Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs Dean John Graham has announced the appointment of Tom Guevara as the director of the IU Public Policy Institute, located at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
Guevara, who earned his Master of Public Affairs with a focus on finance from SPEA, has spent the past six years as deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. In his role there, Guevara led the federal economic development agenda, promoting innovation and competitiveness to help U.S. workers and businesses compete globally. As the agency’s most senior career officer, he led the Economic Development Administration during the transition of presidential administrations while performing the duties of the assistant secretary for economic development.
Prior to his position at the Department of Commerce, Guevara worked in a variety of state and local government positions in Indiana in addition to a six-year career in the private sector with Crowe Horwath LLP in Indianapolis. Following his graduation from SPEA, Guevara served as the assistant budget director for the Health and Human Services division of the Indiana State Budget Agency and also worked as controller for the city of Bloomington.
“Tom Guevara’s work at the nexus of policy, politics and operations positions him well to bring vision and leadership to the IU Public Policy Institute at IUPUI,” IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar said. “His expertise is particularly important considering the role of the Public Policy Institute in our strategic effort to deepen our engagement in the community.”
Graham also cited Guevara’s extensive experience working with both state and federal government agencies as a key factor in his selection as the institute’s next director.
“Tom has a keen understanding of state and local government and what it takes to make and implement effective public policy,” Graham said. “The totality of his experience working within, and consulting to, government and communities across the country makes him an ideal fit for the Public Policy Institute and its mission of helping Hoosier leaders, citizens, businesses and organizations solve problems, seize opportunities and effect positive change.”
Guevara says his vision for the institute is to not only continue supporting research that results in effective policies that improve the quality of life for Indiana residents, but also make the IU Public Policy Institute a national leader in the areas of specialty that it currently has in its portfolio. He says the best policies are “context neutral” and can be applied regardless of location.
“I’ve found that while policies are customized to individual cities, states or communities, underneath the policy are both an analysis and some recommended solutions that can carry over to a lot of different places,” Guevara said. “To the extent that we develop policies that can address the problems Hoosiers face, I would hope that many of those same policies and solutions could be applied in other parts of the country that face similar challenges.”
Though his office has been in Washington, D.C., for the past six years, Guevara has stayed true to his Hoosier roots and maintained his home in the Bloomington area. He says he believes the strength of the institute is that it is connected to IU and its world-renowned faculty.
While elevating the institute’s reputation nationally is part of Guevara’s long-term plan, he also wants to expand its reach across IU’s schools and disciplines.
“I want to take advantage of all the resources IU has to offer,” Guevara said. “Part of my job will be to sort through the portfolio and work with staff, faculty, deans and administrators to figure out the best intersections. I believe that’s just another way to elevate the kinds of policies that raise the quality of life for our state’s residents.”
A lifelong Hoosier who was born in Fort Wayne, Guevara worked a variety of managerial jobs in the restaurant industry after receiving his bachelor’s degree in marketing from the Kelley School of Business. It was the quiet influence of his father, who instilled in him the value of civic service, that ultimately led him to enroll in SPEA to pursue his MPA.
“My father was an armchair politician, and he really imbued me with an appreciation for and awareness of public service,” said Guevara, who was awarded the Distinguished Hoosier honor by Gov. Frank O’Bannon in 2000. “I love Indiana. My wife and two children all have degrees from Indiana University. We’re Hoosiers through and through. And the chance to do something that will hopefully improve the quality of life for people in our state, and to be able to make a difference that way, is an amazing and humbling opportunity.”
Guevara will begin his position as director April 3.