Alumni Spotlight: George Durante

George Durante Headshot

 

 

 

George Durante

OED Program Coordinator

Office of the Mayor – Economic Development, City of Nashua, NH

 

 

 

 

What was your area of study at Northeastern?

I graduated from the Master’s in Urban and Regional Policy Program in 2012 with a concentration in Economic Development.

 

Why did you choose to study at the School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs (SPPUA)?

My decision to study at NU was most influenced by the presence of professors with expertise in the policy areas that I had the most interest in.  Also critical, but of slightly less importance, was that NU is located in Boston and in an urban environment.

 

For your particular career, and perhaps current job, which courses provided you with the most applicable skills?

The World Class Cities Partnership (WCCP) Capstone class, Techniques of Program Evaluation and Strategizing Public Policy

 

Which skills that you gained in the program are most useful / relevant in your job?

I would place the program’s requirement that you continually engage in a variety of writing styles as one of the most important skills that I gained from the program.  This is the reality of my current position. One day I may be writing a press release to distribute to local media outlets, and the next day I may be writing a grant proposal or a new program or policy for the city.

I attribute my ability to perform this critical component of my current job to the training I received in the MURP program.

 

Where did you intern while enrolled in the program and how did you find this position?

I interned at Sustainability Guild International, a Dorchester-based social enterprise dedicated to inner city sustainability and innovation.

I attended a Metropolitan Regional Planning Council (MRPC) workshop and was seated next to an employee of the Guild for a round-table discussion. We got to talking about some of the challenges and opportunities of Boston’s inner city neighborhoods, which led to him recommending that I come in for an interview for an internship.

 

What did you do and learn while interning at Sustainability Guild International?

The company was in its very early stages and at the time they were focusing on research regarding private-public partnerships and how businesses were integrating sustainability into their everyday practices.

The company shifted its strategy from research and report writing to actually implementing the concepts it was devising to provide sustainable opportunities for Boston’s most under-served neighborhoods.  I had the chance to shape this strategy, acquire some real world experience in a start up social enterprise, and work with a tremendously talented and diverse group of individuals.

 

Did this internship impact / guide the rest of your studies and job prospects?

I continued working with the Guild throughout the remainder of my studies, and I am confident that my experiences there played a major role in increasing my marketability to other companies.  Since it was a startup, I was afforded opportunities and experiences that I would not have otherwise been able to include in my repertoire at this stage of my career.

 

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

Take advantage of every extracurricular activity that is afforded to you while you are a student.  If you don’t have prior experience in the field you are entering, do whatever you need to do in order to get the experience, whether it is volunteering or doing extra internship work.

 

What you do in your current position?

My primary duties involve managing three loan funds; one that is used for brownfield cleanup, one that is Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money for small businesses, and one that provides working capital to regional companies that will hire new employees.

I also spend a significant amount of time providing strategic advisement to local businesses and acting as a liaison for them to the City. There are several other projects that I am also working on at the moment, which include the creation and management of a downtown facade improvement program and a re-branding initiative for Nashua.

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