Speakers' Bios


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

John Nalbandian has been a faculty member in public administration at the University of Kansas since 1976, following his doctoral education at the University of Southern California and service in the Army and CIA. John specializes in human resources management, having co-authored a text now in its sixth edition. John developed an interest in local government after joining the program at KU, and he has taught every full time MPA student specializing in local government since his arrival. John has developed special relationships with MPA alumni, and he is frequently invited to work with local government officials throughout the United States. He regularly works in executive development programs at the Universities of Virginia and North Carolina. He also has presented his work in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. John is the recipient of numerous national awards and recognition from KU for his teaching, research, and service. In addition to his academic accomplishments, John served on the Lawrence city council for eight years, including two terms as the council’s mayor. John has chaired the board of trustees for the public library in Lawrence and also serves presently as board president of the Willow Domestic Violence Center. John’s present research interests focus on contemporary trends in local government and the relationships between the arenas of politics and administration.



Randall Allen
Executive Director, Kansas Association of Counties

Randall Allen has served as Executive Director of the Kansas Association of Counties since April, 1996. The Kansas Association of Counties (KAC) provides legislative advocacy, educational, and technical services to 103 member counties, and is based in Topeka. Prior to coming to the KAC, he served as the first appointed City Administrator in Marshfield, Wisconsin, a community of 20,000 in central Wisconsin, from 1989 to 1996. Before his local government service in Wisconsin, Mr. Allen worked for the City of Wichita, Kansas as a Budget Analyst, and for Sedgwick County, Kansas in several capacities including Budget Director and Assistant County Manager. Mr. Allen holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Political Science from Wichita State University. He is a native of rural Dodge City (Ford County), Kansas.


Jason Gage
City Manager, Salina, Kansas

Jason has been Salina’s city manager since July of 2005. Previously, he served as the city manager of Stillwater, Oklahoma; assistant city manager and management intern in Salina; and city manager of De Soto, Missouri. Having served three different stints in Salina, Jason now considers it his adult hometown.

Jason holds a BA in political science from Missouri Southern State University and an MPA from the University of Missouri. He is a credentialed International City/County Management Association (ICMA) member, Kansas Association of City/County Managers (KACM) board member, local United Way board member and serves on other various local committees. Jason has a passion for making a difference and believes that city management is one of the most effective ways to help people and speaks often of high standards and expectations.

He is married with six kids, ranging in age from 8 to 20. He enjoys spending time with his family, early morning YMCA basketball and physical fitness.


Heather Getha-Taylor
Assistant Professor, School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas

Heather Getha-Taylor is an Assistant Professor in the KU School of Public Affairs and Administration. Her PhD is from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. Prior to joining the University of Kansas in Fall 2010, she was a faculty member in the Department of Political Science at the University of South Carolina. Her research interests center on the intersection between human resource management and collaborative governance.



Michael Johnston
Interim Director, League of Kansas Municipalities

A former state senator from Parsons, Michael Johnston served 14 years in the Kansas Senate, the last six as Senate Democratic Leader. He resigned the post in 1991 to join Governor Finney’s administration first as the Secretary of the Department of Human Resources and then as Secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation. He served as President/CEO of the Kansas Turnpike Authority from 1995 to 2013. He is currently in an interim assignment as the Executive Director of the League of Kansas Municipalities.

Johnston has served on numerous boards and commissions, including as a member and past-chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, as co-chairman of the Infrastructure Committee for the City of Wichita Long Range Planning Task Force, and currently as a board member of the Kansas Food Bank, among others.

Johnston earned a degree in Business Administration from Pittsburg State University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Kansas. He is a United States Army veteran.


Charles Jones
Director, KU Public Management Center

Charles is director of the Kansas University Public Management Center. He has a BS in Biology from the University of Kansas and a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. His public service experience includes four years as the Governor-appointed Director of Environment at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and ten years (1998 to 2009) as a Douglas County Commissioner. Within the MPA program Charles teaches Public Policy and Administration; Budgeting and Policy Analysis; Role, Context and Ethics of Public Administration; and Collaborative Leadership, Professionalism, and Citizen Engagement. Charles also teaches in the Center’s Certified Public Manager, Emerging Leaders Academy, and other programs, bringing the perspective of elective, appointed, and entrepreneurial success to policy and technical aspects of public management.


Beth Linn
City Administrator, Edgerton, Kansas

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.

Editor's Note: Ms. Linn is this year's conference chair for the KU Inspiring Women in Public Administration Conference, to be held on June 26, 2014. The KU Public Management Center is indebted to Beth for her thoughtful leadership.


Noel Rasor
Assistant Director, KU Public Management Center

Noel serves as the assistant director of the Public Management Center, directing the Emerging Leaders Academy, advising Topeka-based MPA students, and teaching in other PMC programs. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a master’s of urban planning from the University of Kansas, and has completed doctoral work in American Studies at KU to the level of ABD. Noel has worked at the chapter level as well as the national level for the American Red Cross and has served in a variety of capacities at KU. Her office is located at KU’s Edwards Campus in Overland Park to assist the PMC in strengthening program offerings for public sector professionals in the Kansas City area.


Teresa Schwab
Instructor, KU Public Management Center
President, Arnavon Strategies, LLC

Teresa brings a diversity of experience to her work, including nearly 20 years in the not-for-profit and volunteer sectors--two of those years spent working as the Director of Public Policy for a health care conversion foundation, and another two years spent volunteering overseas with Peace Corps in rural community education and development. Teresa has been on the management teams of organizations with budgets ranging from $50,000 all the way up $50 million.

Teresa holds a Master's Degree in Social Work from the University of Kansas and an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Emporia State University. Teresa has completed leadership training with both the Center for Creative Leadership and the Kansas Leadership Center. She has also completed civic leadership coach training with the Kansas Leadership Center as well as training in effective facilitation with Leadership Strategies. Teresa is affiliate faculty and a member of civic leadership coach team with the Kansas Leadership Center and an instructor with the University of Kansas Public Management Center.

Gerry Vernon

Gerry Vernon
City Administrator, Mission, Kansas

Gerry Vernon is the City Administrator for the City of Mission, Kansas and has served in that capacity since April, 2013. He has previously worked as City Manager for the City of Junction City, Kansas and City Administrator for the City of Smithville, Missouri.

Mr. Vernon’s local government career spans 30 years, including time as street department laborer, firefighter, public works director, city administrator, and city manager. Having worked through the "ranks" defines his management style and he believes that this "bottom-up" experience provides him with the insight to effectively communicate key issues central to the elected officials, residents, and employees. His lifelong commitment to public service is driven by a passion for community building, civic engagement, and innovation to transform local government.

Mr. Vernon holds a BS in Business and an MPA, both from Kansas University. In 2011, Gerry became a Certified Manager with the International City/ County Management Association (ICMA).




Katherine Carrtar
Economic Development Analyst, City of Kansas City, Missouri

Katherine Carttar is an economic development analyst for the City of Kansas City, Missouri (KCMO). She is responsible for the implementation and coordination of the AdvanceKC Strategic Plan for economic development in KCMO.

Prior to her current position, Katherine served as a Cookingham-Noll Management Fellow in Kansas City and also completed an internship with the City of Edwardsville, Kansas. Katherine's public sector career also includes a stint as the Development Manager at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, MO and over two years in the United States Peace Corps as an agriculture marketing specialist and project manager for a micro-finance organization. Katherine earned a bachelor's degree in economics and history from Boston College and a master's in public administration from the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas.


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. She is currently a Graduate Research Assistant for KU and assists in governmental relations and policy efforts at the Center for Public Partnerships and Research. She is also a Research Assistant for the Institute for Policy and Social Research. She assists Dr. Alfred Ho with a research project focused on citizen perceptions and downtown development for the City of Tulsa to improve the city’s policymaking and service delivery.


Meredith Hauck
Director of Administration, City of Riverside, Missouri

Meredith is currently the Director of Administration for the City of Riverside, Missouri. In this role, she is responsible for parks and recreation, marketing and media, community partnerships, human resources and special projects for the City. In addition to her roles with Riverside, Meredith also serves as Board Chair of Girls on the Run Serving Greater Kansas City, Chair of the Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Youth Leadership program, and recently graduated from Leadership ICMA. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and an undergraduate degree in Journalism, both from the University of Kansas.


Alfred Ho
Associate Professor, School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas

Dr. Alfred Ho's teaching and research interests focus on public budgeting, performance budgeting and management, citizen engagement, and e-government. He has also advised state and local officials in the U.S. and in other countries on their performance-oriented reforms. Before he joined KU, he taught at Iowa State University and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). He received his Master of Public Affairs and Ph.D. from the School of Public & Environmental Affairs, Indiana University (Bloomington).


Katie Killen
Assistant City Manager, City of Shawnee, Kansas

Katie Killen currently serves as the Assistant City Manager for the City of Shawnee, Kansas. Her specific responsibilities include legislative affairs, sustainability programs, budget team, strategic planning, trash and recycling and neighborhood focus program support. Ms. Killen received her Bachelor's Degree in Economics and Political Science from Rockhurst University. She earned her Master’s in Public Administration Degree at the University of Kansas.



Rachel Krause
Assistant Professor, School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas

Professor Rachel Krause joined the faculty of the KU School of Public Affairs and Administration as an Assistant Professor in the fall of 2013. Dr. Krause earned her B.A. in Political Science and Public Policy from Rice University (2003), a M.A. in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin (2005) and her Ph.D. in Public Affairs from Indiana University (2011).

Rachel teaches policy analysis, public policy and urban administration, and a class on sustainable communities in the MPA program. Rachel's research focuses on issues of local governance and urban sustainability. She particularly focuses on the motivations, implementation, and consequences of greenhouse gas abatement efforts being taken at the local level. She is also involved in studies examining community perceptions of carbon capture and sequestration technologies and the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles in urban centers. Much of her research utilizes survey methodologies and quantitative analysis.


Nickie Lee
Budget Manager, City of Topeka, Kansas

Nickie Lee is currently the Budget Manager for the City of Topeka. As the Budget Manager, she oversees the annual operating budget process and capital improvement plan. Prior to working for the City of Topeka, Nickie was a Budget Analyst for the City of Olathe and a program coordinator for the Kansas Energy Office. She graduated from the KU MPA Intern-Option Class of 2010 after completing internships for the Cities of Basehor, KS and Independence, MO.


Barack Matite
Assistant to the City Manager, City of Eudora, Kansas

Barack is an Ethan Allen and Harry Nalbandian scholar in the KU MPA program and is originally from Kenya. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Global and International Studies and completed undergraduate internships in Kansas City, Kansas, Topeka and Washington, D.C. In his internship with the District of Columbia, Office of the Mayor of African Affairs, he collaborated with a team of six to plan, market, and execute the District’s first African Festival, with more than 500 people attending. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society and Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.


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.


Dennis Murphey
Chief Environmental Officer, Kansas City, Missouri

Dennis Murphey has been the Chief Environmental Officer for Kansas City, Missouri since March 2006. He works directly for the City Manager, manages the City’s Office of Environmental Quality, and provides guidance and leadership to City departments on integrating climate protection and sustainability into all city operations. He serves the City Manager, Mayor, and City Council as their primary advisor and source of information on environmental issues relevant to city operations, programs, and policies. He directed the development of Kansas City’s Climate Protection Plan and also oversees implementation of the plan to achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals of 30% by 2020, community-wide and in city government operations. He promotes regional partnerships between the public and private sectors to address environmental issues and to incorporate sustainability principles into decisions made and actions taken across the metropolitan area.

Dennis has 37 years of environmental management experience in the public and private sectors.


Randy Partington
County Administrator, Finny County, Kansas

Randy Partington has been the County Administrator, Finney County, Kansas since 2010. He graduated from Kansas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and earned a Masters of Public Administration degree from Wichita State University. Mr. Partington’s work history includes Finney County Assistant County Administrator and Director of Human Resources, City Administrator at City of Fredonia, Budget Analyst at Unified Government of Wyandotte County, Kansas City, Kansas and a Management Intern at Sedgwick County, Kansas.

Mr. Partington leads a diverse group of 17 departments with a common goal to create a strong sense of shared purpose to deliver effective public services, innovative decisions, and sustainable business practices that benefit the community and southwest region. Mr. Partington’s commitment to leadership is shown by positions of President of the Garden City Rotary Club, past KACM Board President, Leadership Kansas Alumni, and past Garden City Chamber of Commerce Board Member.


Kathy Sexton
City Manager, City of Derby, Kansas

Now in her eighth year as City Manager of Derby, Kansas (population 23,000), Kathy Sexton has led successful efforts to implement curbside single-stream recycling for all Derby residents, an indoor smoking ordinance (several years before the state law), addition of several miles of bike path to the city’s 25-mile system, and development of several new parks.

Ms. Sexton previously served as Assistant County Manager of Sedgwick County and worked in the Governor’s budget office in Topeka. She earned a Master of Public Administration and a Bachelor of English from Wichita State University.

Active in the International Association of City/County Management (ICMA), Kathy received Credentialed Manager status in 2008. She currently serves on the 100th Anniversary Task Force, as well as the Board of Directors of the Kansas Association of City/County Management.


Josh Shaw
City Manager, City of Augusta, Kansas

Josh Shaw is the City Manager for the City of Augusta, Kansas. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Kansas and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vanderbilt University. Before being hired as City Manager, Josh previously served as Interim City Manager, Assistant City Manager, and Assistant to the City Manager for the City of Augusta. Prior to joining the City of Augusta in May 2009, Josh was a management intern for Sedgwick County Government in Wichita, KS and also interned for the City of Ottawa, Kansas.



Jamie Shockley
Strategic Communications Analyst, City of Olathe Public Works Department, Kansas

Jamie Shockley is the Strategic Communications Analyst for the City of Olathe Public Works Department. She is responsible for internal and external communication for a department of over 300 employees and seven divisions, including media and public relations for the City’s water, wastewater, and solid waste utilities.

Jamie earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Central Missouri and a master’s in public administration from the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas. Prior to her current position, Jamie served as the Management Intern and ICMA Local Government Management Fellow in Olathe and also completed an internship with the City of Riverside, MO. In December of 2013, Jamie received the Early Career Excellence Award from the Kansas Association of City/County Management and is an active member of KACM and ICMA.


Jeff Stewart
Director of the Parks and Recreation Department, City of Gardner, Kansas

With 20 years of professional parks and recreation services experience, Jeff Stewart has served as the Director of the Parks and Recreation Department for the City of Gardner since March of 2000.

Mr. Stewart is a graduate of Kansas State University where he earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Parks and Recreation Administration. Jeff is a certified professional (CPRP) who has dedicated his entire career to providing citizens a top quality of life through recreation programs, facilities, special events and activities. His efforts have been recognized by being awarded the KRPA Distinguished Professional Award. Mr. Stewart continues to be a leader in the field of parks and recreation; currently serving his third term as a board member for the Kansas Recreation and Parks Association. He is a current member for the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan Committee and the Kansas Recreation Park Association Professional Development Committee.

Mr. Stewart has previously served as the Chairperson for the Kansas City Metropolitan Area Parks and Recreation Directors Association, as a member of the Midwest Regional Council Board of Directors, and as a member of the Kansas Recreation Park Association Administration Branch Committee. Locally, Jeff continues to serve on the USD 231 Facilities and Planning Committee and as a volunteer coach to numerous youth athletic teams.


Christina Watts
Class of 2014 President, School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas

Christina Watts, a Darwin Daicoff and Ethan Allen scholar, graduated summa cum laude from the honors program at Washington State University with a B.A. in political science and communication. At WSU, Christina served as editor-in-chief of the university’s independent student newspaper, as coordinator of the President’s Student Advisory Board, and as a Communications Intern for the WSU Division of Governmental Studies and Services. She also served as a 2010 Teach For America corps member in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Christina worked as a management intern at the City Manager’s Office in Shawnee, Kansas.

Christina is currently an ICMA Management Fellow with the City of Tacoma, Washington.

Schedule and speakers are subject to change.

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