LWG Interview with Kimiko Black Gilmore, Chairperson – 2018 Kansas University Inspiring Women in Public Administration Conference
By LWG Editor
The Inspiring Women in Public Administration Conference (#IWPA18) brings together over 250 attendees each year for a day of skills-building, connection and renewal. #IWPA seeks to inspire and support women working in public service to not only remain in public service careers, but to seek out leadership opportunities as well. League CAO, Pam Antil sat down with this year’s chairperson, Kimiko Black Gilmore to learn more about the event. Here is the interview:
Pam: Congratulations on being Chair of this year’s KU Inspiring Women in Public Administration Conference! I love the theme, “Speak Your Truth.” Can you tell me a little bit about where this year’s theme came from and what it signifies?
Kimiko: This year’s theme, “Speak Your Truth,” rounds out the aspects of what women need, in order to, show up as their best selves professionally. In prior year’s we have focused on areas that would equip women, at all levels of Public Administration, with the tools to build their skills in the work place. From Having it All/Making the Leap: Inspiration for Your Professional Journey to Strength in Diversity: Diversity in Strengths, we have provided speaker experiences that were timely, applicable and motivating. During this year’s conference we are excited to now be able to give attendees the chance to tell their stories, steer the discussion and to be tapped as experts public administration.
Our afternoon keynote, The OpEd Project, is an organization with the mission of increasing the number of women thought leaders in key commentary forums to a tipping point. They envision a world where the best ideas – regardless of where they come from – will have a chance to be heard, and to shape society and the world. Attendees will be confronted with the questions: what do we know, why does it matter, and how can we maximum our impact? The ultimate goal is to ensure that more female voices are heard as major part of public discourse.
Pam: Just to be clear, you don’t have to be a KU MPA graduate to attend the conference do you?
Kimiko: Correct! #IWPA18 is open to all (males, females and anyone all along the spectrum) with a position or interest in public administration.
Pam: What are you most excited about for this year’s KU #IWPA18 Conference?
Kimiko: I am beyond excited to have former Mayor Annise Parker as our morning keynote speaker. She has been on our radar for several years and her participation during the year that I chair is simply perfect. Mayor Parker was Houston’s second female and first openly gay mayor. She has an extensive career as an elected official, prior to that was in the oil and gas industry and owned a bookstore. Her wide ranging experience in both the public and private sectors provide an amazing backdrop for the woman she is today. I’m confident that conference attendees will be moved to action by her story.
Pam: Can you tell our readers about your own career path?
Kimiko: When I was in high school I had aspirations to be a journalist. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I realized that journalism was not for me. I did, however, know that I wanted to be in service to the community. That lead me to work for a variety of nonprofit organizations. After I received my M.P.A. I served as a legislative aide to a member of our city council. That is when I fell in love with local government. I went on to work for a community development corporation and a U.S. Senator before I went back to the City of Kansas City, Missouri as an assistant to the city manager. After three years I was promoted to assistant city manager.
I enjoy the work, my city and our residents. I believe that public administration is a calling and I highly recommend exploring the many facets of local government as a career. The work is satisfying because we make an impact daily.
Pam: There’s a lot of talk about the importance of mentors and advocates in one’s career in public service, who have been those important people in your career? How have they helped you?
Kimiko: I have been fortunate to have several “champions” during my career. Not only do they provide sage advice, they speak on my behalf when I am not in the room. I treasure the opportunities that their counsel has afforded me. I have several mentors however, the person that sparked my interest in city management is Anita Maltbia. She served eight years as an assistant city manager for Kansas City, Missouri.
Pam: Where would you like to see your career head to next?
Kimiko: That is an interesting question. I am still being challenged as an assistant city manager and could serve in this capacity for the long term. However, I am open to the “top job” if the right fit comes along. Regardless, of the specific position, I will always default to my original mission, to serve the community.
Pam: What do you think can be done to increase the number of women in the most senior executive positions in local government?
Kimiko: In the case of city managers, we need to educate elected officials on the importance of gender equity and the disparity that has been the unfortunate norm for decades. That is also why I love being a League of Women in Government Board Member which is leading the efforts to educate elected official and others regarding the importance and necessity of gender equity in local government. In addition, professional groups, like ICMA, must continue to include women at all levels of the organization, encourage women to prepare and pursue the top job and provide tools specifically for women to strengthen their chances at becoming city managers.
Pam: Final thoughts?
Kimiko: It is an honor to serve as this year’s #IWPA18 Conference chair. The KU Public Management Center staff – Noel Rasor and Ruth DeWitt have been phenomenal to work with. The Planning Committee members have come together to create, what I am sure will be a memorable day. They have invested their time and efforts beyond their regular work day to ensure the #IWPA18 Conference is a success.
For more information about the KU #IWPA18 Conference and to register, CLICK HERE.
Kimiko Black Gilmore serves as Assistant City Manager for the City of Kansas City, MO. She has over 25 years of experience in the non-profit and government sectors.
During Ms. Gilmore’s tenure with the City of Kansas City she has provided oversight in the areas of Housing, Health, Human Relations and Neighborhoods. She started serving as Assistant City Manager in 2012. 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. She was the staff lead during the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Week and 2015 World Series Parade and Celebration. She is playing a defining role in changing the urban agriculture conversation in Kansas City, Missouri. She believes that supporting urban agriculture is a key component to decreasing the incidents of food insecurity that exist in our communities and serves to address consumer demand for local, organic, free range food. She worked to attract a BrightFarms, Inc. to the Kansas City market. BrightFarms will construct a 100,000 sq. ft. greenhouse in Kansas City which will generate one million pounds of lettuces, tomatoes and herbs annually which will be sold locally. She facilitated the establishment of KC Grow which will provide small grants to community gardeners and urban farmers for water access solutions. In addition, Ms. Gilmore has teamed up with City Planning staff to re-purpose the Kansas City’s Municipal Farm as an agricultural incubator which would include 2 acres farms, mini food hub, composting center and recreational amenities.
Ms. Gilmore holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Missouri – Kansas City and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Troy State University. She has been happily married to the Rev. David A. Gilmore for 20 years. The couple has recently become a bi-state family since Rev. Gilmore is now serving as the new Director for Congregational Development and Revitalization for the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. In order to maintain balance in her life Ms. Gilmore likes to run and is a self-described “CrossFit chick”. For three years Ms. Gilmore served as the Black Girls Run! Kansas City Ambassador and is currently a BGR!KC Run Coordinator.
Pamela “Pam” W. Antil has over 25 years of experience directly managing and advising local government agencies across the country including small and large cities such as San Jose, CA, Ann Arbor, MI and Palo Alto, CA. Currently, she is the Assistant City Administrator for the City of Santa Barbara, CA.
Ms. Antil has been recognized for her published articles and papers on a variety of topics including advancing women in local government; the future of policing in the United States; business networking; innovation and design thinking; post-merger/operational due diligence in the private sector; and use of social media by local government. An avid networker herself and early adopter of social media in government, Ms. Antil founded the Municipal Managers group on LinkedIn in 2007, which has over 12,000 members today and the League of Women in Government in 2015, supporting the advancement of women in local government.
Pam is an active member of the International City/County Management Association, Cal-ICMA, Alliance for Innovation, Municipal Management Assistants of Northern & Southern California, BJA Executive Session on Police Leadership, Emerging Local Government Leaders as well as serves as a Board Member for Women Leading Government CA and President of the League of Women in Government. Pam has a Bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and a Master of Public Administration degree from California State University. She is the mother of two children, Sydney and Peyton, and she resides in Santa Barbara, California.