• Home
  • Alumni Spotlight: Kelly Greunke, 2005 MPA Graduate

Alumni Spotlight: Kelly Greunke, 2005 MPA Graduate

Monday, June 6, 2016

What do Ecology and Environmental Studies, a forklift, and an MPA have in common?

Kelly Greunke.

As an undergrad at KU, Kelly earned a BS in Ecology and a BA in Environmental Studies but never worked in the field. Instead, after graduation, she spent over 10 years doing factory work. She was working as a forklift driver/equipment operator when she started considering a master’s program at KU.

“Given that I had been doing factory work, I wanted a degree that would give me the knowledge and skills, along with practical abilities, to do meaningful work,” she said.

First her husband mentioned an MPA. Then a few political science friends did. The more Kelly heard about it, the more she liked it.

“The MPA program was in line with my values and the kind of work that I thought I might like to do, so I started reading up on public administration,” she said.

Kelly met with John Nalbandian, then chair of the Department of Public Administration (it became a School in 2011). Two weeks later, the factory where Kelly was working announced it was moving operations to Mexico and China.

It was just the push she needed to enroll in the MPA program. Call it fate or a coincidence, but “entering this program,” Kelly said, “totally changed my life.”

Kelly now works in Denver, in the city’s Budget and Management Office, where she’s been for the last 11 years.

Joe Harkins was Kelly's advisor during her fellowship with the State as well as one of her instructors. His admonition to “not discount budget as a career option” encouraged Kelly to reconsider her professional goals.

“I thought taking a job in a central budget office was something one did right out of school just to learn about the organization and then move on,” Kelly said. “I applied to work in Denver’s Budget and Management Office after [earning my MPA in 2005] and learned that Joe was right. I love working on budgets and still enjoy coming to work every single day.”

She adds, “I’m proud of the team that we have put together in the Budget and Management Office. Our analysts do such great work and their passion for public service and commitment to the work we do—and the quality of their work, never cease to amaze me.”

It’s been several years since Kelly sang “Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be public administrators” in George Fredrickson’s class, finished the MPA program, and moved to Denver. (“I enjoy the mountains and living in Colorado, but I miss the Kansas prairies—the drive across Kansas is absolutely beautiful!”) However, Dr. Nalbandian’s passion for public service still rings in her ears.

“I think about him a lot when I hear people make disparaging remarks about bureaucrats or ‘how much more excellent’ the private sector is than the public sector,” she said. “There are extraordinary people who work in government, who do amazing work—and it is work that not only needs doing but also serves the greater good.”



Contact

Alecia Gray, Public Relations Manager
KU School of Public Affairs and Administration
agray@ku.edu
785-864-2554
Emailed media requests will receive faster service.

SPAA Events & Deadlines
PMC Events, Classes & Deadlines
Ranked in the top 10 master of public affairs programs in the nation
—U.S. News & World Report
#1 in the nation for city management and urban policy

— U.S. News & World Report


#5 in the nation for public management

— U.S. News & World Report
Three faculty have won W.T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence
Rosemary O’Leary is KU’s Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor of Public Administration
Four MPA graduates have been elected president of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA)
Founder of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (JPART)
Four faculty are National Academy of Public Administration Fellows
Bob Kipp, vice president of Hallmark Cards, was a 2012 recipient of the CLAS Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. secretary of health and human services, was a 2009 recipient of the CLAS Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
KU Today
Connect with Us

Twitter Facebook

 
 
Stay Connected

Subscribe to our email list

* indicates required
Email Format

View previous campaigns.