School of Public Policy Assistant Dean Carson Bruno Promotes Leadership through Coro Lead LA

Photo by Makena Huey

The School of Public Policy’s Assistant Dean hopes to further advance leadership at Pepperdine through his participation in the Coro Lead LA Fellowship.

Coro Southern California selected Bruno, along with 37 others, for the inaugural program designed to cultivate local leaders, the School of Public Policy announced September 20, 2018.

“There are a lot of similarities between what the School of Public Policy is doing and what Coro is doing, and I’m really excited to be able to bridge the gap,” said Carson Bruno, assistant dean for admission and program relations at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy.

“There are a lot of similarities between what the School of Public Policy is doing and what Coro is doing, and I’m really excited to be able to bridge the gap.”

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Infographic by Makena Huey

About the organization

Coro Southern California is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that strives to develop leaders through collaborative learning experiences. Lead LA is Coro’s fellowship program designed to improve the leadership skills, knowledge and networks of Southern California’s changemakers, thought leaders and innovators.

The program utilizes Los Angeles as its classroom for experience-, issue- and inquiry-based group learning, enabling the fellows to better understand themselves and the city. Participants such as Bruno will be able to lead effectively, demonstrate team management skills, analyze complex systems from multiple perspectives and provide balanced solutions to multi-sectoral issues in Southern California. Ultimately, they can use these tools to catalyze change within their own organizations.

Coro is unique because it allows participants to learn leadership skills through training retreats and interviews with experts in the field, and then apply those skills to different challenges for a lasting impact, said Jenny Vasquez-Newsom, Coros’ Vice President of Leadership Programs and Training.

“We look for candidates with unique perspectives and a cohort with different experiences,” Vasquez-Newsom said. “As an assistant dean of a school of public policy, [Bruno] has a higher education perspective, but also a broader perspective of educating the next generation of public servants and leaders.”

About the assistant dean

For SPP students, Dean Bruno is a changemaker and driving force behind the mission.

“We here at the School of Public Policy are very enriched by Dean Bruno’s presence through his leadership on campus and we think that his involvement in Coro Lead LA will be an asset to the entire program”, said Will Humphrey, a second year student at the School of Public Policy.

Since he was first introduced to the organization two years ago, Bruno has had a deep commitment to Coro’s mission. “I’m really honored, first and foremost, to be part of this inaugural fellowship,” Bruno said. “It is a very prestigious organization and knowing that they saw enough leadership potential in me… is really amazing.”

Bruno said his diverse personal and professional experiences positively contributed to his selection for Lead LA because Coro is looking for candidates with cross-sectoral backgrounds. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business management from Washington and Lee University and a master’s degree in Economics and American Politics from the School of Public Policy. Before becoming Assistant Dean, he was an investment-banking analyst at J.P. Morgan and a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, specializing in California public policy.

Bruno said he is most excited about Issue Days, in which small groups lead discussions on LA policy issues in order to educate the rest of the cohort. Cohorts were told to choose an issue they were not familiar with, so Bruno chose to explore the advantages and disadvantages of Public Transportation and Infrastructure. By collaborating with his peers he will the develop the problem-solving skills necessary “to ensure that LA can be a city of the future and not just one of the past,” Bruno said.

Bruno said he is also looking forward to building new connections, not only for himself personally, but also for Pepperdine professionally.

About the impact on the School of Public Policy

Bruno said he believes that his participation in Lead LA will benefit both Pepperdine University and the School of Public Policy. Both the School of Public Policy and Coro Lead LA are designed to prepare leaders to thoroughly understand and effectively address cross-sectoral challenges, Bruno said.

By closely examining the most pressing issues in Southern California and collaborating with experienced individuals familiar with those issues, Bruno will have access to the city’s decision makers and “hopefully that learning can come back to the school,” Vasquez-Newsom said.

Bruno said he hopes to serve as an ambassador for the School of Public Policy by connecting with other leaders in the government, private, and non-profit sectors of Los Angeles who may not be aware of the school’s mission.

Bruno said he uses his platform as assistant dean to highlight what it means to be a policy leader. Without leadership, there can be no change  in the world, so being a better leader will enable Bruno to listen to the students’ needs before making a decision that will positively impact the school.

Leadership is a very important part of Public Policy students’ current education and future careers because it serves as a foundation for professional community involvement, Humphrey said.

“I can self-reflect on my personal and professional side, so I think that will make me a better administrator.”

Bruno said he believes that Coro’s emphasis on self-reflection will help him better achieve his role. “I’m going to get a better understanding of how I can self-reflect on my personal and professional side, so I think that will make me a better administrator as well as a better guest lecturer for classes here at the School of Public Policy, which ultimately will lead to, I hope, better services for our students because at the end of the day, our students are at the heart of our mission,” Bruno said.