Speakers' Bios

Schedule and speakers are subject to change. The speakers are listed alphabetically.


Caitlin Gard
Assistant to the Public Works Director, Shawnee, KS

Caitlin Gard is the Assistant to the Public Works Director for the City of Shawnee, KS. With Shawnee, she is leading the Department to its first national Accreditation with the American Public Works Association (APWA). Prior to her current position she worked for the Public Works Department at the City of Lee’s Summit, MO. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Urban Administration from UMKC and a Bachelor Degree in Political Science with a minor in Spanish from the University of Missouri. She is a member of APWA and is the editor for their online publication, Pub News. She grew up in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and recently moved to Kansas City, Missouri where she resides with her husband. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, attending sporting events, and spending time with family and friends.


Kimiko Gilmore
Assistant City Manager, City of Kansas City, MO

Kimiko Black Gilmore serves as Assistant City Manager for the City of Kansas City, Missouri. She has 25 years of experience in the non-profit and government sectors. She spent the early years of her career in social services, providing short term and crisis counseling management for agencies that included Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) and Swope Health Services/Imani House.

Shortly before graduating from Troy State University with a Master of Public Administration she simultaneously worked with the Missouri Democratic Coordinated Campaign for the 2000 presidential election and with then-State Representative Terry Riley on a special city council election to fill an unexpired term. Ultimately Councilman Riley appointed her as his council aide. Later U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill appointed her as Deputy Regional Director to represent her interests in northeast Missouri.

As Community Relations Director with Swope Community Builders (SCB), Kimiko led the development and implementation of programming that best served the needs of priority neighborhoods and ensured that SCB was endeared to the communities it served. Activities under her purview included community organizing, advocacy and youth development.

During Kimiko’s tenure with the City of Kansas City she has provided oversight in the areas of Housing, Health, Human Relations and Neighborhood & Community Services and now serves as Assistant City Manager – Special Projects. Past projects include coordination of the City’s efforts during the 2010 Census and providing leadership to complete the City’s housing asset transfer plan, ReBuild KC, which was looked upon favorably by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and approved by the federal court. She was the staff lead during the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Week. She administered a $4 million contract with the Green Impact Zone, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver’s signature project; a place-based investment model within the urban core.

She is playing a defining role in changing the urban agriculture conversation in Kansas City, Missouri. By working with Councilman Scott Wagner, city staff and representatives from the Economic Development Corporation she worked to attract BrightFarms, Inc. to the Kansas City market; the organization will construct a 100,000 sq. ft. greenhouse in downtown Kansas City which will generate one million pounds of lettuces, tomatoes and herbs annually which will be sold locally. In February 2014 she was appointed as chair of Kansas City, Missouri Urban Agricultural Zone Advisory Commission which made recommendations to the City Council regarding the establishment of Urban Agricultural Zones. She facilitated the establishment of KC Grow which will provide small grants to community gardeners and urban farmers for water access solutions.


Connie Jackson
City Manager, San Bruno, CA

Connie Jackson has served as the City Manager for the City of San Bruno, a San Francisco Peninsula community of about 45,000 since 2003. Connie graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology. After working several years in the area of recreation and aquatics, she returned to Cal where she completed MBA program coursework at the Haas School of Business.

She joined the City of Hercules, CA as an Administrative Analyst in 1986. Over the next 13½ years, Connie held progressively responsible positions in the City Manager’s Office including eight years as Deputy and Assistant City Manager. In January, 2000 Connie accepted the position of City Manager for the City of Fort Bragg, CA an ocean front destination community of 7,500 where she served for nearly four years before returning to the Bay Area and joining the City of San Bruno.

On September 9, 2010 a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. high-pressure gas transmission line exploded in one of San Bruno’s residential neighborhoods and catapulted San Bruno into the national spotlight. In the wake of the disaster that destroyed 38 homes, killed eight residents and traumatized the entire community, Connie and her team continue to confront the challenges of response, restoration, and recovery including providing advocacy for improved pipeline safety and regulation on a national basis while maintaining the community’s high standard of public service delivery.

Connie was recognized by the Municipal Management Association of Northern California and Women Leading Government with their 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award and was the recipient of the League of California Cities City Manager’s Department 2012 City Manager of Distinction award.


Barbara A. Kerr, Ph.D.
Williamson Family Distinguished Professor of Counseling Psychology, University of Kansas

Barbara Kerr holds an endowed chair as Distinguished Professor of Counseling Psychology. Her research has focused on the development of talent and creativity. She directed research projects for the National Science Foundation for fifteen years that focused on women, science, and innovation. At KU, she founded the first laboratory for the study of the creative adolescents and adults, where over one thousand young people have received career guidance and therapy. She is the author of "Smart Girls, Gifted Women," a best-seller in education; "Smart Boys;" "Counseling Girls and Women" and over a hundred other scholarly works in the her area. She is an American Psychological Association Fellow and was named one of the twenty-five most influential psychologists in the study of intelligence and creativity by APA. Her newest book, "Smart Girls in the Twenty-First Century" explores how a new generation of young women can be encouraged to take leadership roles in scholarship, innovation, and civic engagement. As principal investigator for the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City’s (WFGKC) Civic Engagement project, she hopes to empower a new, creative, and diverse community of leaders. The research was funded by the WFGKC through the Institute of Policy and Social Research at KU.


Beth Linn
2014 Conference Chair & City Administrator, City of Edgerton, KS

Beth Linn is the City Administrator for the City of Edgerton, KS (pop. 1,617). The City of Edgerton is a southwest suburb of the Kansas City metropolitan area and home to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Intermodal and Logistics Park KC. Ms. Linn came to Edgerton in July of 2011. Previous to Edgerton, Ms. Linn was the Community Development Director in Raytown, MO for two and half years where she oversaw planning and zoning, building inspection, code enforcement, and animal control. She started her career in public administration with the City of Merriam from 2001 until 2009 holding various positions including Assistant to the City Administrator, Project Manager, and Neighborhood Services Manager. Ms. Linn holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Kansas State University and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Kansas.


Sherilyn Lombos
City Manager, Tualatin, OR

Sherilyn Lombos has served as Tualatin, Oregon (population 27,000) city manager since December 2006. As city manager, Sherilyn is responsible for all aspects of day-to-day operations of the organization made up of 146 full-time employees in eight departments responsible for all services except fire, with a $69 million dollar budget. Sherilyn has been involved in multiple development and annexation agreements, negotiated contracts to provide public safety services to a neighboring jurisdiction, been actively involved in regional water supply policy, overseen construction of the largest capital project in the city’s history, implemented a fiscal health model that has helped align ongoing expenditures with ongoing revenues, negotiated and oversaw acquisition of land for new parks and natural areas, and has lobbied at the state and federal government. Sherilyn is the chair of the Executive Board for the county library system, serves on the board of directors for the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce; she currently serves on the Board of Directors for the League of Oregon Cities.

Previous professional experience includes positions with the cities of Manhattan Beach and Fremont in California, and several cities in the Midwest. Prior to working in the government sector, Sherilyn worked for Sprint Telecommunications designing specialized customer service training programs. Sherilyn holds degrees in political science, sociology and psychology as well as a Masters of Public Administration, all from the University of Kansas. She has been married for 20 years to her husband Allan; they have two boys, Gordon (12) and Canon (10) who are both black belts in tae kwon do and accomplished pianists. Sherilyn is currently training for her first marathon.


Maggie Mahoney
Assistant Director for Administration, Dole Institute of Politics, University of Kansas

Maggie Mahoney is the Assistant Director for Administration at the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, where she has been on staff since 2006. She is active in KU governance and is a mentor for the Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute. She served on the IWPAC planning committee in 2013 and as an IWPAC ambassador in 2014.

Maggie's “past work life” includes small business management and survey research/data collection. She is a Montana native and graduated with distinction in 2002 from Iowa State University with a B.S. in Sociology and minor in Psychology. Maggie also earned her Masters of Public Administration at KU in 2012. She resides with her husband and son in Lawrence. When free time is available, she especially enjoys music, sports, travel, and fine dining.


Stephanie M. Moore
Program Supervisor, Community Development, Unified Government of Wyandotte County / Kansas City, KS

Stephanie M. Moore is a Program Supervisor in the Community Development Department at the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS. She administers and manages HUD Grant funds as well as State and Local funds.
Prior to her position with the city she worked for Community Housing of Wyandotte County (CHWC) a housing non-profit serving the first ring suburbs of Kansas City, KS.

She holds a Masters in Public Administration with an emphasis in Urban Policy and Administration from UMKC and a Bachelor Degree of Professional Studies with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership from Rockhurst University.

As a community advocate she is a volunteer board member for the Kansas City, KS Farmers’ Market and the Prescott Neighborhood Group. She is passionate about the environment and is a member of the Unified Government Solid Waste Committee and the Unified Government Green Team. She assists with grant writing for the Prescott Neighborhood, her children’s school and her church. She is a graduate of Leadership 2000 Class 17 and was awarded Community Development’s Citizen of the Year in 2000.

She is a member of American Society of Public Administration (ASPA) and is columnist for their online publication, The PA Times. She is a recent graduate of the KU Public Management Center Emerging Leaders Academy.

She grew up in Paola, Kansas moved to Olathe, KS before moving to the Historic Prescott Neighborhood of Kansas City, KS after marrying an Original “Dotte.” She and her husband Dedric, have two children, Regan and Lola.


Lauren Palmer
City Administrator, City of Parkville, Missouri

Lauren Palmer is the City Administrator of Parkville, MO (population 5,500). As City Administrator, Lauren oversees all aspects of the day-to-day delivery of municipal services such as police, sanitary sewer, streets, parks, and community development. The organization has approximately 40 full-time employees and an $11 million budget. In the past year, Lauren implemented numerous internal administrative and organizational improvements including technology upgrades, capital improvement planning, multi-year financial forecasting, and new job descriptions and performance evaluations. The City is currently in the process of issuing $8 million in Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) bonds related to a development area at the intersection of Interstate 435 and Highway 45.

Lauren began her career as a management intern in Des Moines, Iowa and was promoted twice before accepting the position of Assistant City Manager in Manhattan, Kansas. Lauren served in Manhattan for five years before moving to Parkville in June 2013. She is a candidate of the International City-County Management Association (ICMA) Voluntary Credentialing Program. Lauren is a past volunteer with organizations including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, March of Dimes, and United Way. She currently serves on the Northland Advisory Council of the United Way of Greater Kansas City. Lauren has a bachelors degree in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Masters of Public Affairs from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University.


Theresa Porter
Deputy Regional Administrator, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Region VII, Great Plains, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska

Theresa (Terri) Porter came to HUD in 1998 as part of the Community Builders fellowship program. She was one of 200 candidates selected from more than 9,000 applicants nationwide. She worked in the Indianapolis, IN HUD Field Office until October 2006, when she was promoted to Director of Community Planning & Development for the Kansas City Region VII HUD Office in Kansas City, KS. She was promoted again in August, 2011, to Deputy Regional Administrator for HUD Region VII.

Prior to her positions with HUD, Ms. Porter was President and CEO of the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development (IACED), a statewide membership association for community development corporations and non-profits. She has also administered a state enterprise zone and has co-owned and operated a mechanical contracting company.

Ms. Porter’s experience areas include small business assistance, microloan programs, affordable housing, entrepreneurship, enterprise zones, youth programs, fund raising, marketing, public policy, and advocacy.

Terri is the Immediate Past President of Rotary Club #195 in Kansas City, KS. She’s married to Bob and, between them, they have four grown children and two grandchildren. Terri is also an avid runner, finishing 24 marathons in 24 states in the past eight years.

Terri holds a degree in marketing and telecommunications from Indiana University, as well as certifications in both housing and economic development finance. Terri received her Master’s Degree of Public Administration at UMKC in May, 2014.


CiCi Rojas
President & CEO, Central Exchange

CiCi Rojas was named President and CEO of the Central Exchange in February 2013. In her role she provides vision, voice, and operational oversight for the 1000+ members of women and men from throughout the Kansas City area. Members include managers and executives, business owners, non-profit and civic leaders, and community volunteers.

Rojas most recently served as Vice President of Community Engagement for Truman Medical Centers (TMC) in Kansas City, Missouri. Prior to joining TMC, Rojas served various communities in the business and political advocacy arenas. She has also served in executive roles leading two Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and as VP of Strategic Alliance with the Washington, D.C.-based US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Rojas has been recognized for her business and community achievements with the following awards: 2013 Ruby Red Slipper Dream Chaser Award, 2013 Greater Missouri Women’s Leadership Foundation Woman of the Year, 2013 KC Magazine Class of Influential Women, 2012 Girl Scout Pearl Award, 2011 NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award, and the 2010 Dallas Business Journal’s Corporate Advocate of the Year.

Rojas is active in civic organizations on the local, state, and national levels. She is the national Chair for the Latino Coalition Foundation and a Member of the Camp Fire USA National Board of Trustees. In Kansas City, she is Immediate Past Chairwoman of Hope House, and a member of the Executive Committee Board of Directors for Friends of the Zoo, the YMCA, and Guadalupe Centers, Inc. She also serves on the following boards: Metropolitan Community College’s Foundation, Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Convention and Visitor’s Association, Kansas City Port Authority, the Arvest Bank Board, and the NFL 101 Committee.


Pearl Rovaris MacDonald
Entertainment Professional

KU Alumna Pearl Rovaris MacDonald is a speaker who has given over 1,000 presentations on a variety of topics including communication, diversity, creativity, and teambuilding. She is an improvisational comedian at ComedyCity in Kansas City, MO and the founder of the sketch comedy group “Pretty. Funny. 6 women who will make you laugh.” Pearl is also the co-host of 12th Street Jump, a live jazz, blues and comedy jam, on NPR affiliate, KCUR (89.3). The radio show airs on 100+ stations across the nation.

Susan Sherman
Assistant City Manager, Olathe, KS

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 program in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas. In September of 2006 Susan was awarded the Assistant Excellence in Leadership Award in honor of Buford Watson Jr. by the International City County Management Association. Susan currently serves on the ICMA Task Force on Leadership and is a Board member for the Kansas Association of City/County Management.


Sara Singer
Deputy City Manager, City of Tualatin, OR

Sara Singer is the Deputy City Manager for the City of Tualatin, Oregon, a suburb in the Portland metropolitan area. She graduated from the University of Kansas Master of Public Administration program in 2006, and has been working in local government ever since in Kansas, California and Oregon. Her experience has been centered in communities ranging in populations from 3,000 to 60,000.

Sara grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and completed her undergraduate degree at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. During the summers while in college, she began interning for a small City in the St. Louis area where she developed a passion for working in local government. This passion led her to KU’s MPA program to continue fostering this passion through academic and professional growth. She has made many leaps in her career as the Assistant to the City Manager in Shawnee, Kansas, a Senior Administrative Analyst in the Finance & IT Department and later in the City Manager’s Office in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, and as the Assistant to the City Manager and most recently the Deputy City Manager in the City of Tualatin, Oregon.

Sara is involved in many professional organizations including the Oregon City/County Managers Association (OCCMA), the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), and the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2). She enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest via running, hiking, spending time at the coast or in the mountains. She also spends time discovering some of the Portland’s best restaurants and the Willamette Valley’s great Pinot Noirs.


Amber Smith
Owner, Judah Fitness

After gaining 40 pounds from stress-eating due to a horrible job, Amber Smith quit that job, started at another company and finally had time to address her weight gain through dieting and exercising. She stumbled upon Zumba® and loved it, especially the part about seeing results. After a year of taking Zumba® classes, she decided to start teaching it.

Amber is a certified AFAA Group Exercise Instructor who teaches Zumba® basic, Zumba® Gold, Zumba® Toning, Zumba® Gold Toning and Aqua Zumba®. She is also a math professor at a local community college.

Her company, Judah Fitness, LLC, was established in 2011, specializing in small group training and exercise classes specifically designed for rapid weight loss, increased muscle movement and strength. They focus on those that have been unsuccessful in health and nutritional exploits in the past with a goal is to help individuals move forward towards a healthier lifestyle.


Theresa Vail
Miss Kansas 2013, platform issue: empowering women to overcome stereotypes and break barriers
Dental Technician, Kansas Army National Guard Medical Detachment

Theresa Vail was the 2013 Miss Kansas. In September 2013, Vail competed for Miss America, placing in the top 10 and winning the America’s Choice award. There she gained popularity by being the first contestant to display tattoos and for encouraging other young women to be as bold.

Vail has served in the Army for nearly seven years, first as a mechanic and currently as a dental technician. She recently reenlisted for another six years of service. This fall Vail will begin the filming of her hunting/adventure show “Limitless with Theresa Vail” which is set to air on the Outdoor Channel next July.

While reigning as Miss Kansas, Ms. Vail listed her platform issue as empowering women to overcome stereotypes and break barriers. When Vail was 19 and the only female mechanic in a military motor pool, she experienced verbal sexual harassment and inappropriate comments from co-workers. After lack of support from her commander, she took her concerns to his superiors and was allowed to transfer to another unit. Vail states, “women must stand up for themselves because nobody is going to do it for them.”

Vail also says that her goal is to “show women that we can have the best of both worlds, that you don’t have to allow other people to categorize you. I know being in the military, I was put in this box that I couldn’t do feminine things, and most female soldiers face this same stereotype. I just wanted to show women, you can be a tomboy and still have a feminine side. You can have it all if you want it.”


Carla Wilson
Director of Athletics, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Carla Wilson was named the fourth Director of Athletics in the Division I era on December 2, 2013 after having held the position in an interim role since July 1, 2013

Wilson leads the UMKC Athletics Department as it competes for the first time in the Western Athletic Conference. Wilson’s leadership in the department touches many facets – budget, human resources, facilities, sport administration, and student-athlete welfare and development.

Wilson is the only female athletics director in the Western Athletic Conference, and the first ever female leader of intercollegiate athletics at UMKC. She is one of a few minority women serving as an athletics director at the NCAA’s 351 Division I institutions. At the time of her hire, less than 9 percent of Division I athletics directors were women and less than 4 percent were minority women. She is the only African-American woman athletics director in Division I not at a historically black college or university.

In 2012, Wilson was named the Division I Administrator of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators. A member of the WAC AD’s council, Wilson’s 16 years of experience in Athletics are vital as she works with the WAC on strategic planning and branding initiatives. Well-rounded in sport administration, she has been the sport administrator for 14 of the 16 sports sponsored by UMKC throughout her career.

As Senior Woman Administrator, Wilson is the highest ranking female involved with the management of UMKC's Intercollegiate Athletics program, and represents UMKC in dealings with the conference office and the NCAA. She also partakes in program-wide administrative responsibilities, including decision making at the institutional, conference, and national levels. She collaboratively addresses departmental goals, supports women's interests and supports and helps manage diversity, gender equity, and Title IX matters.

She and her husband Kevin, who reside in Olathe, KS, are parents to four adult children, Shae, Tristan, Kevin Jr., and Kaylan.


Joyce Wilson
City Manager (recently retired), City of El Paso, TX

Joyce Wilson recently retired as City Manager after nearly 30 years of city management service; most recent serving 10 years at El Paso's first city manager. Prior to that she worked in Arlington and Richmond, Virginia, and Yuma, AZ. Wilson has been nationally recognized by the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, TCMA, ICMA and Association of Public Administration.

She has an undergraduate degree in Business and Economics from Virginia Commonwealth University and a MPA from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. She is a fellow alumni of the Kellogg Foundation's National Fellowship Program and a fellow with the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA).

She is active in community organizations focusing on women and children, including the Salvation Army and Boys and Girls Club.

Joyce was recently appointed Interim CEO of the Upper Rio Grande Workforce Board, serving an eight county region in SW Texas.

Schedule and speakers are subject to change.

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