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Making an Impact

MPA graduate named Brookline’s first assistant town administrator for operations

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Brookline administrator Devon Fields, G’15, took the lead coordinating communications with residents. She quickly found herself relying on skills honed as a public administration student at Bridgewater State University.

An internship with emergency management officials in the Bridgewater area proved particularly useful, she recalled.

“It immediately helped me to speak the same language as the fire chief and easily transition to communications with a health perspective,” Fields said.

The internship is one of many BSU experiences Fields has leveraged into a successful career in municipal government. She recently became Brookline’s first assistant town administrator for operations, where she coordinates core town functions, manages properties, works with external and internal stakeholders, and serves as public information officer.

“I had a lot of incredible opportunities at Bridgewater,” said Fields, whose mother and grandmother are also BSU alumnae. “It’s hard to quantify the impact. I made lifelong friends through my master’s program.”

She found inspiration from her first course taught by Dr. Wendy Haynes, who is now associate dean of the College of Graduate Studies. Haynes showed Fields that she could succeed in the traditionally male-dominated field of municipal government.

“She is a young professional bursting with potential who possesses a lively intelligence that is both insightful and invigorating to her colleagues,” Haynes said. “Devon is one of those people who is at once warmly engaging and keenly analytical.”

Classmates gravitated toward Fields for her perseverance in solving problems and willingness to share her struggles, recalled Dr. Deniz Leuenberger, a former political science professor who is now vice president for planning and strategy.

“She would have done well in any type of position,” Leuenberger said. “She’s able to think critically on her feet and communicate with all kinds of different people.”

Fields discovered she could apply Leuenberger’s classroom lessons to problems she saw in her community. She also gained an international perspective by traveling to Cambodia as part of a BSU team that installed water filters in villages.

“That was so impactful for me to see on a global level the ways my public service degree would have an impact,” she said.

She appreciated the opportunity to reduce the financial burden of a graduate degree by working as a graduate assistant.

After graduating, Fields worked for the Massachusetts Municipal Association, where she relied on personnel management, budgeting, and statistics classes to tailor the association’s services to meet communities’ needs.

After coming to Brookline, Fields used lessons from her BSU political science classes when working with 255 elected town meeting members who function as the town’s legislative branch.

Fields sees her future at the local level, where she can make a difference in residents’ day-to-day lives.

“Local government is where I wanted to be,” she said. “It’s where I found the work to be most impactful.”

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