Graduates of the School’s programs embark on a wide range of career paths in the broad area of public service and public affairs. The video interviews, alumni profiles, and stories of our distinguished alumni provide a snapshot of these paths.

Carleton 75 Alumni Videos

Alumni Interviews

Distinguished Alumni

Danielle McDonald

Danielle McDonald is currently the CEO of the Ottawa Public Library (OPL). Read about her experiences at the SPPA below

Q: How did you know that Carleton SPPA was the right program for you?

“I really enjoyed my undergrad experience in Urban Planning at the University of Waterloo. When I started to work in the planning field through a summer job, I realized that I what really intrigued me was how local government functioned. Someone suggested the MA, Public Administration program at Carleton, I applied, got in and the rest is history!”

Q: What was the transition like from school to the workforce?

“I loved school and loved learning but after many years in school I was anxious to get into the workforce. I had done some internships in the federal government and appreciated the experiences. My first “real full-time job” was for the City of Ottawa as a Junior Corporate Planner working for the first Chief Administrative Officer (now commonly known as theCity Manager). It was a great job and there were so many applicants –my MA in Public Administration really helped secure getting the first interview. I prepared and then was the successful candidate. Almost 34 years later I am still working at the municipal level and still loving it!”

Q: What position do you hold now and what work does this involve?

“I am CEO of the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) and report directly to the Ottawa Public Library Board. OPL has approximately 680 employees and a $52M budget funded largely through City of Ottawa tax dollars. My primary responsibilities include:

  • Setting the strategic direction, oversight and management for OPL
  • The strategic leadership and good governance of OPL
  • Developing and maintaining stakeholder relations
  • Fiscalmanagement and organizational responsibility”

Q: How did the education you got at the school empower you through your career?

“I was fortunate to have experienced life at two excellent universities. The MA, Public Administration program, however, really honed my ability to analyze information, think strategically and work hard to recognize and deliver excellence (I had some excellent classmates). In addition, coming from an entirely different program (not a poly sci background) required that I become more resilient. I had to learn about a new program and had to work hard keep up with others more familiar with the material. Being able to articulate a position and understand the many viewpoints involved has enabled me to craft reports with more clarity and purpose and allowed me to garner support for these recommendations.”

Q: What was the most memorable experience during your time at the School?

“The program was hard work and required a lot of hours of study. I was able to get an internship as well, so the combined theory and practice were excellent in terms of learning. I met some verynice people and it seems that so many graduated and did so well thereafter..”

Q: Do you have any advice for current or future students?

“Post-secondary education is a different kind of learning and as a result provides opportunities for developing analytical, communications and other key skills. The program is tough, interesting and required perseverance.”