Portraits of Public Service

Untold Stories from the Front Lines

Edited by Staci M. Zavattaro, Jessica E. Sowa, Alexander C. Henderson, and Lauren Hamilton Edwards

Subjects: Public Administration, Public Policy, Sociology Of Work, General Interest
Hardcover : 9781438493718, 306 pages, July 2023
Paperback : 9781438493701, 306 pages, January 2024

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Stories as Knowledge Creation
Staci M. Zavattaro, Jessica E. Sowa, Alexander C. Henderson, and Lauren Hamilton Edwards


1. Navigating Between the State and the Community: Stories from Community Health Workers
Gabriela Lotta and Juliana Rocha Miranda

2. Under the Radar: Stories from Government Meteorologists
Kelly A. Stevens

3. Revisiting Librarians as Public Servants
Alicia Schatteman

4. Teachers and Their Monitors: Negotiating Disciplinary Regimes in Pakistan
Moiz Abdul Majid and Sameen A. Mohsin Ali


5. (In)visible and (Mis)understood: The Public Service Work of American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreters during Emergencies
Stephanie Dolamore and Geoffrey Whitebread

6. Unseen but Irreplaceable: The Role of Air Traffic Controllers
Sean A. McCandless

7. Serving in Silence: The Emergency Manager
Kyle R. Overly


8. When Silence Is Golden: Stories from an Elections Office
Amanda D. Clark

9. Public Defenders as Constitutional Pariahs, Surrogate Deviants, and Emotional Laborers
Adam Croft

10. New York City Property Tax Assessment: Public Employees Serving in Silence
Michael J. Fouassier

11. Affordable Housing and Homelessness Policy Professionals
Maren B. Trochmann


12. Making in the Invisible Visible: The Photographers and Videographers in Public Service
Maja Husar Holmes

13. Arts and Cultural Management During the Pandemic: Introducing the Observant Servant
Sarah Berry, Dutch Reutter, Judith L. Millesen, and Maren B. Trochmann

14. Inconspicuously Indispensable for India: The Untold Stories of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs)
Nandhini Rangarajan, Aroon P. Manoharan, and Bianca Ortiz-Wythe

15. Multiple Mandates, Competing Goals, and the Challenges of Working in Combined Environmental Agencies in the United States
JoyAnna S. Hopper

Conclusion: A Path Forward for the Field
Staci M. Zavattaro, Jessica E. Sowa, Alexander C. Henderson, and Lauren Hamilton Edwards
List of Contributors

Reveals the often-untold stories of front-line public servants.


Community health workers, elections officers, emergency managers, air traffic controllers, government meteorologists, US federal service photographers, and arts and cultural workers perform critical roles, though rarely receive public attention. Their stories told here help reveal this hidden world to provide a rare view of government service.

Staci M. Zavattaro is Professor of Public Administration at the University of Central Florida. Jessica E. Sowa is Professor in the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware. Alexander C. Henderson is Associate Professor in the School of Management at Marist College. Lauren Hamilton Edwards is Associate Professor of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.


"Grounded in the experiences and knowledge of public servants, Portraits of Public Service provides concrete examples of why people choose public service and exactly what the job of public servants entails. This is key for not only our primary student body, but it also serves as an important example of a methodology that needs to be adopted more broadly in the field: storytelling and narrative inquiry."— Norma M. Riccucci, author of Critical Race Theory: Exploring its Application to Public Administration

"This is an excellent book for introduction to public administration at the graduate level and would also be appropriate for an undergraduate course directed at college seniors. Public administration is a vast field; this book reveals how big that tent really is. By reframing all of these occupations as public servants, the essays within this volume offer a way to connect the many disparate jobs performed by public administrators in a very thoughtful and powerful way."— Domonic A. Bearfield, coauthor of The Myth of Bureaucratic Neutrality: An Examination of Merit and Representation