Reflections on the 2016 KU Inspiring Women in Public Administration Conference

Comments submitted by Melody Henning, MPA Student

Students & sponsors of student seats at the 2016 KU Inspiring Women at Public Administration conference. Thank you sponsors! (Melody Henning, the author of this blog article, is not pictured.)
© Dan Videtich Photography with full usage granted to University of Kansas

There was an incredible amount of insight shared with the participants of the 2016 KU Inspiring Women in Public Administration Conference that should be shared widely. The speakers and panelists have all achieved high levels of success in their respective positions, and participants were fortunate to have a chance to learn from their experiences. The stories they told were indeed inspiring – from women who were the first females in traditionally male roles of correctional officer, firefighter, insurance commissioner, chancellor, state auditor – to those who lead through research, consulting, city management, and through the voice they give to so many others. These women have paved the way, and through the knowledge they shared, we discover how they do it.

Here are some of my main takeaways from this incredible group of women:

  • Take any advantage you have and make the most of it. – Julia Novak
  • The missing 33% of career advice for women is business, strategic, and financial acumen. In other words, understand the business, where it’s going, and your role in taking it there. – Susan Colantuono’s TedTalk “Career Advice You Probably Didn’t Get”
  • Collaborate, share and ask for women’s input, rather than waiting for them to chime in. Have courageous conversations. Be mentors and role models, and understand the reciprocal benefits of these relationships. Find your voice and elevate it. – Dr. Mary Banwart
  • Find mentors, take risks, and assume authority. When things go wrong, own it. Socialize success, privatize loss. In other words, take the hit for your team and share the joys. – Kathleen Sebelius
  • I’m not what I’ve done – I’m what I’ve overcome. Strategies to develop resiliency: practice self-awareness, seek feedback, know what you believe in and foster the right organizational values, establish and articulate specific goals, embrace calculated risks and rebound with confidence, balance optimism and realism, pay attention to relationships, recognize what is within your control and what is not, think positively, learn and move on, give yourself one affirmation a day, visualize where you want to go, declare and believe in what you want to do, be open to listening to yourself, your family, and those around you. – Patricia Martel
  • Listen. Be a change agent, set the tone, become the expert, take initiative, and be careful on social media. – Betsy Gillespie

This list is in no way an exhaustive list of all the insights that were shared. The most powerful lessons were through the stories these women told – and those who were in the room can count themselves extremely fortunate to have heard them first-hand. A day spent among these remarkable women has left me with a sense of responsibility to use my privilege to continue these conversations, to appreciate the endeavors of those who have come before me, and to keep striving to achieve success not just for myself and my family, but for every woman who serves society but is never privileged enough to find this agency, this voice, and this power.

Reflections from Emerging Leaders Academy Graduate: Angela Harshbarger

Comments Delivered By Angela Harshbarger, Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS
On January 29, 2016

We have made it to graduation. For those completing the class today, we are probably reflecting on the things that we have learned and the fun that we have had along the way. For our guests, you are probably wondering what it is exactly that we have been doing these past few weeks. What if I told you we have been working on becoming one-buttock players? Let me explain.

On our first day of ELA we watched a presentation by Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, titled The Transformative Power of Classical Music. In his presentation, Mr. Zander talks about how part of his job as a conductor is to awaken in others the possibility to love classical music. He compares the process to a child learning to play the piano. At first, the child drives the music by playing each note forcefully and with purpose. With time and practice, the child’s playing progresses and they begin to focus more on the melody, so that now every few notes are played with emphasis. After a couple of years the child is playing almost fluidly with confidence and passion.

So what changed? Remember, in the beginning the child was the driving force behind the music. In time, the child has come to appreciate the experience of playing. He or she is so moved by the music that their body shifts in response until they are now sitting so that they lean to one side, becoming a one-buttock player.

So how does this translate to leadership? For us, the last few weeks have been like learning the piano. In the beginning we were so focused on taking in the information about what good or great leadership looks like, but by the end we were more focused on the actual experience of being a leader. We have become open to new possibilities that leadership brings with it.

Our task is now to awaken those possibilities in others. In order to accomplish this, we spent some time learning about our own strengths, those things that we do that energize us the most. Imagine what we can be inspired to accomplish if we spend more time doing the things we enjoy. And, what if we were to take that same opportunity and apply it to those around us? What would it look and feel like to work with staff that truly wants to be where they are, rather than feels like they have to be? This is just a little bit of what I will take with me from ELA.

Noel Rasor, we are grateful to you and all of those involved in ELA for giving us this opportunity. To our family, friends and guests, thank you for supporting us today and always. To my classmates, our work is not finished. Learning the theory and the principles of leadership was the easy part. It is time to put it into practice.

I would like to finish with a quote by Peter Bergman, from his article “Why So Many Leadership Program Ultimately Fail”: There is a massive difference between what we know about leadership and what we do as leaders. I have never seen a leader fail because he or she didn’t know enough about leadership. In fact, I can’t remember ever meeting a leader who didn’t know enough about leadership. What makes leadership hard isn’t the theoretical, it’s the practical. It’s not just about knowing what to say or do. It’s about whether you’re willing to experience the discomfort, risk, and uncertainty of saying or doing it.”

Thank you.

Garden City Manager finds organization-wide benefits in Kansas CPM program

Matt Allen is City Manager of City of Garden City, Kansas

Matt Allen, City Manager, City of Garden City, Kansas

As City Manager for the City of Garden City, Kansas, Matt Allen has sent 28 employees through the Kansas Certified Public Manager (CPM) program, which is run by the KU Public Management Center (PMC). He has even hired PMC instructors to conduct sessions tailored to his city’s needs.

Although, the CPM program isn’t the only leadership development option that Matt considers for his employees, since sometimes a more traditional industry-specific training is appropriate, CPM is his go-to as an organization-wide training tool.

“CPM is our baseline public service management training that is consistent with our core values and highlights the leadership traits and management skills we expect are present in every management team member,” he said.

Through KU alumni circles, Matt followed the creation and evolution of the CPM program. The high quality of the curriculum and instructors was exactly what he wanted, but at the time, the closest CPM location was Topeka, and sending employees 311 miles away for a class wasn’t a feasible solution.

In 2008, thanks to the vision of Terri Callahan, Kansas CPM Program Director, to bring CPM to the entire state, Garden City found itself as one of three host cities for CPM classes in southwest Kansas, and Garden City’s manager jumped at the opportunity to send his employees through the program.

The first Garden City CPM student was Sam Curran, a department head who wanted to attend, and through him, Matt was able to evaluate the program for the organization’s needs. One benefit they found was that CPM participants interact with public servants from other cities and other agencies, which provides a more robust learning experience.

Curran leading capitol improvement planning

City of Garden City department head Sam Curran leads a citizen-based planning process.

Additionally, students work on a capstone project while in the program. Sam worked on a project to lead a citizen-based Capital Improvement Planning process at the schools and with a community group (pictured here and below).

“We send people we have faith in – to help equip them with either new skills or a deeper understanding of skills they already possess,” Matt said. “This program is something that is easy for our employees to say ‘yes’ to because it increases their marketability as a public service professional.”

While he admits it’s hard to measure the long-term impact of the program on his department or on other organizations that may hire his staff, he recognizes the CPM program’s success among his people in the short-term.

“We have avoided issues related to mismanagement and ethics violations that tend to crop up in local governments and public agencies,” he said. “I don’t know if it is fair to attribute the value of this solely to CPM, but it certainly helps to have trained nearly a tenth of your staff on a common curriculum that emphasizes a public service code of ethics and appropriate personnel management.”

Well aware of KU’s MPA as a viable option, and an MPA graduate himself, Matt still finds value in the CPM, noting that the content of the two programs is similar, and that one of the biggest takeaways for both is the interaction among classmates that develops a lifelong professional network and friendships. Another benefit to both is the interaction with the instructors who become a continuous learning resource throughout a participant’s career.

Matt said, “From an employer’s perspective, when I’m looking at a combination of education and experience and I see that an applicant has a CPM, it means something to me. Coupled with the right experience, I have considered it in lieu of a bachelor’s or master’s degree.”

Curran leading capitol improvement planning

City of Garden City department head Sam Curran leads a citizen-based planning process.

Want to be a part of the 2016 CPM program? Find out more here: CPM 2016. The registration deadline is Friday, December 18.

Reflections from Kansas Certified Public Manager Graduate: Jeff Mooradian


Lt. Mooradian delivers CPM graduation speech

Comments Delivered by Lieutenant Jeff Mooradian, Patrol Bureau Commander/SORT Team Leader, Dodge City Police Department
On November 20, 2015

Good morning family, friends, instructors, and CPM class of 2015. My name is Lieutenant Jeff Mooradian, Patrol Commander for the Dodge City Police Department, and it is my honor to represent the Southwest Kansas CPM class.

CPM class has taught us many things. Over the course of a year we have learned about public service, budget and collaboration, creativity and innovation in the workplace, diversity and building relationships, along with many other interesting topics, but most of all it has taught us about leadership and has helped develop each and every one of us into better leaders, not only in our workplace but also in our communities.

So, I thought to myself, what does a leader mean to me?
For me, a leader is a person of integrity and trust, one who leads by example and is not afraid to get their hands dirty. One of my favorite quotes describes a true leader as “a person you would follow into a place you would never go into alone.” This class has helped us become individuals others would trust to follow.

The CPM class has also given me the opportunity to meet some great people, and I will miss my fellow classmates. We’ve shared many laughs and stories over many great lunch dates.

Overall, CPM has been a great experience. Thank you to my fellow classmates, and a special thank you to Terri and all of our instructors.

In closing, I’d like to say that CPM has shown us the difference between being a “boss” in the workplace and being a “leader” and has taught us the importance of that difference, which is summed up in this quote from H. Gordon Selfridge:

“A boss drives employees
But a leader coaches them.

A boss depends on authority
A leader depends on good will

A boss inspires fear
A leader generates enthusiasm

A boss says, ‘I’ and ‘Me’
A leader says, ‘Us’ and ‘We’

A boss tells you to ‘Go’
But a true leader says, ‘Follow me'”

Today, we are all proud to graduate CPM as leaders.


Want to be a part of the 2016 CPM program? Find out more here: CPM 2016. The registration deadline is Friday, December 18, with an early bird registration deadline of Tuesday, December 1.

Reflections from Kansas Certified Public Manager Graduate: Kelli Bailiff


Lt. Bailiff delivers CPM graduation speech

Comments Delivered by Kelli Bailiff, Lieutenant, Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office
On November 20, 2015

Kelli graduated in May, 2014 from our Law Enforcement Leadership Academy (LELA) Command School. After LELA, she completed extra assignments to earn the Certified Public Manager (CPM) certification. Starting in January, 2016 students of the LELA Command School will simultaneously complete work on their CPM certification.

When we entered the LELA program, we were all excited and prepared to learn more about how we could offer more to our organizations and what we needed to learn to become better leaders and better mentors. But through the LELA and the CPM classes, I realized that the first thing I needed to do was to search within myself and to find out truly who I was, what I wanted, and what I needed to become. It made me take a step backwards and to search within my own being – my heart and soul. I realized in order for me to become a better leader and a mentor, I needed to become a better me.

A wonderful mentor made a comment I cherish, “You will do what you are – so know who and what you are and be comfortable with it.” Thank you, Sheriff Ash.

A leader is far more than a label. Leadership is about taking actions to create sustained and positive transformations within an organization. But we must first align our values and our vision, not only with ourselves but within our ranks and teams. We must prepare and build a productive environment not only for today but for the future. Beth Revis said, “A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others so that they may have the strength to stand on their own.”

During this training, I also learned the true meaning of patience – personally and professionally. Sometimes that means not voicing my opinion until the proper time, if ever at all. We all know that dealing with people requires this patience, but show me a leader with patience and I’ll show you someone whom people will trust.

After I took a hard look at myself and made a list of items I needed to improve, I asked myself what is one word I am taking away from the LELA and CPM programs and what does it mean to me now. I choose the word “Empower.”

The best leaders are masters of making things happen. They create far more energy than they consume and, instead of taking energy from an organization, we must channel and amplify it back to our organization. My goal in becoming a successful leader is to create a compelling vision for our employees to strive for, to communicate our values and mission, and to do my best to get our people excited.

The people you lead may not be the first to follow what you say, but they will be the first to follow what you do. As Ronald Reagan said, “Surround yourself with great people; delegate authority; then get out of the way.”

Thank you for allowing me to express what we have learned during this great adventure.

Want to be a part of the 2016 LELA Command School or the 2016 CPM program? Find out more here:

The registration deadline is Friday, December 18, with an early bird registration deadline of Tuesday, December 1.

What’s your Emerging Leaders Academy (ELA) story?

ELA GraduationWe routinely receive emails from our ELA graduates telling us their exciting news – promotions, new addition(s) to their family, moving to a different state for a better job fit, etc. Here’s just one example:

“Hi Noel, I have a success story for you!

As you may remember from my time in ELA, I was interested in promoting within the police department. I became eligible after five years of service and put in for promotion, with 39 other people. The promotion process includes looking at seniority, education, a written test score, and an interview.

I am third on the list for Sergeant and first on the list for Corporal! I anticipate being promoted to Corporal next month and then I am really hoping a few months later I will be promoted again to Sergeant. Very exciting!

Emerging Leaders Academy was a great help. Not only did it look good on my resume to have this class listed, but I was able to speak it in my interview. I could tell they were impressed that I attended the training, especially one that was six months long. I was able to speak comfortably on many leadership/supervision topics and I attribute some of that to your class.

Thank you! I appreciate your guidance and support.

Six months later, we received this news:

“Hello! I was promoted to Sergeant a couple of months ago! It has gone very well, and I continue to learn every day. I am hoping in the next couple of years that I can attend the Certified Public Manager (CPM) course. I will stay in touch with you guys so I can set that up.”

Did you attend ELA? What’s your story? Have you found a particular piece of ELA to be helpful in your job? Click here to comment

Reflections from Emerging Leaders Academy Graduate: Mark Lopez

Comments Delivered By Mark Lopez, Firefighter/EMT, Shawnee Fire Department
On January 16, 2015

The word “leadership” has always been a fascinating word to me. It seems that if you ask a hundred people what leadership is, you’ll receive a hundred and ten very different answers – of which none are wrong! I’ve long wondered if leadership is truly a born character trait or if it actually CAN BE developed and mastered! I’ve been extremely fortunate in both my military and fire service careers to have the opportunity to observe VERY diverse leadership styles. I’ve always tried to notice which ONE leadership style and which ONE personal attribute tends to be the most effective so that I can emulate “that style” in order to be successful.

The truth is, there wasn’t a single style that I felt would fit every situation, and, more importantly, that wouldn’t require me to put on a guise. To be honest, it was extremely discouraging! How in the world do I learn to be a leader if I can’t “ACT” like a leader?

In the Emerging Leaders Academy, I learned a priceless lesson. Through the various classroom exercises, reading material, videos, presentations, personal reflection, and the insight and perspective from the instructors and speed coaches, I realized, surprise surprise, it’s NOT one single leadership style or one single personality trait that makes a strong and effective leader. By tapping into and embracing what is already inside: compassion, empathy, and trust, and by believing that every single person is capable of greatness – you just have to unleash their potential, that I’ve come to trust in myself as a next generation leader. A leader who will successfully lead men and women through not only the good times, but also, the bad times. And even through the bad times, I’ll lead with absolute confidence and stoicism.

Thank you.



CPM Student Profile: Katie Southworth

We’d like to introduce you to one of the CPM 2014 students: Katie Southworth

Bio: Katie Southworth, Zoo Supervisor for the Ralph Mitchell Zoo in Independence, Kansas, graduated from Friends University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Zoo Science in 2008. That same year she got married in September, moved to Independence, and in December was hired on with the park and zoo. In 2012, Katie was promoted to supervisor. Along with her full time job, she also teaches clarinet lessons at Independence Community College, plays with their band, and plays in the summer community band. She also spends a lot of time involved with activities with he church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

About the CPM Program, in Katie’s words: I was blessed to have a wonderful boss who saw the potential I had to be a great supervisor, and she recommended me for the class. I knew it would only make me better, and I was excited to work on my leadership skills. Going into the class, I was hoping to learn more techniques for teaching and coaching employees through conflicts and how to better deal with discipline issues.

One of my favorite quotes from class came from the book, “Orbiting the Giant Hairball.” It says, “Courage, courage to cross boundaries. And, if we are to grow, explore we must.” The CPM program has helped me to push past my boundaries to become more confident in my professional career, and it has also helped me grow personally.

I would recommend this class to others, since the skills learned will make any supervisor’s job easier; but more importantly, the people you meet and become friends with will the the greatest influences on how you are as a person.

Capstone Project Title: Education Program for the Ralph Mitchell Zoo

Capstone Project Synopsis:
What benefits do you hope to achieve by engaging in this project? Or is your primary purpose personal enrichment or professional skill? The main goal in creating an education program for the Ralph Mitchell Zoo is to provide opportunities to the public to learn more about the animals they love to watch. Our hope for the future education program is that it will bring more people from the surrounding communities to the zoo. We want to add a few programs with the desire that they will be ongoing and self-sustaining with the potential of added revenue for the zoo.

The other side of the education program is to create more educational opportunities for the park and zoo employees. Industry standards and best practices are continually evolving in the field of zoo-keeping and caring for animals. It is imperative that we provide keepers with opportunities to continue their education to maintain the best care possible to the animals in our charge.

Reflections from Kansas Certified Public Manager Graduate: Brent Narges

Comments Delivered by Brent Narges, Deputy Chief of Police, City of Pittsburg Police Department
On November 21, 2014

GOOD MORNING! My name is Brent Narges, and I work with the Pittsburg Police Department. I am very grateful for this opportunity to briefly speak with you this morning.

I first want to thank Terri and all of her CPM staff for their dedicated work throughout this past year, and I also want to issue a thank you to KU for offering this nationally recognized program to public sector professionals of Kansas.

This CPM program has given us the opportunity to grow professionally, and maybe more importantly, we have grown personally during our time spent with our fellow students and instructors. (And let’s not forget our many hours and long tedious nights spent with Blackboard.) Our time spent together in class has certainly given us networking opportunities, and notably, we have developed new and stronger friendships with our classmates and our CPM instructors.

Our small but energetic class of 12 is certainly very proud to be the first CPM class of southeast Kansas. We look forward to encouraging our co-workers to participate in this comprehensive program in the years to come. Throughout our classes and discussions about the many challenges we face daily within our organizations, such as dealing with personnel issues or budgeting shortfalls, we took time to analyze. We came to recognize that regardless of what organization we were from, the challenges we face were very similar in nature. We have been presented with many alternatives, or should I say, more effective methods, for fixing a problem. Doing the “right thing” is not always easy, but it should always be our primary objective.

Again, I want to thank you for this opportunity, not only to speak with you this morning, but more importantly, our class wants to thank all of those individuals that enabled us to attend the CPM program this past year. Thank you!

CPM Student Profile: Brandy Hodge

We’d like to introduce you to one of the CPM 2014 students: Brandy Hodge

Bio: For the past ten years, Brandy Hodge has been employed by Johnson County Kansas government. Currently Brandy is the Volunteer Services Coordinator and Catch-a-Ride Program Manager for the department of Human Services, an agency of Johnson County Government that provides programs and services to residents who are vulnerable because of restricted incomes, issues related to aging, or a disability. Brandy has a Bachelor of Science in Crime and Society with a minor in Sociology from Southwest Missouri State University. As well, Brandy has a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Mid America Nazarene University.

In November of 2014, Brandy completed the Kansas Certified Public Manager® program from Kansas University. Brandy has five years of experience in supervising employees and volunteers. She has a strong passion for people and service working with diverse populations. Brandy serves as the Executive Chair of the Young NonProfit Professionals Network of Kansas City (YNPNkc), which is a volunteer board that consists of young professionals working in the non-profit sector. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, volunteering, and quality time with her fur babies (pets).

About the CPM Program, in Brandy’s words: I signed up for the Certified Public Manager Program to further advance my education, skills, and networking capacity in the public sector. I was recommended to attend the program by a previous supervisor who saw great value in the program and knew that the program would be beneficial in my career growth. My intent in completing the program included learning additional tools to be a better manager and leader.

Through CPM I took an honest, raw look at my weaknesses or areas to improve upon. Although it was unexpected, I now have a new focus moving forward in my professional growth to strengthen those skills. For me, I am very strong on the people side (building relationships, communication) but could strengthen my financial skills. I will be looking at additional classes to make myself a better-rounded manager.

I would highly recommend this program to EVERY manager who wants to continue to grow in their career. The CPM program is priceless. I have completed my MBA this year as well, which was an amazing accomplishment, but the CPM program brought together full circle the educational component with the real life examples of how the principles and concepts apply in the workplace. The people I have met, the stories we have shared, and the lessons we have learned are well worth any monetary value, since you cannot put a price on your professional growth. I am so blessed to be a part of the CPM family.

Capstone Project Title: Cultivating Volunteer Engagement

Capstone Project Synopsis:
Problem Statement: Johnson County Human Services seeks to cultivate volunteer engagement by increasing efficiency in the office, enhancing communication with volunteers, and serving more clients by growing the existing volunteer program.
Desired Outcome Statement: Johnson County Human Services will survey volunteers, research new volunteer software databases, and speak with other volunteer organizations to examine different options in meeting the desired goal.