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Kansas City Works: Creating the Workplace of the Future

Please join us for Kansas City Works: Creating the Workplace of the Future.

This event, presented by Women's Foundation, the Society for Human Resource Management-Kansas City, and the City of Kansas City, Missouri, will offer engaging and timely content focused on attracting and retaining the best and brightest employees; equity and efficiency in the workplace; and implementing practices that support employees and their families.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016
7:30AM - 1:30PM

Kauffman Foundation Conference Center
4801 Rockhill Rd, Kansas City, MO 64110

Tickets are $15 and include breakfast and lunch

Reserve your spot at the summit today! 

An agenda and information on the summit's presenters is available below.


7:30 am: Registration/Breakfast

8:00 am: Welcome - Mayor Sly James

8:15 am: Morning Inspiration- “Why Are the Jellyfish Taking Over?” - Jane Walton, Principal of Jane Walton Consulting and Author of Why are the Jellyfish Taking Over?

Creating thriving, balanced workplace environments. Employee disengagement is at an all time high. Why have so many people “checked out,” and what can be done to engage employees in a meaningful way? “Why Are the Jellyfish Taking Over?” introduces a powerful new approach to bringing collaboration, innovation, and inspiration back to your workplace. Using natural ecosystems as a model, thought leader Jane Walton explores the common factors that can throw an organization out of balance, creating an environment where people act like jellyfish - drifting aimless - and offers solutions to restore that balance at the individual, team and organization levels so everyone can connect, contribute and succeed.

8:45 am: Morning Plenary - Drive Business Success with Workplace Flexibility - Cassidy Solis, Workplace Flexibility Program Specialist, Society for Human Resource Management

9:45 am: Break

10:00 am: Breakout sessions

Option A: Any Device, Anywhere, Anytime - Jamie Creek, VP, IT Lead Operations at Lockton

Creating the flexible and effective workplace. Combining mobility and virtual desktop technologies to evolve a traditional office to a highly flexible, collaborative, competitive work environment. Join us as we walk through one organization’s successes and lessons learned along the way in making this transition.

Option B: Apprenticeship Models and Continued Learning - Panel discussion with Lonnie Vanderslice, VP of Operations, Weave Gotcha Covered!;  Kari Keefe, Executive Director, KC Social Innovation Center; and a representative from Kansas City Power and Light.

This session will provide examples of successful apprenticeship models and discuss apprenticeship as a way to attract and train new workers.

11:00 am: Breakout sessions

Option A: Competitive Leave Practices - Panel discussion with Justin Truckenbrod, SVP & Managing Director Total Rewards Consulting Practice, Lockton; Michael Kanaley, Chief Operating Officer, Global Prairie ; Joni Wickham, Chief of Staff, Mayor Sly James; Grace Protos, Regional Administrator, U.S. Department of Labor-Women's Bureau

Paid time off benefits are increasingly important to employees. In fact, studies show these benefits have been a major factor in contributing to employees’ job satisfaction. This session will further examine competitive practices from a national perspective as well as examining what’s happening in the KC market. We’ll also hear first-hand from local employers on their experience as they assessed and made critical changes to their own time off programs.

Option 2: Pay Equity Best Practices - Sonja Erickson, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute of Public Policy

During this session, panelists will explore ways to improve standards for pay equity and achieve measurable results with three best practices for employers in both the private and public sectors. The three standards that will be discussed include:  determining if gender-based pay disparities exist, re-evaluating pay systems from an equity perspective, and promoting and ensuring pay transparency

12:00 pm: Break

12:15 pm: Lunch and Keynote Address - Ellen Galinsky, President and Co-Founder, Families and Work Institute

Download a PDF of the agenda here.


Welcome Address - Mayor Sly James
Mayor, Kansas City, Missouri

Mayor Sly James was elected on March 22, 2011 and sworn in on May 1, 2011.  He was born and raised in Kansas City and learned valuable lessons about resiliency and dedication watching his parents work hard to take care of their family. Despite the challenges they faced, Sly’s father, a chef, janitor, and small business owner; and his stepmother, who helped manage their business, still made sure that Sly and his brothers had the opportunity to go to a good school and follow their dreams.  This laid the foundation for Mayor James’ commitment to education and ensuring every child receives a high-quality education regardless of where they live or their socio-economic background.

Mayor James focuses his efforts to make Kansas City best in 4 areas: Education, Employment, Efficiency, and Enforcement.  Major accomplishments from his first years in office include:

  • Streamlining processes at City Hall to encourage small business development;
  • Providing safe activities for young people during summer break through Mayor’s Nights and Club KC;
  • Implementing a Women’s Empowerment (WE) initiative to help city government work better for the women who work with it and work for it.
  • Rallying community support around the goal of ensuring every child can read at grade level by third grade;
  • Creating a culture of innovation in city government through the Chief Innovation Officer and the Challenge Cabinet;
  • Collaborating with the Kansas City Police Department, Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Missouri Board of Probation and Parole, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City to launch KC NoVA, a community-based, multidimensional approach to crime reduction;
  • Capitalized on major investments in the arts by forming a task force to examine the public’s role in arts and culture;
  • Investing in the City’s water and street infrastructure after years of passing the buck;
  • Starting the road to a downtown streetcar system to continue revitalization efforts; and
  • Leading efforts for the installation of Google Fiber and promoting Kansas City as the first region in the nation to have such cutting-edge technology.

In addition, Mayor James has worked to raise Kansas City’s statewide and national profile by highlighting the myriad cultural and human capital resources in our great city. At the state level, he has been a voice for commonsense gun control laws, economic development tools, and education reform.  Nationally, he is a member of Black Mayors for Education Reform, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and was elected in June 2013 to the Advisory Board of the United States Conference of Mayors.  Mayor James also led the city’s efforts to host Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in the summer of 2012.

The success of this event, and the spotlight it put on Kansas City, has led to numerous conventions, conferences, and events that continue to open the eyes of many crowds to all that the city has to offer.

Prior to his election, Mayor James enjoyed a successful legal career which spanned almost three decades. He developed a proven record of success as a leader, an effective coalition builder, and a fierce advocate. He joined Blackwell, Sanders, Matheny, Weary & Lombardi in 1983, and became the first African-American partner in the firm’s history in 1990. In February, 2002, he started his own successful small business, The Sly James Firm, where he worked with victims to seek justice and positive outcomes to disputes.

The mayor attended Bishop Hogan High School in Kansas City, graduating in 1969.  After serving his country as a military police officer for four years in California, the Philippines, and Japan during the Vietnam War, Mayor James  graduated cum laude from Rockhurst College.  He then went on to earn his law degree, also cum laude, from the University of Minnesota in 1983.

Mayor James has been married to Licia Clifton-James since 1981 and is the proud father of four children. He has long had a passion for music and was the lead singer in the Amelia Earhart Memorial Flying Band. Little known fact: his band once opened for Jefferson Airplane in Kansas City!

Morning Inspiration - Jane Walton
Principal of Jane Walton Consulting and Author of "Why are the Jellyfish Taking Over?:

Jane Walton is a business management consultant. Described as an executive’s lifeline and as the “Obi-Wan Kenobi” of leadership advising, Jane helps leaders create workplaces that work - productive, effective, innovative and stimulating for the people who work there. She excels at turnaround situations. Jane helps leaders create a vision and a plan that builds on their organization’s strengths and inspires their workforce to contribute to their fullest.

**The first 50 conference registrants will receive a free copy of Jane’s book Why are the Jellyfish Taking Over?

Keynote Speaker - Ellen Galinsky
President and Co-Founder, Families and Work Institute

Ellen Galinsky, President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute (FWI) and Chief Science Office of the Bezos Family Foundation, is one of the trailblazers in the work-family life field. Her more than 100 books and reports include the best-selling Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, Ask The Children and the now classic The Six Stages of Parenthood. She has published over 300 articles in journals, books and magazines. 

At the Institute, Ms. Galinsky is responsible for the National Study of the Changing Workforce, the most comprehensive nationally representative study of the U.S. workforce — updated every five to six years. She also is responsible for When Work Works for FWI (a project on workplace effectiveness first funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation) that has produced a series of research papers and has launched the When Work Works Awards as well as conducted the National Study of Employers, a nationally representative study that has tracked trends in employment benefits, policies and practices since 1998. Information from FWI’s research has been reported in the media more than three times a day since January 2010. 

In 2011, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Families and Work Institute formed a ground-breaking, multi-year partnership that takes When Work Works out to employers in 50 states. In September 2016, FWI’s workforce/workplace research will transition to SHRM, and Ellen Galinsky will assume the role of Senior Research Advisor. 

In March 2016, Mind in the Making (MITM), formerly a program of the Families and Work Institute, became a program of the Bezos Family Foundation. Ellen Galinsky serves as Chief Science Officer and Executive Director at the Bezos Family Foundation. Mind in the Making is an unprecedented effort to share the science of children’s learning with the general public, families and professionals who work with them. Based on Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs (HarperCollins, 2010) by Ellen Galinsky, its mission is to promote Life Skills that are based on and promote Executive Functions in adults and through them in children in order to keep the fire for learning burning brightly in all of us. Projects include: Seven Essential Skills Learning Modules for Community Leaders (in English/Spanish) that are being implemented in six communities through community schools with funding with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in partnership with the Institute for Educational Leadership and in an additional 13 communities and states; Seven Essential Skills Modules for Museums and Libraries, created in conjunction with Boston Children’s Museum, that have been used to train museum and library educators in 30 states; Seven Essential Skills Modules for Health Care Professionals created in conjunction with Mount Sinai Hospital that will be used to reform practices in health care and in pediatric training; a DVD collection of 42 videos showing important experiments in child development research; Prescriptions for Learning — 98 downloadable tips sheets for pediatricians and health care professionals on frequently asked questions by families that show how to turn behavior problems into learning opportunities; and a partnership with First Book where Ms. Galinsky and her colleagues have created a library of children’s books and accompanying tips to promote life skills. These tip sheets have been downloaded almost 500,000 times. Mind in the Making was named one of the top ten nonfiction books by The Washington Post in May 2014 and was voted the Number 1 must-read book for preschool teachers by Child Care Exchange in June 2014. 

A graduate of Vassar College and Bank Street College of Education (where she was on the faculty for 25 years), Ms. Galinsky is a leading authority on work family and child development issues. She was a presenter at the 2014 White House Summit on Working Families, the 2000 White House Conference on Teenagers, and the 1997 White House Conference on Child Care. She was a planner of and participant in the March 2010 White House Forum. She served as the elected President of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the largest professional group of early childhood educators. Ellen Galinsky is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2004 Distinguished Achievement Award from Vassar College and the Seven Wonders of the Work Life World from Working Mother magazine. She was elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources in 2005 and is the recipient of the 2014 Friend of Children Award from the Southern Early Childhood Association. She was honored as one of the 40 Women to Watch Over 40 for 2014. 

Ellen Galinsky is married to artist Norman Galinsky, and they are the parents of two grown children: Philip, an ethnomusicologist and founder-director of Samba New York, and Lara, the co-author of Be Bold and author of Work on Purpose. Norman and Ellen Galinsky have two grandchildren — Antonio and Azaiah

For more information on the summit's keynote speaker, please click here.


Joni Wickham
Chief of Staff, Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James

Joni Wickham is currently Chief of Staff to Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James. In that capacity she directs all communications, public policy and administrative matters for the Mayor and manages 14 staff and several interns. She has previously held positions in public policy, communications, and advocacy at the American Federation of Teachers, the Missouri Department of Transportation, and the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office. Throughout her career spanning over a decade, Joni has coordinated efforts to pass a variety of legislation and ballot measures, implemented public policy initiatives, managed messaging campaigns and high profile events, and led diverse teams in exceeding organizational goals. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Studies from Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina and a master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia. 

Sonja Erickson
Senior Research Analyst, Institute of Public Policy at the University of Missouri

Sonja Erickson is a Senior Research Analyst at the Institute of Public Policy (IPP) at the University of Missouri in Columbia.  Since joining the IPP in 2014, Ms. Erickson has conducted public policy research and analysis, as well as program evaluations, for a wide range of clients throughout Missouri.  Prior to joining the IPP, Ms. Erickson worked to evaluate and improve organizational performance as a management analyst for the University of Missouri Health System, and as a performance auditor for county government in Frederick County, Maryland and for the Kansas Legislature

Grace Protos
Regional Administrator, U.S. Department of Labor-Women's Bureau

Grace Protos is the Regional Administrator for several regions of the U.S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau. In her role at the Women’s Bureau, Grace designs and oversees the implementation of policy, research and projects devoted exclusively to promoting the advancement of working women. Her role also includes developing organizational channels for Women’s Bureau resources and partnership opportunities with companies, community-based organizations and state and local governments. In her capacity as Regional Administrator, she represents the interests of several million working women across several geographic regions covering 20 states and territories. She is responsible for contracts, programs and activities of the bureau in these regions. Before joining the Women’s Bureau, Grace was a senior vice president at MacKenzie Partners, Inc., a corporate advisory services firm, where she worked on corporate mergers, acquisitions and stakeholder identification and communications for clients who were Fortune 500 companies. Grace has a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University with a focus on women’s issues and the world of work. 

Cassidy Solis
Workplace Flexibility Program Specialist, Society of Human Resource Management
Cassidy Solis has served since September, 2012, as the Workplace Flexibility Program Specialist for SHRM’s Workplace Flexibility Initiative and Partnership with the Families and Work Institute (FWI).  She is responsible for growing When Work Works, the centerpiece of the Partnership, and for educating employers about workplace flexibility issues.

Jamie Creek
VP, IT Lead Operations, Lockton
Jamie Creek, AIT, has more than 20 years of IT experience. Today, in his current role as Vice President, Lead IT Specialist at Lockton Companies, Jamie is responsible for leading operational support teams supporting 1,750+ Associates in 14 locations. He continues to lead the development, maintenance, and deployment of the virtual desktop environment, managing 9 images with 150+ applications, for 2,300+ Associates across the United States. Prior to joining Lockton in 1999, he was the Assistant Director of IT for Clay County, Missouri.   

Justin Truckenbrod
SVP & Managing Director Total Rewards Consulting Practice, Lockton
Justin Truckenbrod is a seasoned total rewards executive with more than 16 years of experience in employee benefits, healthcare, insurance, compensation and various other aspects of HR consulting. Justin joined Lockton in 2014 as a Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Lockton’s Total Rewards Consulting Practice. 

Prior to joining Lockton, Justin previously served in a leadership role as a Vice President and Senior Consultant in the Human Capital Practice at Willis Group. He also worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota for over five years serving as a Senior Account Business Consultant for major and national accounts for the majority of his time there.

Lonnie Vanderslice
VP of Operations, Weave Gotcha Covered!
Lonnie Vanderslice is the co-founder and co-owner of Weave Gotcha Covered!, and serves as Vice President of Operations.  Weave Gotcha Covered! is a social entrepreneurship focused on providing training and mentoring for women from the marginalized community to manufacture high-end custom fabric products like window treatments, cushions, bedding and pillows. Lonnie is responsible for fiscal management, information technology support, and employee engagement, as well as a plethora of administrative responsibilities.  She is the liaison with the 100 Jobs for 100 Moms program at Amethyst place, a transitional home for women recovering from addiction, and their children.

Recognizing the need for vocational training in sewing skills and the interest shown by this population, Lonnie has recently co-founded The Sewing Labs, non-profit learning center established to teach, promote and sustain legacy skills in fiber, textile, and sewing arts in the Kansas City urban core with the ultimate goal of fostering economic self-sufficiency.  As Executive Director of The Sewing Labs, Lonnie is partnering with local business, non-profits, and government entities to form a pipeline of job-ready individuals – from post-incarceration and drug treatment to successful engagement in business and entrepreneurial communities.

Lonnie holds a Masters of Divinity from Unity Institute, and a Bachelor’s of Science from Northwest Missouri State University.  Her early career was in the clinical laboratory, where she quickly moved into management.  Enthralled with the power of possibility, when computers entered the medical field, Lonnie switched careers to clinical information systems consulting, providing information system implementation expertise nationwide, and then moved on to the telecommunications arena where she honed her business expertise. This set the stage for the entrepreneurial activity that became Weave Gotcha Covered!.

This year, Weave Gotcha Covered! has enjoyed a lot of publicity in the Kansas City area.  Weave Gotcha Covered was named by the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce as one of the top 10 small businesses in 2016 from a field of over 1000 businesses.  WGC was also named to the class of 2016 as one of the top 25 small businesses under 25 employees for 2016, and co-owner Kelly Wilson was named to the class of 2016 Women Who Mean Business.

Stay tuned for the announcement of the opening date of The Sewing Labs this fall, as this project launches training classes.  For more information, Lonnie can be reached by phone at 816.665.5279 or email at

Kari Keefe
Executive Director, KC Social Innovation Center
Kari is the founding Executive Director of KC Social Innovation Center, the nonprofit initiative from Think Big Partners that focuses on the social impact from technology, future workforce initiatives, and innovations in learning.  She works passionately to leverage technology to design and develop quality, inclusive, accessible education and workforce programming in Kansas City’s urban core.  Prior to KCSIC, Kari spent two years on a National Science Foundation grant working for the Mozilla Foundation managing an experimental fund for next-generation educational pilots that use gigabit technology to illustrate the transformative power of high-speed, low latency Internet and cyber physical systems on learning and workforce development.   

Kari has been instrumental in bringing the IEEE Smart Core Citie project, LRNG digital badge platform and Village Capital’s VilCap Communities -an education innovation and edtech sector accelerator program - to the KC region.   She serves on KC Digital Drive’s KC Education Innovation team, Cristo Rey High School Technology Advisory Committee, PREP KC TechStart Academy Advisory, KC STEM Alliance EcosySTEM Advisory Council, and is a member of the Kauffman Foundation’s Education Innovation Task Force and the Forbes Nonprofit Council.  

Kari graduated from the University of Wyoming with a degree in Business Administration.


Later Event: September 21
When Work Works Launch Party