Kate Garman

Law Student Kate Garman is a ‘Civic Nerd’ and Comedian

Juris Doctorate Candidate | School of Law
Graduation Year: 2016

Where is UMKC taking you?

UMKC is taking me to the Kansas City Mayor’s Office. I am the new innovation analyst. I review city ordinances, approve processes from the past and draft new ones for the future, including Smart City Rollout and Uber, among others. I am a civic nerd — I geek out about policy for days.

Why did you choose UMKC?

I am from Kansas City, and I wanted to attend an urban university and work with urban policy, for opportunities like the one I just received in the mayor’s office. I worked in government affairs at Black & Veatch, and I knew that if I wanted to make a difference, I needed to go back to school.

“The (School of Law) engages with numerous stakeholders: city government, start-up businesses and those in need of legal services who may not be able to afford it, just to name a few. The feeling of community and engagement is incredibly inspiring.”

How has your college program inspired you?

Walking into law school, I knew that I wanted to work with urban policy. But I had no idea just how active UMKC School of Law is within the Kansas City community. The school engages with numerous stakeholders: city government, start-up businesses and those in need of legal services who may not be able to afford it, just to name a few. The feeling of community and engagement is incredibly inspiring.

Why did you choose the degree you’re pursuing?

I had previously worked in the law department at Black & Veatch, and at City Hall, I work with neighborhoods where policies can directly affect the area. And that would make an immediate difference.

What motto do you live by?

Years ago, I saw a trucking ad, and it has stuck with me: Live Big.

Who do you admire most at UMKC?

This is an easy one: Dean Ellen Suni. Dean Suni is a fearless leader who will stand for nothing but the best and continues to challenge the status quo for the better. She is dedicated to UMKC, working endlessly on making the law school as innovative as possible. Not to mention, I’m not sure how she finds the time to teach and be so attentive towards students. She is a forward thinker, and an asset to the entire university. Dean Suni is truly a professional role model and I am lucky to work with her as often as I do.

What’s your favorite place at UMKC?

That would be the third-floor library at the School of Law. It is super quiet, and that is the most productive place for me.

What’s the best advice you’ve received from a professor?

The advice I’ve received from Professor Tony Luppino cannot be described as just a “piece,” rather it’s a whole cake’s worth, if you will, of lessons and advice that have helped me get to where I am today. Aside from his constant fear that we are all actually living in the matrix, his attention to detail and his passion for social entrepreneurship and access to justice are contagious and have shaped my career.

For example, he has developed tools for people who are creating their own businesses and are unable to navigate the legal maps. Those tools make the law approachable.

On the subject of tools that make law more approachable, tell us about the UMKC course collaboration with MIT.

I went to Boston and met their engineers. We talked about engineer things and law things. We presented our findings in Boston and Kansas City about how developers can move dirt. If we could figure out how to make it easier to move dirt, we could write policy to make it easier to get permits.

What are your hobbies?

I like to run and play the piano. I am a stand-up comic and host comedy shows. My comedy style has been compared to Ellen DeGeneres.

Do you belong to any organizations? What gets you excited about them?

I am past chair of the board of the Pages & Chapters, a nonprofit organization that promotes literacy among urban families and students kindergarten through 5th grade. I am still active, but no longer the chair.

Besides UMKC, what’s your favorite place to hang out in Kansas City?

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art where I can run, and wine at Harry’s.

What is one word that best describes you?

Hermione. I attended the American Bar Association conference on behalf of UMKC. Someone there called me the Hermione Granger (of Harry Potter books) of the ABA because I got a group of people to rebel from what we were supposed to do, and do something even nerdier — a presentation on the Supreme Court’s latest term.