LAWRENCE — Deb Miller has begun her tenure as the new director of the Public Management Center, based at the University of Kansas. Miller served as the Kansas secretary of transportation from 2003 to 2011, and her appointment spanned the terms of three Kansas governors. She was the longest-serving secretary of transportation in Kansas history.
Miller succeeds Laura Howard as the center’s director. Howard left KU earlier this year to serve in Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration in her current post as the secretary of the Kansas Department for Children & Families.
In 2011, Miller took a position as senior consultant for Cambridge Systematics, a Washington, D.C., based firm specializing in transportation planning and policy, primarily for public-sector clients.
From 2014-2018, she served as a member of the Surface Transportation Board (STB), the successor agency to the Interstate Commerce Commission. The STB is an economic regulatory agency charged with resolving railroad rate and service disputes and reviewing proposed railroad mergers. She has also held leadership positions on many transportation regulatory boards and committees, including the Transportation Research Board’s Executive Committee (one year as chair), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and the Eno Foundation’s Board of Advisors.
Miller said she is looking forward to expanding opportunities for public sector employees to receive professional development instruction and leadership training.
“The public sector is changing rapidly. Budget cuts, staff retirements, the automation of services and sometimes difficult political environments all have an effect on how our public servants approach their jobs,” Miller said. “Investing in our employees by giving them the tools they need to adapt, advance and thrive benefits all Kansans.”
Rosemary O’Leary, director of the School of Public Affairs & Administration, under which the center is housed at KU, said she has immense confidence in Miller.
“Deb’s career-long commitment to public service and her reputation as one of the best cabinet secretaries in the history of Kansas make her a perfect fit for the PMC at exactly the right time,” O’Leary said. “She had a reputation for investing in professional development for her staff at KDOT, particularly PMC training. Deb speaks passionately about the organizational benefits to KDOT as the staff learned better management practices, leadership initiatives and process improvement. I know she’ll bring that same passion to leading the PMC.”
Miller is a magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Kansas State University and holds a degree in sociology.
The PMC provides professional training for public sector employees at all levels of government and nonprofit agencies. In addition to the consulting services, the center runs the Certified Public Manager program, the Emerging Leaders Academy, the Supervisory Leadership Training program and the Law Enforcement Leadership Academy, a partnership with the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center. The PMC works with hundreds of public sector employees or community members a year and has experienced a record level of enrollment and consulting clients as it heads into 2019.