MPA Alumni Spotlight: Jeffrey Anthony, '22

April 5, 2023
Jeff Anthony

I got my undergrad in Studio Music and Jazz Performance with a focus on drum set, from the University of Miami in 1999 and spent 25 years touring and recording with bands all over the world. The most famous song I played drums on is "Soak Up The Sun" by Sheryl Crow. I also spent 17 years working for a music startup called Pandora Radio and specifically working as a musicologist on the Music Genome Project(link is external).

Currently I am a 2nd year MPA student. I decided to enroll in the UofA MPA program to learn the skills necessary to transition from my music career into a career in government focused on economic development. In addition to pursing an MPA I am also enrolled in the Collaborative Governance certificate program. This focus has been instrumental in my ability to acquire the tools and analytical lens necessary to work in government and economic development.

The National League of Cities recently interviewed me (link is external)to showcase a program I am running as part of their City Innovations Ecosystem Program. The programs focus is on expanding supplier diversity among Tucson’s’ anchor intuitions. This all started during the 2021 Spring semester (my first) in PA 622A which focuses on collaborative governance and institutional design. For my final project I focused the topic on the idea of doing procurement reform as a way to spur local bottom up wealth generation within a collaborative NAO-type framework. Fast forward to late Fall 2021 I was interning with the City of Tucson and the opportunity arose for me to actually implement the concept I came up with in 622A. At the same time, I was in Dr. Brint Milward’s PA 501 class and the final group project provided the perfect opportunity for me to work through the real world problem I was encountering with my other classmates and further build out the model which we presented to the class. I was able to incorporate my classmate’s input into how I am now implementing the program for the City which has now lead to the NLC feature.

Towards the end of my internship with the City Barbra Coffee, director of the Office of Economic Initiatives, unexpectedly asked me to stay on and be the Regional Economic Competitiveness Officer (RECO) to lead the Southern Arizona Coalition for Climate Adaptation and Resilience. The Coalition, led by the City of Tucson, was created in response to the EDA’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge Grant and aims to position Southern Arizona as a living- lab for climate adaptation and resilience. Agriculture is a major driver of Southern Arizona’s economy, and it is facing significant and immediate threats from climate change, particularly with the reduction of available water.

As the RECO I oversee making sure our phase two grant proposal meets all the EDA investment priorities, establishes strong regional interconnectedness, and at the same time can be translatable to other regions of the United States. This EDA grant represents a true moonshot approach that focuses on the transformational nature of collaboration, innovation, and courageous creativity to tackle the truly wicked problems facing not only our region, but the globe.

Read more about the Southern Arizona Coalition for Climate Adaptation and Resilience here(link is external).

I would not have the confidence or tools to rise to such a big challenge if it were not for the incredible support and knowledge, I acquired during my time here at the University of Arizona.