by Jessica Pullano
Kim R. Ford (Fels ‘08) was always one of those women who knew exactly where she was going and how she was going to get there. From her work at Nissan North America launching next generation vehicles to her work in the White House as a special advisor to the Recovery Act, Ford knew her plan and executed it flawlessly along the way. Ford worked rigorously at Nissan and after a very successful run within the company she knew it was time change paths and follow her passion for politics. She spoke with a friend who had completed the Fels program and was intrigued after hearing about the individualized education and sense of community offered at Fels.
Upon enrolling in the program Ford continued her drive to achieving her dreams – both personal and professional. She always regretted not studying abroad during her undergraduate years and saw the opportunity to do so while at Fels. True to the individualized nature of the program, professors and administrators at Fels worked closely with Ford to create a customized program allowing her to study in Germany during the summer following her first year. “This is just one way that Fels is such a unique program,” said Ford. “How many other graduate schools would work with students to accommodate international study where there was no program already in place? The students and their education and personal experience come first at Fels.”
Ford is a connector by nature. She cultivates a strong network of Fels alumni in the Washington, D.C. area – a trait that began as a Fels student. Ford noticed limited interaction between the various cohorts and executive students. She knew that each of these students had a unique experience and much to offer each other. She worked with administrators to set up a spring barbeque where all students could gather for a casual meet and greet. The event was so successful that it continues to be a much anticipated annual event that builds camaraderie among students. “Fels fosters such a supportive environment,” Ford said. “If you have an idea the faculty and staff will work with you to turn that idea into a reality. It is the embodiment of the tenets of the Fels education – practical and purposeful.”
Ford continues to cultivate her ties to the Fels network and has used its resources to leverage new professional opportunities. While working at the Department of Energy after graduation, Ford received a lunch invitation from former professor G. Edward DeSeve who at the time was serving as Assistant to the Vice President and Special Adviser to the OMB Director for Implementation of the Recovery Act. DeSeve offered Ford the opportunity of a lifetime – to work at the White House implementing the Recovery Act. The value of alumni connections has not gone unnoticed to Ford and she is committed to carrying on the Fels network. She is readily available when called upon by Fels students, alumni and administration to mentor and advise students, to provide career development council and to participate in fundraising and special event planning.
Ford is currently the Director of College Readiness and Outreach for the Community College of the District of Columbia where she continues to connect with alumni and utilize the skills and knowledge she acquired during her studies at Fels. She convenes recent Fels alumni on a regular basis in Washington and is actively working to reach alumni from earlier classes to create an even more robust group. She follows the lessons taught in Performance Management to look at the whole picture of a project and identify upfront what is trying to be achieved and how to measure those results.
Ford has successfully followed the advice that she offers to current Fels students. “Don’t leave Fels without having identified a resource that can help you achieve your goals,” Ford remarked. She credits much of her own success to hard work, a well-thought plan, and the connections that she diligently maintains.