My Story with Kristin Donald, Apex Park and Recreation District

Posted on March 3, 2015

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ELGL’s mission is to connect, communicate, and educate. In this ongoing series, ELGL members tell the story of why they chose a local government career.

3adab12Kristin Donald (LinkedIn) is a experienced local government manager with a passion for working hard and playing hard, and never accepting the statement “because that’s the way we have always done it”. She holds a BA in Accounting and Business Administration and an MBA with a focus of Finance and Accounting. Recently, she joined Apex Park and Recreation District serving as their Finance Manager.

My story begins…..
I was born in Fresno, California during an unusually hot fall, but my local government story started after college.
I had served in on student senate in college but I had never thought about going into government work. I had earned my accounting degree, and at the same time, qualified for track nationals. I could not start working let alone leave my mountain college for an interview until after nationals. All the major CPA firms had already done their hiring and a friend of mine had sent me a job posting for the Office of the State Auditor of Colorado. At the State Auditor’s Office, I got to see all the local government’s CAFR’s (financials). After that, I spent time auditing local governments then joined the City and County of Denver’s auditor’s office where I went beyond financials and did internal performance audits.  Since then I have been on the other side of audit in operations. Currently, I am the Finance Manager for Apex Park and Recreation District, which is a special district in Jefferson County Colorado (metro Denver area).
My friends think that local government is…..
It depends upon which friends, I have many friends who work for local governments and they think it is a great way to build a career that you can be proud of. However, those who are not in local government probably think local governments are places they have to pay for things that have an indoor swimming pool somewhere.
The defining moment of my life was……
I have many, from meeting my husband and having my children, to leading my first project and giving my first performance evaluation.
One moment that stands out when I decided that I wanted to work in the public.  I left local government after being at Denver’s internal audit for a private sector job. I was enticed by more money and bonuses. I found quickly that filling someone’s pocket did not make me feel as good as serving in the public sector.  I left only after a few months for a very rewarding job at Boulder County overseeing the financial aspects of their grants. That moment just showed me that being a public servant is what keeps me engaged not money.
I am interested in a lengthy local government career if…..
tumblr_n31p50tLvh1qcbki6o2_500After my answer above, it is very clear that I am interested in a lengthy career in local government my big concern is the lack of innovation and sometimes the complete disregard for change. I hate (I know it is a strong word) the phrase “because that’s how we have always done it.” There could be a better way and there might be a very good reason for doing it that way but everyone needs to know what that reason is.
I aspire to….
To have fun, grow as a person and do as much as I can in the time that I have.
If you want to interview someone interesting, you should contact……
Beth Machann, City and County of Denver Controller, she has transformed the Controller’s Office and is an amazing female leader.
I think more people would pursue a local government if…..
If innovation and technology were used more, we could attract more top young talent. We are competing with money and benefits that we will never be able to provide.
If we could provide better tools and technology along with the difference we make for the places we live, we could attract more talent. 
If we could add a few days of telecommuting and not restricting people to their desk 8-5, Monday through Friday, we might get a few more great future leaders. Administrative functions are particularly hard because there are a great number of similar jobs for these functions in the private sector. Support functions need to see their impact on how they help citizens and that they are part of the foundation that supports the efforts of the government’s programs.
I think professional networking associations are…..
Very helpful when used. Being on the accounting and financial end I use networks to help implement new accounting standards, or to see what others have done with their performance measurements in budgets. I use these networks for help, jobs, or to find qualified staff.
I think bumper stickers are…..
imagesOdd statements on people’s opinions given without being asked… Unless it is a joke that makes people smile on their commute, or promoting one’s business I do not care for them.
My story ends……
My hope is that my career story ends with me being a deputy or manger of a City and/or County. As long at the end of my career, I can look back and know I have grown as a person and helped others there is more than enough to be proud of and to feel accomplished.  My personal story ending will be amazing!
For the next person that you interview, you should ask…
If you could be a super hero, who would you be?

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