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Kim Lersch

Dr. Ronald P. Sanders (SES, retired)
Director and Clinical Professor
School of Public Affairs, University of South Florida

With over 45 years of experience leading, studying, and supporting government organizations at all levels in the US and abroad, Ron Sanders has achieved an international reputation as a public management thought leader, visionary, and innovator. A Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and a decorated, twenty-year member of the US Senior Executive Service, he currently serves as Director of the University of South Florida’s School of Public Affairs, where he oversees various graduate education and research programs in public administration, public management, and urban and regional planning, as well as the operations of the John Scott Dailey Florida Institute of Government.

From 2010 to 2017, Dr. Sanders was Vice President of Booz Allen Hamilton, where he led the firm’s organizational transformation, strategic simulation, war gaming, and human capital capabilities. In that capacity, he supported Booz Allen’s most important US and international clients, including the US Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs; the IRS and the SEC; elements of the US Intelligence Community; the President’s Management Council; the World Bank and the IMF; and foreign governments such as the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Singapore. In recognition of his professional accomplishments, he was also named the firm’s first Fellow in 2011. 

From 2005 to 2010, Dr. Sanders served as Associate Director of National Intelligence and the US Intelligence Community’s first Chief Human Capital Officer, where he played a key leadership role in the post-9/11 implementation of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, as well as the integration of the Intelligence Community. His accomplishments in that regard earned him one of Harvard University’s coveted Innovations in American Government Awards in 2008. In addition, Dr. Sanders received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, OPM’s Theodore Roosevelt Award for Distinguished Public Service (his second), decorations from four different intelligence agencies, and the American Society for Public Administration’s Award for Outstanding Career Service. He was also one of four 2010 finalists for the prestigious Service to America Career Achievement Medal.

From 2002 to 2005, Dr. Sanders served as the US Office of Personnel Management’s Associate Director for Policy, with responsibility for all HR policies and programs affecting the Federal government’s eight million+ employees and retirees. Among other achievements, he led the design and development of innovative new human capital systems for the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense. Awarded his third Presidential Rank Award, he also received his first Theodore Roosevelt Award from OPM, as well as the Deputy Secretary of Defense’s Medal for Distinguished Public Service. Prior to OPM (from 1998 to 2002), he served as the US Internal Revenue Service’s first Chief Human Resource Officer, with HR strategy and policy responsibility for the more than 120,000 employees of the IRS. In that capacity, Dr. Sanders played a key leadership role in the Service’s landmark transformation, receiving a second Presidential Rank Award for his contributions to that effort, as well as three IRS Commissioner’s Awards, the Service’s highest honor.

From 1991 to 1998, Dr. Sanders served as the US Defense Department’s Director of Civilian Personnel, with HR policy and program responsibility for more than 1.1M DOD civilian employees; in addition, he founded and directed the Defense Civilian Personnel Service, which provides shared personnel services to DOD civilians worldwide. Among other things, he led the Department’s historic post-Cold War drawdown, reducing its rolls by over 300,000 positions; he received his first Presidential Rank Award, as well as the Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, for these efforts. 

A Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration for over a decade, Dr. Sanders has served on the faculties of Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the George Washington University, and he directed public management research centers at both institutions. He has also co-authored four books—including Building a 21st Century Senior Executive Service (published by the National Academy of Public Administration), Wicked Problems: A Practical Guide for Enterprise Leaders, and Civil Service Reform: Building a Government that Works (both published by the Brookings Institution Press)—as well as numerous articles and book chapters.

Formerly a Senior Fellow and Professorial Lecturer for George Washington University’s Center for Excellence in Public Leadership (the Center he first founded), Dr, Sanders continues to teach for the Brookings Institution and serves as the Vice Chair of the National Intelligence University Foundation’s Board of Directors; in addition, he has served on the boards of the American Society for Training and Development (from 2010-2012) and the Senior Executives Association (from 1991-2001). He earned his Doctorate in Public Administration (DPA) from the George Washington University, as well as a BA from the University of South Florida and an MS from the University of Utah. In addition, he completed MIT’s Sloan Program for Senior Executives and a year-long Fellowship with the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.