Kansas City / County Management Conference 2015

Speakers' Bios

Schedule and speakers are subject to change.

Professor, School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas

Charles Epp is a professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration. He earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his research focuses on how law shapes public organizations. He is the author of several books published by the University of Chicago Press: The Rights Revolution: Lawyers, Activists, and Supreme Courts in Comparative Perspective, which won the C. Herman Pritchett Award of the American Political Science Association and has just won the Lasting Contribution award for 2015 from the Section on Law & Courts of that association; Making Rights Real: Activists, Bureaucrats, and the Creation of the Legalistic State, which was named an Outstanding Academic Title by the American Library Association; and Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship, co-authored with colleagues Steven Maynard-Moody and Donald Haider-Markel, which has just won the best book award for 2015 from the Section on Public Administration Research of the American Society for Public Administration. He is on the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees of the Law & Society Association and is an associate editor of the Journal of Law & Courts.



Matt Allen
City Manager, Garden City, Kansas

Matt has been the City Manager for the City of Garden City since June 1, 2008. He was raised in Garden City, received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas, graduated with honors from the KU MPA program, and entered the City Management profession full-time in 1996.

His work history includes serving as:

  • Assistant City Manager for the City of Garden City, Kansas
  • City Administrator for the City of Oakley, Kansas
  • Assistant to the City Manager for the City of Joplin, Missouri
  • Management Analyst for the City of Salina, Kansas
  • Management Intern for the City of Lenexa, Kansas

Matt serves on the Board of Directors for the Kansas Health Foundation and is a member of the Kansas Health Fellowship VI, which was convened around the topic of Healthy Community Design. He leads a municipal government team that has received state and national attention for innovation in the areas of public participation, local government social media, fiscal transparency, embracing diversity and healthy community design for rural communities.

Matt and his wife, Missy, have two children, Megan and Aaron.


Norton N. Bonaparte, Jr.
City Manager, Sanford, Florida

Norton Bonaparte has been the city manager of Sanford, Florida since September 2011. In this position he serves as the city’s chief administrative officer responsible to the City Commission for overseeing all City operations, which includes a budget of $90 million and over 500 employees. Prior to Sanford, Norton served as the city manager of Topeka, Kansas, city administrator of Plainfield, New Jersey, city business administrator of Camden, New Jersey, township manager of Willingboro, New Jersey, and city manager of Glenarden, Maryland.

Norton has been elected a Fellow in the National Academy of Public Administration. He is a member of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and has earned its Credentialed Manager designation. He is also a member of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators and the Florida City County Management Association. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Florida’s Tri-County League of Cities and the University of Central Florida’s School of Public Administration Advisory Board.

Norton holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a Masters in Public Administration from Cornell University's Graduate School of Business.


Pascale Elisabeth Bullard
Health Enhancement Coordinator, Saint Luke's Health System, City of Shawnee, Kansas

As a Health Enhancement Coordinator of Saint Luke's Health System for the past 15 years, Pascale has been the City of Shawnee's Health Enhancement Coordinator since July of 2012. A caring and compassionate professional, she motivates and inspires individuals to enhance their wellbeing, happiness and vitality though personal health and wellness coaching, unique fitness programs, and effective nutritional consulting. She is an engaging educator whose passion is enhancing optimal health.

Pascale earned a degree in Exercise Science and a Master's of Science in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition from the University of Kansas, and she is a Certified Ergonomics Assessment Specialist, Intrinsic Coach, and Certified Wellness Coach.


Major Vince Davenport
Major, Kansas City Kansas Police Department

Major Davenport’s public service career includes 25 years with the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department where he currently holds the rank of major and serves as Commander of the Staff Support Division. His command assignments have included Homicide/Robbery, CSI, Patrol, and Community Policing. He also served as director of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Training Academy for five years.

Vince is a strident advocate of innovation and excellence in law enforcement. He is a principal instructor for the Kansas Law Enforcement Leadership Academy. He holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Kansas and a Masters in International Studies, also from the University of Kansas.


Laura Howard, J.D.
Director, KU Public Management Center

Laura Howard is the Director of the University of Kansas Public Management Center. She comes to the University of Kansas from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services where she served as the Region VII Regional Administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Laura has also served in various leadership positions with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS). Prior to her service with SRS, Laura served as a principal fiscal policy analyst for the nonpartisan Kansas Legislative Research Department for more than 10 years.

Laura received her Bachelor’s degree from Miami University in Oxford Ohio in Public Administration (with an emphasis in public policy analysis) and Economics. She received her law degree from the University of Kansas.


Tom Lovell
Administrator of Parks and Recreation, Lee’s Summit, Missouri

During Tom's tenure the city of Lee's Summit has grown from 28,000 to over 95,000 residents, and the park system has grown from 150 acres to over 1,300 acres. Subsequent to his service in Lee's Summit, he served as Director of Parks and Recreation in Bristol, Tennessee and Russellville, Alabama.

After graduating from the University of Montevallo in Alabama, Tom taught and coached in the Russellville, Alabama Public Schools. He was recruited by the Mayor to form a Parks and Recreation department for the city, which was the beginning of a deep appreciation for the value that parks and recreation add to lives and communities.

He obtained a master’s degree in Public Administration through Central Michigan University. He has authored several articles for state and national publications and received special recognition such as the Missouri Park and Recreation Association’s Fellow Award; the University of Montevallo Nathalie Molton Gibbons Alumni Achievement Award; and, the NRPA Outstanding Park and Recreation Professional.

Tom and his wife, Susan, have two adult children, Mason and John, and two grandchildren. He is an avid bicyclist, golfer, yoga enthusiast and racquetball player.


Jonathan Morris
Law Enforcement Leadership Academy Program Manager, KU Public Management Center

Jonathan has developed curriculum and delivered custom training courses to more than 5,000 individuals since joining the Public Management Center and serves as an instructor in the other PMC educational programs. In 2013 he took on the role of managing the KU PMC's Law Enforcement Leadership Academy, a program launched in partnership with the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center to support excellence in law enforcement across Kansas. His training topics include leadership and team building, management practices, organizational behavior, intergenerational communications, succession planning, coaching and mentoring, diversity and harassment; he is also a certified facilitator for the Strengths Deployment Inventory (SDI). Jonathan worked as director of a training center in New York City and has worked within the public and private sectors. A native Kansan, he attended Kansas State University and Bethany College and did his graduate work in New York. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the American Society for Training and Development–Kansas City Chapter.


Craig S. Owens
City Manager, Clayton, Missouri

Craig Owens has served as the city manager for Clayton, Missouri since July of 2008. Clayton is the County Seat of St. Louis County, Missouri and site of 39 demonstrations associated with the Michael Brown shooting in August of 2014 and international coverage of the associated events.

Previously Craig served cities in the metropolitan areas of St. Louis, Dallas, Chicago, and Kansas City. He is a graduate of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois and is a graduate from the University of Kansas MPA program.

Craig is married with 10-year-old twin sons and lives a few blocks from downtown Clayton.


Brian Silcott
City Administrator, Goddard, Kansas

Brian Silcott was appointed to the position of City Administrator on March 31, 2008 after the position being vacant for more than 20 years. Prior to coming to Goddard, Brian served as City Manager in the Kansas communities of Sterling (2002-2005) and Osage City (2006-2008). Before pursuing a career in city management, Brian worked for the City of Wichita as a firefighter (1993-2000) and in the City Manager’s Office (2000-2001) as well as the Office of Budget & Research (2001-2002). Brian is currently an ICMA-Credentialed Manager.

Brian is a graduate of Wichita State University majoring in Political Science and has a Master of Public Administration from the Hugo Wall School of Urban & Public Affairs. Brian is an active member of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the Kansas Association of City/County Management (KACM). He has served on the Board of Directors for the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency, Kansas Municipal Utilities, and the Executive Board of the Kansas Municipal Gas Agency. Brian is also a proud member of the following local civic clubs: Lions Club, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Wichita State University Delta Upsilon Alumni chapter as well as the Phi Kappa Phi academic honorary.


David C. Toland
Executive Director, Thrive Allen County, Iola, Kansas

David Toland is the first executive director of Thrive Allen County, a nonprofit coalition that works to improve quality of life and economic conditions in Allen County, Kansas. A seventh-generation Allen Countian, Toland oversees a coalition known statewide for its innovative approaches to improving healthcare access, healthy lifestyles and economic development in a small, rural Kansas county. During his time at Thrive, Allen County’s county health ranking has improved 15 points; a new critical access hospital has been built; a new federally-qualified health center (FQHC) has opened; eight new miles of free walking trails have been constructed; new manufacturing jobs and retail businesses have been recruited to the county; and a new sense of optimism and countywide unity has taken hold among residents and businesses. 

Prior to returning to his hometown of Iola, Toland worked for six years as an appointee of Washington, DC Mayor Anthony A. Williams. During his time in the District, Toland held a variety of positions, including Deputy Chief Operating Officer in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, where he oversaw for the Deputy Mayor the day-to-day activities of nine city departments. Toland was later appointed as Chief of Staff in the Office of Planning, where he successfully led the legislative effort to obtain city council approval of the 2006 overhaul of the city’s controversial Comprehensive Plan. Prior to coming to Washington Toland worked for the city managers of Reno, Nevada and Bonner Springs, Kansas.



Don Cawby
City Manager, Osawatomie, Kansas

Don Cawby is the City Manager of Osawatomie, Kansas, a city of 4,400 residents about 30 miles southwest of the Kansas City metro area. Don previously served as city manager of Parsons and Osage City, Kansas, having found his niche in leading smaller, rural Kansas communities.

Don has also worked in Kansas state government as a Deputy Director of the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, an analyst for both the Kansas Division of the Budget and the Kansas Legislative Research Department, and an intern for the Kansas Department of Health & Environment and the Kansas Department on Aging. Don also served two years on the Kansas Water Authority as the representative of the state’s large municipal water suppliers.

Don, who was raised in Garden City, Kansas, received his Bachelor of Arts from Emporia State University and his Masters of Public Administration from the University of Kansas. Over the last 15 years, Don has been very involved with competitive barbeque, including competing in numerous contests and organizing several KCBS-sanctioned competitions for the communities in which he has worked. Don is married to his amazing wife Mandy (also a KU MPA graduate) and has two teenage sons, Joel and Grant.


Douglas Gerber
Director of Administrative and Financial Services, City of Topeka, Kansas

Doug Gerber is the Director of Administrative and Financial Services for the City of Topeka where he oversees Finance, Accounting, Budgeting, Human Resources, Information Technology and Purchasing. Additionally, Doug is serving as Interim Director of Utilities, managing the daily operations of Topeka's water, wastewater and stormwater utilities. Prior to coming to the City of Topeka in April 2014, Doug served as City Manager of Goodland, KS and City Administrator of Beloit, KS.

Doug worked for the City of Manhattan, KS during graduate school, and he completed a post-graduate internship for Kent County, Michigan. Doug is a native of Newton, KS and received his BA and MPA both from Kansas State University.

Doug and his wife, Michele, are the proud parents of six children. He enjoys being involved in his children's activities, but does spend a lot of his free time yelling at the kids to turn off the lights.


Kevyn Gero
Class of 2015 President, School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas

Kevyn Gero, an Ethan Allen scholar, graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma. Before joining the MPA program, she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps VISTA. During her first year in the MPA program, she worked as a Graduate Research Assistant for both the Center for Public Partnerships and the Institute for Policy and Social Research. She assisted Dr. Alfred Ho with a research project focused on citizen perceptions and downtown development for the City of Tulsa. Currently she is the Management Intern at the City of Lawrence.


Kate Gunja
Assistant City Manager, City of Overland Park, Kansas

Kate Gunja is currently the Assistant City Manager for the City of Overland Park, Kansas. A suburb of the greater Kansas City metropolitan area, Overland Park has approximately 182,000 residents, making it the second most populous city in Kansas.
Kate formerly served as Assistant City Administrator for the City of Prairie Village, Kansas (2013-2015), City Administrator/City Clerk for the City of Fairway, KS (2008-2013) and Assistant to the City Manager/City Secretary for the City of University Park, TX (2004-2008).

She holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Kansas and also earned her bachelor’s degree from KU. Kate and her husband Paul have two children.


Jennifer Jones-Lacy
Assistant City Administrator, City of Roeland Park, Kansas

Jennifer has served as the Assistant City Administrator and Finance Director for the City of Roeland Park since October 2014. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing the City’s finances, assisting with the annual budget process, overseeing Neighborhood Services and City Planning and Economic Development.

Jennifer got her Bachelor’s in Journalism and her Master’s in Public Administration both from the University of Missouri-Columbia. After getting her MPA, she moved to Kansas City where she was a Cookingham Management Fellow, a budget analyst and a special projects manager for the City of Kansas City, Missouri. More recently, she served as the Assistant City Administrator with the City of Tonganoxie, Kansas.

Jennifer and her husband Chris live in Kansas City, Missouri with their dog Murphy. They are currently expecting their first child.


Tyler Marr
Class of 2016 President, School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas

Tyler Marr, an Ethan Allen and Buford Watson scholar, graduated summa cum laude from Colorado State University in 2014 with a B.A. in Economics and Political Science. As an undergraduate, Tyler completed multiple internships, including one with the Colorado Legislature where he provided research on a variety of proposed legislation. He also interned with the City of Fort Collins City Manager’s office where he worked on projects that involved government access television, performance metrics and environmental policy. During his senior year at CSU, he served as President of a large student organization that hosted gubernatorial, U.S. Senate and Congressional candidates. Tyler is currently interning with the County Manager’s office in Johnson County, Kansas.


Julia D. Novak
President, The Novak Consulting Group

Julia Novak is President of The Novak Consulting Group, a firm she founded in September 2009 when she acquired Public Management Partners. From 2003 to 2009, she served as a Vice President for a local government consulting firm. Julia has more than 25 years of experience working with and for local governments. She is an established consultant, trainer, facilitator, and thought leader who has worked with over 200 different local government and nonprofit organizations across the country. Prior to consulting, Julia worked in the cities of Fort Collins, Colorado; Lexington, Massachusetts; Rockville, Maryland; and was City Manager of Rye, New York. She has worked with elected and appointed officials and nonprofit board members across the country to conduct goal setting, develop strategic plans, and prioritize service delivery.

In 2009, Julia co-authored an article with Dr. John Nalbandian in Public Management Magazine titled "Preparing Councils for Their Work." In 2010, the article she co-authored with City Manager Steve Burkett, "Permission to Manage," was the featured article on the cover of Public Management Magazine, stressing the importance of being intentional in managing organizations and using performance measures as a part of a management system.

Julia earned a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from George Mason University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas. Julia was in the first class of individuals certified by ICMA as Credentialed Local Government Managers and maintains that designation.


Susan E. Sherman
Assistant City Manager, City of Olathe, Kansas

Susan Sherman is currently the assistant city manager for the city of Olathe, Kansas. Olathe is located in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Olathe has a population of 130,000 and has been one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.

Susan started working for Olathe in May 1989 and was promoted to assistant city manager in 1994. Susan served as acting city manager in Olathe from November 1997- January 1999. She currently is responsible for the day-to-day operations of police, fire, parks and recreation, and information technology services.

Susan earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in public administration from the Edwin O. Stene Public Administration Program at the University of Kansas. In 2006 Susan was awarded the Assistant Excellence in Leadership Award in honor of Buford Watson Jr. by the International City County Management Association. In 2014 Sherman received the ICMA Career Development Award in Memory of L.P. Cookingham.

Susan co-chaired the ICMA Task Force on Leadership and is a Board member for the Kansas Association of City/County Management. In 2014 Susan was elected as ICMA Mountain Plains Regional Vice President for the ICMA Board.


Diane Stoddard
Assistant City Manager, City of Lawrence, Kansas

Diane Stoddard has served as Assistant City Manager of Lawrence since October 2007. She assists with operations of all city services and coordinating delivery of city services and activities among city departments. She is regularly involved with economic development activities and managing arts and culture activities, along with special projects.

Diane formerly served as Deputy City Manager with the City of Manhattan, Kansas and worked in several capacities for that city from 1996-2007. She also worked for the City of Ottawa, Kansas.

She holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Kansas and also from KU, a degree in Political Science. She is currently President of the Kansas Association of City /County Management and a graduate of Leadership Kansas. Diane and her husband Brian have two sons.


Hannes Zacharias
County Manager, Johnson County, Kansas

Hannes Zacharias has served as Johnson County Manager since September 2009. He joined the county’s management team in 2001 as Assistant County Manager and was promoted to Deputy County Manager in January 2005. As County Manager, Hannes serves as the chief administrative officer and oversees the operations of Johnson County Government, coordinating the delivery of services provided by more than 4,000 employees.

Hannes' career in public service began in 1980 when he served as Associate Director and Chief Grants Officer for the Kansas Arts Commission before becoming Assistant to the City Manager for the City of Lawrence in 1984. In 1988 He was named the City Administrator for Boonville, Missouri, and in 1992, he moved to Hays, Kansas to serve as City Manager for eight years before assuming his duties in Johnson County government.

A native of Dodge City, Kansas, Hannes received a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Kansas and a Bachelor's Degree in General Studies from Wichita State University.

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