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Davenport Discussion with Deborah Feng

This month, the Davenport Institute hosted the former City Manager of Cupertino, former Associate Director at NASA, and Advisory Council Member at the Davenport Institute, Deborah Feng, for lunch and discussion with Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy students. Feng began by discussing her background and how she initially sought out a career in broadcast journalism. Feng explained how public service was not at the forefront of her plan but that being open to new opportunities blessed her with a career spanning three decades in public service. 

In discussing her transition from broadcast journalism to public service, Feng explained how she began her career at NASA, and that while her degree differed from the roles she assumed at the organization, it equipped her with the necessary tools to be an effective leader. Feng then discussed how, following her retirement, there was still more she could do in public service, which led to her returning to her home of Cupertino, California. It was here where she served two years as the City Manager and helped the city through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the largest complex wildfires in California history, and the defund the police movement. 

Following the discussion, students had the opportunity to ask questions. During the Q&A session, students asked for Feng's thoughts on how to market themselves and what difficulties lie within the position of City Manager. Feng's final advice to students was that sometimes, you must admit you do not know everything. And, if you lean on others, they will learn to lean on you.