Public Administration in Action: GGU Student Responds to North Bay Fires

ggu-campus-aMost all students at GGU have every-day responsibilities such as taking care of children or holding down a full-time job. One student of the Executive Master in Public Administration (EMPA) program, Jason Holley, had to respond to a dramatic outside circumstance when the North Bay fires began to ravage a large portion of Napa County last month.

As the Interim City Manager of Napa County’s City of American Canyon, he collaborated with the County’s Emergency Management staff on the opening of an emergency shelter and facilitated real-time communication with residents. Reducing panic and giving citizens options could save lives.

To add to the pressure, shelters at neighboring counties were full, wind-whipped flames were approaching his Napa County home, and he was in his first week in his new role at the City of American Canyon. “It made for a very chaotic first week on the job!” The shelter was open for six days and housed as many as 68 people who were evacuated from their homes.


“All those entering the EMPA program are contacted to address the balance between the demands of coursework and quality of life.”

—Dr. Mick McGee, Associate Professor of Public Administration


Fortunately, the fires did not reach his home or the City of American Canyon. He was also delighted to see, “the extraordinary volunteer effort of the citizens as the community come together, rather than fractured, in a time of crisis.”

Work-Life Balance for GGU Students

Two years in a row, GGU has won a national award for its dedication to adult learners who have outside family and work commitments. “All those entering the EMPA program are contacted to address the balance between the demands of coursework and quality of life,” says Dr. Mick McGee, Associate Professor of Public Administration at GGU. “All obstacles to satisfactory completion of coursework are addressed, and solutions established. Accommodations are always made in favor of the student.”


“It is the goal of all the EMPA instructors to provide instruction and innovative ideas that students can use the next month, week, or day. Especially in a time of crisis.”

—Dr. Mick McGee, Associate Professor of Public Administration


The North Bay fires were not the only crisis to affect EMPA students this fall. Two online students living in Florida and North Carolina were affected by Hurricane Irma. Over the years, military service members or FBI agents have duties that take them away from their online or in-person classroom.

Dr. McGee continues: “It is the goal of all the EMPA instructors to provide instruction and innovative ideas that students can use the next month, week, or day. Especially in a time of crisis.”



About Jason Holley

Jason Holley is completing an Executive Masters of Public Administration at Golden Gate University, with an eye toward expanding his knowledge beyond his roots as an engineering and design expert. A graduate of Polytechnic San Luis Obispo with a B.S. degree in Bioresource and Agricultural Engineering, he has worked for the City of Napa and joined American Canyon in 2013, where he began as public works director–managing the county’s utilities, enginering, financial and technology departments. During his tenure, the City implemented an award-winning “Zero Water Footprint” Policy that facilitated $2.0M in private capital funding resulting in a 25% reduction in water demand city-wide in response to the drought. He is a California Registered Civil Engineer, an ICC Certified Building Official, and California Office of Emergency Services Disaster Service Worker.


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