Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, April 4, 2019

Polk County picks 2005 alumnus as administrator

Nick Osborne Nick Osborne

Nick Osborne (MPA ’05) began his duties as Polk County’s chief administrative officer (county administrator) in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin, on February 25. Previously, he served as assistant to the county administrator in Rock County, Wisconsin, for eight years.

Polk County, in northwestern Wisconsin, has 437 full-time equivalent employees and a budget of approximately $55 million. Osborne reports to a 15-member County Board that is elected by the county’s voters. Read more in this Amery Free Press article

During his final year at the La Follette School, Osborne followed the advice of Emeritus Professor Dennis Dresang and found a management trainee program in Miami-Dade County, Florida. “Interestingly enough, a line from Emeritus Professor Melanie Manion’s graduation speech got me the job: ‘As a graduate of La Follette, you have a responsibility to do well, but also to do good’,” he said.

Osborne had several notable experiences during his 5½ years in Florida, including his time as special projects administrator and grants bureau manager for Miami-Dade’s Fire Rescue Department. He worked in a hurricane shelter as the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over the location, helped develop the budget for the largest county government in the southeastern United States, and worked in the county’s Elections Department a few short years after the ‘hanging chad’ debacle.

IN 2011, Osborne returned to his home state of Wisconsin. “My eight-year experience in Rock County served as a training ground in management, culminating in stints as acting county administrator and as interim child support director,” he said.

Osborne, an avid curler and bicyclist, has a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration from the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse.