Academic journal article The Public Manager

Act like a Director

Academic journal article The Public Manager

Act like a Director

Article excerpt

When directors and top managers step down, it may take some time to fill the vacated positions. In the meantime, agencies, programs, and departments need a leader. Often, an acting director will step in. At the U.S. National Arboretum, a 446-acre campus in Washington, D.C., operating under the Agricultural Research Service of the Department of Agriculture, two research scientists are taking successive three-month details as acting director. How are these temporary leaders chosen and what happens during their tenure?

"[In our agency] most of our people are research scientists, and not all scientists make good managers," says Joseph Spence, the Beltsville area director who recommended these visionaries to their acting positions. "It's a good opportunity to get a feel for the position, and perhaps apply for it. If they don't apply, they've developed management experience they can bring back to their other job. The Arboretum is a little different than most of our programs--there's a lot more education and outreach."

Richard Olsen

Research Geneticist

My first degree is in design, so I am more attuned with the need to relate concepts and vision to a client--our stakeholders--than your average scientist. This, coupled with my passion, makes me an effective advocate for the mission and vision of the National Arboretum, both within and beyond our institute. …

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