MenuMenu Image


Henry Clay Congress 2017

June 29 Thursday 11:54 AM

It's been an exciting couple of weeks at the Martin School! Staff, faculty, and doctoral students had the exciting opportunity to partner with the The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship to work with college students from all over the USA! Fifty students converged in Lexington for a week of programs focusing on the salient theme of compromise. With the legacy of the great Statesman, Henry Clay, in mind, the students tackled four policy topics: Transportation, National Debt/Deficit, Foreign Intervention, and Health Care. The four groups divided into eight subgroups to create policy proposals centered around differing ideology then the subgroups came together for an intensive compromise session in which they crafted and presented a final policy proposal that would both address the issue and satisfy both parties. One group was presented an award for Best Policy Project, two subgroups received awards for Best Policy Proposals, and four students--chosen by their peers--were awarded the Henry Clay Award for Excellence in Compromise for facilitating compromise within their respective groups. Beyond their policy projects, in which students were coached by four Martin School doctoral students, the students had the opportunity to hear from a variety of people involved in the policy process: The Council of State Governments and representatives from academia, the judicial system, the media, and lobbying groups. The group stopped by some signature Kentucky sites as well including the Ashland Henry Clay Estate, Three Chimneys Farm, the Campbell House, and Woodford Reserve Distillery. 

After an enriching week in Lexington, 14 of the college students went on to Washington DC for another week of inspiring sessions. Highlights of the trip consisted of a visit with the Clerk of the Supreme Court; a tour of the House Floor in the U.S. Capitol Building; sessions with the Congressional Budget Office, organizations representing the States, the Government Accountability Office, and Lobbyists; and a visit to the Congressional Country Club. The big event of the week took place at the Willard Hotel where guests gathered for the Bourbon Barrel of Compromise featuring Senator Mitch McConnell, Congressman Andy Barr, and former Senators Tom Daschle & Trent Lott as well as the Kentucky Distillers Association. On the final day of the week in DC, students had the opportunity to engage with the Bipartisan Policy Center, an organization that functions as both a think-tank and lobbying organization to push the theme of compromise forward in Washington DC through bipartisan conversation. All in all, this year's Henry Clay College Congress left participants with a sense that there is hope for compromise and continued dialogue on the most challenging issues of our time. 

What’s Next for Kentucky Schools?

May 8 Monday 11:04 AM

Did you miss the expert panel discussing the future of Kentucky schools? You can catch it online! The Gatton College has posted a video of the event. Dr. Zimmer, the Martin School's Director and a leading expert on education policy, discusses school choice, vouchers, and charter schools as a panel member. This topic is evemore salient, and we are happy to be a part of the conversation!

Alumna Leads Diversity and Strategic Enrollment Initiatives

May 1 Monday 10:48 AM

The thread running through Natalie Gibson’s (MPA ‘98) career focuses on organizational development in emerging education policy issues such as the achievement gap and student success.  “I am always drawn to positions that allow me to focus on strategic planning, budgeting, and capacity building,” she says. Today, Natalie serves as the System Director of Cultural Diversity for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). In that role, Natalie provides leadership, support and service in two domains:  diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as strategic enrollment management, engaging with “approximately 10,000 part-time and full-time faculty and staff at 16 colleges to insure the access and the success of approximately 80,000 students, especially those from traditionally underserved backgrounds.” She finds purpose in this role, because community colleges provide so much to so many—“These opportunities transform lives by helping [students] gain an education that increases the likelihood of gainful employment,” she explains.

While inclusion in postsecondary education may seem very nebulous to the layperson, for Natalie, there is a focus on concrete strategic goals and objectives. She supervises System Office staff, leads two functional peer teams and other working groups, as well as working directly with the KCTCS Cabinet and President’s Leadership Team. She’s implemented new initiatives, including the Diversity Capacity Building Program, a KCTCS Diversity Dashboard, and Super Someday, which is a state-wide program that provides African-American and Latino students pre-collegiate academic enrichment opportunities as well as access to information and resources to improve college attendance. As the system-level subject matter expert for recruitment and retention efforts, she has reason to celebrate! After 8 semesters of enrollment declines, KCTCS colleges implemented their final strategic enrollment management plans and student enrollments for the system steadied in the fall of 2016.

“I really enjoy collaborating with groups of faculty and staff from our colleges and the system office to identify solutions and build capacity to increase student success,” she says. However, that can be challenging. One of the many hats Natalie wears is that of a change manager— which is particularly difficult in an age of constrained budgets. “It is so easy to defer to places of comfort and familiarity in times of stress,” she explains. Her Master’s program helped her to develop the skillset needed to handle such dynamic and politically-charged waters.

Natalie is no stranger to a challenge, though. After completing her MPA, she worked for the University of Kentucky as the Chief Administrative Officer for the Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Safety Program (SCAHIP), which sought to prevent agriculture worker injury and illness. As the CAO, Natalie was instrumental in attaining around $9 million in federal grant funding for the Center’s work.

In her spare time, Natalie loves spending time with her family and pursuing her favorite hobbies—traveling, shoe shopping, reading, and watching movies. We are proud to call Natalie a member of the Martin School family, and we know she will continue to make a positive impact on her community!

PhD Student Receives Dissertation Paper Award

April 19 Wednesday 04:18 PM

Congrulations to Lauren Guo, who received an award for her dissertation in San Fransisco from the Western Social Science Association earlier this month!

A Passion for Municipal Budgeting & Finance

April 16 Sunday 06:07 PM

Lauren Kesselring (MPA ’16) didn’t set out to become the newest Budget and Management Analyst for San Antonio’s budget office, at least not initially. Through the Martin School network, Lauren heard about San Antonio’s fellowship program. “Through my research for the Fellowship application process I discovered how well managed the City’s finances were and decided to see what other jobs were available... Luckily for me, the budget office was hiring,” she recalls. One thing led to another, and she was offered the job!

In her role, Lauren Kesselring creates and monitors the budgets for four departments: Police, Library, City Auditor, and Historic Preservation. While the departments don’t change, her day-to-day work absolutely does! There are so many moving parts in budgeting—it is not just about the numbers. Funding requests often must take federal and state mandates in to account.

When asked about what she loves about her job, she says, “My work is challenging, and you never do the same thing twice!” The pace of work, though, depends on the season. Lauren is constantly having to juggle deadlines on emerging projects, like one of her favorites—creating a personnel projection model. However, there are ebbs and flows. Budget season is, naturally, busier. “I recently worked on a group project to improve the monthly budget monitoring process,” which gave her flashbacks to Dr. Jennings’ organizational theory class!

Lauren is well equipped to meet the challenge. The MPA curriculum exposed her to both the technical budgeting fundamentals and more general policy background she needs to be successful, particularly working alongside leadership across city departments. “Being given the opportunity to work on a lot of extra-curricular policy projects,” like policy challenge competitions, “and having the support of the professors throughout the program” were also particularly valuable. Her ability to speak to internship projects and her Capstone research really made her stand out when she interviewed for her current job.

One day, Lauren hopes to be a budget director at a mid-sized municipal government. In her spare time, she loves exploring the local hiking trails with her fiancé and dogs. It’s great to see our graduates doing what they love!