FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 14, 2018
Gary Reese, a 23-year veteran of the Kansas City Fire Department, has been appointed chief. City Manager Troy Schulte made the announcement on Wednesday during an event celebrating KCFD’s 150th anniversary.
The position had been officially open since former Chief Paul Berardi retired Nov. 11, 2017, after 32 years with the department.
“Chief Reese brings fresh and innovative ideas to this top leadership spot,” Schulte said. “His business approach, combined with his experience coming up through the department, will help us tackle the deployment and overtime issues while continuing to excel at public safety and firefighting.”
Reese, 46, most recently held the title of division chief. He said he believes his field experience and his administrative training is the perfect blend for his new role as chief.
“Unifying the department is one of the main goals I had when I applied,” said Reese, who holds a master’s degree in business from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “My experience is strong, especially my educational background and I feel well prepared to lead the department through the challenges we’ll face in the future.”
Schulte also announced that KCFD Assistant Chief Donna Maize is moving to City Hall to become assistant city manager for public safety. She replaces Mike Schumacher, who is leaving Kansas City to be the next Chief Administrator in Lebanon, Missouri.
Maize has been with the fire department since 1992, serving in various roles. As assistant chief, she was mainly responsible for managing facilities, logistics, IT and communications.
Finally, Jade Liska is being promoted to Deputy Director of Aviation Planning & Engineering for Kansas City International Airport and Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport. In his new role, Liska will serve as project manager in the design and construction of a new passenger terminal at KCI, coordinating with the outside design and construction team and Aviation Department leadership.
“We are happy to be able to promote from within to take advantage of Jade’s institutional knowledge,” said Director of Aviation Pat Klein. He has already hit the ground running by utilizing his existing relationships with contractors and civic leaders. He will be an excellent asset as we embark on designing and building a new terminal for the Kansas City region.”
Liska has been with the City for more than 12 years, starting his career as a planner. He transferred to Aviation in 2014 to become manager of the airport planning and engineering division.
“We have filled these three positions by promoting from our current staff,” Schulte said. “This shows the quality of the leadership we are building within the ranks, and puts their expertise and experience to work for our residents in new ways.”
Wednesday’s announcements were made at the site where Francis Foster became the City’s first Fire Chief by taking ownership of the John Campbell Steamer No. 1 on March 14, 1868. The first engines had large tubes that emitted steam. A separate truck had the hoses and both trucks were pulled by a team of horses which then had to be safely removed from the scene of the fire.
Media inquiries should be directed to City Communications Director, Chris Hernandez, by email or at 816-513-3474.