Zachary Walker completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and a Masters Degree in Public Administration, both from the University of Missouri. He began his career working as a legislative assistant in the Missouri House of Representatives and a regional planner at the Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission before transitioning to local government administration. Since that time, he served 4 years in the City of Kansas City, Missouri, including roles in the Office of Management and Budget as well as the Capital Projects Department. From there, he served the last four years as the Management Analyst for the City of Independence, a role he held until his appointment as Assistant City Manager for the City of Independence in October 2015. Zach was appointed to the position of City Manager on October 1st, 2016.
Lauren Palmer completed a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Missouri- Columbia and Masters of Public Affairs from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Bloomington, Indiana. She is a member of the Missouri City/County Management Association and received the Credential Manager designation from the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Before joining the City of Independence, Lauren served as City Administrator for the City of Parkville, Missouri. Prior to her position in Parkville, Lauren served as Assistant City Manager for the City of Manhattan, Kansas where she held primary oversight for economic development, legislative relations, and labor relations. She began her career as a management intern and was promoted to Management Analyst in Des Moines, Iowa.
Before joining the City of Independence, Mark served as City Administrator for the City of Pleasant Hill since 1988, following three years with the City of Lee’s Summit as an Administrative Analyst. Before joining the staff in Lee’s Summit he spent three years as the Assistant to the Clay County Administrator. During his tenure at Pleasant Hill, he has managed the development of new parks, including a soccer complex, and the Rock Island Trail connection to the KATY Trail, directed public works projects, led downtown revitalization and industrial park development and other economic development projects. Mark was the 2014 recipient of the Regional Leadership Award from the Mid America Regional Council (MARC) and the 2014 recipient of the Outstanding Civil Servant Award from the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce. He is a member and former president of the Missouri City/County Management Association (MCMA), and was their 2004 recipient of the Jay T. Bell Professional Management Award. He is also a Certified Municipal Official through the Missouri Municipal League and a credentialed manager with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Mark completed a Bachelor of Arts at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri and Masters of Public Administration from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.
Christina Heinen has held numerous positions within the City since starting in 2007. She began her career as a laboratory technician with the Water Department. Immediately before joining the City Manager’s Office, she served as an Assistant Director for the Health Department. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences, a Bachelor of Arts in History, and a Masters of Public Health from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Master of Forensic Sciences from George Washington University. As a native of Independence, Missouri, she has a deep commitment to improving the quality of life for the residents of Independence.
John Mayfield completed a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from William Jewell College, Liberty, Missouri. Before joining the City of Independence John served as the 20th District State Representative for Northeast Independence, Buckner, Sibley and Sugar Creek. During John’s time in office he was recognized as an Emerging Leader of America by the non-partisan State Legislative Leaders Foundation. John has received other awards including the Independence Human Relations Commission’s Martin Luther King Jr. award and the Fort Osage Alumni Warrior Award for his dedication to the students of the Fort Osage School District. John serves as Vice-President of the Fort Osage Alumni Association and is involved in numerous local civic groups and activities.
Meg Lewis completed a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master of Arts with an emphasis in Journalism from the University of Missouri–Columbia. Before joining the City of Independence, Meg served as Director of Communications for Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel in Jefferson City. In that capacity she managed all strategic communications for the office and served as the office liaison for MOST—Missouri’s 529 College Savings Program. Zweifel promoted Lewis to the director position after she previously served as a communications coordinator in the treasurer’s office. Prior to that, she worked on the communications team for the Missouri Secretary of State’s office.
Kristen Ayers completed a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Arizona, and a Masters of Public Administration degree from Arizona State University. Prior to joining the Independence team, Kristen worked for the City of Surprise, Arizona as a Management Intern, as well as for the Alliance for Innovation. Kristen is the first member of the Harry S Truman Management Fellowship program, where she is being trained in city management best practices.
The City of Independence, which was incorporated in 1849, adopted a Charter in December 1961 establishing the Council-Manager form of government. Under the Council-Manager Plan, the City Council is the policy making body, elected by the citizens of Independence.
The City Manager is appointed by the Council and is responsible for implementing and carrying out the policies of the Council. As the chief administrative officer of the City, the City Manager exercises direction over all municipal operations; appointing department directors, overseeing the enforcement of all City laws and ordinances, and managing the City's affairs.
In addition, the City Manager's office provides support to the Mayor and City Council, City boards, commissions and committees; all other City departments; and is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the City.
The City Manager’s office also oversees special projects, negotiates contracts and work agreements on behalf of the City, and works closely with economic development organizations. Other responsibilities include: