LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas has named an alumna who is known regionally for her impressive public administration track record as the new director of its Public Management Center (PMC) and courtesy professor within the School of Public Affairs and Administration.
Laura Howard was selected to lead the PMC after a nationwide search. She is an experienced public sector leader who has held top posts in legislative and executive offices at the state and federal levels. As director, Howard will return to the institution where she earned her law degree in 1984.
“I am thrilled to welcome Laura to the team,” said Reggie Robinson, director of the School of Public Affairs and Administration. “She has provided nearly 30 years of dedicated public service, and she has a passion for helping people and nurturing leadership. She has a keen awareness of the changing nature of the public workforce, and I am confident she will engage the pressing challenges and seize the remarkably exciting opportunities that lie ahead.”
Most recently, Howard has been regional administrator for Region VII, which includes Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She also served in various senior leadership roles during 15 years with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. She is currently a member of the Kansas Health Foundation Fellows Cohort VIII (2014-2015).
“I have a firm commitment to good government, and I have observed the value that the Public Management Center brings as a resource to local, state and federal governments through its focus on professionalism and strong leadership practices,” Howard said. “I look forward to building upon the history and impressive reputation of the center and school while continuing to advance the ability of public managers to address strategic challenges facing their communities.”
Howard is known for building alliances to develop and sustain human services, health care policies and initiatives in communities throughout the region. She has also worked diligently to improve local health care services for children, low-income persons and persons with disabilities. Throughout her career and volunteer experiences she has been looked to as a thoughtful adviser, strategist, expert in state financing, and cross-agency and cross-systems collaborator. Howard has won several awards for advocacy in human services.
Howard has been trained as a master facilitator and has been a guest lecturer over the course of the last two decades at KU, Kansas State University and Washburn University in the social work and political science departments. She will build on this experience as an instructor in both the PMC’s and the school’s courses.
In addition, Howard has been a longtime supporter of the Kansas Certified Public Manager program, a professional development opportunity housed within the PMC, by actively recommending and sending her staff through the nationally accredited program.
Howard replaces Charles Jones, who retired in June after 11 years as director. Jones will continue to teach in the School of Public Affairs and Administration as a lecturer.
The Public Management Center is the professional development arm of the School of Public Affairs and Administration. The PMC provides award-winning leadership training programs to the state and regional workforce: Kansas Certified Public Manager Program, Emerging Leaders Academy, Law Enforcement Leadership Academy, Supervisory Leadership Training, along with custom courses and annual training events, including the Inspiring Women in Public Administration Conference and the Kansas City / County Management Conference.