Andrew Sturmfels appeared destined for a bright career in hospitality, but in the back of his mind, he always felt called to make an impact on a greater scale.
So he came to Sacramento State, where he enrolled in the Public Policy and Administration graduate program. That choice shaped the rising star's future, as today he crafts policy and effects change in the highest office in the state.
The Sacramento State graduate landed a job on Gov. Jerry Brown's staff just months after he presented his MPPA thesis at the State Capitol. But the 32-year-old had been aiming for a career in state government years before then.
Sturmfels worked his way from intern with then-Assembly Member Dave Jones to a graduate student position with Cal-EPA to a civil servant analyst job with the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), then to civil servant manager with DTSC before being appointed in 2013 by Brown as senior permit assistance specialist in the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). In September 2014, he was appointed as deputy director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at GO-Biz.
Created by Brown to serve as California's single point of contact for economic development and job creation efforts, GO-Biz offers a range of services to business owners. These include attraction, retention and expansion services, site selection, permit streamlining, clearing of regulatory hurdles, small-business assistance, international trade development, and assistance with state government.
As a permitting specialist, Sturmfels worked with businesses and helped them navigate the business permitting process. He also worked with regulating agencies at all levels of government to improve their permit processes. In his new role, he manages the legislative portfolio for GO-Biz, which also includes the state's Film Commission, Tourism Commission, and Infrastructure Bank.
Sturmfels' road to the governor's office was not always clear. After graduating from Virginia's Roanoke College in 2005, he was hired by Marriott International and moved to San Francisco. He married and later settled in Sacramento. But he was incessantly drawn to public service.
"Although my career was going really well, I felt like there was something missing," Sturmfels said. "I wanted a career where I could make a difference in the lives of others."
That prompted him to seek out a job in government.
Sacramento State's Public Policy and Administration graduate program was a perfect fit. During his 18 months of study, he was grateful for the guidance he received, particularly from Ted Lascher, a professor in the College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies (SSIS).
Sturmfels' honors included the 2012 Cristy Jensen Award as the outstanding student in Public Policy and Administration, as well as the 2012 Dean's Award for outstanding graduate student within SSIS. His master's thesis on "Financing Economic Development Post-Redevelopment" has become the go-to piece in California for understanding municipal finance in the post-redevelopment era.
"Andrew was an excellent student throughout his time at Sacramento State," Lascher said. "His master's thesis was particularly impressive. It combined careful, detailed analysis of alternative approaches to economic development with concrete, practical recommendations."
Sturmfels is active in serving his local community, and after serving two years on the West Sacramento Economic Development Advisory Commission, he was appointed in 2015 to serve on the West Sacramento Planning Commission.
"I believe in leading through service to others, and want to make a difference by being a servant leader in the public sector," Sturmfels says. He seems well on his way toward an even brighter future. – Alan Miller and John BlomsterLast Updated: July 2015