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The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is the University of
Minnesota's school of policy and planning.

Gift from Humphrey School alumnus helps students afford internships

stembler_ebertEbert-Stembler Internship Fund supplements unpaid positions at nonprofit organizations

You might wonder how someone goes from interviewing welfare recipients about their satisfaction with benefits to overseeing multi-million dollar contracts between states and national vendors like Apple, Fastenal, and Verizon. Paul Stembler (MA ‘75) has made a few stops in between, but there’s one thing he credits most for his successful career: the internship he completed at the Minnesota Department of Public Welfare while earning his master’s degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

“I would not be where I am today without that internship,” says Stembler. “My career really started there, and since then opportunities have presented themselves.” Stembler’s main task during the internship was to ask welfare recipients whether services they received impacted their lives. That experience provided him a first-hand understanding of the critical role that governments and nonprofit organizations play.

Because of the value he places on his own internship experience, Stembler wants to make sure that other students have similar opportunities. He and his wife, Mary Ebert, who earned her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, donated $5,000 to establish the Ebert–Stembler Internship Fund. Their gift will provide two Humphrey School students—Addison Vang (MPP ‘12) and Cassie Bordelon (MPP ‘12) —with $2,500 each as a stipend while participating in internships at nonprofit organizations this summer.

“I chose to pursue a MPP to better serve the community and low-income and minority members, specifically the Hmong population,” wrote Vang in his request for grant monies to help offset this summer’s financial burden while he competes an internship with the Hmong American Farmer’s Association. “HAFA will provide the necessary knowledge of how an organization is run and economic and community development.”

Bordelon will be working with the Minnesota Minority Education Project (MMEP) this summer. MMEP works to increase the success of students of color and American Indian students in Minnesota schools, colleges, and universities.

“If we can expose students to the needs and understanding of how to run nonprofits, it can only help,” says Stembler, who adds that his own internship provided something equally as valuable as the actual work experience. “It opened doors for me.”

After earning his M.A., Stembler spent 30 years with the Minnesota Department of Administration, managing multi-state purchasing contracts. He’s currently the cooperative development director for the WSCA–NASPO Cooperative Purchasing Organization, which is the buying arm for the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO). Stembler helps state agencies, institutions, and other entities, such as nonprofit organizations, increase their buying power to pay less for goods and services by joining larger contracts initiated by other states. After Ebert earned her Ph.D. in higher education administration, she worked as a counselor at several community colleges in the Twin Cities metro area.