A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Joni and her indisputable southern accent arrived in Kansas City almost 10 years ago after leading initiatives within state and federal government as well as advocacy organizations. In her eight years with the mayor’s office—the majority of them spent as Chief of Staff—Joni has proven herself as an accomplished political strategist, communications expert, and organizational leader. She directed public policy initiatives, communications tactics, and administrative decision-making during her tenure with Mayor Sly James, all while promoting women’s leadership and empowerment issues. An artful negotiator, Joni helped steer Sly’s major development projects in Kansas City while raising the city’s profile at the national and international levels. Her front-row seat at city hall shed light on how local government is still very much a man’s world, and this motivated her to create a first-of-its-kind women’s empowerment initiative, which has been implemented in several major cities. Read more here.
Joni's book, The Thin Line Between Cupcake and Bitch, will be available July 14. Preorder here.
Maria Maffry, Moderator
Moderated discussion will be led by Maria Maffry, Principal and Chief Business Development Officer at BNIM. A visionary leader and recognized change agent for women’s empowerment, Maria leads from her core personal value of advocacy. Her expertise in business development, strategic planning, and business oversight have helped to establish BNIM as an international leader in design excellence, sustainable practices, and thought leadership. As a civic leader, she contributes her time and expertise to a number of organizations and currently serves on five professional boards. Maria was named to the 2015 class of the Kansas City Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business, and she frequently serves as a speaker and panelist for women's leadership and innovation. In addition to serving as a recurring moderator for ULI’s Women’s Leadership Initiative Fearless Leaders series, Maria recently served as co-chair for the Women’s Employments Network’s Annual Luncheon event and the WIN for KC Women’s Sports Awards Celebration.