Inspired by the success of our Kruse Scholar blog series, Communities of Excellence 2026 reached out to some of our past Kruse Scholars to learn more about their current careers, their interests and how the Communities of Excellence Scholarship influenced their chosen career paths.
I recently spoke with Natasha Wright, MA, MPH, a Class of 2013 graduate of the University of Minnesota Master’s in Public Health Program and one of our first Kruse Scholars. You can read more about Natasha on her Kruse Scholar Web Page at http://www.communitiesofexcellence2026.org/natasha-marie-wright/
Why did you want to be a Kruse Communities of Excellence Scholar?
I wanted to be a Kruse Scholar because I believe in the effectiveness and sustainability of cross-sector collaboration. Everything is so interconnected that it only makes sense for key sectors in the community to work together to achieve the highest quality of life for their people. The model of sectors working in isolation is outdated and does not produce results. As Albert Einstein said, insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. The Communities of Excellence Initiative provides a different path forward to produce superior outcomes.
What are you most passionate about in your community?
It is essential to give people a means by which to provide for themselves and be contributing members of society. I am passionate about helping people who are unemployed or underemployed to secure employment or better employment. Currently, I’m working with an organization that gives such individuals the tools to find jobs. I have the chance to share the professionalism that I learned in my higher education programs about how to dress, how to write resumes, cover letters, and thank you letters; how to conduct information interviews, etc. The trainees that I work with are highly motivated and want to learn. It is amazing to see their confidence build and how happy they are to be equipped with skills that many of us take for granted. Before writing people off as lazy or incapable, give them a helping hand. More often than not, you will be humbled and amazed.
How do you plan to contribute to spreading “communities of excellence” across our country now and in the future?
I talk about the Communities of Excellence 2026 initiative to almost anyone who would listen, but I want to play a more active role in disseminating it across the country. I want to learn as much as possible about the experience implementing the communities of excellence framework in the three current pilot communities to understand what works best and how the framework can be improved and adapted to different communities. Having this understanding, along with Baldrige training would allow me to actively participate in spreading the performance excellence approach to additional communities seeking to improve the health and well-being of their people. Perhaps one day, the Communities of Excellence 2026 team can call on me to help with skill-building and providing resources to communities that are ready to apply the framework.
Continue following our Blog Series: Kruse Scholar Perspectives each week to learn about past and current students and their inspiring work.
*Learn more about Natasha Marie Wright here: Natasha Marie Wright