3L part of winning team at Local Government Case Competition

Third year student part of winning team at Local Government Case Competition

Emily McKenzie, 3L, was part of one of four winning teams at this year's Local Government Case Competition. The annual event takes place over three days, with graduate students from a range of programs randomly assigned to teams to solve actual problems facing the Allegheny Department of Health and Human Services.

This year, 16 teams of graduate students in the fields of public policy, social work, business psychology, design, and law from six universities gathered November 6-9. Sharing an interest in a career in the public sector, they were given 48 hours to solve this year's competition case: How to address human service delivery in the gig economy. The goal was for them to identify a specific human service need and come up with a solution to address it in a unique way.

McKenzie's team included Mika Ansley, Public Policy & Management Carnegie Mellon University; Joshua Bechdel, Counseling Psychology, Chatham University and Grace Geisler, Social Work, COSA, University of Pittsburgh. They worked together to come up solution to intimate partner violence.

Ultimately, they presented "Count on Me," a secret app designed to look like a calculator that uses an alert network, GPS, Lyft/Uber/Airbnb-like services to provide short-term, emergency transportation and shelter to individuals escaping domestic violence.

The Competition

After a rigorous application process to compete, students are chosen and introduced at an opening reception, where the case challenge is revealed. After receiving the challenge on a Wednesday night, randomly assigned teams of students have until Saturday morning to work together at their discretion on their presentation.

All presentations must be submitted by a pre-determined time on Saturday morning, regardless of a team's presentation time. This year's judges included leaders from Hillman Foundation, RK Mellon Foundation, university professors, gig entrepreneurs, Deloitte, start-up CEOs and UPMC enterprises.

Team presentations were judged in the following categories:
• verbal presentation
• creativity and originality
• overall impression
• content
• team performance
• feasibility
• impact


The Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) Local Government Case Competition (LGCC) began in 2007 as part of the celebration of DHS' 10th anniversary as an integrated department. Since then, the competition has grown to include more students from a wider variety of backgrounds and academic disciplines. The competition is funded by the Human Services Integration Fund (HSIF).

Like other case competitions, the LGCC highlights challenges and managerial dilemmas faced by government leaders. Competing teams work under pressure to solve a real problem, using simulated business conditions such as time-critical deadlines and incomplete information to formulate action-oriented recommendations.

"We're really happy to have Duquesne's participation this year. It's a great opportunity for students to hob nob and be seen by subject matter experts in the community. It's a win-win. Students get exposure to local government and community leaders and we get the benefit of their solutions. We look to them as consultants," said Program Specialist Alison Wolfson.

More information about the competition can be found here: https://www.alleghenycounty.us/Human-Services/News-Events/Events/Local-Government-Case-Competition.aspx.

McKenizie said of the experience,"Law school can be so isolating, especially when your social group becomes purely law students. Case Competition was an amazing opportunity to work with students from other graduate programs in Pittsburgh and get so many different prospectives towards addressing the needs of our community."

This was the first time Duquesne School of Law had a student on a winning team. Among the five who participated in the competition, Emily McKenzie, 3L, Marnie Potter, 2L, Jake Harrison, 2L, Alie Iwanenko, 2L and Kristen Patton, 2L, McKenzie's team won the fourth of four places, splitting a cash prize of $800 with her teammates.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 8,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University’s academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.

It's time for bigger goals
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