Our Take on Kirsten
Turn down the volume on that One Direction song you’re listening to, lift yourself out of that comfortable office chair, and give a standing ovation to Kirsten Silveira, the newest member of the ELGL team. That’s right we have another Kirsten. We might be the only organization of our size to claim two Kirsten’s on their leadership team. Here’s what you need to know about Kirsten S. – New Sensation: Kirsten Silveira, City of Olathe (KS) and Kansas MPA Program.
Kirsten will work on the ELGL member survey, ELGL Connects, and new original content. We’ll also tailor Kirsten’s position to provide opportunities for her to meet and network with organizations that she is interested in working with. What an incredible job! Now, let’s hear from Kirsten, and hear if she is as excited to be part of ELGL.
Kirsten’s Take on Kirsten
As I think back about how I ended up in the University of Kansas MPA program, I believe much of it has to do with the volunteerism and civic-mindedness present in by upbringing. Both of my grandparents work for Monroe County, FL – where I grew up; my grandmother is a librarian and my grandfather a building inspector. In the Florida Keys, we were always volunteering for something! But, I also think I got to this place — both personally and professionally — as a result of amazing mentorship by people along the way.
When I moved 1,600 miles away to Fort Collins, Colorado, I found myself a part of a vibrant and well-run community. My passion continued to ﬂourish and I went from an unsure pre-vet student to an involved political science student covering elections for the student paper, volunteering in the community and seeking internships in the Denver political scene. I knew I wanted to help people and aid communities in becoming centers for innovation and engagement. But I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to do that – I thought I would get a Master in Public Policy and work in campaigns supporting people who held my same values. Eventually I might run for ofﬁce…who knew? Not me.
This was all before I took a Public Administration course from Dr. Susan Opp – who quickly converted me (and numerous classmates) from aspiring politicians or lawyers to wannabe local government leaders. Until she asked me “what about a Master’s of Public Administration degree,” I had never seen what was retrospectively so clear – local government is where my passion would be best put to use: where you can see the tangible results of a collective effort to make your community a better place.
Dr. Opp encouraged me to pursue a great experience at the Center for Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods in Louisville, KY — where I continued to cultivate my interests in community development and urban revitalization. Then, I brought that interest to a part-time position with the City of Fort Collins Urban Renewal Authority, where I gained real interest in community engagement.
KU’s MPA program is unique and highly focused on the practical application of what we learn in the classroom. My 12 classmates and I hold part-time internships in local governments around the Kansas City Metro and are challenged with meaningful work. I work in the City of Olathe Budget Division and can’t express enough how beneﬁcial my experience here has been in developing key skills for local government management (budgeting, performance measurement, outreach).
We’re done with all MPA coursework in less than a calendar year. It’s been a whirlwind – I graduated from Colorado State University in May 2013, started the program a week-or-so later and, now, I’m looking for full-time fellowships for my second year in the KU program.
I hope to ﬁnd myself in an innovative environment in which my strengths are exercised and I have the opportunity to focus on areas of my repertoire that will beneﬁt from growth and experimenting. I’m interested in so many things, so sometimes I ﬁnd it hard to narrow it down – but I’d like to work in citizen engagement, community development and urban revitalization. Also, while everyone thinks I’m crazy to not want to move back to Florida…I think I’d like to live in a large, metropolitan area where I can get my ﬁx on urban issues.
I’m very excited about this new opportunity with Emerging Local Government Leaders and can’t wait to work with the leadership to ensure that this organization provides a supportive and fun networking environment for people passionate about local government.