Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Career development coordinator is president-elect of professional organization

Mary Russell, La Follette School career development coordinator, has been elected to serve as president-elect of the Student Personnel Association at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. After serving one year, she will serve a year as president, then another as past-president.

"With her ability to implement new and innovative ways in which to enhance the opportunities available to our students, Mary will be a great leader for the SPA," says Menzie Chinn, the La Follette School's outgoing associate director.

The Student Personnel Association creates cross-campus connections among people who work with students, bringing together employees socially and intellectually for campuswide affirmation and recognition, for professional development and for support of the university's learning mission.

Russell has been involved with SPA since she started at La Follette in 2007. "Being a one-person office at La Follette, SPA has been a great way for me to network with other student services personnel on campus," she says.

She first joined SPA's conference planning committee. During the 2008-09 school year she planned and coordinated a large group speed-networking program for the 100 attendees from the Madison campus. She based the event partly on the speed-networking sessions she organized for La Follette School students and alumni.

Indeed, service on the SPA board has been a mini-exercise in La Follette School networking: She will join 2007 grad Will Lipske on the executive board, while 2007 grad Raul Leon is ending his term this year. Both hold master's degrees in international public affairs. Lipske is an academic advisor in the College of Letters and Science, while Leon is pursuing a doctorate in education leadership and policy analysis.

Before becoming the La Follette School's career development coordinator, Russell served one year as with AmeriCorps VISTA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Office of Service Learning and Community Based Research in the College of Letters and Science. Prior to that she was director of career services at Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa. She holds a master's degree in postsecondary education: student affairs from the University of Northern Iowa and a bachelor's degree from Iowa State University.

A version of this article appeared in the fall 2009 La Follette Notes newsletter for alumni and friends.