image of Kira standing with Christmas trees in the background wearing glasses, a black turtleneck and a red plaid skirt and holding her purse

Kira Halma was an MPP +1 accelerated degree student who graduated from the program in December 2023. Now, Kira serves as the Science, Technology, and Labor Liaison for Philadelphia City Councilmember-at-large Dr. Nina Ahmad. Continue reading to learn more about her work in her current position and her time in the MPP program at Temple.

What is your current position and organization? What is the mission of your organization?

 I serve as the Science, Technology, and Labor Liaison for Councilmember-at-large Dr. Nina Ahmad. The mission of Philadelphia City Council is to draft and enact legislation, but every Councilmember has different legislative priorities. My office focuses the most on public health, sustainability, and economic development.

Please describe your position and what your day-to-day work looks like.

I was very lucky to be offered a job tailored to my interests. I serve as a policy specialist/special projects coordinator on science and technology issues. My labor role is more of the "liaison" part of the title. I am given a lot of agency in my role to direct and progress our work as deemed fit. I have developed strategic plans for my Councilmember on sustainability and labor issues. Now, I am in the data and policy analysis stage of these plans. Although every day looks different, I often meet with stakeholders, research and refine my ideas, and collaborate with my team on next steps. I'm currently developing a project that combines sustainable innovation and economic development, and I'm hoping it will be announced in March!

How did your time in the MPP program help prepare you for your career?

The knowledge I gained from the MPP program allowed me to hit the ground running in City government. Whatever my Councilmember needs—from a cost-benefit analysis, to a needs assessment, to a policy brief—I feel capable right away. My capstone was also extremely helpful, even though I didn't choose it. It forced me to learn about the City's procurement process and familiarize myself with the details of business development (something I likely wouldn't have learned on my own.) Now, when anything related to this subject is discussed, I pick up on the lingo right away. Of course, I have to learn a lot on the job, but the confidence that the MPP program gave me was invaluable.

What was your favorite MPP class? Why?

My favorite class was the leadership elective I took with Professor David Thornburgh. Even if you think you have decent leadership qualities (like I did), you can always improve! I honestly believe that every assignment was a valuable use of my time. It encouraged me to reflect on and improve both my interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. Best of all, we got to "role play" during class time for different scenarios, like interviews and board meetings.

What advice do you have for current MPP students?

My advice for MPP students is to throw yourself out there. Every time I got out of my comfort zone, the reward was tenfold. It doesn't have to just be internships or jobs. Gaining new knowledge, meeting interesting people, introducing yourself, sharing your ideas… it benefits you professionally and personally. Even if you fail, you're rewarded with a new experience and insight.