Student Stories

Kim Therres Main

Assistant of the Year: Kim Therres MPA '00

Every year, the Association of Public Management Professionals (APMP)—an affiliate of the Minnesota City/County Management Association (MCMA)—awards the Assistant of the Year Award to a dedicated assistant “who goes above and beyond for their organization, continues to push the envelope, works diligently on a multitude of different projects, willingly takes notes on new projects and roles, and is a strong asset to their organization,” according to APMP’s own definition of the award.

In 2016, the award was presented to Kim Therres, Bachelor of Arts in political science ’94 and Master of Public Administration ’00. The award is fitting: Therres is the daughter of the first female council member of the city of Rochester and has been driven to devote herself to the public good since she was young.

Though her mother served as an elected official, Therres knew she would rather work in a support role. She went to Hamline for her undergraduate degree, majoring in political science and business management and went on to work in the private sector, but she did not feel she was making very much of a difference. She went back to school and received her paralegal certificate, thinking she might want to serve in that capacity, but that also was not quite the right fit.

Then the opportunity came for Therres to work for the League of Minnesota Cities, and she knew she was headed in the right direction.

“I was able to help elected and appointed leaders,” Therres said. “I was making a difference.”

Therres worked as a research analyst and learned a lot about local government, but she also realized that to attain her desired position, she needed to further her education. She valued the undergraduate experience she had at Hamline. She knew she wanted to focus specifically on public administration. The decision for her was easy.

The education Therres received was invaluable; but it was not only the academic aspect of the program that benefited her.

“I had fun with the program, and I got to know my classmates,” Therres said. “Which is important, because they’re still my network. People often forget about that part of a master’s program—you’re building relationships and creating a network.”

“My education helped tremendously to open employment doors,” she continued. “A master’s used to be desired, but now that they’re more and more often required, having one sets you apart from other candidates.”

Therres knows what she is talking about: her first direct local government job as the administrative assistant for Oak Park Heights—resulted from her time at Hamline.

From Oak Park Heights, where she moved from the administrative assistant to the acting city administrator, Therres took an opportunity in local government in Mahtomedi. Then her dream job opened up: the dual-position of assistant city manager and human relations manager in Crystal, Minnesota. Therres knew she was a perfect fit for the job; and apparently the city did too—she was hired.

In this position, Therres has a variety of responsibilities—from human resources to communications to IT to safety—which not only keeps her job interesting but has also opened her eyes to new areas of interest.

One such area has been labor relations. It is an integral aspect of her position, but Therres decided to take it one step further, serving as the treasurer for the Minnesota Public Employer Relations Association. This extra public servant role is just one example of the miles Therres goes for her community.

From her childhood on, she has taken her role as a public servant to heart. Because of that, and because of her dedication to her community, it is no surprise that she was named Assistant of the Year.

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