More than two decades after he graduated from the BYU Marriott School of Business with an MPA degree, David Tanner still refers back to what he learned at the Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics. Currently Tanner consults state leaders, community organizers, and county and city elected officials in his role at the University of Georgia (UGA).
Tanner grew up in Salt Lake City and graduated from Brigham Young University in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in history and minors in psychology and business. He then worked at the general education honors office at BYU before returning for his MPA two years later.
“Having a broad base in education has been incredibly helpful in my career,” Tanner says. “Between my undergrad and the MPA program, I felt incredibly prepared for work.”
Tanner’s undergrad at BYU provided him with a strong core curriculum and helped him realize the value in pursuing his passions. “I don’t have a burning desire to make a lot of money, but I do have an interest in making a difference,” he shares.
During his graduate studies, Tanner benefitted from the MPA program’s focus on management. Through the program, Tanner heard a guest lecturer from the Utah Office of Planning and Budget, which inspired him to apply for a similar position in Atlanta after his wife was transferred to the area. “The day we arrived in Atlanta, I was hired at the Office of Planning and Budget (OPB) Georgia Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget (OPB),” Tanner shares.
Tanner started as a junior analyst at the OPB, and he eventually became the deputy director of the office, overseeing billions of dollars for the state. Tanner loved his role developing the programs and the funding mechanisms necessary to implement policies.
Early in his career working for the governor of Georgia, Tanner created a framework structured like a decision tree to determine how and where to reduce costs. “It was a perfect application of what I learned in my MPA program—how to help leaders make a decision about politically important programs in the state.” That same framework was used by the Georgia House of Representatives and the Senate.
After 12 years with the OPB, Tanner began working as an associate director of the State Services and Decision Support Division at UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Currently, he consults with government agencies to address some of Georgia’s most pressing challenges, such as workforce issues and economic development. He also trains incoming Georgia legislators about the state budget process and how bills become laws.
“To keep it simple, I am basically a consultant for the government,” Tanner says.
Above all, Tanner’s favorite part of his job is teaching and mentoring students at UGA—or as he refers to them, “the next generation of public managers.” As part of the MPA community, he looks forward to giving back to future MPA students.
Written by Liesel Allen