Author: KU PMC

Kansas Certified Public Management Center – 2016 graduation commencement speech from Director Laura Howard

Comments Delivered by Public Management Center Director, Laura Howard.

Director Laura Howard speaking to the graduates

Director Laura Howard speaking to the 2016 Certified Public Manager program graduates.

On December 2, 2016

Good morning. My name is Laura Howard and I direct the University of Kansas Public Management Center. I would like to welcome you on behalf of the KU Public Management Center, the School of Public Affairs and Administration and the University of Kansas to this Graduation Ceremony for the 2016 Kansas Certified Public Manager Program.  We have the opportunity today to honor 77 Public Servants who have earned the credential of Certified Public Manager.   These graduates join a group of almost 40,000 across the nation and 1,700 in the State of Kansas who have earned this elite designation.

The Certified Public Manager Designation is a nationally accredited management development program targeted towards individuals in local, state, federal and tribal government, as well as other organizations that serve a public purpose.  We are privileged at the KU Public Management Center to be the organization that sponsors and operates the accredited program within the State of Kansas.  Today’s graduates have earned this credential by completing more than 300 contact hours in seven key management competency areas over this last year.   In addition to classroom time, these graduates have completed a number of competency-based assignments resulting in an e-portfolio that demonstrates the skills they have learned throughout this past year.  Each student has also developed a capstone project that directly benefits the graduate’s agency through improved processes, efficiencies, improved outcomes or an innovative approach to an agency need.

Like the graduates before them, members of this class share a belief and commitment in service to others and a belief and commitment in the common good.  They truly exemplify the values of the National CPM Consortium – Connect, Engage and Lead.   These graduates are leading the way in public management.   Please join me in applauding today’s graduates for their hard work and accomplishment.

We also have with us some past CPM graduates.  If you are one of the 1600 graduates who have come before this class, please stand and be recognized.

The Public Management Center does not do this work alone.   We have some wonderful partners who are here today.   I would also like to thank our formal CPM partners – the Kansas Association of Counties, the League of Kansas Municipalities, the Mid-America Regional Council as well as the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center.  Thank you for your ongoing commitment to good public management, your efforts in marketing and outreach and all that you do to help make the Kansas CPM program one of the best in the nation.

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

ELA Graduate Angela Harshbarger

During the graduation ceremony, Angela Harshbarger shares what she gained by participating in the Emerging Leaders Academy.
©2016 University of Kansas (source: Marcom)

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: Shawn Kirkwood

Good afternoon. Friends, colleagues, Kansas University PMC staff members and instructors, and most importantly, my fellow distinguished ELA 2015 graduates. It’s truly an honor to speak on behalf of the Overland Park, Emerging Leader’s constituency.

My experience with ELA this year has been awesome. From the first day of class on March 4th, I could sense that this learning experience would be different than any I had been involved in.  How did I know you might ask?  Well, for those of us in Overland Park, you might remember, the impromptu blizzard that greeted us that none of our local news stations predicted.  In my opinion, that was a sure-fire indicator that this learning experience would be an interesting ride. And an interesting, engaging, empowering experience it has been.

I don’t think I would be out of place in stating that if the Overland Park ELA participants represent the prosperity or demise of the public sector, the future of our respective governmental agencies couldn’t be brighter.

Before I move on, I would like for us to all to take the time to acknowledge and give a big round of applause to our fearless, empowering, thought-provoking, Linked-In invitation accepting, red headed, left-handed, encouragement guru, the Emerging Leaders Academy Director, Noel Rasor.  Noel has kept our classes interesting by pushing us to not only think or re-think about our current roles in government, but via the various sessions and interactive activities, like “Generations in the Workplace” and Laura Howard’s session “The Future of the Public Sector” we have been equipped with tools that allowed us to take a glimpse into our upcoming roles as government leaders, and innovators.

Personally, I enjoyed the sessions that made us explore ourselves as individuals and then took us below the surface in defining who, why and what we are in our roles as public servants. Two of our TED talks were quite impactful. First, Karen Tilstra’s, Yes, And, taught me that every ideal, good or bad idea deserves at least 1 minute of our time.  And Benjamin Zanders, “Shining Eyes” not only taught me how to listen to classical music but it cemented in me that most every ideal or request we receive as public officials is of the upmost importance to the person making the suggestion.

Ms. Terri Callahan’s session, “The Power of Attitude” had a tremendous impact on me, as she empowered us to check our personal attitudes at the door, remembering that as public servants, we should always display servanthood in what we do.  I want to thank our speed mentors, who took the time out of their busy lives to share with us.  Marilu, Gordon, Crystal, Leslie, Dave, Scott, and Patty were awesome.  I got the chance to sit with 3 of them and in that brief time I took away a nugget of wisdom from each of them.  Patty, I now have the words, “Be Nice” posted on my computer at work.   Crystal made reference to a brilliant quote “Straight roads don’t always create the best drivers”, what I got from that is,  no matter how we got here, we are here,  and we can and must make a positive impact.  Mr. Gordon Criswell, I learned a lot in our 10 -20 minutes together, but the one thing I took away was something he probably wasn’t trying to teach.  When in a small group of people, if you talk in a very low, deliberate, controlled pitch, you sound very wise and your audience to lean in and listen.

I would be remise if I didn’t mention how much, I believe, we as a group learned from each other. As I mentioned before, our Overland Park group was great and contained many awesome individuals.  From, the great attitudes/positive energy displayed by folks such as Angelene, Vince, Mike and Heather, to the restroom break sidebar insightful discussions I had with Calvin.  I learned tons of things about the public sector that I otherwise wouldn’t have known. Joe made me realize the importance of GIS work , while Jessica, as meticulous, nice, neat and perfectly aligned as she kept her classroom materials, it’s only fitting that folks like her and Jaime are in the planning business.  My City of Kansas City departmental co-worker Chad forced me to see the value the millennial generation adds to the public sector.  If I’m ever involved in a plane crash in the Pacific Northwest and all I have is some matches, bubble gum and a can of Crisco grease, I want William by my side.   Diane, our future politician was always encouraging, and often times made me want to switch tables as she found and shared, (with her table only) the most delicious after lunch deserts known to man.  Good luck in all your future endeavors.  Beatriz Way the David to my Goliath, size wise, was a person who I found I had the most in common with. We both share a love for documentaries, more than a few Strength Finder characteristics, and a passion for wanting to help our nation’s children and elderly population. Last but not least, Ms. Jess Finely.  Early on in ELA, she shared with me that she will be married soon and plans to honeymoon in Jamaica, at a similar resort as I did when I was married. Jess, a few words of wisdom, similar to the  Las Vegas catch phrase, what happens in Jamaica…………..takes about 6 weeks to get out your system…… plan accordingly.

In closing, ELA has been a rewarding experience and I am thankful for the professional and personal relationships I have gained. Noel, if there is ever anything I can do to assist you in making sure future ELA participants are given the same opportunities,  please don’t hesitate to call.

Thank you.

Reflections from Emerging Leaders Academy Graduate: Brittany Keegan

Brittany Keegan ELA Graduate 2015 Curator/Collections Manager Watkins Museum of History

Brittany Keegan
ELA Graduate 2015
Curator/Collections Manager
Watkins Museum of History

The Emerging Leadership Academy can be summed up for me in two words: strengths and collaboration.

We learned that to be successful we should focus on the skills that challenge and engage us. That, I think, is the key to the ELA’s success: we learned to develop strengths we already have. In doing so we learned about the strengths and skills of the people around us. This was never clearer to me than in the discussion of our Strengths Finder test. The importance of the assessment was not that it pinpointed our motivating factors, but that we saw how those factors have played out in our past achievements.

Learning my own motivational drives fostered a curiosity about the people in my life: what drives them? What different skills do we each bring to the table? In short, I became conscious of what steps to take to create positive partnerships and leadership.

In ELA, collaboration is the cornerstone for success. Many of us work for organizations that rely on outside partnerships. Working in the public sector means that many projects cannot be achieved without partnerships. Meanwhile, our daily work is a series of collaborations with co-workers, employers, and clients to succeed in a shared goal.

The discussion of collaboration was my favorite class moment. To learn about collaboration, we were divided into groups based on similar collaboration styles and asked to decide how we would survive a very specific disaster scenario. We engaged the problem as a group, we had fun, and we found a solution we all were happy with. It served to remind me that we are rarely the only person responsible for our projects or achievements. Sharing the work with equally motivated people creates a better work environment.

In the same class we learned that people will more than likely sit in a building that may be on fire just because others refuse to leave the building. While it seems ridiculous, learning that was an important reminder that we collaborate best when we bring our individual thoughts and experiences to the table. It is tempting at times to just agree with the group, but collaborations succeed when we each engage at our highest levels. But seriously, if you’re in a room that suddenly fills with smoke: just leave no matter what other people are doing.

I look forward to whatever collaborations come from within this group. Everyone involved in ELA has great minds, great senses of humor, and, as the portfolio presentations proved, great accomplishments. Knowing each other, Noel, and the ELA’s guest speakers, I’m sure these collaborations will create long-lasting positive impacts on our communities.

Emerging Leaders Academy Graduation Speech: Mike Rounds

Celebrate: congratulate – give yourself a hand, you deserve it.

Honor: Thank you for having me today – I have heard a lot about the Emerging Leaders Academy and it is an honor to be able to share in your graduation ceremony today. One of my team mates in the KU HR Department is a graduate of ELA and I asked her what advice she had to prepare for my discussion with you today. As I expected, she provided some terrific suggestions. First she emphasized to be mindful of the diversity of the participants who come from a broad range of organizations across the greater Kansas City area (and not just KU). When I was reviewing the list of graduates, I was very impressed by the number of organizations represented and I am confident that the opportunity to share insights on the culture and strengths of each of your organizations has been an important part of your program. The network that you have established will also serve you well in the future.

She also recommended that I point out that, while attendance in ELA is an amazing opportunity, it is only one step in your personal and professional development responsibility that comes with a lifetime of public service. I have worked in the public sector for over 35 years and about 25% of that time I have been involved at some level in part or full time professional development. While all of us are extremely busy, I hope that you are already thinking about what you need to do next to continue to grow. One thing that is certain, and something I am sure that you have discussed during the program, is change – as the world has changed around me, I have felt compelled to evolve with it. I have been fortunate that I have always worked for organizations and leaders who place a high value on professional development and, the fact that you are here, is evidence that your organizations do as well.

Most important, Traci thought it would be useful to share a couple thoughts on leadership with you. I have spent my adult life studying and practicing leadership. Before I share my thoughts on leadership principles, I have come to 2 conclusions. First, while leadership principles are generally relatively straight forward, the practice or implementation of those principles is the most complex activity most of us will ever be involved in. As I mentioned, our environment is always changing and we have to be agile enough to take the principles we believe in and shape them to the situation in front of us. Now that I am working in the HR sector, we joke sometimes that our jobs would be simple if they didn’t involve people – but committing to life in the public sector is all about serving people and the complexities that go with that service. Second, growing my own leadership skills has been a journey and not a destination. I am closer to the end of my professional life than the beginning, but even so, my current position has demanded that I continue to grow. In a University environment, a premium is placed on collaboration and I have had to adjust this new environment. By adjusting, I have grown to appreciate the power associated with productive collaboration even though it is a new environment for me.

Since I have been to quite a few graduations and my suspicion is that you would prefer that I stop talking sooner rather than later, the vignettes that I want to share with you are very brief, but they illustrate 3 things that are fundamental to my beliefs and serve as the foundation of my leadership style.

  1. Anne’s story: Never underestimate the abilities of others.
  2. West Point epiphany: The power of dignity and respect.
  3. The baseball coach: Doing what you have a passion for.

I recommend that each of you should have a few fundamentals that govern how you lead as these principles influence how I think. The fact that you take the time to understand what is most important to you enhances the probability that you will stick to these principles even under pressure. As I mentioned, I would expect that your fundamental leadership beliefs will continue to evolve.

-At this point, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out, on behalf of the graduates, that it is important to remember and thank those that have made this opportunity possible:




-I hope as you depart with your families today that you will get an early start on your 4th of July festivities – as I thought about it, it is an appropriate time for you to be concluding your program since it connects you directly back to the public servants who founded the nation. I suspect, however, that many of you will be serving your communities over the 4th so your great communities can celebrate safely.

Finally (really) I would like to conclude with some thoughts from Rudyard Kipling’s poem If. There are a couple of excerpts that I feel capture what it means to be a public servant and the selfless service that goes with it. Many years ago Kipling suggested:

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowances for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or, being lied about, but don’t deal in lies,

Or, being hated, but don’t give way to hating

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings and not lose the common touch;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.

Congratulations and I hope that each of you head back to your organizations confident that you are prepared for your next unforgiving minute – whatever it may be.