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Kerry Phillips2014 Rising Alumni

Kerry Phillips photo

Kerry Phillips coordinates community events and builds partnerships that engage residents, resulting in strong interaction and community connections. Phillips developed Eagan Market Fest, a weekly summer-long community event featuring a large farmer's market, concert in the park, family activities and theme nights. It has grown from 3,000 attendees in 2007 to over 40,000 in 2013. The event was recognized with an Award of Excellence from the Minnesota Recreation & Parks Association and rated as a national Top 20 market. In 2013, Kerry was a lead collaborator on Streets Alive, a first-year event promoting healthy, active-living. She is excited to begin work on the City’s new 2014 Food Truck Festival, coming this fall. Phillips also received the 2013 Spirit of Eagan Award, given annually to one City employee for innovative service to the community.


Recreation Supervisor
City of Eagan

What was the impact and benefit of your experience in CEHD?

The impact of studying Recreation Administration as part of the CEHD experience has made all the difference in my life. The success as a student and guidance of the professors fueled my fire for learning and led me to my goal of working for a city making a difference to build strong communities and bond families and residents together. While in the program, I began working part-time for the City of Eagan and after finishing school was promoted to recreation supervisor. Success with CEHD also gave me the confidence to continue my education and earn a master's degree in management and leadership.

What gets you excited about work?

New challenges excite me. I love conceptualizing a new idea, brainstorming, planning, executing, and experiencing the end result. One of the best things about my job is the role of being a community connector and building positive community engagement experiences that leave residents excited about living and interacting in the community.

What is your favorite University of Minnesota memory?

Being recognized, in front of my husband and two kids, by University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks with a 2007 President's Student Leadership and Service Award. It was amazing to be honored and to be a role model for my kids.

What professors were most influential during your time in CEHD?

Harvey Feldman, former teacher and adviser in the Recreation program. Coming into the program at age 35, I was nervous on how I'd balance my family, work, and school life. In my first class, on my first day, Harvey had us do an exercise to discover our purpose and build a personal mission statement. That moment has stuck with me every day since. I remember coming out of that exercise fired up with a purpose and vision of what the future could be. Balancing a husband, kids, job, and school was tough, but Harvey guided, encouraged, and believed in me every step of the way. He taught me how you can blend a life's passion with action and make a difference. I will forever be grateful for him believing in me.

What skills are important to succeed as a young professional today?

Proactiveness. Competition in the workplace is a fact of life, so it is necessary for emerging professionals to create opportunities and be bold. Don't sit back and wait for opportunities, rather work to make them happen. Visualize your goal, take time to plan the steps necessary, and then take action. This means opening yourself up and asking for new opportunities at work or volunteering when you see a need. The key is to not be fearful. Just take the first step, then another, and another.