LAWRENCE — The first woman to lead the Orlando Police Department will deliver a keynote presentation at this year's 2015 Inspiring Women in Public Administration Conference, organized by the University of Kansas Public Management Center.
The 2015 conference entitled "Confidence: The Power to Be Great Leaders" will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday, June 25, at the BEST Conference Center, 12600 Quivira Road in Overland Park at the KU Edwards Campus. The annual conference brings together women serving in public administration across the region to exchange stories, ideas and encouragement.
Val Demings who began as an Orlando police officer in 1983 served as the department's chief from 2007 until her retirement in 2011. She is credited with reducing violent crime in one of Florida's largest cities.
In her rise to lead the department in a field that is dominated by men, Demings worked to overcome many challenges, including attending a segregated school until sixth grade and eventually earning the respect of fellow male officers in her department before becoming chief.
"Brains are much more important than brawn in police work," Demings said.
Her keynote presentation, "Courage - Preparation - Opportunity," will be at 2:55 p.m. It will be the culmination of the day's events at the conference.
The IWPA conference will also include a morning keynote presentation by Patricia Martel, city manager of Daly City, California, which is the largest and most diverse full-service community in San Mateo County. Martel has served nearly 35 years in local government and is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. She is currently President-Elect of the International City/County Management Association, the premier local government leadership and management organization, and will assume the office of President at the association's September conference.
Also as part of the day's programming, Sara Singer, deputy city manager of Tualatin, Oregon, will facilitate a discussion on confidence, and University of Kansas associate professors Alesha Doan and Shannon Portillo will present their initial findings about Project Diane, research that explores the barriers and potential benefits to gender integration in the U.S. Army Special Forces.
Other prominent area public administration leaders who will present or serve on panels throughout the day include Jackson County, Missouri, Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker; Lajuana Counts, assistant U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Missouri; Shawnee City Manager Carol Gonzales; Olathe Director of Public Works Mary Jaeger; and Kate Bender, senior management analyst with the City of Kansas City, Missouri.
The KU Public Management Center within the KU's School of Public Affairs and Administration — ranked third among public university graduate programs by U.S. News and World Report — offers educational programs to meet the leadership training needs for public service professionals.