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Citizens Academy encourages city resident participation in governmental process
University College of Syracuse University, F.O.C.U.S. Greater Syracuse and the City of Syracuse Mayor’s Office recently launched the Citizens Academy, a 10-week series of interactive educational sessions designed to improve citizens’ understanding of the workings of local government and encourage involvement in the community. The academy was created after analysis of similar programs across the country, through which residents and local governments worked together to improve and maintain quality of life.
Thirty-three city residents are currently participating in the inaugural academy. They were chosen after applying through F.O.C.U.S.. No prior civic involvement is required to attend the Academy; rather, organizers seek citizens motivated to understand a city’s infrastructure and foster change based on that understanding.
“The inaugural Citizens Academy includes a wonderfully diverse, dynamic collection of Syracuse residents,” says Sandra Barrett, director of community programs at University College. “It’s exciting to see the exchange of information and ideas at each session. The knowledge each citizen gains will benefit not only the individual, but will add a new dimension to citizen participation in our community.”
Recent sessions have focused on: the history and organization of local government; city government budget and funding; and health and safety core services. Presenters have included F.O.C.U.S. member Judith Mower; Karen Kitney, director of the Syracuse-Onondaga County Planning Agency; City of Syracuse Budget Director Ken Mokrzycki; City of Syracuse Finance Director Brian Roulin; Syracuse Fire Department Chief John Cowin; Commissioner of Water Michael Cole; City Engineer Mary Robison; Onondaga County Health Commissioner, Dr. Cynthia Morrow; Onondaga County Department of Water and Environment Protection Commissioner Richard Elander; and Deputy Public Works Commissioner Jeff Wright.
The next session, which takes place Oct. 19, focuses on family programs and partnerships. Presenters will include Marilyn Pinsky, director of the Onondaga County department of aging and youth; Syracuse Parks Commissioner Pat Driscoll; and Fernando Ortiz, commissioner of community development.
For more information on Citizens Academy, call (315) 448-8732 ore-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.