PSD Spotlight: Krissy Dulek

June 5, 2024

Krissy Dulek

Krissy Dulek, a Senior Grants & Contracts Administrator in the Physical Sciences Division at the Local Business Center, was born and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago. Before joining the University two years ago, she was the Director of Corporate Foundation and Government Grants at Benedictine University, where she led grant administration at the University level for five years. Before that, Krissy was the Director of Grant Operations in the Department of Surgery at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, where she spent about eight years leading research administration at the department level. We interviewed Krissy about her interests and experiences.

People can come to me for…

ANYTHING! Specifically, nonprofit finance or grant and contract administration: I’ve been doing it for almost two decades now, so I’ve seen a lot. That said, I am happy to help with just about anything, and if I can’t help, I’ll work to find someone who can.

Non-technical: solutions and positive perspective. I try to keep an optimistic outlook and find solutions to even the most challenging problems.

Non-work: animals! I spend most of my free time (and paychecks) caring for and rehabilitating animals.

What do you enjoy about being a part of the PSD community?

The people! I am honored to work with world-renowned faculty who are also amazing individuals. The research, innovation, and collaboration I have seen are awe-inspiring. In addition, I couldn’t ask for more amazing colleagues; they are always going the extra mile to help and support one another, with a vision towards the greater good. I am so fortunate to work on a team of wonderful people.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a passionate advocate for animal and human rights and equality and am extremely intolerant of intolerance. I live life to the fullest and always lead with love in all that I do. I try to find the good in all people and situations because I believe that we are all good at our core, that everything happens for a reason, and what is meant to be will be. I am a nature-loving, vegetarian, health-nut, cancer survivor (almost five years cancer-free!) obsessed with running and training for triathlons. This year will be my third triathlon, three years in a row. I am an avid reader and learner, and I am very interested in learning about all religions and cultures.

Inspired by Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights, I am currently composing my own Journal of Joy as a daily discipline intended as a focus/study on the joy and love in life. Told from the perspective of a woman in a same-sex marriage (married to her high school best friend), who rose up to leadership roles within male-dominated departments and was diagnosed with lymphoma at 36 years old, this project’s purpose is to direct gratitude for all the beauty that surrounds us in spite of (or sometimes maybe because of) one’s own trials, tribulations, and internal conflicts—a project that has been melodious to my spirit.

Who inspires you?

God, my wife, my sister, Patanjali, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Henry David Thoreau.

Who had the most influence on you growing up?

My amazing mom!

What three words best describe you?

I hate answering these kinds of questions about myself, so I asked my wife of 10 years (partner of 21 years), and she said, “compassionate, honest, determined.” I would say “blessed.”

1 cat and 4 dogs poolside
(Clockwise from bottom left): Petunia, Rosabella, Peanut, Tia Maria, and Butternut

Do you have pets, and if so, what are their names?

Yes! We rescue and rehabilitate as many of the neediest animals as we are able. It is a labor of love. We currently have 6 fur babies (4 dogs and 2 cats), and they are our loves!

Petunia (schnauzer-chi mix) is our pack leader and rehabilitation partner—she’s the only one we adopted as a puppy. Tia Maria is our 13-year-old blind chihuahua. We were blessed with her presence in 2020 when she was found abandoned at a rest stop. Poor girl has had three eye surgeries since we’ve had her, and now she’s as sassy as can be. Rosabella is our timid chi-mix who was rescued from a hoarding house with over 65 dogs; she came to us three years ago, and it’s so great to see she’s finally coming out of her shell. Peanut is our Beagle mix who was abandoned in a home for over a month after her owner passed away and now has severe attachment and abandonment issues.

Butternut is our beautiful grey and white cat who was found pregnant on the streets; she had been shot with a BB gun and still has nine BBs lodged in her body. Finally, Tango—our most recent addition, just a couple of weeks ago. Tango is a 9-year-old Tabby who experienced a double loss: her owner of 9 years passed away, so she and her cat sister were moved to a shelter, and shortly after her cat sister too passed away. She went into a severe depression and wasn’t doing well in the shelter. We took her in and found that she had been starving herself and was diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis two days after we adopted her. We are now tube-feeding her until she is able to start eating on her own again. 

What is your favorite restaurant in Chicago?

Noodles In the Pot on Halsted.

Krissy Dulek with wife
Krissy (right) with wife, Melissa, on a sunset cruise in Positano, Italy

What hobby do you spend the most time on?

Spending time with my wife, fur babies and family, running, biking, swimming (I train for at least one triathlon every year), kayaking, studying and practicing yoga, reading, journaling, hiking, and traveling with my beautiful wife.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Or, what do you want to do when you retire?

I was the first person in my immediate and extended family to attend college, so I spent a lot of time talking with counselors and financial aid. I originally wanted to go to medical school, but when I got into the sciences, I realized how much I loved research. I started off my career in the lab doing gene expression analysis on pediatric brain tumors, and I probably would have stayed there forever. How does anyone ever walk away from a job like that? However, the lab was shut down less than two years after I started due to funding misappropriation at the faculty leadership level, and it was heartbreaking. I couldn’t believe how someone could take from kids with cancer. I never wanted to see something like that happen again, so I became very interested in the business and finance side of research management, and I haven’t turned back since.

When I retire, my wife and I would love to have a small house on the beach somewhere and spend our time doing charity work and rescuing and rehabilitating more animals.

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