10 Questions With SPA Executive Director Jaime Kraky
Between events like LateNight and April Comedy Month, the Student Programming Association (SPA) brings guest speakers and performers to campus nearly every week. We caught up with new SPA Executive Director Jaime Kraky to see what it’s like to control more than $1 Million of the student activities fee.
Onward State: How did you first get involved with SPA?
Jamie Kraky: I first knew I wanted to get involved with SPA after seeing some of the shows they were putting on my first semester at Penn State. I remember going to the Chiddy Bang concert and thinking how cool it would be to have a part in planning and working these events. When I finally went to work my first show a few weeks later, Echosmith, all the members treated me like we were already were best friends, and it wasn’t long until we truly were.
OS: Why did you decide to run for SPA Executive Director?
JK: My decision to run for Executive Director was not easy; believe me when I say SPA is full of so many capable leaders that running for such an important role was an intimidating decision to make. I love this organization, I love what we do, and most importantly I love the fantastic and unique individuals that create these events for all of Penn State to enjoy. I really just wanted to have a role on the team where I could help everyone and be an outlet that everyone can reach out to for support.
OS: What are your responsibilities in this position?
JK: As Executive Director, my main responsibility is helping all of my fellow leaders and members wherever I can, however I can. Though I will have a fair bit of administrative tasks to complete as well, I am first and foremost charged with supporting my team. Additionally, in this role I will act as a liaison for SPA with the rest of the University and other student organizations.
OS How have you been involved with SPA in the past?
JK: In the past I have been a part of nearly all of SPA’s many committees and facets. I started out going to Entertainment and LateNight meetings because I wanted to have a hand in planning some of the bigger shows, but I quickly fell in love with the Noontime Concert Series as well, which works to bring lesser known but crazy talented acts to the HUB every Friday. I’ve also been apart of the Hospitality Committee, which works mostly on the day of the show to welcome acts to Penn State by fulfilling their riders and preparing their green rooms.
OS: What advice would you give to someone thinking about getting involved with SPA?
JK: You have to try it out! I guarantee you somewhere in this organization is your next best friend, your favorite Penn State memory, and the opportunity to let your voice be heard while developing skill sets you didn’t even know you were capable of. Whether you want the chance to develop marketing strategies for university-wide events or just want to share your opinion about the different bands and the speakers SPA could potentially bring, there is absolutely a home for everyone in SPA.
OS: How does SPA choose programs to bring to Penn State?
JK: Deciding what events to program, and who to bring, is truly in the hands of the students and leaders of SPA who dedicate themselves to the organization. There are weekly programming meetings for each committee to brainstorm and discuss what acts best fit the diverse interests of Penn State students. With great consideration to budgetary restraints (yes Beyoncé is out of the picture — sorry) they do everything they can to program events that all of Penn State will love.
OS: What does SPA do during the summer to prepare for the year ahead?
JK: Over the summer our LateNight Programming continues with for those around for the summer sessions while our other programming chairs all work very hard to collaborate with members through email surveys and polls to get feedback about the first few shows of the semester. For example, the Entertainment Committee is in charge of booking an act for the Block Party event, which happens within the first week of classes outside the HUB on Pollock Road.
OS: Who is your favorite guest that SPA has brought to Penn State during your time here?
JK: I would have to say Matt and Kim were my favorite show to work on so far. The two of them have so much energy and enthusiasm that it is impossible not to sing and dance your face off while they’re on stage. I have a feeling they may see some competition for the top spot with a couple acts we have coming up in April like the hilarious John Mulaney and the amazing Abby Wambach, both of whom will be at Penn State in a matter of weeks.
OS: What changes or improvements do you hope to implement in SPA this year?
JK: Next year I think we all want to see more diversity in the acts we bring and hope to better connect with the student body to more greatly distinguish what SPA is, as well as the events we program. It is such a hard task to please all the students and reach out to all the different interests of such a large student body. However, we have an incredible creative team of members, and a passionate Administrative Committee in place to help steer their determination towards making this organization the best it can be.
OS: If you could be any dinosaur, which would you be and why?
JK: I am going to go with a Saurolophus because, according to Google, that is what kind of adorable dinosaur Ducky was from The Land Before Time. She is for sure my favorite dinosaur character because she is just such a good friend to Little Foot. Also, Saurolophus apparently travel in herds and eat plants all day, and I also like to hang out with my friends and eat food.