Titan Kelly Griffin named Presidential Management Fellow
Kelly Griffin has put in countless hours of work in pursuit of her credentials in higher education, culminating in the spring of 2022 with a master’s degree in social work from IU South Bend. Now, she has gone even further: Griffin is one of only 850 applicants (from a pool of over 10,000) to be named a Presidential Management Fellowship Finalist for 2023. The Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) is a federal government pathway program with a goal towards employing the future leaders of the federal government.
Growing up as a “military brat,” Griffin spent much of her youth in Hawaii, where her father served in the Army as a mechanic. Before she embarked on her journey through college, she spent eight years following in her father’s footsteps in the armed forces. “I had a particular amount of self-awareness when I was in high school, and I knew that I wasn’t yet ready for college,” Griffin says. “At the same time, I wanted to do service for my country, which is a family tradition.” Those next few years involved basic training, advanced training, and an overseas assignment to Germany. She worked as an Army mechanic, just like her dad, and she became a parent herself. Eventually, when her son no longer required constant attention, Griffin began to contemplate her next phase.
“I did a self-evaluation, and I decided that I had become mature enough and disciplined enough to get on a career path that would involve going back to school,” she says. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and sociology from Western Michigan University and a master’s in administration of justice and security from the University of Phoenix. For most of the next decade, she parlayed those credentials into a career as a parole officer, first in Tennessee and then in Michigan. By 2020, Griffin knew she wanted a master’s in social work, so she matriculated at IU South Bend and began an internship with the Office of Veteran Student Services. With a certainty that she had the drive and the skills to pursue the world of mentorship at an elite level, she applied to be a Presidential Management Fellow last fall.
“I recognized it as a phenomenal opportunity to enter into the federal government system,” Griffin says. The job description of a PMF varies, because a PMF can serve in a myriad of ways from Program Analyst to Asylum Officer. “A PMF is a humble servant of the federal government,” Griffin says. “You need to have the humility and self-awareness to identify the opportunities that are going to come your way. You can apply for any position you are qualified that comes into the PMF talent-management system.”
A PMF application requires enrollment in graduate school or within two years of graduating with a master’s degree or Ph.D. There is a rigorous application process and training, but also an emphasis on the “soft skills” such as empathy, listening skills, teamwork, and adaptability. “There is a good position in the federal government for anyone studying at IU. It’s just a matter of narrowing it down to your interests and going for it,” Griffin says. “It’s not always about the degree – it’s just as much about the ‘soft skills’ too.”