Photo 1: Richmond campus students Cecily Rodriguez, project team liaison to the City of Alexandria, and Sherri Dorsey at the report presentation. (Photo courtesy of Leisha LaRiviere)

Photo 2: CPAP students in Professor of Practice Tom Hickok’s Advanced Topics course, part of the Center for Public Administration and Policy’s MPA program at the Alexandria and Richmond campuses, with City of Alexandria leaders. (Photo courtesy of Tom Hickok and submitted by Joe Ciampaglio)

Culturally and linguistically appropriate service provision was the focus of a special research report recently completed by six Master of Public Administration (MPA) students on behalf of the City of Alexandria as part of an Extended Summer MPA class held at Virginia Tech’s Alexandria and Richmond campuses. MPA students Nathaniel Buss, Joe Ciampaglio, Sherri Dorsey, Jeremy Holt, Cecily Rodriguez, Gina Silva, and Tim Wepplo presented their report, “Effective and Efficient Services for Everyone: Advancing Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in the City of Alexandria Department of Human and Community Services,” to City officials on August 13.

The presentation highlighted the 41-page project report, which featured national standards, best practices, and original research and modeling around Alexandria’s cultural and linguistic competency goals. The paper, slide deck, and accompanying exhibits were hailed as thoughtful, well-researched, and in alignment with the City’s strategic goals by presentation attendees Rashad Young, Alexandria City Manager; Kate Garvey, Director, City of Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS); and Allyson Coleman, MSW, Division Chief, Organization Development and Training, City of Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services.

The report concluded with appendices of real value, according to DCHS Director Garvey. Appendix documents and forms include a DHCS Cultural and Linguistic Competency (CLC) Programmatic Logic Model, and recommendations for a DHCS CLC Advisory Committee, CLC Training Program, Sample Action Language Plan, Performance Measure Definition Form, CLC Performance Evaluation Form, and two job descriptions for new CLC-related positions.

The theoretical and practical implementation value of the student contributions were summed up by Alexandria City Manager Young at the conclusion of the presentation. “This report is not one that will sit on a shelf,” said Mr. Young. “We really appreciate the research and efforts on behalf of the City of Alexandria. And, our team looks forward to partnering with Virginia Tech graduate students in the future.”

The students completed the project as part of Dr. Tom Hickok’s “Advanced Topics (AT) in Management: Creating and Sustaining High Performance Public Organizations” course. Students learn theories and practices in public sector management in order to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and human performance. Leisha LaRiviere served as Course Facilitator on Virginia Tech’s Richmond campus. “The student team took course concepts and immediately integrated them into a document that is, at once, both comprehensive and practical,” said Dr. Hickok in commending the group on their research.

Written by Leisha G. LaRiviere, MPA