New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, FCRH ’79, has appointed Kirk Dobson, PCS ’10, GSAS ’11; Kimberly Wedderburn, LAW ’16; and Hanna Reyes, who holds a certificate in nonprofit management from Fordham, to the 2016–2018 class of Empire State Fellows. The program prepares mid-career professionals to be New York state government leaders and policy makers.
“The fact that it’s something so competitive—in a class of eight people, to have three Fordham alums in the mix—I was so proud,” said Dobson, who started the fellowship this fall and was appointed to the state health department. He’s working with the deputy commissioner for the Office of Health Insurance Programs, helping to create new processes that will provide Medicaid patients with better access to care.
“I’m learning so much about these programs,” Dobson said. “It’s absolutely fascinating.” He added that the program goes beyond “just getting your feet wet” and gives fellows the chance to interact with senior staff.
Though the fellows come from many different professional backgrounds, Dobson happens to have some experience in the political arena. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Fordham, he spent time working on various political campaigns in Massachusetts, New York, and Georgia, where he earned a doctorate in public administration from Valdosta State University.
Wedderburn, who was appointed to the Department of Labor, said attending Fordham Law in the evening while working as a special education teacher prepared her well for the program. “I began the fellowship equipped with the requisite legal education, work experience, and problem-solving skills needed to hit the ground running,” she said.
Reyes also credited Fordham for the “foundation that made it possible” for her to be selected, and said she’s “full of pride” to be able to say she’s both a Fordham alumna and an Empire State Fellow. She’ll be serving in the executive chamber.
While they’re in Albany, Dobson, Wedderburn, Reyes, and the other fellows will get the chance to participate in professional development activities, including mentoring by cabinet members. At the end of the program, qualified fellows are given the opportunity to continue to serve as leaders in New York state government.
“I absolutely think it’s going to be a great entryway for all of us,” Dobson said.