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How I Got Into Student Housing: Kelly Podach Francis

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How I Got Into Student Housing – with Kelly Podach Francis

When a residence hall comes in under budget, that money can be invested in the building itself. But how do you make decisions around what improvements to prioritize? Kelly Podach Francis designs an action plan based on student feedback, and she contends that this approach leads directly to student retention.

Kelly is the Director of Facilities and Operations for Rountree Commons at the University of Wisconsin—Platteville. In this role, she manages the day-to-day operations of the privately-owned residence hall, supervising the professional staff and monitoring the finances of the building. Prior to her work with COCM, Kelly served as Hall Director at UW—Stout for eight years.

Today, Kelly joins me to share her first experience in student housing as an Academic Resource Coordinator and explain why she was inspired to support other students in the transition to college. I ask her when she realized she could pursue student housing as a career, and she discusses the positions she held as an undergrad that led to her AHA moment at ACUHO-I. Kelly addresses the transition from working for a university system to COCM, offering insight around her responsibilities as Director of Facilities and the challenges of managing the finances of a residence hall. Listen in to understand how Kelly designs an action plan based on student feedback and learn why it’s important to make friends with the campus locksmith, fire inspector and parking staff!

Topics Covered

  • Kelly’s early experience as an Academic Resource Coordinator
  • How Kelly’s parents influenced her decision to become an ARC
  • The difficult transition to college for a first-generation student
  • How ACUHO-I inspired Kelly to pursue student housing as a career
  • The student housing positions Kelly held as an undergrad
  • Kelly’s years of experience as a Hall Coordinator and Director
  • Kelly’s transition from the university system to COCM
  • How Kelly developed an interest in facilities management
  • Kelly’s responsibilities as Director of Facilities at UW-Platteville
  • Why Kelly enjoys the financial piece of her role
  • The rewards of coming in under budget
  • How Kelly develops an action plan based on student feedback
  • How Kelly’s team has grown and developed a rhythm
  • The lessons Kelly has learned around deciding what to prioritize
  • Kelly’s advice on building relationships with key people on campus

Connect with Kelly

Connect with Leigh Anne


Leigh Anne is the Director of Creative and Brand Marketing at COCM. In her role, she supports the development and implementation of the annual corporate marketing plan. She is responsible for overall brand strategy, content marketing, social media, video production, COCM’s website, marketing materials design and production, as well as serving as our liaison for COCM's sponsorships.