EMPA Candidate Spreads Joy Throughout The World

Regina Klitgaard's children used to tease her about her lack of technological knowledge, but recently they have been singing a different tune.

This year Klitgaard was appointed as executive director of World Joy, a nonprofit organization that serves thirteen small rural villages in the Atiwa District of Ghana. This job affords her the opportunity to embrace technology by using her recently-acquired skills to redesign a web site, utilize QR codes, and create a quarterly e-newsletter and marketing pieces (brochures and pass-along cards). She now says that her technological knowledge surpasses her children's.

Her Cinderella story began in 2009, ten years after earning her undergraduate degree at BYU in family relations, when she began her Executive Master of Public Administration studies at the Romney Institute. As part of the Marriott On-Board program, she served on the board of directors of World Joy in 2010 as an observer and a non-voting student member. One year later she was directing the meetings.

"I never expected to see myself in this position at this time in my life," Klitgaard says. "I can honestly say that I would not have been prepared to embrace this opportunity without my education." Through the EMPA program I have acquired the skills to enter the job market and feel confident."

Klitgaard began her career in media relations with Utah Governor Norman H. Bangerter and then in constituent services for Governor Michael O. Leavitt. After devoting a few years to her three children, Carissa, Gavin, and Maddison, and encouraging her husband's entrepreneurial pursuits, she began working as a fundraiser and presenter for Entertainment Publications in 1998.

Now as director of World Joy and as an EMPA candidate, she works to fulfill World Joy's purpose; to offer strength and sustainability to existing government-based health and education programs within the villages located in the Atiwa District –a small geographic region in Ghana, Africa. Since the organization's start in 2005, World Joy has constructed 18 schools, excavated fifty-three deep water wells, completed three health sanitation facilities, established two health clinics, trained 1000 teachers and established a community library.

Klitgaard's skills have not only made a difference in Ghana but are also earning the esteem of her current classmates as well.

"Regina is a thoughtful and professional business woman with the warmest smile. She is always ready to help," says Valerie Meade, representative of Klitgaard's EMPA class of 2012. "She gives every project 100 percent and always wants to make sure all sides of an issue are fairly covered."

Klitgaard will graduate from the EMPA program in June 2012 and plans to continue with her work after graduation. She says the MPA program courses have led her on a path to success–especially the finance, nonprofit structure, and organizational behavior classes.

"Dr. Jeff Thompson's research on meaningful work has heavily influenced me to be where I am today," Klitgaard says. "I have found my life's mission, and it is incredibly rewarding – despite the many sacrifices. Passion is a true requisite for all those engaged in meaningful work, and I have found this to be the case while taking on the role of World Joy's executive director."