Meet Kimberly Wagner.
Kimberly Wagner has served as Chief of Staff to the Chancellor at Purdue University Fort Wayne since April 2013. In her role, she serves as the primary aide to Chancellor Ron Elsenbaumer and assists him in policy development, community building and engagement, and legislative advocacy efforts. Kimberly also serves as the primary point of contact for the Chancellor’s office with internal and external constituents/offices, including the Purdue Board of Trustees; Purdue President’s office; and local, state, and national elected officials on strategic initiatives that impact the university.
Prior to joining the Chancellor’s Office in April 2013, she held the position of Director of Alumni Relations and served other positions in both academic affairs and student affairs since first being hired by the university in 2004. She has been a part-time faculty member in the Department of Public Policy, teaching criminal justice classes including American Criminal Justice Systems and American Policing and was awarded the School of Public and Environmental Affairs Excellence in Teaching Award for Part-Time Faculty for the 2007-2008 academic year. She is a graduate of Leadership Fort Wayne (Class of 2009), the FBI Citizen’s Academy (Class of 2012), Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series (Class of 2020), and was a recipient of Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly’s Forty Under 40 Award in 2014. She earned a B.A. in Media and Public Communication in 2001 (Purdue University, Fort Wayne) and a Master of Public Affairs degree in 2005 (Indiana University, Fort Wayne).
Aside from her professional career, she is a tireless advocate for the city of Fort Wayne and Allen County, volunteering and advancing her community through service to various organizations. Kimberly’s areas of expertise include administration, civil service, legislative and community advancement, communications, and logistics. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Fort Wayne – Allen County Airport Authority Board as an Allen County Commissioners appointee and the planning committee for YWCA’s Circle event. Other organizations she has volunteered with include the Fort Wayne Rotary Club, Junior League of Fort Wayne, McMillen Health, Park Center, and Turnstone, among others.
YWCA Asks: What does an “empowering woman” mean to you?
Kimberly: An empowering woman is someone who encourages and supports others to be the best people they can be. And one important characteristic of an empowering woman is to be a servant leader.
YWCA Asks: In what ways do you feel that you empower other women?
Kimberly: I am an encourager to my core. I learned several years ago that when I said yes to experiences that would take me out of my comfort zone, they ended up being the greatest and most memorable of my life. And I encourage others to do the same! Also, I am not a competitor at heart. I’ve been a member of many teams and the common theme among those that were high functioning has been that we are all working towards a common goal. We may have different ideas as to how to get there, but all ideas and suggestions are worthy and should be treated with respect. I abide by the philosophy that I am rarely the smartest person in the room. I speak up when necessary and will add value, but I prefer to listen more than I speak so that I am learning from others. I then use the knowledge gained to do my work behind the scenes. That’s my preferred mode of operation!
YWCA Asks: Would you please share an experience or tidbit of knowledge that would help other women?
Kimberly: One lesson I have learned, particularly in the past few years, is that everyone, especially women, should make their mental health a priority. Oftentimes we feel guilty about taking time for ourselves or focusing on “self-care.” We run from one thing to the next, trying to meet everyone’s expectations, and our personal needs are pushed aside to attend to the needs of others. While it may feel noble, at the end of the day, we can be left feeling personally unfulfilled. While there is no prescription for self-care, it’s important to find what works for you individually. My preferred methods often include hiking at our state parks, enjoying the city and county trail system by bike or walking, and at minimum, sitting on my patio reading with my Golden Retriever, Murphy, by my side. Everyone should find what works for them. I say this from personal experience; it may save your life one day.