Sturdivant, Butler Selected as Harvard Fellows

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Two alumni of the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security have been selected as Fire Executive Fellows in the Harvard University Senior Executives in State and Local Government program.

Los Angeles Fire Department Assistant Chief Pat Butler and Milpitas (Calif.) Fire Chief Brian Sturdivant were among six fire officials receiving fellowships that are a joint effort between the U.S. Fire Administration, Fire Protection Publications/International Fire Service Training Association, the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Fire Protection Association. The three-week program in June will be conducted at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Butler and Sturdivant, both graduates of the CHDS Master’s Degree program, are heading to the Cambridge, Mass., campus amid a tight budget situation in their home state and new challenges in a profession that has evolved into a function of homeland security.

"There will be a lot of facilitated discussion with policy makers from the local, state and national level," Sturdivant said. "They will look to generate discussion and thinking to challenge ourselves and our assumptions."

Both men credit completion of the grueling 18-month CHDS program with instilling in them a spirit of life-long learning.

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"It really allowed for a level of comfort to be in place with different opinions and to challenge myself," Sturdivant said. "What we learned in the master’s program is that it is OK to be uncomfortable as you learn and grow. It’s OK to have a level of uncertainty and be willing to forward an idea and see if it has value."

Added Butler: "I look at my experience at CHDS as part of my academic continuum; it was life changing and opened my mind to many new experiences. It most definitely prepared me for the other leadership and academic experiences and my goal is to take the collective power of these experiences and share them with others."

Key topics to be studied include leadership, negotiation, public-private partnerships, cooperative governance, behavioral decision making and microeconomics. Similar to the method used in CHDS courses, the Harvard program employs interactive case study discussions to tackle modern issues facing today’s government leaders.

"The program provides an opportunity to discuss real world issues and case studies with other public safety leaders and government executives," Butler said. "I’m looking forward to creating knowledge with my cohorts and learning about the different perspectives we bring to the program.

Butler also looks forward to expanding and developing a network with people from across the country and the world and applying those resources on real world problems or challenges faced in our communities.

Sturdivant, who was appointed fire chief in Milpitas in August 2010, said he hopes to gain insight on partnership opportunities as well as learning more about negotiation and decision-making. Moreover, he plans to bring what he learns back to department heads in Milpitas.

"One of my missions will be to bring as much of the information from Harvard back to my organization," he said.

Butler and Sturdivant were among six fire chiefs awarded the fellowships, and were chosen out of an applicant pool of 140. The competitive selection process required an interview at the National Fire Academy where applicants were questioned about a case study and how they would share their knowledge at their employer.

“These senior fire executives will have an experience that will support their ability to exercise leadership," said Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines. "Our cities and communities are confronted with significant challenges and the Harvard program is a very valuable and unique experience that assists the fellows selected in exercising leadership to overcome them. The partnering organizations are delighted to award these fellowships.”

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