When it comes to ending the spiraling sectarian violence in Iraq, Mesa’s small natural gas utility would be an unlikely place to look for answers.
But last week, Jerry Paulus, director of Mesa’s gas division, outlined his plan for bringing peace to the war-torn country last week during a meeting of international academics and diplomats held at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.
Paulus, who also serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard, was one of dozens of experts from across the world who spoke at the event, which was focused on promoting different ways to bring social and economic stability to the country.
In attendance were top level ministers from Iraq as well as some of the world’s top authorities on the Middle East and international relations.
But just how did a Mesa employee get tapped to speak about what’s arguably the most pressing international security problem facing the country?
In 2005, Paulus pursued an interest in regional security issues and was sent to the Middle East for a year. After researching the topic for several months, he crafted two academic papers that grabbed the attention of organizers of the international conference.
In short, Paulus believes Iraq needs economic as well as military security to end the sectarian strife that has gripped the county. During the conference he advocated for a “New Deal” in which the Iraqi government would create public works projects for its citizens. The idea is to give them a steady paycheck by creating small jobs that can help rebuild their neighborhoods.
“You have to take care of the small things,” Paulus told the Tribune Thursday. He envisions a network of small work camps throughout the county to provide access to jobs and training.
Although his title as division manager of a city utility might not carry the academic punch as other speakers at the conference, Paulus does have an extensive academic record.
He received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Colorado, graduated from the Air Force War College and has taken courses in pursuit of a doctorate degree at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School in Civil Military Operations in Boston.
As director of Mesa’s gas division, Paulus runs a small utility that provides energy service to more than 50,000 homes and businesses across Mesa and portions of Pinal County.