Celebrating Administrative Professionals
April 24th is Administrative Professionals Day. During the month of April, Jackson County is celebrating our administrative professionals who are a vital part of our organization. We will be posting a series of stories to recognize those dedicated professionals who make up Jackson County.
Medical Examiner's Office
Georgianne Bear and Angie Swartz, administrative professionals in the Medical Examiner's Office.
TUESDAY, APRIL 30, 2019
Working in the Medical Examiner’s Office is not like most administrative professional careers. “We pretty much see everybody on their worst day, so we do our best to be patient and show kindness.” Guiding grieving people through an unfamiliar process is a special skill, and Jackson County is lucky to have two ladies that excel at it.
Longtime associates Georgianne Bear and Angie Swartz assist investigators and medical examiners with answering family members’ questions about their deceased loved ones and taking care of the vast reporting and administrative responsibilities of the office. “I’ve seen quite a bit. After 21 years.” begins Georgianne. “No day is the same,” remarked Angie. Georgianne agreed, adding, “Nothing is ever the same…the calls will come in and you don’t know what you’re going to get.”
Georgianne began her career in the Medical Examiner’s Office as an investigator and later transitioned to the administrative assistant role after suffering a back injury. Growing up in rural South Dakota, Georgianne farmed with her father before becoming a police officer in her hometown. She later moved to Kansas City and worked at Truman Medical Center’s trauma unit before joining the Medical Examiner’s Office.
She prepares case files on the deceased for the prosecutor’s office and supplies information to hospitals, law firms, transplant networks, and family members. In the event of major accidents, she will report to regulatory agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration or the National Transportation Safety Board. Georgianne also delivers statistics on motor vehicle accident deaths, suicide rates, and other public health issues for agencies conducting research.
Her even temperament and quiet competence is an asset in dealing with occasionally distraught family members and stressful situations. Georgianne enjoys working with the diverse and dedicated staff of the Medical Examiner’s Office. Her twin sons are getting close to graduating high school, so the idea of retirement is starting to sound attractive, but it’s not in her immediate plans.
Angie’s role at the Medical Examiner’s Office is as a forensic transcriptionist, and she also helps cover Georgianne’ s duties as needed. She has been with Jackson County for over 13 years. She gets an audio file of the doctor’s examination, with accompanying documentation. She then transcribes the audio into a text report for each case.
Angie prides herself on being extremely detail-oriented and following up whenever there is a question or detail that doesn’t exactly add up. Over time, she has gotten an education in human physiology and can detect when something seems unusual. Angie has also had to learn the different characteristics of each doctor’s examinations and checks with them if something is unclear. Her dedication to detail makes certain that the case files are as complete and accurate as humanly possible, which is important to determining cause of fatality and getting the facts to law enforcement, the medical community, and family members.
Angie has personally received calls and thank you cards from family members thanking her for helping them through the process of dealing with death, and that is what keeps her fulfilled and happy at her job. She plans to continue in her role for the foreseeable future. Jackson County is proud of the service of these outstanding administrative professionals in the Medical Examiner’s Office, and is honored to shine a spotlight on their work.
Executive Office Administrative Professional - Chriss Howard
THURSDAY, APRIL 25, 2019
Chriss Howard has seen a lot of change during her 20 years as an administrative professional for Jackson County. Including three county executives.
She was first hired as a temp in July of 1999 and then again in November of that year. She was hired full time in April of 2000 as the scheduler for the county executive. After three years in that position she moved to the GIS Department when it was founded and helped to open what is now the Public Works Tech Center. When the GIS director was also put in charge of IT, Chriss moved back to the downtown courthouse.
The administrative assistant in the Executive Office left and she was asked if she would consider moving to that position and is now the Executive Assistant. Her duties including paying bills, not only for the Executive Office, but also for anything that is specially funded and other contractual services throughout the county. She is also in charge of payroll for the department and fills in on the switchboard.
Chriss is a native of Akron, Ohio. Before starting at Jackson County she worked in the research and grants offices for Children’s Mercy and UMKC.
Being able to help people and make a difference is what Chriss likes best about her job.
“The receptionist’s desk is really the face of the county,” she said. “When people call there they are on their last, ‘I am frustrated,’ so to be able to calmly help people to find their destination is a plus. I feel like I have accomplished something and to be able to boost moral for those coming in and out of the office, that is the best part.”
Chriss said that after all of these years she has seen the big picture of Jackson County. “I know that it is more than just about me and the Executive Office. It is about the county as a whole. We are involved in so many things. Just looking at it from the outside, you have no way to fathom what you are really a part of.”
“I have been through the customer service presentations for the administrative assistants. As Parks+Rec Director Michele Newman says, ‘We are Jackson County and it is Showtime,’” she said.
Human Resources Department
HR Administrative Professionals - Tracy Jordan and Maria Leathers.
MONDAY, APRIL 15, 2019
Helping people is the most enjoyable part of the job for the two administrative professionals in the Human Resources Department.
Office Administrator Maria Leathers said, “As a young girl my mom taught me the importance of hard work and helping others so I pretty much carry that throughout my whole career as far as I love assisting people and helping people and making sure things are getting done so I do enjoy what I do.”
According to HR Specialist Tracy Jordan, she is a people person. “I guess that is what I love the most, dealing with people, trying to help them. Most people that come to Jackson County, I don’t think they know where to go, who to talk to. So just helping the people is what I really love.”
The two answer a lot of questions. Leathers said, “We get phone calls about anything as far as sick leave, to benefits, to FMLA, to overtime or whatever it is just constant calls about things. What forms, where are the forms? Especially for new employees we are constantly letting them know where to get things and this is what you need to do and of course we are always hiring new employees.”
On top of all of the questions she gets from county associates Jordan said she also answers a lot of questions from the public who come into the courthouse and do not know where to go. “People that come into Jackson County they don’t know where the courtrooms are, they don’t know where anything is sometimes.”
The two work as a team and cover for each other when one of them is off. “We want to make sure that when we are out, our desks don’t pile up with things that need to be done so, she and I work really well together,” Leathers said. “Tracy and I are Batman and Robin.”
“We try to provide the best professional public service to the employees and to the public. A lot of the time we rely on each other as far as different policies. We really have to know that personnel rule book to make sure that we are doing the proper things that we need to do so we work as a team on that,” she said.
Leathers is a Kansas City native and has been with Jackson County for four years. She has an undergrad degree from Avila University and has worked in the office management field her entire career. Her typical duties include managing the HR office, assisting the director and deputy director in the day to day processes and work flow.
If there was one thing she could change about her job Leathers said it would be to automate the circulation of paper work that needs to be hand delivered between departments.
“I would really like to see an automated system in place so that it would allow us to work more efficiently with probably less errors, we could better track things,” she said. “The director is working to get that in place but it takes time.”
Jordan has been with Jackson County for four years following eight years working for the city of Kansas City. She grew up in Kansas City and attended Penn Valley and Longview College.
Parks + Rec Department
Parks + Rec Administrative Professionals - Kay Norris, Stephenie Thompson, Jordin Mahnke and Susan Kinnaman.
MONDAY, APRIL 8, 2019
To keep a department as large as Parks + Rec moving smoothly it takes four very experienced administrative professionals.
Susan Kinnaman, office and volunteer coordinator, said that things are always busy around the parks. “One misconception about the parks department is that they think we have down time in the winter. There is no down time out here.”
Kay Norris an administrative assistant who handles maintenance expenditures agrees. “We never stop spending money. There are always repairs. We never stop fixing water leaks and things that are broken.”
The duties for all of the women have expanded over time.
Norris has been with county for 17 years. “There is something different every day,” she said.
Stephenie Thompson started as an administrative assistant more than two years ago and moved to program analyst with the historic sites division to replace someone who left.
Thompson said she coordinates field trips, helps with events and does whatever needs taking care of.
Jordin Mahnke started as a dispatcher for the Park Rangers nearly five years ago and has also recently been given the duties of information systems coordinator.
She said, “Along with dispatching, answering phones and providing information for visitors, the Rangers now have iPads in the field and I worked with IT to create website where all of our forms and reports live. So there are updates that I do. I take care of teaching them how to us the software on the iPads and just general stuff around the office.”
“Everything changes every day,” she said. “It’s kind of different. You find yourself doing something different but it is very interesting. If you don’t know about it you can learn about it and I find that is the best part. Just learning something new every day.”
Kinnaman, who has been with the department for 15 years, said the biggest part of her job lately is moving the system for tracking volunteers to an online system. Each volunteer can now log their own hours.
They all agree that there is no other department that they would rather work for. “I feel very blessed to be here and be around the people that we are around,” Mahnke said.
According to Kinnaman, “It’s like a family. I have said it so many times, it’s a family.”
Norris agreed the best part of the job is the people she works with but also added, “You see the lake through every window that you look out.”
“I love my job, it’s a great place to work. It’s the only job that I have had that I look forward to coming to work,” Thompson said.