Nan Priest is a member of Marist's online MPA Class of 2012. She received a BA in Psychology from Millersville University of Pennsylvania and is currently the Chief Operating Officer for The Arc of Ulster-Greene.
Tell us about your work history before Marist, including years of experience, industry, companies, and positions.
Prior to attending Marist, I worked in the field of Human Services in nonprofit settings. After earning my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, I worked for an agency in Pennsylvania before moving to the Hudson Valley. Following a brief period of employment at The Rhinebeck Country School (no longer in operation), I transferred to The Arc of Ulster-Greene. The majority of my career has been with Ulster-Greene ARC which is currently undergoing a name change and rebranding and will now be known as The Arc of Ulster-Greene.
At The Arc of Ulster-Greene, I initially worked as a manager of a group home and moved on to be the program coordinator position for a few years. I continued to grow with the organization and took on the role of the Intake and Admissions Coordinator for a number of years. I then moved into Senior Management positions providing leadership as the Director of Community Support Services and later as the Director of Clinical Services. While working as the Director of Clinical Services, I began working on my MPA which provided me the education required to move into an executive leadership position. After earning my MPA, I was offered the position of Chief Operating Officer.
What are your career goals?
My career goal is to continue to grow in an executive leadership capacity in a not for profit organization.
Why did you choose to pursue your degree at Marist?
I decided to attend Marist because it offered a well-known quality MPA program. The location of Marist in the Hudson Valley was ideal for me as it offered an easy commute from both my home and from my place of employment.
Tell us about a project or course that was particularly meaningful to your professional development.
The seminar class provided me the opportunity to apply all the information gathered through the MPA program to a project that was directly related to a challenge I was experiencing in the workplace. My final project allowed me to fully explore a means of improving a process that impacted the delivery of a service. Not only did the seminar class bring all the program materials full circle, but it demonstrated how to concretely apply it to my work.
How has a degree from Marist and your course work enhanced your career?
Prior to earning my MPA, I worked in the not for profit industry for more than 20 years. My professional growth has offered me the opportunity to know the industry from the ground up. The MPA program provided me with the formal education that helped to assimilate all that I had experienced in my career and provided structure and scholarly research to further support my growth as a professional.
What advice would you give to a student considering pursuing their master’s degree at Marist?
Marist provided me with the chance to meet people who were working in a variety of industries. The experiences of my classmates helped to enrich the program and all that I learned from it. The support and guidance provided by the faculty were exceptional. They made themselves available through office hours at the school, online support and live chat sessions. Their availability and assistance ensured that each student got the most out of the course work.
If you took an online class or had online learning as part of a regular course, tell us about your experiences – any tips or suggestions to pass along to future students?
My coursework included classes at the Fishkill campus as well as online courses. I enjoyed both formats. This was my first experience with online classes and I was initially hesitant about how learning online would compare to the face to face classroom experience. The key to online learning is maintaining good communication with the professor and classmates. Group projects require a commitment to ongoing communication among the group members.
Profile Tags:Profile Type: Alumni
Major: MPA - Public Administration
Academic School: Management