A graduate of the MPA intern-option class of 2003, Beth Linn is currently the City Administrator for the City of Edgerton, KS, a southwest suburb of the Kansas City metropolitan area and home to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Intermodal and Logistics Park KC. Linn joined the City of Edgerton in July of 2011. Previous to Edgerton, she was the Community Development Director in Raytown, MO for two and half years where she oversaw planning and zoning, building inspection, code enforcement, and animal control.
Linn started her career in public administration with the City of Merriam from 2001 until 2009 holding various positions including Assistant to the City Administrator, Project Manager, and Neighborhood Services Manager. Linn holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Kansas State University and obtained a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Kansas.
We reached out to Beth to learn how she's using her MPA and what she's up to now:
Q: How did you hear about the KU MPA program as a prospective student?
My dad was a practitioner who presented in the Infrastructure Management class. He worked for an engineering firm for 42 years and had done a lot of waste water treatment work with the City of Lawrence while John Nalbandian was on the city commission. His work with the program and in the public administration field inspired me to apply for the MPA intern-option program.
Q: What is your favorite memory of being in the program?
My most significant memory is from my first ICMA conference in Salt Lake City, which was held three days after the 9/11 attacks. The conference had a somber tone, but it was a tremendous opportunity for my classmates and me to get a first glimpse of what it means to be a KUCIMAT, a member of the profession, and what it means to be a member of the profession in a time of tragedy and resilience.
Q: What is something that you learned while in the program that assists you today?
Budgeting principles. I had to prepare a budget for a mock city considering adding daycare facilities as a benefit to its employees. It gave me real life parameters to use to create a cost benefit analysis for a new program. Do we charge the employee, or do we provide it? I gained experience in figuring out all of the elements that go into that decision. I also learned the willingness of local governments to help fellow local governments.
Q: Is there a faculty member who was your mentor during your time in the program?
My class was the first class that did the portfolio project. Barbara Romzek was my mentor for that, and I will always remember her influence on my success as a student.
Q: What do you feel has been one of your greatest contributions to the field of public administration?
Encouraging conversation about women in leadership roles and public administration is, in my opinion, my greatest contribution. I chaired the Inspiring Women in Public Administration Conference, hosted by the KU Public Management Center, for two years and have been a participant for several years. I have also been selected to serve on the board for League of Women in Government, a new organization that supports local and statewide organizations that advance women in local government leadership.
Q: In any of the city jobs you have held, have you hit any barriers or walls because of your gender? If so, how did you handle that?
I am not good at allowing barriers or walls keeping me from doing something. I have the experience to do my job to the best of my ability and I know I can complete my job regardless of if I am male or female. Too often, women exclude themselves from situations because they assume there will be barriers or pushback, rather than just putting themselves out there and letting people in the profession show that they’re better than that.
At eight and a half months pregnant, I got a job at the City of Raytown, MO. I had my son a few weeks after starting, was on leave for ten weeks, and returned. I was nervous about it at first, but I had the support of an organization that appreciates people and their contributions.
My advice to women: Do not limit yourself. Allow organizations to make decisions about what is right for them.
Q: Who inspires you?
It’s amazing to me that you can be inspired by everyone around you. It could be an intern working for you, your boss, your family. I am surrounded by people who are dedicated to bettering their communities.
With that said, my parents and my husband are my greatest inspirations. My dad worked at an engineering firm and worked closely with the municipal government. He gave more than 40 years to the same organization, and that is remarkable to me. My mom works in education. She’s been a teacher, a principal and a superintendent. My husband is the fire captain for the City of Shawnee, KS. Each of them knows what it means to work every day to serve others.