School Business Affairs February 2019

40 FEBRUARY 2019 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS W hen Kelley Kitchen gradu- ated from Hanover College with her business degree, she envisioned working at a Big Six accounting firm. Instead, her path led to the steel industry and then the Indiana Department of Correc- tions, where she spent nearly 10 years as a regional finance director, simultaneously earning her MBA from Indiana Wes- leyan University while raising two young children. In 2008, she was offered an opportunity to serve as corporation treasurer in the smallest school district in northeast Indiana. Kitchen worked in the same building where her young children attended school. A few years later she transferred to a rural district at the opposite corner of the state, and then served a short stint in a larger urban district. Kitchen describes her evolution into the role of school business official as morphing from “doing the books” to being responsible for so much more. “About the only thing I did not do was drive a bus. But I cleaned them off, ran the lunchroom register, mowed the lawn, and washed dishes. I think it makes you a better leader because you understand how and why things happen.” In 2017, she was invited to join Indiana’s Goshen Community Schools (GCS), a uniquely diverse district with a 54% Latino student population located adjacent to Amish country. She serves as the district’s executive director of finance. Kitchen is proud that three of the four districts she has served have successfully passed referenda for expansions of programs and updated buildings for students, despite the challenges that come with requesting additional funding in very rural and very urban settings. “I have lived in districts where I have worked, so I have been one of the taxpayers. I would not want to vote for something if I did not feel they had been good stewards with the money I already gave them.” When asked what advice Kitchen might have for col- leagues new to the field, she does not hesitate: “Do not be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Everyone has been in that position at one point or another. We are in an education environment, so let’s educate.” Practicing what she preaches, Kitchen recently reached out to an ASBO International Pinnacle Award winner for input on the virtual onboarding modules they had developed. In addition, the 2012 recipient of the Emerging Leaders Scholarship says she has made use of ideas gleaned from the ASBO “groupthink” too many times to count. She considers the resource- sharing a reflection of the spirit of her colleagues across the nation. “I have never been part of a group of people so collaborative,” she says. Spotlight on Kelley Kitchen SEARCHING FOR A SCHOOL Solution? LOOK TO ASBO INTERNATIONAL’S STRATEGIC PARTNERS