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New Opportunities and Lasting Connections

Rebecca Harahi
October 7, 2021

Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service  graduate Kenneth Wilson, MPA ‘93, found himself at Ohio University almost by surprise. “I originally planned to attend law school after completion of my undergraduate degree, but one of my advisors introduced me to Ohio University and the potential of getting my Master’s in Public Administration,” Wilson said. “After doing some research on the Voinovich School, I said ‘why not, I’ll take two years and experience Athens, Ohio.’” 

Wilson’s time at the Voinovich School certainly paid off – he currently serves as County Administrator for Franklin County, home to Columbus and the largest county in Ohio. With 1.3 million residents, a budget of $1.8 billion and over 6,000 county employees, Wilson’s day-to-day tasks are always changing. He deals with a variety of topics and issues including the county economy, environment, health care, and sustainability.  

Of all his roles and responsibilities, Wilson says he most enjoys the economic and fiscal side of country government, an area he specialized in during his time at OHIO. As County Administrator, he’s not only tasked with managing the current county budget, but also adapting to state and federal financial changes and working to protect the county’s financial sustainability. Wilson credits the Voinovich School with preparing him for these responsibilities.  

“The Voinovich School taught us the skills to manage a large enterprise. That’s what county government is – day to day, I’m managing a large enterprise that’s impacting the lives of 1.3 million people,” Wilson said. Not only did he learn these skills in the classroom, he also benefited from one-on-one time with the professors and valuable networking opportunities. He recalls his days meeting with professors at The Front Room coffeeshop in Baker University Center, discussing classroom material and current public administration trends. These opportunities helped build him a network of friends and supporters as he entered his career. 

“My fondest memory is the lasting relationships that were built with the professors and how closely I worked with them,” said Wilson. “I worked especially close with Dr. Mark Weinberg, who is still a friend to this day.” 

Wilson’s goal is to honor these connections by finding ways to give back to the Voinovich School and work with Ohio University’s Dublin campus. If the opportunity arises, he would love to share his practical experiences as a public administrator with the next generation of Voinovich graduates.  

As for advice for current students, Wilson encourages them to take advantage of every opportunity and appreciate their time at OHIO. “The Voinovich School offers fantastic, practical public administration experiences, so find a way to connect your academic lessons and opportunities to your future,” Wilson said. “It goes by fast, so don’t take one class or one moment for granted.” 

Are you driven to public service, with strong a desire to learn and connect with your community? Prepare to lead while getting the hands-on skills you need to take your career to the next level. The Voinovich School’s traditional, campus-based, one-year Master of Public Administration (MPA) program provides students a sound combination of theoretical knowledge and applied learning necessary for employment in public, private, and nonprofit organizations.