Spotlight on...

photo of John Collins outside the CapitolJohn Collins

Blue Hen native true to First State

John Collins, a 2009 MPA grad, grew up in Delaware and since coming to the University of Delaware has already had extensive experience in the public policy arena. Currently, he serves as Campaign Manager of Tom Carper’s campaign for reelection to the U.S. Senate. This is not Collins’s first position with Senator Carper’s team, however.

After graduate school, Collins went to work for Senator Carper as a professional staff member for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security, after serving as a Washington Fellow for the same subcommittee in between his first and second years.  There he led oversight of a number of issues including the federal government’s energy usage and the over $80 billion federal information technology portfolio.  He was lead staff for the Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act and the GPRA Modernization Act, both of which were sponsored by Senator Carper and signed into law by President Obama.

In addition to this work, Collins led several special investigations for Carper, one of which examined costs and legal responsibilities related to the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill that led to a series of high profile Congressional hearings.  The other examined potential fraud, abuse, and improper prescribing of prescription drugs that were potentially costing taxpayers billions every year.  The series of hearings marked the first independent, government examination of the potential costs involved with the improper prescription of psychotropic drugs for America’s foster-care youth and was featured on national news networks across the country.

Collins says working for Carper has been a remarkable experience. “There are any number serious challenges facing Delaware and our nation today.  There are few people who have done more—and are doing more today—to deal with those challenges, than Senator Carper,” Collins says. 

Collins speaks about the experiences that have led him into public service. “Growing up in Delaware, I’ve had the opportunity in the past to do political and campaign work all across the state.  During college I worked as a part-time reporter and anchor for 1150 AM WDEL in Wilmington,” Collins says, “and during the past few years, I was lucky enough to work for Senator Carper on his Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management in Washington, D.C.” These experiences, combined with his time serving as a Washington Fellow and Legislative Fellow during graduate school, have contributed to the work he's doing today.

For Collins, working with Senator Carper’s reelection team is both a new and exciting opportunity. Collins explains, “Senator Carper has a great team surrounding him both here in the state and back in Washington, so even though my job has changed, I'm still able to rely on these individuals who are really bright and incredibly talented.”  Collins adds, “This is an organization that prides itself on teamwork and service to Delawareans, and no matter what the job description or office, at the end of the day, that's what it’s all about.” 

So, what was important to Collins about his education and experiential training through IPA?

Collins cites the experience gained through the Legislative Fellows Program, among others. “Working as a Legislative Fellow for the Senate Majority Caucus was an experience that taught me how to handle multiple, vastly different tasks both quickly and effectively,” says Collins. “It was a great opportunity to meet a variety of people from all walks of life who were interested in Delaware public policy.  My fellowship in Washington was ultimately what helped me get a job in D.C. after graduation.”  Collins adds, “Being able to work and research on Capitol Hill allowed me to show some of the skills I had learned through IPA and gave me a leg-up when I was ready to look for a job.”

When asked about the most important thing he learned at IPA, Collins quickly highlighted communication. “In my view,” he says, “there’s no more marketable and valuable skill, no matter what the profession or industry, than being able to communicate complex ideas in a simple, effective manner.  Working for IPA allowed me to hone analytical and communication skills in real-life settings, which has been tremendously helpful in my professional career so far.”

Collins, who likes to cook in his spare time, describes himself as having a few “nerdy obsessions.” He loves watching documentaries and is known to go skeet shooting from time to time. He also likes to travel. He spent a portion of last summer in Spain where he participated in the famous San Fermin Festival—running with the bulls.  

Collins is very satisfied with his life in public service and claims, “If I’m doing something that I find consistently challenging, personally rewarding, and that allows to me to serve others, I’ll be happy.”

Our state is fortunate to have Collins—a loyal and seasoned young professional—working on its behalf. “Delaware’s my home, so being able to play even just a small role in seeing [Delaware's] problems dealt with in a smart manner that helps my family, friends, and neighbors is something that I’m really proud of,” he says. ”It’s an exciting time to be involved in a public service, and I’m really lucky and humbled to be part of it.”

photo courtesy of John Collins