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Public Administration

Ph.D. Student Spotlight: Ryne Crout Jones

1. Can you tell us about your academic background and what led you to pursue a Ph.D. at

NC State? 

I’m NC State through and through, as all my degrees are from here. However, that wasn’t always the plan from the beginning. I hold two bachelor degrees (B.S. in Biological Sciences and B.A. in French Language and Literature, Teacher Education). I then taught high school French for a few years before deciding to pursue a master’s degree. I chose NC State’s MPA program because it was offered in-person and in the evenings, which allowed me to continue teaching. I left the K-12 classroom and began consulting with nonprofit organizations and local government agencies, mostly in rural areas across the country. I’m also originally from a small farming community. My childhood experiences, time in the classroom, and consulting with rural organizations underscored the importance of public and nonprofit organizations working to provide much needed services. I also enjoyed the research and the process of developing equitable and plausible solutions facing communities so much that I decided to apply for Ph.D. programs. NC State was very high on my list because of the faculty and their diverse research interests, the opportunity to work with my advisor Mandi Stewart, the department’s cohort model which also allows us to participate in research and teaching opportunities with a close group of peers, the opportunity to study public and nonprofit management at all levels, and location – Raleigh’s great!

2. What is your focus for your research and what led you to do this?

My research focuses on organizational adaptation and learning following external shocks, more specifically philanthropic windfall events. When I was in the K-12 classroom, I was interested in how people learned, and now I’ve transitioned into learning more about how organizations (through people) learn. I’m also interested in how these organizational adaptations then affect the greater community served by nonprofit and other public organizations. I’ve always been interested in learning more about how organizations operate within their environments. Society has experienced some novel philanthropic movements in recent years, namely MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving Campaign, where she donates enormous gifts of unrestricted funds directly to organizations, which presents an intriguing opportunity to study organizational adaptations.

3. What challenges have you faced on your academic journey and how do you overcome


I was in the final semester of my MPA at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and began my Ph.D. journey as the university was transitioning back to in-person and hybrid learning. Navigating research and teaching in virtual, hybrid and in-person modalities was interesting to say the least. Additionally, the Ph.D. journey is one unlike any other experience I’ve had. There are loads of individual and collective expectations and responsibilities that lead to many highs and lows, stresses and rewards. Ph.D. coursework requires you to think differently, more critically, and be open to challenging the norm in ways other levels of education have not. I am fortunate to have an amazing support system, both from my family and friends and within the department. My cohort is extremely collaborative and supportive, which means we can lean on each other in the lows and celebrate the highs. It’s also really important to take care of oneself and one’s mental health – counseling has been a great avenue to name and overcome the challenges I’ve faced on this journey.

We hope you’ll join us to connect with other members of the public administration community at NC State. The event is hosted by the Public Administration Alumni Society.

Link for the Alumni Networking Event on April 24, 2024: (