Connecting Research to Practice: Berry-James Inducted Into National Academy
NC State faculty members’ commitment to service drives the university’s higher education leadership. RaJade Berry-James exemplifies that commitment, and is being recognized at the national level for her contributions to public administration.
Berry-James, an associate professor of public administration in the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, has been selected as a 2019 Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA). Berry-James’ official induction into the Academy will take place during the NAPA 2019 fall meeting, held Nov. 7-8 in Arlington, Virginia.
A High Honor
“The NAPA Fellowship affords me the opportunity to connect research to practice at NC State, in North Carolina and now at the federal level,” said Berry-James. “Alongside NAPA Fellows, I’ll use government initiatives and breakthrough approaches for critical issues facing our citizens.”
NAPA helps government leaders solve their most critical management challenges. Since 1967, the congressionally chartered nonpartisan, nonprofit Academy has provided expert advice to government leaders in building and managing more effective, efficient, accountable and transparent organizations.
“This accomplishment speaks to Dr. Berry-James’ tireless commitment to the community of practitioners and scholars in public administration,” said Irwin Morris, SPIA executive director. “She is a thoughtful and effective advocate on a number of important issues within NAPA’s purview, and I expect her voice will be a valuable addition to the professional discourse of the national academy. Her ability to bridge the practitioner-scholar gap with her research is a great example for our students. And no description of her service — especially at the university level — would do justice to its impact on our school.”
Berry-James joins NAPA’s national network of more than 900 Fellows, which includes former cabinet officers, members of Congress, governors, mayors and state legislators, as well as prominent scholars, business executives and public administrators.
“My engagement as a 2019 NAPA Fellow includes participation in a national network of more than just NAPA Fellows,” said Berry-James. “I’ll help address grand challenges in public administration, continue my participation in NAPA working groups like the Social Equity in Governance Standing Panel, and work on national studies like those named on the NAPA Academy Studies webpage.”
She Who Learns, Teaches
Strategic problem-solving fits in perfectly with Berry-James’ passion for service. She’s been a program evaluator for nearly 20 years, analyzing federally-funded initiatives at the state and local levels.
Her work in North Carolina has benefited the NC Farm to Early Care and Education Program. This program, a collaboration between North Carolina A&T State University and NC State’s Center for Environmental Farming Systems, supports youth health and education through experiential connections to local food and farms.
“Many young children who enter K-12 education already have certain behaviors and preferences around food, and the Farm to ECE program seeks to make sure those children have an opportunity to eat well and learn better,” said Berry-James. “I have worked with some wonderful people to create an equitable food system and ensure those impacted by the program were being served in the best way possible. The evaluation of outreach and training efforts then helps inform policy making and programming on a variety of levels.”
She has also evaluated drug treatment and recovery programs that impact adolescents, women transitioning from welfare and minorities who were living with HIV. Berry-James examined how the programs could best distribute resources to participants with unmet needs.
At NC State, she co-hosted a social equity leadership conference with Tracey Ray, former chief diversity and inclusion officer for the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity. Participants from across the country engaged on issues of social equity, and how to best work with nonprofits to resolve issues in at-risk communities.
“When we realize systems don’t work for all people, we can change the default by designing new systems to include underserved groups,” said Berry-James. “My work grows from a favorite proverb of mine: ‘She who learns, teaches.’ I have created usable knowledge at a programmatic level and during my time at NC State, and now the NAPA Fellowship gives me a chance to transfer lessons learned to another level. I can be a part of providing a vision for a country that is ethical, inclusive and represents all citizens.”
Berry-James received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Rider University, her master’s in public administration from Kean University, and her Ph.D. in public administration from Rutgers University – Newark. In addition to her NAPA Fellowship, she serves on the executive council of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration and is a life member of the American Society for Public Administration.