Employee Spotlight: Karin Kittelson, Administrative Assistant

Meet Karin Kittelson, Administrative Assistant. She perfectly embodies the personalities she was surprised to find at FitzGerald: genuinely warm, fun, and sincerely congenial. We also find that her dark sense of humor makes her that much more relatable! Likely being the first cheery face you’ll see or voice you’ll hear entering our office, her demeanor lets you inherently know that you are appreciated and will be taken care of. She’s a problem solver by nature, taking pride in organizing and streamlining the many small tasks she handles, knowing that they add up to being immensely important to the on-the-ground practical running of an organization.

She’s a dog lover and has a beautiful and sweet rescue mutt Tesla, who is an absolute delight. (cue to find adorable pictures of Tesla in the images.) She has her B.A in Fine Arts from Loyola University. She continues her artistry at Lillstreet Art Center, where she is an Open Studio Monitor. Most recently she’s taken up a hobby of sewing clothing for personal use. Like many of us, her current guilty pleasure is the show Bridgerton on Netflix, being a great escapism for our pandemic winter.

What cool venue did her mom take her and her brothers to growing up, that she didn’t fully appreciate until becoming an adult? What is her recipe for a messy, but delicious sounding sandwich that she’d choose to eat if she could only eat one thing for the rest of her life? Find out these stories and more in the questions we asked her below. We also invite you to get to know her further through her staff bio.

We took some time to get to know Karin, and here’s what we learned:

What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?
“I’m proud of the way I’m able to organize and streamline administrative processes. It’s not one single accomplishment, so much as it is an ongoing project. One thing I wish more people understood about administrative work is that it consists of many small tasks that don’t seem impressive on their own, but add up to being immensely important to the on-the-ground practical running of an organization. Administrative work isn’t glamourous, but it is necessary, and I’m proud to be doing it.”

Are you a dog person or a cat person (or neither)?
“I’m a dog person, for sure. I have a rescue mutt named Tesla who is an absolute delight. I don’t have anything against cats, but I hate the smell of cat pee (and boy do they love to pee on things).”

What’s one thing that surprised you about working at FitzGerald?
“I was surprised by the genuinely warm, fun culture we have at FitzGerald. It’s rare to find a company that’s sincerely congenial rather than trying hard to be that way. Our activities and conversations don’t feel like mandatory corporate fun. We have a company culture that I’m proud to be a part of, and that I’ve found myself to be very protective of.”

What’s your guilty pleasure?
“Right now my guilty pleasure is the show Bridgerton on Netflix. It’s been great escapism for our pandemic winter.”

If you could only eat one item for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
“I’m going to interpret the question as one recipe rather than one ingredient of a recipe. The quick and easy comfort food I always come back to is a hot sandwich consisting of toast, a fried egg, cheese, avocado, optional mayo, salt, pepper, and Frank’s hot sauce. It’s one of those wonderful, messy sandwiches best eaten while no one is watching.”

What’s a mistake you made early on in your career, and what did you learn from it?
“Early in my career I was terrible at marketing myself and at appreciating the value of my own work. I think a lot of women like myself are taught to be humble to a fault, which can really come back to bite you in the working world. It’s a lifelong project for me to find the balance between what it means to be confident without coming across as arrogant or complacent. So I guess I’m still working on it!”

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?
“I don’t know if this counts as advice, but I read this somewhere on the internet and I wrote it down: “Individual human effort cannot overcome large scale structural deficits, and it’s immoral to suggest that it could.” I wish I had also written down where I saw that! I’m a problem solver by nature, and my brain is desperate to solve all of the problems we’re facing in this country. But those problems are much bigger than I can handle as an individual, and I can’t carry that weight. I’m focusing on taking care of my corner of the world by getting involved in neighborhood mutual aid opportunities and learning more about politics on a hyper-local level.

TLDR: You can’t solve the problems of the world, so focus on your little corner of it.

What’s something-big or small-that you’re really bad at?
“I’m horrendous with directions and spatial ability in general. In fact, I’ve never met anyone as talented at getting lost as I am. I hate driving and I’ve never learned how to properly parallel park. One of the things I love about Chicago is our public transportation network, and that I don’t need to own a car to get around on a daily basis.”

What’s the first concert you ever went to?
“As a kid, my mom would often pack a big picnic to take my brothers and me to the Ravinia Festival for the outdoor music season in the summer. I didn’t really appreciate it until I got older, but now I can say how cool it is that she did that with us. I was 100% one of those obnoxious kids who wouldn’t stop talking while the music played.”

What’s something you’ve done, but will never do again?
My first job, as a teenager, was working in a kitchen. Working in restaurants and kitchens is an infinitely more demanding and thankless job than most people realize. I’m glad I had the experience, but never again!