Oh, the places you'll go!
By David Behen, Director of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget and Michigan’s Chief Information Officer
It’s 2014, Tel Aviv, Israel, I’m standing on a stage in front of a few hundred people at one of the world’s top cybersecurity conferences – and everyone is focused on what I have to say.
If you had told me twenty years ago that I would be speaking at a major international conference, be invited to the White House, be a member of Governor Snyder's cabinet, or have personal meetings with several IT/business CEO leaders/icons such as Michael Dell, Steve Balmer, and Jack Dorsey, I would have never believed you. But, guess what? I have had these wonderful experiences.
EMU’s Master of Public Administration program opened doors for me that my 22-year-old self could never have imagined. My experiences at EMU prepared me to go out into the world to make a real difference.
My career took off soon after graduating with my master’s degree, immediately landing the role of village manager for Mattawan, MI, where I directed the operations of the fastest growing village in Van Buren County. Two years later, I joined the team in Washtenaw County and advanced, through several great opportunities, to CIO and deputy county administrator. In 2009, I co-founded a software company and served as the vice president and CIO of its parent corporation. Then in 2011, Governor Rick Snyder asked me to join his team to help reinvent government through technology. The path I have taken and the experiences I’ve had would not be possible without the foundation EMU set.
The public administration program at EMU prepared me for practical, real-world situations. Sure, we learned about theory, policy, and law, but the focus was on the day-to-day interactions and decisions I would face in my career. All my EMU professors challenged me to excel and go out into the world to make things happen. I had some great professors along the way like Dr. Joe Ohren, Dr. Karen Lindenberg, and Dr. Raymond Rosenberg. The subject matter experts and government leaders that were brought in to discuss real experiences and case studies gave practical advice and allowed us to explore the world of public administration through their eyes. I don’t believe I would have gotten the practical education in public administration anywhere else. Because of EMU I was prepared when I left Ypsilanti.
My path after EMU has taken me in directions and given me experiences I never expected. My journey has led me to be, first and foremost, a public servant. As the Director of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget and Michigan’s CIO, I have the wonderful opportunity to impact the lives of approximately 9.4 million Michigan residents every day. There is no better feeling than that.
I don’t what the future has in store for me, but I know that in whatever I do next, I am prepared to tackle any challenge and make a real and lasting impact on the world.David Behen is the Director of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget and Michigan’s Chief Information Officer. David, a 1996 alum of the EMU MPA program, was recently recognized at the 55th Annual Alumni Awards Ceremony with the Alumni Achievement Award by the EMU Alumni Association.