What Alumni Say About IPA

photo of Albert ShieldsAlbert Shields

Take a look at what Albert Shields said in an interview about his career and his experiences at IPA looking back, now that he’s been in the workforce for more than five years.

current position: Delaware Press and Policy Advisor for Congressman John Carney, Wilmington, Del.
UD degree: MPA, University of Delaware 2007, State and Local Management


Q.What is your current position?

A.I am currently the Delaware Press & Policy Advisor for Congressman John Carney.

Q.What experiences have you had that helped qualify you for this position?

A.I began working for Carney as a Policy Analyst in December 2006 as a direct result of his summer internship experience through the School of Public Policy & Administration. It was an ideal first job, because I had real responsibility within the office and a variety of tasks and programs for which I was accountable.  I gained experience in writing speeches and policy proposals, handling constituent inquiries, staffing him at public events, and serving as the point person on some of the office’s programs. I then took the position of Legislative Aide to Speaker Robert F. Gilligan in the Delaware House of Representatives. Being in that position gave me the opportunity to work with members and staff from both sides of the aisle and see how some of the most important bills to come out of that session—the Freedom of Information Act legislation, the bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual preference, and the expansion of gambling to table games—were drafted, negotiated, and finally passed.

When Carney announced his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives in the summer of 2010, I joined his campaign staff as Communication Director. In this role I was responsible for developing policy proposals, maintaining relationships with members of the press, building the campaign’s social media profile, arranging press conferences, and helping John Carney prepare for debates.  The issues that we discussed on the campaign influence my current job every day. It was during the campaign that together they outlined what would become Congressman Carney’s positions and priorities on the important challenges facing Delaware and the nation.

Q.What challenges are unique to you as Press and Policy Advisor?

A.Constituents call our office for many reasons, including help with Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ issues, and many others.  Although this is challenging, working with them has helped me learn a tremendous amount about federal programs and agencies.

Q.What excites you about your job?

A.There’s never a dull moment when it comes to politics and working on behalf of the people of the state of Delaware. I find the pace of the job to be exciting.  Issues often come up that require quick decisions or reactions from our office, and I enjoy being part of that process. I also enjoy working with constituents who contact our office for assistance. We often get phone calls or emails from individuals who are struggling with very serious challenges.  It’s fulfilling to be able to work with them, help them find assistance, and hopefully resolve the issues they’re facing.

Q.How did your experiences at UD and through IPA help prepare you for what you’re doing now?

A.Every day, I use things that I learned while working for IPA as a Research Assistant interning with the Delaware Department of Education and in then-Lt. Gov. Carney’s office, as well as in my coursework for the School of Public Policy & Administration’s MPA program.

Working outside the classroom at DOE for three semesters with education administrators, teachers, superintendents, and activists helped reinforce and bring new insight into what I was being taught in the program. I took the most from the experiences that emphasized real-world applications. “Dr. Arno Loessner’s Public Finance class, Eric Jacobson’s class on Public Economics, and Dr. Jeffrey Raffel’s Case Studies class were all very effective at addressing real problems and situations.

Q.Looking back, what is the most important thing you learned at IPA that has helped you the most?

A.The most valuable and lasting experiences for me are the relationships.  Many of the students and faculty members whom I met while at IPA are involved in public service in Delaware, and I continue to work with them today.