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Policy School Launches New Institute for Public Leadership

By Gina Driscoll

The School of Public Policy on Tuesday launched a new institute committed to advancing the practice and study of public leadership on local, national and global scales. The Institute for Public Leadership (IPL) will serve as a hub for research and education centered on guiding individuals and organizations to confront multifaceted societal challenges and foster positive change.

“Launching the Institute for Public Leadership is a significant milestone for the school,” said Dean Robert C. Orr. “It is an opportunity for us to create new pathways for careers in public leadership, and to make public leadership accessible to all. IPL will also allow us to enhance our support of public leaders from national to local, starting right here in Maryland.”

Headed by Director and Associate Professor John Ronquillo and Research Director and Associate Professor Cullen Merritt, IPL will conduct rigorous research and provide evidence-based solutions and offer diverse learning and community-building opportunities.

“Leadership is always relevant; it’s always important,” Ronquillo said. “IPL intends to meet those dynamic needs by providing UMD students and others across the state with opportunities through research, internships, training and experiential learning to best help prepare them to confront the most serious challenges of our time.”

The institute has established the Thurgood Marshall Research Fellows Program, which aims to commemorate the legacy of the late Supreme Court justice by supporting undergraduate and graduate students in conducting research on racial and social equity within public leadership.

“During a time in which DEI initiatives are under increased attack, I am honored to take part in a research fellowship that focuses on the importance of diversity in public leadership,” said Emily Dodge M.P.P. ’25, one of 16 Thurgood Marshall Fellows from majors across campus. “I am grateful that the Institute for Public Leadership offers this opportunity for us to expand concepts of equity, especially through a policymaking lens.”

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