Public Policy Administration honors 2 distinguished alumni

UMSL alumni Douglas Harms and Elizabeth Kurila

Douglas Harms, city administrator for Des Peres, Mo., and Elizabeth Kurila, director of development for the Nine Network of Public Media, were recently honored as recipients of the UMSL Public Policy Administration Distinguished Alumni Award.

Douglas Harms and Elizabeth Kurila took different career paths after each earned an MPPA from the University of Missouri–St. Louis. But they maintained close ties to the Public Policy Administration program at UMSL. Now they have something else in common: they’re the first recipients of the PPA Distinguished Alumni Award.

Harms, the city administrator for Des Peres, Mo., received his MPPA with an emphasis in local government management in 1982. Kurila, the director of development for the Nine Network of Public Media in St. Louis, earned the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership in 1998 and went on to earn her MPPA in 2002.

Harms has been the city administrator of Des Peres since 1985. He has been a leader in the local government community, serving on the Board of Directors of the Missouri Municipal League and as president of the St. Louis Area City Management Association. Harms has won numerous awards for excellence in local government management, including the Outstanding Local Government Achievement Award from East-West Gateway Council of Governments in 2010.

“Doug has mentored many up-and-coming local government officials, including several PPA alumni,” said Deborah Balser, director of the Public Policy Administration program and associate professor of business administration and public policy administration at UMSL.

Kurila became the director of development for the Nine Network of Public Media in 2011. Prior to this position, she was the development director for UMSL’s College of Fine Arts and Communication and the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center.

One of the first recipients of the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and Management, Kurila is a founding member of the NPML alumni chapter, and also served as its president.

“Elizabeth has always answered the call to share her knowledge and expertise with the PPA program, its students and alumni,” Balser said.

Harms and Kurila were presented with the awards at the PPA’s annual fall reception in November.

The Public Policy Administration program at UMSL offers a master’s degree in public policy administration as well as graduate certificates and professional development programs in nonprofit management and leadership and local government management.


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