Alumni Leading Our Community

  • Lynne Kovash

    Superintendent, Moorhead Area Public Schools
    English & MS Special Education

    "Leaders must support the people they’ve charged with making important decisions."

    How did your time at MSUM shape you as a leader?

    The university gave me many opportunities to be a leader through classes and activities such as Delta Zeta, the student union programming board, and an ad hoc committee I was on for then-President Dille. I was a student during a very interesting and challenging time in history, and all of these wonderful opportunities shaped me personally and professionally.

    What are the biggest challenges leading a very large school district?

    I’ve faced many different financial challenges when we weren’t receiving as much funding from the state, having to make reductions and laying off people. Those are terrible decisions that have to be made. Today’s challenge is finding space for our growing student population. The moral purpose of a strong system of public education is to support our teachers to provide the best possible education for our students. I see that as our biggest challenge since everyone has a different opinion about constitutes a ‘best education.’

    What is the most important skill of a leader?

    Communicating and listening are the most important skills of a leader. Leaders must support the people they’ve charged with making important decisions, and if the decision comes into question, you must also try to help them see that there might be other options or different ways to proceed.

    What is the best leadership advice you’ve received?

    I have received a lot of good leadership advice, but what I’ve seen from one of my mentors is how she treated others and showed her appreciation through handwritten notes or other ways. It’s important as a leader not to forget the little things.

    What is the best book on leadership you have read?

    I call myself a Michael Fullan groupie. I love all of his books, but in his book, “Leading in a Culture of Change,” he talks about moral purpose, which really hit a chord with me. I think everyone feels that about the work they do. Otherwise why do it? It’s for the deep seeded purpose in your life of making an impact in what you do.

    What advice would you give someone striving to become a better leader?

    Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way and never stop reading and learning.

    Why is MSUM a vital part of Moorhead?

    We send our students to MSUM to get a great education and to step out into the world. It’s a vital piece of our community and economic development. MSUM is an important part of our community, whether it’s the education, athletics or the arts, it really helps to give a picture of a community. This is a great community to raise children and I think the university is a major reason for that.