UIC #ELGLInspire Speaker: Greg Stopka

Posted on April 2, 2019


The #ELGLInspire road-trip continues to Chicago! ELGL is headed to the University of Illinois – Chicago on April 4, 2019! Learn more about our event speakers in these brief profiles, and connect with them on social media before and after the event!

Greg Stopka

Greg Stopka

Strategy and Innovation Manager, Park District of Oak Park

Website | Linkedin | Twitter

What was the very first paying job you held (that you paid taxes on)? 

1st job-Telephone Service Representative at Design Toscano (catalogue company); 1st local gov job-Budget Intern at City of Olathe, KS

What was your: undergraduate institution? Graduate institution? What was/were your degree(s) in? 

Augustana College (BA-Business Adm. and Political Science) and University of Kansas (Master in Public Administration)

What class(es) (if any) are applicable to your job today? 

Not so much the technical skills. I had a class about the management/political dichotomy with John Nalbandian. He talked about the growing gap between management and political expertise and the manager’s role in filling it. I find myself referencing the concept regularly especially in the current political climate.

Do you have a work or life motto? What is it? 

I have two quotes that drive me. The first one comes from grad school: ” Nature shows us clearly that you are either alive and growing or you are dying, dead or decaying” -James C. Hunter

The second from my graduation speaker in college: “Be not conformed to this world.” Do not join the throng. Don’t get lost in the crowd. Don’t be a part of the cookie-manufactured college generation, but stake out for yourselves some extraordinary, maybe even eccentric, piece and place of the world, and make it your own.”-Rev. Peter G. Gomes

What book are you currently reading? Would you recommend it? 

Just finished Origin by Dan Brown. Yes, it has a neat message about AI and the role of religion.

Other than ELGL – do you belong to any other professional associations? Which one(s)? 

Alliance for Innovation, IAMMA (Illinois Assistant Municipal Management Association) , IPRA (Illinois Parks and Recreation Association), and NRPA (National Recreation and Parks Assocation)

What’s the best networking advice for job seekers you’ve heard or shared? 

In a book I read called “Give and Take”, the author references that those who approach networking with a giving mentality are more successful long-term than those who are only looking to take from it. Approach networking not just from a standpoint of who can get me a job but what relationships can I build from it.

What’s the fastest way to NOT get a job or internship with you? (e.g. what should potential applicants avoid doing if they were to ever interview with you for a position). 

Pretend they have all the answers or that they alone can solve all the problems. I’m a big believer in collaboration in solving problems and that understanding your weaknesses is just as important as your strengths.

Why should an undergraduate student consider a career working in local government?

If you’re looking to solve big problems, local government is where you want to be. The big problems in our communities can’t be solved by any one sector. They require powerful leadership to bring different groups together and leverage resources. Local government is positioned to drive these conversations.

RSVP today for #ELGLInspire!

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