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photo of Kim GomesKim Gomes

Dances with People

For Kim (Bodine) Gomes ’04MPA, gravitating to a position that deals with people was just natural.  Gomes is Vice President of The Byrd Group LLC, a lobbying company in Wilmington, Del.  Each day her work as a contract lobbyist draws on her well of experience as a people person.

“What I do is very socially based. While I do spend time on research projects, I am generally talking to people all the time,” Gomes says. “I talk on the phone, I talk face to face, and I communicate electronically.”

When she was a second-year college student, she started teaching fitness classes. She also started ballroom dancing and then went on to teach community ballroom-dance lessons for ten years. The common thread of her work and community-service experience is the people. 

“In almost everything I have done prior to lobbying I have been in front of people,” Gomes says. “All kinds of people take fitness classes and all kinds of people take ballroom dance classes. The constant challenge for me as an instructor was to figure out how to teach any type of student what I wanted them to learn. Lobbying is really not much different. I spend lots of time figuring out to how to deliver my message the most effective way possible for whomever I am talking to.”

I have been able to transfer the ‘people’ skills I gained at UD to my current position.”

But it’s not all talk. Prior to getting her Master of Public Administration degree, Gomes held a temporary position with a brokerage firm in New York City.  She was involved in trade confirmations for the international trading desk.  Again, this position required her to deal directly and constantly with all kinds of people while gaining specific knowledge of the industry.

“The business background I was able to pick up from the brokerage firm has been helpful for our more business-oriented clients,” Gomes says. “Having some background knowledge of the industry makes it easier to more completely understand their issues.”

Gomes relishes her job.  When asked what excites her about being a lobbyist, she was quick to reply, “Everything! Each day brings new challenges, and I love the strategy of working an issue.”

When the legislature is in session and working in Dover, Gomes is working in Dover.  Working on a client issue requires her to be present both at House and Senate committee hearings as well as House and Senate floor debates. There are some administrative initiatives that allow her to deal directly with the administration. For these issues, it is common to pull all interested parties together to work through an issue and come out with a bill everyone can live with.  “Most importantly,” she says, “I am the eyes and ears for the clients I represent. I do my best to make sure their interests are heard and protected in Dover.”

Part of the challenge for Gomes is getting her clients to come to grips with the playing field and guiding them through the often-murky waters of politics.

“Trying to explain the intricacies of politics to clients and how it may effect their issue sometimes takes true creativity,” Gomes insists. “The other unique challenge about my job is navigating the various personalities. Often I have to weigh a client issue against where a legislator or administrator may stand on an issue and figure out how to best get the job done.”

In reflecting on her academic preparation at UD, Gomes says, “The MPA program gave me a great foundation of knowledge in the public sector. Working with Dr. [Maria] Aristigueta was wonderful.  She gave me great projects and then the license as a grad student to get the work done. She was a mentor without being a micro-manager and allowed for open dialogue between us to strategize on steps forward. My experience as her graduate assistant has served me well in my current position.”

Gomes adds, “Another great experience was the time I spent at an internship with the Delaware Economic Development Office.  I worked to establish a nonprofit organization based on craft artisans in Delaware. Today this organization, one of the six initiatives identified for significant economic growth in Delaware by the Governor’s Strategic Economic Council, is called Delaware by Hand and has over 100 members.

“The most important thing I learned from my time at the Institute for Public Administration,” Gomes concludes, “is that there truly are no limits to thinking about what you may want to do with your career!” 

Lobbying was not even on her radar screen when she entered the program, “but it sounded like fun, so I went for it,” Gomes says. “The folks at IPA did nothing but encourage me to do whatever it was I wanted.”

The former Kim Bodine is married to Ron Gomes. Ron spends his time working on research projects for the Penn State College of Medicine in its Department of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science. They have two very high-energy, fun-loving little girls, Gabrielle (3 years) and Sophia (10 months).

What’s next for Gomes? She says she’s content with the way things are and that she’ll take each day as it comes. That’s a pretty good philosophy regardless of one’s career path. 

But you can be sure she’ll always be in a job in which she can interact with the public.  She’s proven she’s great at it.

photo courtesy of The Byrd Group LLC

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