Kate Fjell is a woman on a mission. Having worked for the City of Boonville for almost 10 years, she is very clear about what she wants to do. Her goal is to keep her community “relevant, vibrant and vital.”
She is officially known as the assistant to the city administrator, but she wears many hats. She is involved in strategic planning and managing capital projects and is the interim head of both the Parks and Recreation and Planning and Zoning departments. Quite a lot on her plate, and quite different from a most unusual previous job -- as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa.
From 2001-2004, she worked in Malawi in southeast Africa. Having transitioned from a dictatorship to a democracy, she says Malawi is a peaceful country, but quite poor. “There are people there who literally have nothing, but live joyfully,” she notes. “It really puts your own life into perspective.”
Her work in Malawi included female empowerment and opportunity, life skill and health choices in youth, and helping diversify crops for better health and nutrition.
“My service in the Peace Corps solidified my love of working in rural communities,” she said.
Fast forward to 2009. That year she received a master’s degree from the University of Missouri in rural sociology with an emphasis on community and organizational development. As part of her studies, she had an internship with the City of Boonville in the economic development office. Her foot was in the door, and it’s been onward and upward ever since.
As she worked on her master’s, she says she learned “how you grow a community.” She is applying that knowledge now every day in Boonville.
She credits Ameren Missouri for helping Boonville grow and prosper and enjoys a good working relationship with Ameren Missouri employees. “They are very helpful and very responsive,” she notes. “Their quick responsiveness allows us to keep moving.”
Fjell is pleased that SB 564 passed in the 2018 legislative session. This new law is the foundation for the Ameren Missouri Smart Energy Plan and upgrading infrastructure is part of that plan. “Modernizing, changing and adapting is crucial,” she said.
The Smart Energy Plan allows new and expanding companies to benefit from economic development incentives for up to five years. “It’s a great tool to have in our toolbox,” she notes.
Kate Fjell really likes calling Boonville home. “I am firmly entrenched in small town life and working for the city” as an agent of change. Says she, “I love Boonville.”