MPA Alumna New Education Policy Advisor to the Governor

Published: October 08, 2020 | Author: Savannah Byers | Read Time: 3 minutes

Karen Peterson named education policy advisorUtah Governor Gary Herbert recently appointed Southern Utah University alumna and adjunct professor Karen Peterson to be his new education policy advisor. Peterson graduated in 2016 with a Master of Public Administration (MPA) and began teaching in August of 2019. She is optimistic about this new position and looking forward to the future of education in the state of Utah.

“The past six months through. the pandemic, civil unrest, and even earthquakes, a bright light has been shown on inequity issues in our education system,” said Peterson. “I believe this is one of the most challenging times our educators and students will face, but I am optimistic that we can not just return to normal, but return to something that better serves the needs of our diverse educators and students.”

Prior to her new position, Peterson served as the deputy education advisor for five years and was elected to serve on the Clinton City Council in 2013 and 2017. Peterson earned her undergraduate degree in political science from Utah State University in 2002 and she began her graduate program at SUU in 2014.

“I decided to study at SUU because of the flexibility and quality of the online MPA program,” said Peterson. “At the time my youngest child was just starting kindergarten. This program provided a way for me to continue my education while still providing for the needs of my young family.”

In September of 2020, Governor Herbert appointed Peterson as his new education policy advisor. She is looking forward to continuing to work in public service and having a hand in the future of education in Utah.

“Education is part of the critical infrastructure of a community that opens a gate to a field of possibilities,” said Peterson. “I have had the opportunity to serve as an elected official, an appointed official and now in the service of our Governor and state. I love the ability to influence and create policy that benefits the everyday lives of those in my community.”

Peterson is no stranger to obstacles and hardships. In 2018, she was diagnosed with stage three cancer and underwent chemotherapy, surgeries, radiation, and countless doctor appointments.

“I decided that if I recovered, I would spend my time both personally and professionally on things that mattered and make things better for other people,” said Peterson. “It’s easy to focus on how divisive things can feel, but I truly do believe that most people will still do what they can to help others. We are all more alike than different.”

“During her time as an MPA student, Karen Peterson taught me more than I ever could have taught her,” said Dr. Angela Pool-Funai, MPA program director. “She's a brilliant, capable professional, and her appointment as education policy advisor to the Governor is a recognition well deserved. She has been and will continue to be a positive force for education throughout our state, and I couldn't be happier for her as she begins this new leadership role.”

SUU’s MPA program provides an intellectual, collaborative and engaging learning environment where practical and theoretical concepts of public administration are presented within the historical, political, social, cultural and economic contexts. Students learn to act as facilitators in defining and pursuing the public interest. Learn more about SUU’s affordable Master of Public Administration program.

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