Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, April 3, 2008

Student accepts city management fellowship in Kansas City

La Follette School of Public Affairs photo by Bob Rashid taken February 4, 2008

Carissa DeCramer won the prestigious L.P. Cookingham Management Fellowship with the City of Kansas City, Missouri.

Class of 2008
finding jobs, internships

Many La Follette School students who graduate in May are accepting jobs before the semester starts winding down. Here is a sampling of what some plan to do next:

Andria Hayes-Birchler, U.S. Presidential Management Fellowship

Ben Jones, Kema

Elizabeth Drilias, legislative analyst, Legislative Audit Bureau

Adam Lee, public sector consultant, Deloitte and Touche, Chicago

Bradley Campbell, research analyst, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development

Brenda R. Mayrack, associate attorney, Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP

April Goodwin, budget and policy analyst, University of Wisconsin System Administration

Joe Fontaine, legislative program analyst, Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau

Melissa Swearingen, U.S. Government Accountabilty Office

Throughout her academic career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Carissa DeCramer has been narrowing her focus. As an undergraduate, she double-majored in international relations and political science. As a graduate student at the La Follette School of Public Affairs, she followed the domestic track.

Now she anticipates the hands-on nature of working for a local government as a fellow with the L.P. Cookingham Management Fellowship program with the City of Kansas City, Missouri.

"I'm looking forward to working in a big city and better understanding the dynamics of how local governments operate in metropolitan areas," says DeCramer, who is from Rochester, Minnesota. "I want to make connections on the ground and see how abstract theory of public affairs fits into day-to-day, local operations."

The Cookingham fellowship is the oldest and one of the most competitive city management fellowships in the nation. DeCramer is the second La Follette student to win the fellowship. Bryan Gadow from the class of 2005 was the first. He is now an assistant planner with the city of Wayzata, Minnesota, in suburban Minneapolis. DeCramer and Gadow both enrolled at La Follette through the accelerated program through which University of Wisconsin-Madison undergraduates can complete their master's in a fifth year of study.

DeCramer says she became interested in the Kansas City fellowship after meeting with a current fellow who was recruiting at La Follette. When she went to Kansas City to interview after making the initial cut, she was quite impressed with how engaged the staff were with the fellows. "I gained a good sense of how they would be as professional mentors," DeCramer notes, "and that I'd be exposed to a variety of local government issues."

The 12-month fellowship rotates interns through the offices for the city manager, capital improvements and budget, plus a fourth that DeCramer will choose. In each office, the interns work closely with staff on projects ranging from researching the city's geographic information system policy to organizing public relations events for city projects to participating in a municipal court process improvement work group.

This year, environment and sustainability issues are high on Kansas City's agenda, DeCramer says, and she hopes to contribute to the city's strategy to rank in the top 5 of National Geographic's most environmentally friendly cities. "I'm excited at the prospect of working on sustainability measures in an urban setting," she says.

As an intern, DeCramer spent the summer of 2007 with United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta helping to implement performance management measures into its community impact program. She also worked with United Way's early learning commission to compile data from the county government and area nonprofit organizations to assist the commission's analysis of early learning programming. For the 2007-08 school year she is a research associate with the University of Wisconsin Extension's Center for Community and Economic Development.

She says she feels well-prepared for the fellowship experience in Kansas City. "The La Follette School gave me the toolbox to prepare me, the skills and the tools," she says. "This fellowship will enable me to identify and develop a specialization using those tools."

Student wins city management fellowship in Kansas City, University of Wisconsin-Madison news release, April 8, 2008

Student wins prestigious city management internship, La Follette School News, April 1, 2005