10 Years Ago: Ivy League experience helped shape ITD's Pemble

Sometimes it is difficult to see the benefit of time spent in particular activities like sitting in a traffic jam at the same time day after day, or spending another hour in the waiting room of the doctor's office. But sometimes the significance, and reward, is immediately realized. Having the opportunity to attend Harvard fits that category. The academic magnitude and prestige is palpable. The lifelong benefits are abundantly clear.

Ten years ago, in July 2004, Drivers Services Manager Ed Pemble took the opportunity to go back east to Cambridge, Mass., for a three-week intensive training course at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government for Senior Executives in State and Local Government.

Pemble was one of two people selected by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) to attend. He was there along with about 60 others from every level of government, city, state, and county. No state money was used for tuition or travel, he points out. It was funded by a scholarship paid by a fellowship award from AAMVA.

"There were a number of foreign students in the program and about six different professors," Pemble recalls. "It was a very diverse group."

The course attracted participants from 24 states and three foreign countries, including city managers, mayors, fire chiefs, a deputy attorney general, state representative, chiefs of police, sheriffs, commissioners, council members, and others.

Pemble said it was a serious study program, requiring about three hours of reading each night in addition to attending classes throughout the normal 8-5 day. Overall, he was up by 5:30 each morning and didn't turn out the lights until after 11 p.m.

"It was a full day," Pemble explained. "There was a required small-group breakfast session from about 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. where we discussed the day's materials, and then class started at about 9 a.m. It went till 4:30 or 5 p.m. After hours, there were networking activities and reading. It was hard to get all the reading in before the next day."

Along with the course load, there was an "Outward Bound" team-building and problem-solving experience, a visit to the site of the Democratic National Convention, a PBS taping for "Washington Week in Review" individual case studies based on historical events, and the role of leadership, ethics, motive and power in negotiations.

Despite the rigor of those three summer weeks, Pemble looks back a decade later with fondness- it was a memorable experience and one he cherishes still.

The Harvard program included historical case studies analyzing actions of government officials and the outcomes of those actions. Each class session included rich sharing of ideas, approaches, conclusions and potential applications. There were also team assignments that required creativity and negotiation to complete. The Harvard experience brought a greater level of confidence; a better appreciation for diversity and diverse opinions and a realization that one needs help and support from others to get things done and be successful. One can't do it alone.

Toward the end of the course, a presentation was made regarding careers dedicated to government service. Reflecting on a government career offers the satisfaction of knowing a positive difference was made in the lives of others.

At the time of the Harvard training in 2004, Pemble had been the Driver Services manager for about three years, but prior to that had been the Vehicle Services manager for five years. So in all, he has been an ITD section manager for approximately 18 years.

Aside from the trip to Harvard, Pemble's schooling included graduating from Cal State Long Beach in 1979 with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration-Management.

(Above) Ed Pemble, far right, and fellow participants pose for a photograph

Published 9-26-14