Kansas City / County Management Conference 2017

Speakers' Bios

Schedule and speakers are subject to change.

Publisher, Governing Magazine; former mayor, Kansas City, Missouri

Mark Funkhouser began his career as a social worker and then went on to become an auditor, first in Tennessee state government and then for the City of Kansas City, Missouri, where he served from 1988 until 2006. Funkhouser was Mayor of Kansas City from 2007-2011. He is credited with stabilizing the city’s finances during his term. He holds several degrees, including an interdisciplinary PhD in public administration and sociology. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.


Nathan Eberline
Associate Legislative Director and Legal Counsel, Kansas Association of Counties

Nathan Eberline serves as the Associate Legislative Director and Legal Counsel for the Kansas Association of Counties (KAC). His practice focuses on public policy, government relations, legal aspects of management, KOMA/KORA, and municipal law. Prior to joining KAC, Nathan worked for the League of Kansas Municipalities.

Nathan is currently president of the KBA’s Young Lawyers Section. He holds a J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law and a B.A. from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. Nathan is also a Certified Public Manager (CPM), having attended the Kansas CPM program with the KU Public Management Center.

Mike Ekey
Communications Director, City of Raymore, MO

Mike Ekey started his career as a local government reporter for the Kansas City Star covering City Halls across Johnson County. Following several years at The Star, Ekey left journalism and became a freelance communications consultant for non-profits such as Teach For America, The Brooklyn Art Museum, The Children & Nature Network and others to help develop new digital communications tools in a sector that still relied on mailed newsletters and press releases. Ekey returned to Kansas City to work as a public relations officer for Metropolitan Community College while earning his MPA and now serves as the Communications Director for the City of Raymore.

Patty Gentrup
Former reporter, local government practitioner and consultant

Patty Gentrup has been in direct service or as a consultant for local governments for 25 years, including six years as a city administrator. She is a skilled facilitator, working with governing bodies and other organizations to develop their vision, mission and goals. She also has extensive experience in managing public engagement processes, ranging from community strategic planning to infrastructure development to neighborhood plans. Patty has a bachelor's degree in journalism and a masters in public administration, both from the University of Kansas. Patty and her husband Gene own i9 Sports in Kansas City's Northland and have two daughters, Meg and Abigail.

Photo coming soon

Dave Helling
Reporter, The Kansas City Star

Bio coming soon


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.

Beth Linn
City Administrator, City of Edgerton, Kansas

Beth Linn joined the City of Edgerton, Kansas (pop. 1617), as City Administrator in July 2011. Linn oversees the day-to-day operations of all City functions including administration, finance, public works, street maintenance, water, wastewater and utility billing.

Linn has played a critical role in the plans and negotiations for the largest economic development project in the state of Kansas, Logistics Park Kansas City (LPKC). LPKC is a 1500-acre master planned development anchored by an intermodal facility operated by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway. LPKC opened in October 2013 and …is already home to nearly 9 million square feet of distribution facilities.

In support of LPKC, Linn has served as Project Manager for the Big Bull Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility, a $16 million project in partnership with the City of Gardner, Kansas and the Waverly Road Project, a $30 million project including approximately three miles of heavy-haul roadway and a grade separation over the Intermodal Lead Tracks at LPKC.

Previously, Linn worked as the Director of Community Development for the City of Raytown, Missouri, where she oversaw the planning and zoning, code enforcement, animal control and building inspections. Linn launched her career in city government in 2001 as the Neighborhood Services Manager for the City of Merriam, Kansas. Prior to city government, she has three years of experience in corporate marketing for a Kansas City area engineering firm.

Linn earned a Bachelor of Science in Business degree, with an emphasis in marketing, from Kansas State University and a Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Kansas. In 2013 and 2014, she served as the Chair of the KU Inspiring Women in Public Administration Conference. Linn also recently volunteered as the practitioner in residence for the University of Kansas MPA program and has served on the alumni board.

Photo coming soon

Wes Minder
Innovation Engineer, City of Kansas City, MO

Bio coming soon

Nick Parker
President & Publisher, Link 2 Lee’s Summit

Nick Parker’s love affair with the Lee’s Summit community began in the 1990s covering the city as a sports editor, news designer and managing editor for the local newspaper. Since that time, he has honed his skills as an editor, publisher and corporate media/marketing executive.

For the first 15 years of his career, Mr. Parker was immersed in the media industry serving community papers throughout the United States. While in the newspaper industry, he focused his efforts on design and engagement with both readership and the local business community in which the publications served. His media career covered stints as a reporter, editor, publisher, and corporate director of a specialty publications and marketing division for GateHouse Media.

Mr. Parker now focuses his energy on Link 2 Lee’s Summit, a digital publication which reaches the community through a web site, weekly newsletters, podcasts and a mobile application featuring an all-inclusive and interactive business directory.

An active industry and community leader, Mr. Parker lives in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and is a member of the Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street’s Economic Enhancement and Organization committees. He also serves on committees for several of the organization’s events and fundraising activities. Additionally, Mr. Parker was appointed by Mayor Randy Rhoads to serve on the Lee’s Summit Arts Council.

Erik Sartorius
Executive Director, League of Kansas Municipalities

Erik Sartorius returned to Kansas in 2014 to become executive director of the League of Kansas Municipalities, the statewide association for the 625 cities in Kansas. Previously, he was the senior specialist for industry relations at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Sartorius has 17 years’ experience lobbying the Kansas Legislature. He possesses strong relationships with city leaders and legislators across the state and has a broad knowledge of municipal issues.

Erik graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, with a degree in political science and history. He then served for four years on the staff of Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker in Washington, D.C.

A Wichita native, Sartorius earned his Master of Public Administration from KU. He is a member of the 2010 Leadership Kansas class and currently resides with his family in Lawrence.

Cherise Tieben
City Manager, Dodge City, Kansas

Cherise Tieben began her career 28 years ago with the City of Dodge City after graduating from St. Mary of the Plains College with a degree in Accounting. She has worked in various leadership roles in Dodge City through service as the Director of Human Resources, Assistant City Manager and ultimately accepting the position as City Manager in 2014. Cherise is an active member of the Kansas Association of City Managers and the International City Managers Association.


Jeff White
Principal, Columbia Capital Management

Jeff White serves as a Principal of Columbia Capital Management. Prior to joining Columbia Capital in 2001, Mr. White spent more than a decade as a local government management practitioner.

As a city manager, assistant city manager, department head, and budget director in cities from 14,000 to 124,000 in population, Mr. White became very familiar with the financial needs of local governments as debt issuers and investors. As public works director responsible for transportation, building inspection, engineering, parking and water utilities (water, wastewater, and storm water), he managed annual operating budgets of nearly $55 million and capital programs exceeding $150 million. He enjoys bringing his passion for public service and an understanding of the business of local government to Columbia's clients.

Mr. White has experience serving a wide variety of issuers and borrowers of municipal bonds. His clients include the City of Los Angeles; Chicago Public Schools; the Kansas Turnpike Authority; the Illinois Toll Highway Authority; St. Louis County, Missouri; Metro Bi-State Development Agency (St. Louis); East-West University (Chicago); Roosevelt University (Chicago); and numerous cities and counties in Kansas and Missouri.

Mr. White is currently advising the City of Edgerton, Kansas, on the financing of significant public infrastructure supporting BNSF railroad's newest intermodal transportation facility, the only one of its kind west of the Mississippi. The underpinning of this financing is a three party agreement between the City, BNSF and a master developer of the surrounding logistics park. Because of the City's small size, the parties have developed a public/private partnership model to finance infrastructure costs that would be beyond the City's ability to support on its own.

Mr. White holds an AB in Political Science from the University of Michigan and an MPA from the University of Kansas. He is a Series 65 Investment Adviser Representative.


Brian Bickers
Class of 2018 Co-President, School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas

Brian Bickers, an Ethan Allen Scholar, graduated magna cum laude from Tulane University with a B.A. in Political Science and History in 2014 and from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas with a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction in 2016. During his undergraduate years, he helped reestablish the debate club and worked as a senior residential advisor. After he graduated from Tulane, Brian joined the Las Vegas branch of Teach For America. For two years, Brian taught English and Accelerated English to seventh grade students at West Preparatory Academy. He also served as a coach for the Oratorical and the Heart and Sole teams. During the summer of 2015, Brian conducted research with the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities. Currently, Brian is interning with the City of Olathe in their Budget Office.


Kelly Dumais
Class of 2017 Co-President, School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas

Kelly Dumais, a Darwin Daicoff and Mary Litchfield scholar, graduated cum laude from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN in the spring of 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. During her first year in the KU MPA program she served as the City Management Intern at the City of Eudora and worked on projects including the Douglas County Entrepreneur Community Program to support aspiring entrepreneurs, managed the City’s communication channels, wrote two clean air ordinances including one that made Eudora the first community in Kansas to have smoke-free/vape-free public parks, and managed a crowdfunding campaign that supported the renovation of one of the City’s oldest parks.

As the City Management Fellow in Edina, Minnesota, Kelly worked across City departments on initiatives including a comprehensive review of the City’s public safety staffing, an employee engagement survey, writing and implementing a new city purchasing policy which introduced a triple bottom line framework of sustainability into public purchasing, serving as staff support to the Edina Human Rights and Relations Commission, staff liaison to the Edina Racial and Equity-Facilities work group, and auditing park development agreements from a public private development partnership.

Kelly has recently accepted an offer to serve as the Project Coordinator for the Physical Development Division at Dakota County, Minnesota.

DJ Gehrt
City Administrator, Platte City, Missouri

Dennis J. (DJ) Gehrt has been City Administrator of Platte City, MO since November 2011. He is a former Marine Corps infantry officer with 25 years of local government experience. He is a graduate of St. Louis University and received his Master of Arts in Public Administration (MAPA) degree from the Woodrow Wilson Department of Government and Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia.

He has been a member of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) since 1993 and has been an ICMA Credentialed Manager (CM) since 2005. He has served as chief executive of three local government agencies since 1997 with local government experience in California, Kansas and Missouri.

He has extensive military and civilian international experience including non-combatant evacuation and stabilization operations in West Africa and nearly two years in country service as the ICMA local government advisor for 14 provinces in Afghanistan.

He has served on the ICMA International Committee and has been a presenter at five ICMA annual conferences He was the first President of the Board of Directors of the NW Missouri Wholesale Water Commission and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Missouri City/County Management Association.

Heather Getha-Taylor, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas

Dr. Heather Getha-Taylor is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration. Her research and teaching interests focus on collaborative governance, public service leadership, and human resources management. She has published over 40 articles, book chapters, and other reports on these and other public management topics. In 2016, she received the Steeples Service to Kansans Award, which recognizes KU faculty members who provide significant service to the state as an extension of their teaching and research efforts. You may contact her at hgtaylor@ku.edu.

Nickie Lee
Administrative and Financial Services Director, City of Topeka, KS

Nickie is the Administrative and Financial Services Director for the City of Topeka where she oversees Finance department activities including Budget & Performance, Payroll, Accounting, and Contracts & Procurement. She previously served as the Budget & Performance Manager for Topeka.

Prior to Topeka, Nickie’s internships and jobs included working with the Cities of Independence, MO; Basehor, KS; Olathe, KS; and the Kansas Corporation Commission. Nickie has an MPA from the University of Kansas and an undergraduate degree from Rockhurst University. She currently lives in Topeka with her husband and two kids.

Brad Long
KU Career-option MPA Student; US Army Captain

CPT Brad Long graduated with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Management (Honors) from West Point in May of 2007. Brad received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery.

CPT Long’s first assignment following the Field Artillery Officer Basic course was with the 3rd Battalion, 13th Field Artillery regiment at Fort Sill, OK. There he served in a variety of assignments both in garrison and while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Lieutenant, to include Platoon Leader and Battalion Fire Direction Officer. Following the Field Artillery Captain’s Career Course in 2011, Brad was assigned to the V Corps Headquarters in Germany where he served as the Headquarters and Support Company Commander during the unit’s deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom XII-XIII.

Upon return from deployment, Brad was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade with duty as the Field Artillery Battalion Logistics Officer (S4). After fifteen months as the S4, CPT Long assumed command of A Battery, 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment. While in command, Alpha Battery conducted partnered operations in Romania, Lithuania, and Southeast Turkey to assure NATO Allies, deter Russian aggression, and protect American personnel and equipment. In the Fall of 2015, Brad was accepted to pursue an MPA degree at the University of Kansas. Brad departed Germany with over 28 months of command experience.

Brad and his wife Colleen are blessed with three children, Harrison (5), Norah (3), and Henry (1) and are expecting their fourth child this summer.

Colonel Judith D. Martin
Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Kansas National Guard

Colonel Judith D. Martin supports 7,200 Kansas Army and Air National Guard members providing Human Resources programs with an annual program budget of $41 million.

Colonel Martin has spent over three decades in uniform with assignments in fiscal management, logistics, training (school house), human resources, strategic plans & policies and counterdrug special operations. She has commanded troops at all levels and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and other overseas assignments. She also conducted several domestic disaster responses - Hurricane Katrina and other regional/national emergency missions.

Colonel Martin is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA - Masters of Strategic Studies (MSS) and the University of Kansas - Master’s in Public Administration (MPA). She is currently attending the National Defense University, Norfolk, VA.

Brandon McGuire
Assistant to the City Manager, City of Lawrence, KS

Brandon’s public administration career began as a graduate research assistant with the Hugo Wall School of Public Affairs at Wichita State University in Wichita, KS. Upon graduation from the Master of Public Administration program in 2011, he served as a city management fellow with the City of Wichita City Manager’s Office. Following the fellowship, Brandon served as a budget analyst in the Sedgwick County Budget Department where he oversaw the Capital Improvement Program and several operational budgets. In May 2014, Brandon returned to his hometown of Lawrence, KS to serve as Assistant to the City Manager – the position he currently holds. His management oversight responsibilities include the Public Works, Water and Wastewater Utilities, Parks and Recreation and Public Transit departments. He coordinates organizational projects and policy development efforts and serves on the budget team. In addition to his responsibilities as Assistant to the City Manager, Brandon has served as Acting City Clerk and Acting Risk Manager during interim periods.

Joshua Robinson
Class of 2018 Co-President, School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas

Joshua Robinson, an Ethan Allen and John and Carol Nalbandian Scholar, is a graduate of the University of Kansas (KU) with a B.S. in Journalism and a minor in African American Studies. He served as president of the KU Black Student Union and covered the Kansas Legislature for the KU Wire Service. He also held the position of Conference Chair for the 39th annual Big XII Conference on Black Student Government, where he led a committee of 12 members to bring 500 students from across the Big XII schools to the KU for workshops, keynote speakers and social activities. Joshua interned with the Kansas City Digital Media Lab, where he taught video production and mentored students. Joshua is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Currently, Joshua is an intern in the City Manager’s Office in Overland Park, KS.


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.


Drew Vincent
Class of 2017 Co-President, School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas

During his time as a graduate student, Drew served as the Management Intern for the County Administrator of Douglas County, KS where he managed several projects, including the County’s E-Community program, which enhances the county’s entrepreneurial and economic development community through a $150,000 revolving loan fund. Other significant work included working with local emergency responders to establish and procure a $73,000 County commitment for a county-wide Rapid Intervention Team (a unit that serves as a rescue team specifically for firefighters); overseeing the County’s community partner budget agreements; and, management of the County’s Energy Star portfolio, which helps set building energy usage benchmarks for greater sustainability.

Drew is currently a Cookingham-Noll Management Fellow with the City of Kansas City, Missouri where he works with the Performance Management and Budget Office teams.

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