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Milbauer broadens horizons at Harvard’s Kennedy School

Dr. John Milbauer made the most of his recent leave of absence, earning a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government with support from the College of Fine Arts and the Provost’s Office.

Milbauer, an acclaimed pianist and professor of piano for over 25 years, decided to take a leave of absence after analyzing his career and looking at what he wanted to pursue next.

John Milbauer in Harvard Law Library

Studying in Harvard Law School’s library. In the fall, in particular, not a minute to spare.

“When you’ve been in the workforce for 25 years, you start to look around and think about what you’ve accomplished and what you can do now to have more impact,” he said. How can your work be more engaging and better to those around you?”

Milbauer wanted to keep one foot planted, not leaving music and Arizona, but to venture out to an adjacent possibility, whether that be related to the arts, higher education, or not. The one-year MPA program at the Harvard Kennedy School was the perfect fit, designed for mid-career professionals from around the world seeking to make a difference.

Milbauer truly enjoyed being immersed in the learning environment again.  He was inspired by regular contact with such public figures as Cornel West, Samantha Power, David Gergen, Ricardo Hausmann, Wendy Sherman, Raj Chetty, and especially his advisor Ron Heifetz and connected with every one of his 190 classmates, with one-third coming from developing countries and/or emerging democracies whose institutions were still in formation.

“It was a joy. I didn’t have to worry about stuff and only needed to absorb as much as I could and meet as many people as I could. “I have never been busier, but I loved being a student and am trying to hang on to that. I’m currently taking Spanish right now at the university.”

Did he play a piano while in Cambridge?

“I had thought that I would carve out an hour every day to practice, but after a lecture by Brian Mandell, he told us to not reinvest in our old career. All students in the program come in with 20 years of experience, but Mandell explained that it was simply one year of experience times 20. I knew that if I wanted this to be a year of change, I needed to move away from the piano. I suspected the technique would hold up and it did, it is back and maybe even better than before.”

However, being a skilled musician definitely prepared him for this different degree. “Many musicians are good with numbers, math, data, whether there are quarter notes or eight notes or poverty levels in Ethiopia. It was very easy to transfer my skills since the biggest was the facility with numbers and patterns and recognizing what we’re so used to looking at with data and graphs, such as treble clefs and bass clefs.”

Photo of John Milbauer with friends from India and Sri Lanka

The Kennedy School fall reception, with friends from India and Sri Lanka.

Three Takeaways

Notwithstanding the vast amount of new knowledge learned, Milbauer gave three important takeaways from his time at Harvard.

  1. Leadership at its most fundamental level is capacity building, whether that be building roads, dams, and hospitals or building coalitions. It is important to build capacities in your colleagues and yourself, as leadership is not about grabbing the brass ring for yourself but creating opportunities for others to grow and do their best
  2. The second takeaway was surprising, as even though there were only two or three students in the program that were in the arts, there was a strong belief that the arts were important for public, social good and creating communities, no matter what country, sector or
  3. You can lead from wherever you are. Anyone in an organization or institution, whether it be a student, faculty, administrator, or even audience member. When you are in the stakeholder map, you have capacity to shape that group. If you become skilled at looking at the tensions, people’s preoccupations and ulterior motives with curiosity and generosity, you can lead regardless of your title and

In addition to being a John F. Kennedy Fellow, Milbauer was also Co-Chair of the HKS Arts and Culture Caucus as well as Associate Editor of the HKS LGBTQ Policy Journal.

“I had a fantastic experience with both,” he said. “With the Caucus, I explored the relationship between arts and public good and analyzed how the arts impact society.”

Photo of John Milbauer and Cornel West

After a lecture on human rights and racism by Cornel West, Milbauer follows up on a question about James Baldwin and Nina Simone.

The LGBTQ Policy Journal was important to him.

“Knowing that 70 countries in the United Nations still criminalize homosexuality made me realize how there is still plenty of room for capacity building in the LGTBI sphere here,” he said. While he was eager to be involved in the policy journal, he also reconciled that aspect of himself in a way that was “empowering.”

His advice to students looking to broaden their interests was simple.

  • “I echo what the former president of Julliard, Joe Polisi, said, which is to read a world paper daily. The arts is not an easy profession, and if you don’t know about the world you aren’t preparing yourself to navigate a challenging career.”
  • In addition, ask yourself questions. “Other than music, what programs are operating at a high level and how can I be involved with them?”
  • Be curious about the world and investigate what excites you. At a big university like Arizona, there’s no reason to be bored or uninspired.

“The musicians who have longevity are the ones who have intellectual curiosity. “We in the arts have so much to learn from and share with other fields and other parts of the world. This was an extraordinary opportunity.”

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2 days ago
Arizona Arts

Congrats Sadie Shaw (BFA, 2019, Art & Visual Culture Education).

We are proud of you. Good luck with your new role.

Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona
University of Arizona School of Art
Arizona Alumni🌟 Please join us in welcoming Sadie Shaw to the Arts Foundation team as the Community Design Manager!

Sadie will lead SaludArte, a new private public partnership between Pima County Health Department (PCHD) and the Arts Foundation.

Sadie is an artist, art educator, oral historian, community organizer and Governing Board Member of the Tucson Unified School District.

To learn more about Sadie and her new role as the Community Design Manager, click the link below!

artsfoundtucson.org/welcome-to-the-team-sadie-shaw/
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Congrats Sadie Shaw (BFA, 2019,  Art & Visual Culture Education). 

We are proud of you. Good luck with your new role.

Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona
University of Arizona School of Art
Arizona Alumni
2 days ago
Arizona Arts

The world premiere of LUTE, an inspiring documentary of the legendary The University of Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson, is this Friday at 5:30p at Centennial Hall.

Relive the 1997 NCAA title run on its 25th anniversary!

Directed by UA School of Theatre, Film & Television alumnus Brett Rapkin (BA 2000).

azart.fyi/LUTEtix

Presented by Podium Pictures, in association with CBS Sports, this definitive documentary by Emmy Award-winning Director Brett Rapkin celebrates the legendary Coach Lute Olson on the 25th Anniversary of the 1997 National Championship.

“Not long after I showed up in Tucson as a 17-year-old freshman, I got to witness Lute lead the 1997 Cats to the promised land: a National Championship,” said Rapkin, who studied film at TFTV. “It is truly an honor to have the chance to help tell this story.”

“I’m thrilled to be a member of the team making a film celebrating Coach O’s life and legacy,” said Jason Terry, executive producer and member of the 1997 championship team. “This is also a special opportunity to allow the coaches, fans, players and families that he inspired along the way to tell their own stories.”

#lute #BearDown #RiseWithUs

Arizona Men's Basketball | Arizona Alumni | Arizona Athletics | Arizona A-Club Letterwinners | AZ Desert Swarm | Arizona Arts Live
... See MoreSee Less

The world premiere of LUTE, an inspiring documentary of the legendary The University of Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson, is this Friday at 5:30p at Centennial Hall.

Relive the 1997 NCAA title run on its 25th anniversary!

Directed by UA School of Theatre, Film & Television alumnus Brett Rapkin (BA 2000).
 
https://azart.fyi/LUTEtix
 
Presented by Podium Pictures, in association with CBS Sports, this definitive documentary by Emmy Award-winning Director Brett Rapkin celebrates the legendary Coach Lute Olson on the 25th Anniversary of the 1997 National Championship.
 
“Not long after I showed up in Tucson as a 17-year-old freshman, I got to witness Lute lead the 1997 Cats to the promised land: a National Championship,” said Rapkin, who studied film at TFTV. “It is truly an honor to have the chance to help tell this story.”
 
“I’m thrilled to be a member of the team making a film celebrating Coach O’s life and legacy,” said Jason Terry, executive producer and member of the 1997 championship team. “This is also a special opportunity to allow the coaches, fans, players and families that he inspired along the way to tell their own stories.”

#lute #BearDown #RiseWithUs

Arizona Mens Basketball | Arizona Alumni | Arizona Athletics | Arizona A-Club Letterwinners | AZ Desert Swarm | Arizona Arts Live

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Miss you Lute 💙

3 days ago
Arizona Arts

Five students were selected as the inaugural JustArts Fellows, an Arizona Arts equity initiative to advance diversity and inclusion in the arts by asking student leaders to identify challenges and propose creative solutions.

🔗 azart.fyi/JustArts22

The inaugural cohort includes:

Dylan Crites
>> UA School of Theatre, Film & Television
Carlos Garcia Ramirez
>> The University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music
Dorthea Stephenson
>> The University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music
Ariana Aquino
>> The University of Arizona School of Dance
Joshua Barbre
>> The University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music
... See MoreSee Less

Five students were selected as the inaugural JustArts Fellows, an Arizona Arts equity initiative to advance diversity and inclusion in the arts by asking student leaders to identify challenges and propose creative solutions. 

🔗 https://azart.fyi/JustArts22

The inaugural cohort includes: 

Dylan Crites
>> UA School of Theatre, Film & Television
Carlos Garcia Ramirez
>> The University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music
Dorthea Stephenson
>> The University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music
Ariana Aquino
>> The University of Arizona School of Dance
Joshua Barbre
>> The University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music
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