Mayor James Announces New Milestones to Women’s Empowerment Initiative

January 7, 2015 - KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
‘New Year, New You, New City’ Professional Development Module to Kickoff at City Hall, Along with the Appointment of Mishelle Martinez to Serve on the Kansas City Land Bank

Today Mayor Sly James unveiled the ‘New Year, New You, New City’ Professional Development Module at City Hall.  The module aims to tackle one of the goals of the Women’s Empowerment (WE) Initiative blueprint.  The Women’s Empowerment Initiative, the first of its kind in the nation, was launched last October in collaboration between the Mayor’s Office, Central Exchange, the Women’s Foundation, and the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s Women’s Center. The overall goals of the Initiative are to ensure the City of Kansas City, Missouri is an inclusive, diverse organization that supports women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.  A blueprint of data-driven, research-based action items was unveiled in March and today’s announcement serves as another update on its progress. To learn more about the Womens Empowerment Initiative, visit

The professional development module, of which participation is open to both men and women in City government, is composed of three different programs: a city-wide mentorship pilot program, a series of professional development classes, and a series of Lunch-and-Learn Seminars.  The pilot mentorship program serves as the first of its kind at City Hall.  Upon completion of the online application process, 40 City employes have been selected and paired with one another, 20 mentors and 20 mentees, to participate in the year-long pilot program.  Mentorship pairs will meet once a month to share experiences, outline goals, and define areas of growth for their respective careers.

The module will also offer four separate professional development classes focusing on topics such as leadership, networking, and strengthening communication skills through a partnership with the Central Exchange Speakers Bureau.  The professional development classes will be scheduled twice a quarter to accommodate a variety of schedules.  In addition, the Central Exchange is offering 20 one-year memberships to 20 City employees, all of whom were nominated by Department Directors to participate in this opportunity.

The bi-monthly Lunch-and-Learn Seminars included in the module will feature presentations from high-ranking City officials, focusing on their particular areas of expertise.  The seminars are scheduled to begin in February.

“This dynamic professional development module will offer all City employees, at each level of City government, the opportunity to strengthen their skill sets, as well as enhance their ability to advance in their careers,” said Mayor Sly James. “Measurable progress continues to be made in pursuing the tactics and strategies of the WE Initiative blueprint. I am proud of the work of all of those involved in this process. The development of this module and its focused approach will greatly benefit the way our City government operates.”

In addition, Mayor James also announced today the appointment of Mishelle Martinez to the Kansas City Land Bank. The Women’s Foundation promoted the appointment of Martinez through the Appointments Project, which launched in April based on Women’s Foundation research conducted as part of the Mayor’s Women’s Empowerment Initiative to include more women in positions of leadership in city government.

Mishelle Martinez is an attorney at Polsinelli, practicing in the firm’s Construction, Energy and Real Estate Litigation Practice. Martinez earned both her J.D. and B.A. from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

“I’m deeply honored to be appointed to the Land Bank,” said Martinez. “Resolving issues of abandoned and blighted property is good for the overall success of the City and ultimately helps attract business and makes Kansas City a better place to work and live. I am sincerely grateful to the Women’s Foundation’s Appointments Project for their dedication to getting women involved in the City’s boards and commissions.”




Contact: Joni Wickham: 816-513-6582 or cell: 816-572-2152