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Outstanding Alumna in Action

December 4 Friday 12:00 AM

Danielle Clore is the Executive Director of the Kentucky Nonprofit Network. KNN was established in 2002 and serves as our state nonprofit association. According to their mission statement, “KNN provides quality education, sharing of best practices and resources, technical assistance, time and money-saving member benefits and a unified public policy voice.” Danielle earned her MPA from the Martin School in 1998. We asked Danielle about her work today and her experiences at the Martin School.

As the Executive Director, Danielle wears many hats from week to week. When we talked a few weeks ago, she was focusing on two big events– KNN’s annual conference, the KY Nonprofit Leadership Forum, and KY Gives Day (December 1). Danielle’s event planning activities include marketing and a lot of communication. For KY Gives Day specifically, Danielle was “finalizing the prize structure for participating nonprofits.”

The upcoming legislative session is also a focus. She works directly with her public policy committee. Danielle develops educational materials for both members and legislators. She was recently nominated for a national award for her role in the creation of a nonprofit Task Force in Frankfort.

In addition to KNN’s seasonal activities, Danielle is also constantly developing the organization. “On a regular basis I’m working with our staff member and contract consultants on membership strategy, communications efforts, overseeing finances, selling sponsorships, working with our grant proposal writer and providing one-on-one technical assistance to nonprofits,” she says.

For students interested in working in nonprofits, take note– fundraising and relationships are key. Danielle explains that “My background prior to KNN was primarily in fundraising, which is essentially relationship building.  That’s what I do now almost 100% – relationships with KNN members, legislators and government officials, sponsors, donors, grant makers, colleagues running associations of nonprofits in other states.  It’s the most important thing I do.”

Current students should also take heart–“I had coursework in the public policy process, program evaluation and strategic planning for healthcare that I often look back and think, I am sure glad I paid attention!” The skills learned in these classes have added value to her work today. Her Capstone Project focused on something familiar to her– she evaluated a mental health treatment program for severely abused and neglected children for the nonprofit organization she was working for at the time. Her results? Inconclusive! “The data didn’t necessarily show that treatment was/was not effective. I remember being in a panic and Dr. Phil Berger was amazing. He told me, ‘Welcome to research– sometimes these are the results!'” However, her work still had an impact– “the organization tweaked their use of the treatment.”

She continues to learn! Danielle prioritizes attending at least one professional development event every year. Social media and newsletters can create a lot of noise, but apps like Pocket and Evernote help her to track articles on the go for reading later. She shares that, “The nonprofit sector is constantly evolving and keeping up with it all is overwhelming, but it’s a critical part of my job.”

Danielle also emphasizes the importance of her work experiences to discovering your passion as an MPP/MPA student. Her advice to students:

You have to gain work experience.  I remember when I graduated with my undergrad degree and thought, hey look at me – I have a degree, time to hire me!  Well, that didn’t work out like I’d hoped and that ultimately led me to the Martin School.  But the same is true for graduate school – a degree alone, no matter how well suited to the position you are applying for, is not enough. While in graduate school, I worked full time.  I realize that’s not ideal for everyone and there were some semesters that were really tough, but I knew exactly where I wanted to focus my career when I graduated because I’d had several positions while in graduate school.  Remember that some positions are great to help you find your passion, but other positions can help you decide what you DON’T want to do with your career.  Those experiences are just as valuable – and better to find out sooner rather than later!  If you aren’t doing an internship or working, even part-time, consider an intensive volunteer assignment.  A combination of these will build a strong resume – and you’re going to need it.

Finding An Internship: An Odyssey

December 2 Wednesday 12:00 AM

As first year MPA and MPP students are keenly aware, our masters programs require an internship. Typically, this component is completed in the summertime between the first and second years of study. Why is it important to complete an internship?

Internships can help you explore your passions. You may have a few ideas about what kind of work you want to pursue after you complete your degree. Internships are a great way to get your hands dirty in your field of interest– you may be surprised by what you like or do not like!

Internships can make you more competitive. Experience matters. An internship can provide you with the opportunity to hone your skills, observe what others are doing to be successful, and provide you with great networking resources. In fact, Dr. Jennings points out that many students get their first professional job directly from their internship experience.

Finding internships and then securing them can be challenging. Below are a few tips:

  1. Determine where you want to be. Do you want to intern in Lexington over the summer, or do you want to intern elsewhere– Washington D.C., other local governments, abroad?
  2. Set job alerts on internship search engines so that the internet does your work for you! Utilize the list at the end of this post to get started.
  3. Get educated on the landscape of your field. Identify organizations, associations, agencies that could have internships you would be interested in or would post them for other organizations. Check back regularly, or…
  4. Network! The Martin School provides lots of opportunities for you to connect with alumni and community members. Utilize those opportunities to the fullest.



NASPAA has some great tips and resources for finding internship opportunities. This includes a job search engine on their sister-site,

USAJOBS is the place to find jobs or internships for the federal government. This is a prime place to create a job alert, since positions may be posted and removed quickly. lists opportunities in the non-profit sector for both internships and jobs.


Students at Work: Hazard Mitigation Grants Program

November 15 Sunday 12:00 AM

The University of Kentucky's Hazard Mitigation Grants Program Office (UK-HMGP) has two main functions. It administers pre- and post-disaster grant funding, and coordinates local hazard mitigation planning activity and writes the Commonwealth's hazard mitigation plan. UK-HMGP, then, works in conjunction with Kentucky Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to carry out this work. UK-HMGP is housed within the Martin School which has a contractual relationship with Kentucky Emergency Management to conduct project development, project management, and planning activities.

Two Martin School graduate students work as research assistants at UK-HMGP. Sam, a first-year MPP student, works to review hazard mitigation plans, and Maddy, a second-year MPA student, helps manage awarded grants and reviews payment requests. Both students also complete benefit-cost analyses for potential projects.

Through this program, the students gain valuable experience in public administration and the federal grants process. Given UK-HMGP's closeness with Kentucky Emergency Management, students also experience state-level and local-level government firsthand.

Update from the Field: Student Attends Bond Credit Analysis Conference, Day 2

November 14 Saturday 12:00 AM

Lauren Kesselring, a second-year MPA student specializing in Public Financial Management, provides an update on the second day of the conference she is attending.

On the first day of Dr. Toma’s public economics class last spring she told us that we would look at the world differently after her class. After the two day introduction to municipal analysis conference I am already looking at the world differently. As I was on my way to the airport on a suspension bridge looking over a port seeing planes taking off and landing and they first thing I thought was that all of these are funded through different municipal bond offerings. Public finance touches every aspect of our daily lives, and if it is done well, the general public is generally unaware.

On the second day of the conference, I heard about what happens when public financing goes wrong. We started off the morning with pensions and how public pensions became so underfunded. I learned that when analysts look at pensions, they use a constant discount rate to compare across municipalities. We talked about chapter nine bankruptcies and all the work that happens behind the scenes between the government, banks, and investors to try to prevent bankruptcies. Hopefully state and government officials are getting a better grasp of pensions so there will not be an influx of chapter nine bankruptcies in the future.

Update from the Field: Student Attends Bond Credit Analysis Conference

November 13 Friday 12:00 AM

Lauren Kesselring, a second-year MPA student specializing in Public Financial Management, provides an update on the conference she is attending.

Thanks to the Martin School I have been able to travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to attend the National Federation of Municipal Analysts’ Introduction to Municipal Bond Credit Analysis conference. Today was the first day of the two day conference and I heard lectures from municipal analysts from Moody’s, S&P, Fitch, US Bank, Eaton, and Assured. The topics ranged from General Government Debt Utilities, to Healthcare, Transportation, and High Education.

Hearing from the analysts how they evaluate municipal debt complemented what I learned in public financial management and fiscal/ budget policy as well as what I have learned at my Fellowship with the Lexington’s Finance Department. It was exciting to have the classroom knowledge of what ratios to focus on when managing a public agency be confirmed by the top credit ratings.

I had the opportunity to attend the speakers dinner and sit with Bhala Mehendale from US Bank and Mary Francoeur from Assured Guaranty. Mary was one of the credit analysts for the YUM Center Bond issuance, and she is an expert in transportation bond issues. Bhala focuses on electric utility bonds and he is a huge House of Cards fan.

I am excited for the second day of the conference to hear about Pensions and distressed credits.