Engaged Learning

Can Banking Learn From Service Learning?

Alumna Helps the Federal Reserve Connect With the Underserved


Esther Fishman MPA ‘15 wants more underserved families to know about the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s work to improve their lives. 

To spread the word and connect with those families more directly, the Master of Public Administration alumna will soon meet with bank leaders about implementing the first corporate service-learning program at the SF Fed, where she works in community engagement.

“I hope to establish a program that taps into employees’ skills and builds new ones, while doing good,” Fishman says. “Fed employees would learn about local low- to moderate-income communities and decide where their expertise could be leveraged to help. They could also work together offsite on volunteer projects.”

‘Brilliant minds’

Economic Outlook: What is the New Normal?
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
President & CEO John C. Williams
Nov. 9, 5:30–7:30 p.m.
Downtown Campus (SFH 150 Classroom)

She developed the principles of the service-learning initiative as her capstone graduation project, incorporating lessons about statistics, public speaking, and data visualization.

While most Americans know about the Federal Reserve’s role in guiding national monetary policy and setting interests rates, few are aware of the bank’s other work, Fishman says. The SF Fed, for example, has recently published in-depth policy research into how to develop more affordable housing, expand access to education, and increase employment. 

At USF, Fishman flourished in the cohort-style classes of the public administration program and benefitted from career counseling, she says. But what she liked even more were the university’s numerous speaker events, from civil rights leaders to tech CEOs. “I would have been proud if I had been able to attend just one of these events,” Fishman says. “But I attended many high profile events at the university. That’s what makes USF so great. Brilliant minds gather there to discuss how to change the world.” 

Meet the SF Fed president

Since graduating, Fishman has remained in close contact with her professors and the university continues to feature prominently in her life. “I was given so many opportunities at USF and now it's time to give back,” Fishman says.

One way she’s giving back is by helping to bring Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President and CEO John C. Williams to speak at the Downtown Campus on Nov. 9. He’ll talk about the state of the economy.

“In addition, part of what I hope President Williams shares is more about the Federal Reserve’s community development work, where we work with a wide range of organizations to create economic opportunity for lower-income Americans,” Fishman says.

Know someone with a powerful USF story? Let us know! usfnews@usfca.edu Twitter @usfcanews

Headshot photo of Benjamin Gapuz

Benjamin Gapuz recalled his new student orientation, in which President Paul Fitzgerald S.J. explained to the students that in graduate school, they would learn “how to bridge the gap between your head and your heart.” Benjamin said Fr. Fitzgerald was right.

Master of Public Administration