Kaker comes back home in new administrator role
By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – Alex Kaker had quite the journey, living and working in three different states before coming home and becoming Suamico village administrator, a job he hopes to have for some time.
“I think getting out of the state and being in a number of different areas has given me a lot of insight into how to run organizations well and how not to manage organizations,” Kaker said. “I think I’m better for having those experiences and I’ll be able to be a better administrator because I’ve seen different ways of doing things and can take all the good things and bring them here to Suamico.”
Kaker, a Madison-area native, worked in California, Utah and Pennsylvania before returning to the Dairy State.
“I wanted to get back to the state that had Culvers, Jack’s Pizza and Spotted Cow,” he said.
Kaker, 30, completed his undergraduate work at UW-La Crosse in 2011, where he met his future wife, Jenna, a Hilbert, Wisconsin native.
“After I graduated, I had to do an internship as part of my undergraduate degree, and I took an internship in Chico, California, and was working for the Chico Area Recreation District only for a few months,” he said. “From there it’s kind of a funny story, I was dating my future wife at the time and I said to her give me 10 states she would be OK living in, and she gave me nine and I said the game is you give me 10, and she said Utah.”
Kaker and Jenna then moved to South Jordan, Utah, where he worked as a recreation and programs coordinator for the city.
“Since I made her move to Utah, she got to choose where we went for her graduate school, and she picked Philadelphia to go to Temple University,” Kaker said. “So she got her EdS (educational specialist) degree in school psychology at Temple, and we moved there in the summer of 2014.”
While living in Philadelphia, Kaker climbed the ranks of the Upper Gwynedd Township, a township an hour north of the city.
He started as assistant director of parks and recreation and eventually became interim township manager last November.
While there he also received a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in city management from Villanova University.
Then a family was started and it was time to come home.
“Our daughter (Ruby) was born in January of this year, and we are both from the state of Wisconsin and we wanted to get back closer to family,” Kaker said. “Both my parents are born and raised in Sheboygan. I wanted to find a position similar to what I was doing and get closer to family.”
He was formally hired on May 6, and started his job June 10.
With one month under his belt in Suamico, Kaker already likes what he sees.
“So far I’m impressed by our staff,” he said “In Upper Gwynedd, we had 16,000 residents and 58 full-time staff, and here we have about 13,000 residents and only 22 full-time staff, so these guys are doing a lot of work and I think they’re doing a great job of it.”
Because he is so new to the job in Suamico, Kaker said he is still learning the ropes and has no lofty goals, just yet.
“For me, right now, It’s been a lot of listening and learning, meeting a lot of people,” he said. “I plan on being here for a very long time and I’m not putting any pressure on myself making any big decisions at this time. The work I do is going to be dictated by the community and the village board.”
When Kaker isn’t focused on Suamico, he likes to spend time with his family and dog, Major, visiting National Parks and cheering for all sports Wisconsin.
Kaker has seen the Packers on the road three times and caught the Badgers on the road anywhere he could.
“I’m a huge Wisconsin sports fan,” he said. “It was kind of cool living across the country and going to different sporting events in different states and watching my sports teams.”
However, when it comes to Lambeau Field, Kaker has about 30 years before his name gets called for season tickets.
Welcome to greater Green Bay.