On the Front Lines: Public Administration Alumnus Helping to Keep Pittsburgh Safe During the Coronavirus Pandemic Alumni Profile
Meet Lee Schmidt
- Job Title & Employer
- Assistant Director of Public Safety, Operations, City of Pittsburgh
- Public Administration
- West Deer Township, Pa.
- High School
- Deer Lakes High School
- Now Living In
- City of Pittsburgh (Observatory Hill neighborhood)
- Hobbies & Interests
- Biking, kayaking, hiking and craft beer
"Lee has an extensive and impressive background in public safety, government and administration that made him perfectly suited for this position. His resume was a significant factor in my decision to promote him. In addition to his resume, Lee has proven to be highly organized, motivated and possessing excellent communications skills. These are important traits for this position, as Lee is tasked with managing many people in a high-stress environment. I'm sure Point Park University is proud to have someone like Lee representing them as an alumnus."
"I knew that getting this degree to pair with my experience would help my chances of growing my career and open opportunities with larger agencies and the City of Pittsburgh. What I didn’t realize was just how much I would enjoy the program and how well the knowledge I gained would align with the experience that I already had."
Update: As of February 2022, Lee Schmidt '16 is the Director of Public Safety for the City of Pittsburgh.
Tell us about the work you’re doing for the Pittsburgh Public Safety Department during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, for the pandemic operations I am on the teams responsible for handling the financial tracking, ordering and other supply chain logistics for the Department of Public Safety and the Bureaus within Pittsburgh. We are diligently working to ensure that all of the City’s first responders have all of the resources needed (things like personal protective equipment, cleaning products and other critical supplies) to keep them safe and performing at the highest level possible.
Through my hobby of craft beer and other adult libations, I have a number of contacts in that industry so I am working as a liaison between Public Safety and many local distilleries to procure hand sanitizers that are in short supply.
Since I am transitioning from a prior civilian position with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, I am using my EMS background to support the needs of the safety and planning committees in the Bureau.
Why did you decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree in public administration?
I had been in EMS for 19 years, starting as a volunteer EMT and working my way up through the ranks as a paramedic, trainer, supervisor, operations manager and chief. I had the real-world experience, but I still lacked a formal degree. I knew that if I wanted to stay relevant and keep moving forward in my career, I needed to grow and learn from others. That meant finishing a degree that I started over 20 years ago before I got bit by the EMS bug and before I had much direction on what I wanted to do with my life. As a public servant for so many years, a degree in public administration was the perfect fit.
What factors made you choose Point Park University?
Right out of high school, way back in 1993, I attended Point Park (it was a college back then) so I had some credits from that. Some of my colleagues mentioned to me that the public administration program at Point Park offered the ability to gain 60 credits for my paramedic certification and experience. All that, coupled with the flexibility of the program being offered fully online, made it the perfect fit for a busy EMS provider. I went to an open house to find out more and after speaking with Dr. Skertich, I enrolled in the program.
How did our public administration classes and faculty impact you?
I knew that getting this degree to pair with my experience would help my chances of growing my career and open opportunities with larger agencies and the City of Pittsburgh. What I didn’t realize was just how much I would enjoy the program and how well the knowledge I gained would align with the experience that I already had. In addition, the faculty, some of which I already knew as colleagues, connected their years of experience as public safety providers with the components of formal education.
What career advice do you have for individuals pursuing public service positions?
Don’t get into public service for the money. It won’t make you happy and you might not make a lot. Get into public service because you want to make a difference. You can impact the lives of thousands of people by improving and working hard in the community that you serve. More than I ever imagined, I have so much pride being in public service that the fulfillment from that far surpasses the money I could make elsewhere.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Pittsburgh is an amazing city full of awesome people who can all put aside their differences to come together in a crisis. I am so fortunate to get to experience that first hand because of my position as a public administrator.
If you are looking for a job in public safety administration, my previous position is open right now.