Director of Finance, Leadership Greater Hartford
Larisa Kottke is a 2013 graduate of the University of Connecticut’s Master of Public Administration program. She currently works as the Grants and Office Manager for Hartford Performs. Hartford Performs is an arts education collaborative that currently partners with more than 150 regional artists and arts/cultural organizations to provide arts integration programs to Hartford public school students in grades PreK-8. Her mission is to ensure that all Hartford public school students have access to quality arts education delivered by in-school teaching staff in partnership with the region’s vibrant arts community. Although her role is primarily administrative and behind-the-scenes, her favorite thing about her job is that it contributes directly to students having experiences in the arts. She was fortunate to have an arts-infused childhood and hopes to give other students similar access to the arts.
Larisa chose to apply to UConn’s MPA program because of its Certificate in Nonprofit Management. After completing her undergraduate studies at Boston University, she worked for three and a half years as an Executive Assistant and Operations Manager in a small nonprofit in Cambridge, MA. During that time she acquired a small taste of nonprofit work but wanted to learn more about the sector. She was also particularly drawn UConn’s MPA program because of its Internship and Professional Practice program. Larisa loved the idea of being able to gain additional nonprofit experience, while earning credit towards her graduate degree.
Her MPA degree has been invaluable in her role with Hartford Performs. Her job has evolved to include responsibilities in bookkeeping, accounting, payroll processing, grant writing and data collection. Before the MPA program she wouldn’t have known how to approach any of those responsibilities but she is now able to pull from ideas and lessons learned in her classes at UConn including Nonprofit Financial Management, Human Resources, Nonprofit Development and Program Evaluation. While she doesn’t always have immediate answers to every issue that arises in her organization, she knows what questions to ask and how to research possible solutions.
Larisa’s advice to current MPA students is, “to take advantage of the expertise of the MPA program’s professors. Get to know them, and don’t be afraid to ask them for support, even after you graduate. The professors of this program are deeply caring individuals who want to see their students succeed. They also have a wealth of knowledge that they are excited to share with a new generation of public servants.”