Spotlighting true public servants during Public Service Recognition Week: Part 1
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Spotlighting true public servants during Public Service Recognition Week: Part 1

May 16, 2024

During Public Service Recognition Week 2024, the Partnership for Public Service shined a spotlight on dedicated individuals who work behind the scenes to serve their communities and country. 

To celebrate the invaluable contributions of public servants, I embarked on a journey to delve into the experiences, challenges and triumphs of four people making a difference in local government and the federal workforce.   

From seasoned civil servants to emerging leaders, my conversations with these individuals offer a window into the passion, commitment and resilience that define the essence of public service.  

Below, I profile two of these individuals. Stay tuned to learn more about the others in a future blog post.  

Making a mark in the federal government 

In January 2023, Natasha Shah Syed was appointed as a political appointee in the General Services Administration. In her role, she has been providing policy, operations, strategic communications and outreach support to the GSA’s regional administrators on the West Coast and in the Washington, D.C., area. 

Syed was first exposed to the world of public service following her college graduation, when she interned with Concern Pakistan, an Irish nongovernmental organization in Islamabad, Pakistan.  

Before joining the federal government in 2023, she worked in local government and various nonprofits that serve the public. Today, she is directly involved in initiatives that benefit small businesses, specifically women-owned businesses. In her personal capacity, she also serves as vice chair for Muslim Americans in Public Service, a nonprofit organization that serves the Muslim American community.   

When I asked Syed what motivates her to serve others every day, she said, “As a human being, I have a bigger purpose and mission to be in this world. If I am able to make a positive change in the life of even one person, I will feel like I have fulfilled my purpose.” 

Making a mark in local government 

Oswaldo “Oz” Mestre is the next public servant I had the chance to sit down with. Mestre is the senior advisor to the mayor and executive director of citizen services for Buffalo. Appointed by Mayor Byron W. Brown in 2006, he is the longest-serving political appointee in the city.  

Prior to his current role, Mestre spearheaded the redevelopment of the mayor’s call and resolution center, promoting it to the public as a front door for community members to get involved and share their thoughts and concerns. 

Mestre practices empathy, which enables him to connect with people on different levels. He has also learned the importance of “opening the door for other people,” being creative, and taking “something that is complex in nature and describing it in a way that is understood.”

Visit our website to learn more about Public Service Recognition Week 2024.

Mary Moser is an intern at the Partnership’s Communications team.

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