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Conflict Resolution Institute

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Kate Zimmerly, Presidential Management Fellow

Kate Zimmerly (MA '09) has been a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) at the US Office of Personnel Management since her appointment in March of 2010. The PMF is a two year program where recent graduates of Master's programs are hired by the federal government and given the opportunity to work at different agencies within the federal government. Fellows are periodically rotated through different agencies allowing them the opportunity to serve in various capacities. The competitive process of becoming a PMF entails being nominated by your university, a long application process, and a standard exam. Kate was nominated by DU and began the fellowship after a year of working with Senator Mark Udall as a congressional staffer in Washington DC.

Kate Zimmerly (MA '09) in the US CongressWhile the program is based out of Washington DC, fellows are given the opportunity to work at agencies across the country. Kate has gone through four rotations thus far; her first position at a government agency was at the Department of Homeland Security Headquarters. In that position she did policy work, which entailed working to improve the functioning of the organization through organizational management, human resources, and human capital. Her second rotation was at the El Paso Intelligence Center, which is run by the Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Agency. Kate also engaged in policy work during her second rotation where she helped create a new unit within the Center to help various agencies working on the border to cooperate more effectively.

Zimmerly's next stint was at the Denver office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In this appointment, she provided support for investigations regarding drug trafficking, money laundering and transnational organized crime. She conducted research to support these investigations, including research on patterns of seizures across the state of Colorado.

Zimmerly in MexicoIn her most recent rotation, Kate spent a month working at the US embassy in Mexico City for the department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She supported the agency through research and other work on organized crime and the drug wars currently taking place in Mexico. Kate is currently between rotations at PMF headquarters in Washington DC.

Kate contends that CRI "helped immensely" in her ability to successfully accomplish her goals as a PMF. The negotiation skills she learned have been vital and she has been able to use the skills she developed for intra and interagency consensus building. Zimmerly also credits her studies in Conflict Resolution for helping her attain a healthy perspective, including her ability to pay attention to people and their interests and learning to understand what they are trying to communicate. In her policy work for PMF Kate has found that she was able to anticipate different points of view when approaching policy questions and the impacts various decisions would have on different parts of the organization.

For students who will be graduating or are looking for work in their field, Kate recommends being patient. She said that the best piece of advice she'd been given was that it can take about a year and a half or more to be able to get into a field that one is passionate about. Until then, be open, because "You never know what you'll get that you didn't know existed." And "definitely do an internship."

-- Fernando Ospina