September 26, 2013

Ruby Choi MIA ’10, a policy advisor in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Operations, will receive the 2013 Frederick O’Reilly Hayes Prize in recognition of her outstanding work in municipal government.

The annual award, which will be conferred at a ceremony next month, honors city employees who have made “the most innovative and effective contributions” to the quality of public services in New York, and “demonstrated a high degree of talent, commitment and accomplishment.” Choi was selected for her use of data analytics to drive policy and decision-making.

“I feel incredibly honored,” Choi told SIPA News. “It was completely unexpected because I even didn’t know I was nominated. I truly owe the award to my supervisor, Liz Weinstein [director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations] — for nominating me, for hiring me after graduating from SIPA, for teaching and guiding me, and for giving me the opportunity to work in unique projects.”

Choi, who studied Urban Policy and Management at SIPA, said graduate school helped her acquire many of the skills she uses on a daily basis.

“I went to SIPA looking to gain quantitative skills — I wanted to find a job in policy analysis,” she explained. “I especially enjoyed Professor [Lucius] Riccio’s Decision Models class, not only because of the data analysis and Excel skills I learned, but also because of his stories about how the models we built were based on real-life problems that the city and other organizations faced.”

Choi later served as a teaching assistant for Professor Ricco, an experience she said was “even more fulfilling to engage with the material and my fellow classmates.”

Riccio said he was pleased by the news but not surprised: “I knew Ruby would be successful anywhere she went,” he said. “She was a top student in Decision Models, and an outstanding TA. I am absolutely delighted that her skills and hard work are being recognized with this prestigious award this early in her career.”

The award was established in 2005 to honor the late Fred Hayes, a public servant who pioneered management and analytic methods for the federal, state, and local government. Hayes served as budget director of the City of New York from 1966 to 1970 and over the course of his career held a variety of other positions inside and outside of government.

— by Valle Avilés Pinedo MIA ’14