Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, November 8, 2010

Krull hones skills in program evaluation, performance management

Kristina Krull


After graduating in May 2011, Kristina Krull accepted a position as a management analyst with the Office of Planning and Analysis for Dakota County, Minnesota. She received the 2011 Penniman Prize for the paper "Reducing Obesity: Options for Promoting Better Food Choices" prepared for professor Tim Smeeding's social policy analysis class.

Students to connect with LAB staff

As alumni coordinator for the La Follette School Student Association, Kristina Krull is planning ways for students to visit with alumni and friends of the school in their workplaces to learn more about entry-level positions and what students can do to prepare themselves for the job market.

The first site visit will be with the Legislative Audit Bureau on Friday, November 12. From 9:45-10:45 students will tour the office, talk with staff (including 2009 alum Andy McGuire) in entry-level positions, hear from someone who supervises people in entry-level positions and hear a brief presentation by state auditor Janice Mueller. "The visit is a great chance to learn about jobs and potential internships at the LAB," Krull says. "We also hope to set up sessions with other agencies, including the Department of Public Instruction and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau."

Krull also will coordinate the addressing and stuffing of envelopes for the La Follette School reception for alumni and friends on February 3, 2011, at Inn on the Park in Madison. "We look forward to that opportunity to visit with alumni and friends as well," she says.

The secret to greater government efficiency is program evaluation and performance management, believes Kristina Krull, whose interests have broadened during her three semesters at the La Follette School.

"I'm less interested in becoming an expert on a particular policy area than I am in learning the tools to analyze any policy," Krull says. "I'm taking Public Program Evaluation, Cost-Benefit Analysis, and intend to take Performance Measurement in the spring. With these classes, I hope to be able to take on a policy project in any field, research the issue and recommend action."

Krull tested her ability during her internship with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program. She created databases that are used at all stages of two grant programs, from processing applications to studying projects' economic impacts.

"In class we often focus on the conceptual side of policy, and how to decide between policies, but this internship has shown me how important implementation is," she says. "The state Legislature passed several broad policies to support local food programs, but the way these actually pan out depends on how our department decides to design and implement them."

Although she is earning a Master of Public Affairs degree, Krull implements her interest in international affairs as co-director of operations for EDGE Project (Empowerment through Development and Gender Equality), a student organization that teaches students about international development and gives them the chance to design, research and implement projects in Uganda. EDGE holds its annual banquet on Friday, November 12.

She is learning and practicing communication, leadership and teamwork skills that, like policy analysis technique, will serve her well in any policy sector. "My co-director and I oversee all of our campus events, research projects, outreach initiatives, national and international trips, and fund-raising efforts," Krull says. "We develop and assign projects, arrange team-building and leadership training opportunities, and plan and lead meetings."

In January, EDGE will hold a leadership training in Washington, D.C., with the group's founders, who include Farha Tahir and Marissa Mommaerts. This fall EDGE co-sponsored a panel on citizen diplomacy with Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton and will hold its annual banquet in November.

"My co-director and I make sure everything is happening when it should, which is much harder than it sounds," Krull says. "We try to give our members the opportunities and the abilities necessary to effect change and become excellent leaders."

Part of being good leader, Krull believes, is identifying the best policy alternative and ensuring that it is having a positive effect. "A lot of people my age want to improve the world, and I'm no exception," she says. "To me, the easiest way to improve a lot of lives at once is through finding the best policy alternatives."

At the La Follette School, Krull is gaining the technical skills necessary for being a policy analyst. The internship and work with EGDE have enabled her to develop communication and organizational skills and build a network of people with similar interests and experiences. "I learned a lot when I was with the Buy Local program and made lots of connections to the local food movement," Krull says. "I jumped into a field I knew virtually nothing about and picked it up as I went."

Krull is also working with professor David Weimer and the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention to study the effectiveness of different tobacco cessation programs. She is putting her classroom knowledge to work by assisting with a cost-benefit analysis of quitting smoking.

When she graduates, Krull knows she will be well-prepared for put her skills and experiences to work in a myriad of public policy arenas, ideally using her program evaluation and performance management tools to improve public policy.

"The public servants are the ones who can really make or break a program's rules and implementation," Krull says. "The government is always going to affect people's lives, and I want to make sure it's doing its best to make positive changes through good policy choices and effective implementation."

Students plan visit to audit bureau, November 8, 2010, La Follette School News

Student development organization to hold banquet, November 8, 2010, La Follette School News

— updated June 7, 2011