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 UMD News Releases

Communication Associate: Public Relations | Lori Melton | | (218) 726-8830

July 15, 2004
Susan Beasy Latto, Director UMD Public Relations 218 726-8830
Wy Spano, Director, UMD Center for Advocacy and Political Leadership 218-726-6658 or 651 470-4488
Linda Krug, Dean, UMD College of Liberal Arts 218 726-8981
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UMD Opens New Center for Advocacy and Political Leadership

Wy Spano, Well-known Minnesota Political Figure, Named Director

Classes to Begin September 10

Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin has announced the opening of the new Center for Advocacy and Political Leadership at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). Wy Spano, well known figure in Minnesota politics and public affairs, was named director.

The Center's first program (set to begin classes on September 10) is a Masters Degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL), an applied degree designed for persons in Minnesota and western Wisconsin with experience, or interest, in having an impact on and changing public policy. The Masters degree is aimed at those who are, or wish to be, local community leaders, labor leaders, government relations specialists, nonprofit executives--anyone who wishes to see that public policy conforms to their idea of what ought to happen in today's society.

The MAPL degree will be the first at UMD to be offered on week-ends at the campus. Classes will be held on 22 week-ends a year, with sessions running Friday night and all day Saturday. Lodging will be provided for students living outside the Duluth area. Transportation from the Twin Cities will be provided.

Center director, Wy Spano, is the co-founder, long-time publisher and current co-editor of Minnesota's prominent political publication--(the newsletter) Politics in Minnesota. The newsletter led to Spano's being a frequent informational source for local and national media on Minnesota politics. He has been quoted on that subject by every major newspaper in the country. He is also the most frequent guest commentator in the history of the popular Minnesota-wide public affairs TV show Almanac.

Besides his media work, Spano has been a lobbyist in the firm Spano & Janecek. He has lobbied at the Minnesota Capitol since 1980, specializing in representing nonprofit and governmental organizations. He continues as a consulting lobbyist to his old firm. Spano also has completed course work (but not yet a thesis) towards a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

"In my experience," says Spano, "most people involved in community, nonprofit and political work have a strong sense of how they think the world ought to be. They don't, however, know exactly how to go about getting the policies they want enacted. That's what MAPL is for--to teach people how to make the policy and political systems deliver the kind of world our students hope for."

The MAPL program will be organized on the cohort model, that is, cohorts of 20-30 students will generally proceed together through the two years required to complete the degree. The first cohort will start their classes September 10.

MAPL students will be able to take a general MAPL course of study, or a concentration in one of the following three fields:

  • Nonprofit and Community Organizing
  • Labor Organizing
  • Small Community Development and Leadership.

The Center and the new degree program are housed in the UMD College of Liberal Arts. For more information on the MAPL program call 218-726-6711.
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