Since starting as an intern with the City of Chattanooga in June 2017, Shelby Glover has had a long-term goal: Becoming a city manager.
“Here in the city of Chattanooga, we have a chief operating officer, so that is the ultimate goal for me,” said Glover, the city’s grants coordinator and a graduate student in the Master of Public Administration program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
“That has been my guiding path and the reason for going back to school.”
The path she’s taken has been recognized by others, too. Glover was recently awarded a 2023 Tennessee City Management Association (TCMA) Master of Public Administration Scholarship, designed to encourage the next generation of professionals in local government. The scholarship comes with a $2,500 prize, which she said will go toward paying her last semester of school in the spring.
“Being a part of the Tennessee City Managers Association and receiving this scholarship is recognition for me for what I do, the work that I’ve done and where I intend to go,” she said. “It’s really boosting me in that light.”
Glover first came to UTC after graduating from Chattanooga Central High School in 2013. During her UTC undergraduate days as a political science major, she landed several internships in different City Hall departments—including Human Resources and the Mayor’s Office—before receiving a bachelor’s degree in December 2018.
The degree led to a full-time position as a program assistant in Youth and Family Development.
“They didn’t want to let me go until I found a full-time job with the city, so they put me in different places until a position opened up for me,” she said with a laugh, “and I didn’t want to leave, either. I have always wanted to work for the city, so I was determined to do what I had to do to get a full-time job.”
She moved into her current position in 2022. As grants coordinator, “my role serves to connect different departments with the grant opportunities that are out there, whether that be at the federal, state or local level,” she explained.
“I find (grant opportunities), bring in the departments and assist them with filling out applications for submittal. So I provide a lot of technical assistance.”
She said the grants department is the only one at City Hall that can upload grants for the federal government and most state agencies. In addition, the department is in charge of the $38 million the city received from the American Rescue Plan Act for COVID Relief.
“We manage about 30 sub-recipients that the city gave money to,” she said. “There’s a lot of monitoring and compliance and making sure that we’re staying within the guidelines of the federal regulations for this money.”
Her reference to COVID was a tad ironic, as she acknowledged that the pandemic played a part in her returning to college. The decision to go back to school came around when “everybody was shut in, and we couldn’t really do a whole lot.”
“Honestly, I kind of found myself a little bored,” Glover said, “and getting a master’s degree was something I had always wanted to do. I just didn’t think it was actually in the cards for me. But I had a lot of support from family, friends and mentors telling me that I could do it.”
Glover enrolled in the MPA program at UTC in fall 2021, taking two classes a semester, and is on pace to graduate in May 2024.
“In undergrad, I was a little bit more shy than I am in my master’s program, so I often find myself speaking a lot more in class and providing a lot more real-world insight for how things are actually done and what we’re working on—and how we apply what theory we’re working on to what you do when you’re faced with these decisions,” she said.
“I do apply a lot of what I’ve learned in school to what I’m doing for work, and then I take a lot of what I do for work and mingle it with projects for school. I get the best, really, of both worlds.”
In addition to a full-time job and her studies, she serves as the UTC student chapter president of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), an organization with more than 100 student chapters worldwide.
Her ICMA advisor is UC Foundation Assistant Professor Chris Acuff, who also has taught Glover in the classroom.
“Shelby is smart and she’s intellectually curious. Despite having a very busy job, she shows up prepared for class and is always engaged in the discussion,” Acuff said. “You can tell amongst her cohort that she really is a leader.
“She has a passion for public service, and I think she really wants to do this as a career. So obviously, we do our best to encourage that and nurture it as they find their path.”
Acuff lauded the work Glover has done as the ICMA president, rebuilding a chapter that was “sort of derailed” by COVID.
“Shelby has stepped up and worked to recruit some of her fellow MPA members to join the chapter, organizing some networking and professional events to connect our students with the community,” he said. “Our students get exposure to those that are working in public service, and people in public service see the value of what we’re adding to the community.”