Gary Sasse named director of Bryant Institute for Public Leadership

March 22nd, 2011

"By working with the Institute's core group of faculty experts in management, leadership, economics and other fields, municipal leaders and others can develop and strengthen skills they will need to face pressing issues head-on," new director says.

Gary Sasse

SMITHFIELD, R.I. — Gary S. Sasse, one of Rhode Island's most trusted leaders, administrators and consultants, has been appointed director of the Bryant Institute for Public Leadership. The announcement was made today by University President Ronald K. Machtley.

The Bryant Institute for Public Leadership was launched in December 2010 to provide public officials and others involved in the development, management, and execution of public policy with the tools and skills needed to manage responsive organizations and govern effectively. The Institute has sponsored two conferences to date - one for mayors and one for school committee members. A third conference in June will be offered for school officials.

Funds for the Institute's first year are provided through the Hassenfeld Family Foundation.

"The need for a program like this in Rhode Island is critical," said Machtley. "The Bryant Institute for Public Leadership is just one example of the University's vision of fostering character and leadership - not only among our students, alumni and faculty, but within the state of Rhode Island as well."

"Bryant University has an entrepreneurial vision and a hands-on faculty," said Sasse, who also is Distinguished Visiting Professor of Public Policy at Rhode Island College for the 2010-11 academic year. "By working with the Institute's core group of faculty experts in management, leadership, economics and other fields, municipal leaders and others can develop and strengthen skills they will need to face pressing issues head-on."

One member of that core group is Michael A. Roberto, DBA, Trustee Professor of Management and director of the Bryant University Center for Program Innovation. Having the Bryant scholars and experts work with officials in the public sector "is a natural fit," said Roberto, a widely recognized expert on leadership and strategic management and the author of Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer: Managing for Conflict and Consensus and Know What You Don't Know.

Throughout the sessions, Roberto said, "we play it straight. We are nonpartisan. We discuss techniques officials can use to make sure they are getting a wide range of opinions and ideas to ensure that they're not just hearing from people who agree with them. We talk about the importance of constructive conflict and dialogue, how they don't want their staffs afraid to tell them the truth."

Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian agreed. He was one of the incumbent office holders invited by Sasse to share experiences and insight with participants in the mayors' conference held on the Bryant campus Dec. 18-19.

"This is a forum to have a real discussion about what the future is and can be, without the politics involved," Avedisian said. "It was very powerful walking into a group of officials, gathered on a Saturday and Sunday, on their own time, all with the goal of doing the right thing."

The Institute's programs enable connections among people serving on city councils, town councils, and school committees — "people who don't often have the opportunity to all be in the same room together," Avedisian said. "This creates that think tank environment in Rhode Island. It's a place where you can say, 'I'm thinking of this or here's my issue. What have you done?' It's an opportunity to learn from other people's experience and build upon that. "

"I can't tell you enough how helpful the program was to the team," said Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, who participated in December program. In the weeks following, "as we worked through many of the issues Pawtucket is faced with, we continuously reflected back to the information provided throughout the program."

Gary S. Sasse

From 1977 until 2007, Gary Sasse served as executive director of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, a nonprofit public policy research organization. Under his leadership, RIPEC produced more than 75 major studies for governors, mayors, the legislature and nonprofit groups on state and local policy, government operations, and fiscal and economic issues.

In 2008, Sasse was appointed director of the state's Department of Revenue and Department of Administration by Governor Carcieri.

EDITORS/REPORTERS: A photo and a more complete biography for Sasse are available from Tracie Sweeney, director of public relations.

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Keywords: civic engagement, Gary Sasse, government, Institute for Public Leadership, leadership, management, Rhode Island