Home About the School Spotlights Graduate Student Chitra Kalyandurg Uses Career Development Grant to Focus on Arts and Cultural Policy Studies

Graduate Student Chitra Kalyandurg Uses Career Development Grant to Focus on Arts and Cultural Policy Studies

Chitra Kalyandurg worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 11 years before coming to the University of Maryland School of Public Policy as a graduate student. “I was toggling between working in arts administration at cultural organizations and program management at scientific associations,” she says. “I chose to come back to school because I wanted to merge those two ‘brands’ and make an upward transition. My goal is to combine my passion for the arts with my interests in public service and desire to lead an organization.”
Kalyandurg was awarded a 2017-18 Career Development Grant from the American Association of University Women. “These awards are for women who hold a bachelor’s degree and are preparing to advance or change careers or re-enter the workforce,” she says. “The impact the award has had is huge. The financial commitment of full-time graduate study is substantial. Without the award, I would have had to bump down my enrollment to part-time and re-enter the workforce in order to finish up my master’s degree.”
“My interest in policy grew largely out of my role as a program manager for the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science and Technology Policy Fellowships, where I worked before coming to SPP,” Kalyandurg says. “My daily interaction with fellows in various positions in the federal government provided a unique perspective on the federal policymaking process. It is critical for arts and cultural leaders to understand and navigate the complex policy and funding landscape that contributes to the success of their organizations.”
She adds that when deciding where to pursue her graduate education, she chose to attend the UMD School of Public Policy for several reasons. “First, as a native Marylander and long-time resident, coming to a state university made the most financial sense. Second, UMD’s proximity to DC is a great advantage when considering internship and other career development opportunities,” she says. “Third, I was particularly drawn to SPP’s nonprofit management and leadership specialization. The program pairs a foundational policy education with the ability to take courses that will directly apply to my interest in leading a nonprofit organization.”
Since joining SPP, Kalyandurg says she’s enjoyed being able to focus on arts and cultural policy in her classes. “I wrote a financial analysis for my dance company through my nonprofit finance and budgeting class, and I’ll be working with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for my final project course this spring,” she says. “I’ve also been able to take an arts policy course at George Mason University through the University’s consortium program.”
This winter, Kalyandurg will be interning with NEA’s Office of Research and Analysis. “I’ll be working on a few things, including conducting a literature scan related to how arts organizations incorporate digital technologies into their work, assisting with the panel review process for the agency’s Research: Art Works Grant Program, and preparing descriptive statistics on NEA’s grant program for use in public communications and to send to Congress.”