If you ask Christine Hunschofsky MBA’96, mayor of Parkland, Florida, how she landed in the public sector, she’ll tell you she just kind of fell into it.
“I was never planning to be in public service,” she admits. But, after moving to Parkland with her husband in 2000 and becoming active in her new community—including covering the City Commission for Parkland Life Magazine for 10 years—she gained an in-depth understanding of city government.
When a seat on that same commission opened up, others encouraged her to run. So, she did. And, she won.
It was the first of many wins, culminating in her election as mayor of Parkland in November 2016. About to begin her second term, she is only the second woman mayor in Parkland history and the first in more than 30 years.
Applying the Entrepreneurial Mindset to Public Service
Born and raised in Boston, Hunschofsky studied business and philosophy as an undergraduate. Motivated by a desire to better understand business, she enrolled in Babson College’s MBA program. There, she developed an entrepreneurial mindset that has served her well in her public service roles.
“Everything we learned at Babson was about teamwork and being solution oriented,” she said. Those lessons began to permeate everything she did. “In my life, I’ve always looked to be more solution oriented.”
As mayor of Parkland, Hunschofsky says being solution oriented means busting down silos that too often limit government effectiveness.
“As an entrepreneur, you have to have a full understanding of all of those areas and how they work together. If you want to be in public service and in government and you want to efficiently deliver services, you have to have that kind of thinking,” Hunschofsky explained. “If everybody believes in the same vision and works together toward that, it’s much easier to get there.”
That eagerness to collaborate and build relationships ultimately makes her a more impactful leader, she said. “If I want to get things done for my residents, I have to have relationships and understand how other organizations work, how they impact us, and how what we do impacts them. I can’t help the residents get what they need unless I have that understanding. It’s extremely rewarding to work with people from other areas of government and working as a team to find solutions.”
Even though she “fell” into her public service role, Hunschofsky soon found it was the perfect fit. “I’m passionate about public service and about living in a community that cares about others,” she said. “I get very excited when I see problems that seem complex, but I can get the right people together at the right time with the right mindset to look for and come up with a solution. That’s an extremely rewarding experience.”
Shannon Sweeny and James Regal contributed to the reporting and interviewing for this story.