Andrea Marie Headley has always wanted to serve the public and make an impact on her community. Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in South Florida, Andrea earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Miami, where she double-majored in Human and Social Development and Criminology. As an undergraduate at UM, she developed an interest in organizational behavior and community relations after taking classes in community and program development.
“I yearned for a deeper understanding of societal problems and to analyze, if not inspire solutions,” she said.
Andrea wanted to do something that would enable her to serve the public and improve the community, so she decided to pursue a doctoral degree in Public Affairs.
“I knew I wanted to conduct research that had practical implications and solved problems,” Andrea said. “When the current events surrounding Ferguson and police shootings began to shed light on police-community tensions, it served as a motivation for my dissertation research.”
Andrea’s research applies organizational theories to understand the relationship between police departments and the community. As part of her doctoral dissertation, she examined the role of organization characteristics on police-community relations, used nationwide data on police agencies to develop a multi-dimensional index to measure organizational performance, and examined how and why organizational characteristics impact police-community relations. Andrea’s research is already impacting the community: she has conducted a program evaluation of police body-worn cameras for a local police department.
Andrea, a McKnight Doctoral Fellow, chose FIU for her graduate studies because of the interdisciplinary features of the Public Affairs program.
“I felt that this program gave me the best of all worlds by allowing me to have a broader understanding of public service while still allowing for a substantive policy focus in Criminal Justice,” she said.
Andrea is grateful for the many opportunities that have come her way while attending FIU, including attending international workshops and conferences, receiving methodological training at the University of Michigan’s ICPSR Summer Program, and presenting at national conferences across the United States.
“My time at FIU has been very rewarding, and I am very grateful,” Andrea said. “I have been blessed with wonderful support from various people, departments, and the University as a whole. The support, encouragement, and intellectual freedom I have been given at FIU has been instrumental in my development as a scholar.”
After completing her doctoral degree, Andrea will continue to pursue her research interests and plans to use her research to influence policy and practice. She has accepted two positions that will help with those goals. For the upcoming academic year, she will hold a post-doctoral position at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. Following her post-doctoral work, she will join the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University as a tenure-track assistant professor.