Women in Public Service: Year Recap

Women in Public Service (WPS) is an association of public service professionals with a mission to inspire past, current, and future generations by addressing relevant topics for women in public service. We aim to instill knowledge through education, networking, and professional development, strengthening local government and community leadership. Throughout the year, WPS hosts bi-monthly events in central locations in Wichita, fostering opportunities for networking and shared learning. While these events are open to both members and non-members, exclusive perks are available to members.

We recently hosted our yearly WPS conference in July, and despite initial concerns about lower attendance due to the summer timing, we were thrilled to witness a fantastic turnout. Out of the 55 women who registered, an impressive 54 attended, making it an outstanding achievement for event organizers. This success can be attributed directly to the caliber of the presenters - exceptionally talented and wise women who graced the front of the rooms this year. 

Having spent years curating leadership training in multi-day events, I often liken planning an event to creating a mixtape. as a child of the 1980s, I took great pride in my mixtape-making skills; Sitting before a double tape player and cultivating a mood and overall experience. Just like the order of songs on a mixtape is crucial in producing a specific mood and musical experience, crafting a conference lineup involves creating a sense of trust and progression in professional development. This aspect of conference planning is gratifying, likely due to my executive coaching training. Building an environment for curiosity and change is much of what professional coaches do. Creating a day-long experience where participants can be guided through essential concepts and ideas in a trustworthy environment is paramount. The goal is to provide a safe, inspiring, and meaningful experience sprinkled with practical technical tips that attendees can return to their workplaces and implement.

I am profoundly grateful to each woman who presented this year and all those who attended. Attendees came from various organizations, and all were actively engaged in the experience. Throughout the conference, several themes emerged, including the significance of embracing change, even if it happens gradually and incrementally. Additionally, managing our triggers was a topic that resonated with many, highlighting the importance of personal development on an ongoing basis. Furthermore, our interactions' themes of civility and curiosity were recurrent, emphasizing the need for respectful and open dialogues. Another central theme that gained prominence during the conference was the significance of self-care for women in public service.

We acknowledged women's essential role as models for others in their professional and personal lives. It was emphasized that to continue being influential, effective leaders and change agents, women must prioritize their well-being and take time to recharge. Identifying what rejuvenates and energizes them individually was considered a vital aspect of self-care. The conference sessions provided insights into various self-care practices and techniques participants could incorporate into their busy lives.

Understanding the demands of the public service sector, where challenges can be constant and time constraints relentless, taking care of ourselves was seen not as a luxury but an absolute necessity. By nurturing our mental and physical health, we can enhance our ability to lead, inspire, and positively impact our communities. The conference encouraged open discussions about the unique stressors women in public service may face and the strategies to build resilience and maintain well-being. The message was clear: as women in public service, we owe it to ourselves, and those we serve, to prioritize self-care and well-being. By doing so, we improve our individual lives and set a powerful example for future generations of women in public service.

Thanks to the exceptional presenters and the enthusiastic engagement of the attendees, the Women in Public Service Conference was a resounding success. It reaffirms our commitment to empowering women in the public service sector and strengthening leadership in our local government and communities. We look forward to continuing this journey and welcoming new faces to our thriving community.

Being part of WPS has been an honor, as it provides a safe space for women to build a supportive community and foster valuable professional networks. As we move forward, I encourage you to explore our upcoming events, such as the Luncheon on September 1, and our awards night October 26, for which nominations are now open.