the work that has been done over the last five decades and think about how we will move forward. Inevitably, digital storytelling will be a part of the path forward.”
One project Guslani is currently working on exhibits the Packard Foundation’s efforts to conserve land and ensure the sustainability of the unique biodiversity and topography in the North American West region. “I am helping to create a digital land map for the Conservation and Science Land Program that showcases land acquisitions and conservation efforts over the last fifty years.”
“I am also assisting with the launch of a new strategic focus for children starting at birth through age five for the Packard Foundation's Children, Families, and Communities Program,” Guslani states. The Program aims to ensure that infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are on track for success in their academic career and in life by being ready for school by age five, regardless of their family’s background. The Program’s goal is to make sure that every person who cares for a child is prepared to provide the best environment for them to learn and grow, through trainings and professional development conferences. To celebrate the Foundation’s 50th anniversary the Children, Families, and Communities Program held an event called Starting Smart. Through presentations, discussions, and live tweeting, Guslani showcased the Foundation’s long-term success and commitment to ensuring a strong and healthy start for all children in California. “We also displayed the Foundation’s path forward, which is to improve adult-child interactions and the quality of learning experiences,” said Guslani.
Guslani credits her MPA experience as the source of her passion for philanthropic work. “I wanted a graduate program that educated the whole person, and that’s what I received. The MPA program not only made me a better professional but it made me realize that philanthropy is at the core of the program. It left me with the knowledge that regardless of the sector or profession we are in, it is so important to be mindful of our social responsibility to change the world. Being a graduate of the MPA program has truly allowed me to be successful in this type of philanthropy work, and it has enabled me to directly help my own community.”