Student Stories

Kevin Frazell

President's Award Recipient: Kevin Frazell DPA ’03

 In 2016, for the first time, the Minnesota City/County Management Association (MCMA) awarded the inaugural President’s Award—an award that the president of the association can bestow upon whomever he or she feels has shown pronounced leadership and contributed greatly to the organization as a whole. The winner of this year’s inaugural award, given by MCMA President Shaunna Johnson at the Annual Conference in Nisswa, Minnesota, was Kevin Frazell, Doctorate of Public Administration ’03.

Frazell has been the director of member services at the League of Minnesota Cities since 1997, a position that encompasses so many job functions—from supervising trainings and conferences to policy analysis to overseeing outreach functions to supporting the 250 members of the MCMA. Frazell also serves as the MCMA secretariat, so he has plenty of opportunity to make an impact.

It is not just his prominent public service position that made Frazell a winning candidate for this award. He truly embodies the epitome of what it means to be a public servant.

“I’ve always been driven by the idea of public service and a sense of community and what people are able to create through their cities and other local governments,” Frazell said. “I think it really matters.”

Frazell found his calling almost immediately upon entering the public service field after graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master of Public Administration. He has held multiple city administration jobs in Minnesota—first in Coon Rapids, then Mendota Heights, then Cottage Grove—and has always felt at home at the city level.

“I’ve always been interested in the city government because it’s a bit less theoretical,” Frazell said. “You can really make a difference at the local level, and you can see that difference.”

Working for League of Minnesota Cities was a fitting next step for Frazell. As the name suggests, the League focuses on bringing together Minnesota cities and providing representation in legislation and resources that the cities might not otherwise have access to. As director of member services, Frazell has some level of impact and interaction with almost every city government in the state.

This larger framework of government was something that Frazell was first interested in during his time in Hamline’s Doctorate of Public Administration (DPA) program, of which he was somewhat of a pioneer. Frazell was one of the DPA’s original students. He completed all but his dissertation before transitioning over to the League, and in his time beforehand he focused heavily on the history and theoretical aspects of public administration, which attracted him to working in a more all-encompassing position—a position such as the director of member services at the League.

“I did it as much for self-satisfaction as anything else,” Frazell said, responding to why he decided to continue from the seminar into the doctoral program. “But it also gave me a broader frame of reference for doing my own work. I learned a lot about moving from the rational or facts-based model of public administration to the interpretive model, which stresses that people’s aspirations and perspectives should be given equal weight.”

Frazell went on to say that the knowledge he gained from the program was especially helpful because he better understands why there are so many differing views of what needs to be done in the complex system he now leads.

Though Frazell himself was surprised by being named the recipient of the President’s Award—especially because Johnson and the members of the MCMA Board of Directors managed to keep it a complete secret—those who know him well cannot have been surprised. His dedication to not only the practice of public service but also to the fundamental understanding of it as a discipline made him a clear choice.

To learn more about Hamline’s Doctorate of Public Administration program, visit the School of Business website or contact Graduate Admission.