About Rethinking

Vision: A more informed, strategic, and capable American civic ecosystem that not only addresses the needs of those living in the United States in a more trusted and effective fashion, but which once again stands up American government as a global model for prosperity, liberty, equality, and innovation.

Mission: To provide those who work in public institutions or whose work addresses community and public issues, access to a nonpartisan, thoughtful, and critical place to question everything and find practical systemic solutions to some of our most pressing needs.

Your host – Alex Torpey

Alex Torpey is a New Jersey raised and based public servant, entrepreneur, educator, consultant, and speaker.

Most recently, Alex was the Business Administrator for the City of Lambertville, Hunterdon County. Formerly he was the Borough Administrator in Leonia, Bergen County. And he was elected Mayor (Village President) of his hometown of South Orange, New Jersey in 2011 (by 12 votes), which at 23 years-old, made him one of the youngest mayors in the United States.

Alex teaches as a visiting professor of governance and technology at Seton Hall University in their Master of Public Administration program.

Alex is currently an independent governance and management consultant. Most recently, he worked with Sustainable Jersey as the consulting Program Manager for the Public Information and Engagement Program, providing technical assistance to municipalities to help them improve their communications and technology programs.

Previously, he was the founder and managing partner of Veracity Media. Alex earned his Master of Public Administration in Emergency Management from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and his BA in the Political Science of American Law from Hampshire College.

Alex has also taught environmental education at Fairview Lake YMCA, volunteered as an Emergency Medical Technician with the South Orange Rescue Squad, mentored and advised dozens of political candidates, entrepreneurs, and organizations, traveled to over 30 states and a dozen countries, and is avid lover of the outdoors, nature, reading, writing, philosophy, and photography.

Alex helps individuals, organizations, and communities identify and implement more evidence-based, participatory, and strategic goals.

As a Municipal Manager

As a municipal administrator, Alex’s work has largely focused on:

– Identifying acute and systemic mechanisms for local tax savings and economic sustainability
– Creating more comprehensive and publicly transparent budgeting processes
– Demanding strict compliance for ethics and data privacy and security
– Implementing evidence-based and technology supported programs that meet specific, prioritized community needs, and
– Building trust through authentic and constructive collaboration with communities.

By approaching governance and management as a participatory, not exclusionary, processes we can more effectively address major and growing challenges related to issues such as housing and affordability, economic sustainability, environmental and climate protection, public safety and preparedness, and technology and accessibility.

Above is one example of budget transparency and engagement. This is a graphic that compares for the prior five years two important indicators, which taken together provide valuable insight. It includes a) the total debt authorized by each individual municipal bond ordinance, and b) the cumulative amount of debt authorized by the City. This is meant to help illustrate that if you only approach financing in an ad-hoc fashion (blue label), where you borrow money periodically without a plan or broader context, it’s very easy to lose track of the actual total cost (red label). The solution to this is simple: Transparent, multi-year budget processes that provide all of the information, presented and discussed full engagement with local stakeholders and the community.

Sustainability | Historic Preservation | Downtown Revitalization and Local Business Support | Affordable Housing and Communities | Accessible Online Payments and Services | Emergency Preparedness and Communication | Cultural, Arts, and Recreation Programming | Public Information and Library Access.

There are so many important areas that local governments touch on a daily basis. Click here for more detail about Alex’s municipal management beliefs and results.

As Mayor in South Orange

As a mayor, Alex lead his municipality through four years of financial stabilization, new technology adoption, smart redevelopment (including affordable housing and sustainable elements), improvements to public safety and emergency management services, and a significant change in how the public and community were engaged with through numerous transparency and communications programs. A lot of exceptional work by South Orange’s team was accomplished, and you can read many more details about progress made in South Orange here.

As a Consultant

Alex’s consulting areas of expertise include technology, civic engagement, communications, organizational development, strategic planning, management, policy/program evaluation, and emergency/risk management. Alex previously was the consulting Program Director for Run for America, where he created the new nonpartisan civic leadership program Pathways, and has consulted with organizations such as Living Cities, John Jay College Foundation, and Sustainable Jersey. Previously, Alex was a James Madison Fellow at the Millennial Action Project, on the Advisory Board of the New Jersey New Leaders Council and a member of Sustainable Jersey’s Civic Innovation and Community Engagement Task Force. Alex has spoken with audiences of all types and sizes across all of New Jersey, the United States, and abroad about these topics and more.

As a Professor

At Seton Hall University, Alex is working to tackle some of the most important problems presented to up and coming public and nonprofit managers. In the core-credit MPA course Alex teaches, students are prepared to be more creative, strategic, intentional in the way they build their careers and design effective public programs that address the root cause of many of the poor governance and management outcomes we see around us. Students work independently and collaboratively on long-range strategic plans that help address some of the most pressing issues we face.

And when not working?

Alex is an avid outdoorsman, and enjoys taking road trips on his motorcycle, listening to or (learning how to) making music, reading or discussing philosophy, visiting and learning about new places, and fishing and camping around New Jersey and the northeast. You can find his photography on Instagram or read more about Alex here. Alex currently lives in Delaware Township, in Hunterdon County. Previously within New Jersey, he has lived in Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, and Mercer Counties, as well in Brooklyn, upstate New York, and briefly, East Africa.

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