Before Bell was a household name, Master of Public Administration students from Brandman University, a division of the Chapman University System, were working as interns on a local campaign. Their job was to research compensation for city officials, and their work helped create the first database on city manager pay.

The PublicCEO Editorial Board is pleased to announce that Janice Voshall and Cindy Smith have been awarded the PublicCEO Service to the State Award.

Their work not only raised many questions about how governments reward their officials for their work, but it started a stream of reforms throughout the state. Would the State Controller have launched his database if we never learned about Bell? Would Bell have shaken the state’s confidence in local officials had it not been for their work? Would eight people be facing jail time if it wouldn’t have been for those first inquiries?

The answer is perhaps, but what is beyond question is that their role can’t be denied.

“We had no idea it would lead to a statewide issue,” Janice Voshall said in a phone interview. “We thought it was a little, local issue and then it blew up into a nationwide issue about the necessity of transparency.”

“I never thought I would learn as much as I did from this program and our internship,” said Cindy Smith. “It allowed us to see the bigger picture, and it allowed us to reassess the need for public policies about transparency.”

But the reward of their work wasn’t without its consequences. The two students were criticized for their work. People, acting on the defensive, made stinging accusations against them and the MPA program at Brandman University.

“We faced backlash because the work that we did put a bad light on local governments,” said Smith. But throughout the criticisms, the two kept focused on the work they had done and stuck by their facts.

They were asked to testify before the Assembly, appeared on Fox News, were recognized by Assemblyman Chris Norby, Senator Lou Correa, and Supervisor Shawn Nelson.

As the two look forward to graduating in May, both are looking to stay involved with the issues that affect local governments. “It gave us both a name and a reference point,” said Smith. “We now have a reference point to start off and say who we are and what our values are.”

“Cindy and Janice have done a great public service,” said Fred Smoller, the Director of the Master of Public Administration Program at Brandman University. “They have learned a great deal about the political process and the importance of governmental transparency.”

“This experience has given us so much,” said Voshall. “Between the award from Shawn Nelson., the appearances on Fox News, and now the PublicCEO Award, we are just so thankful for it all.”

Cindy and Janice are members of inaugural class from the MPA program at Brandman University, a part of the Chapman University System.

Further information about the students, their work, and the crticisms they faced can be found in the following PublicCEO Articles:

Join us in congratulating Janice Voshall and Cindy Smith on this award in local government and service to the state.

Other Winners Announced Today:

PublicCEO Ordinance of the Year

Stay tuned this week for more Local Government Awards from For more information, please contact the editor, Dan Oney at