By Nicole Aguiniga
Lee’s Summit City Hall, finished in 2006, sits at 220 SE Green Street, a home to many City Representatives, Officials, the Mayor and many offices that help Lee’s Summit run as smoothly as it can. One of those offices houses the City Clerk, Denise Chisum, who is celebrating her 30th year with the City of Lee’s Summit.
Denise was born and raised in Lee’s Summit. Her parents bought a 43-acre farm in 1949 and Denise currently lives on the remaining 1 ╜ acres, after moving back to Lee’s Summit from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Denise said that working for the City of Tulsa started off her career, “I was looking for a job, after my first daughter was born, and never thought to look at the City. There was an ad for an Assistant City Commission Secretary and I started working there. It started as a job and became a career.”
After working with the City of Tulsa for seven years, Denise moved back to Lee’s Summit. She started the job hunt and tried the private sector but found that wasn’t for her, before she found a spot in City Hall. “An opening came up in the planning department here [Lee’s Summit City Hall] and so I started over there and when the City Clerk left, I moved into the City Clerk position in February of ‘91.”
When asking Denise what she does as a City Clerk, she said, with a huge smile, “Everything.” It was obvious that smile meant that regardless of how much work Denise does being the City Clerk, she loves the career that has unfolded around her.
Denise, as City Clerk is the custodian of records and you would be surprised how much ends up directed to her office. The City Clerk and Deputy City Clerk are responsible for:
- Assisting the Mayor and City Council by preparing agendas and packets of information, attending Council meetings and maintaining official City documents.
- Updating and maintaining the Code of Ordinances for the City of Lee’s Summit
- Election authority for the City and coordinator of elections with Jackson and Cass counties, accepts filings for elected offices, certifies election results, and administers the oath of office to new public officials.
- Prepares and maintains cemetery deeds and answers public questions about these documents.
- Plus many more.
Denise is active in many professional organizations, including:
- IIMC (International Institute of Municipal Clerks),
- MoCCFOA (Missouri City Clerks and Finance Officers Association), and
- MML (Missouri Municipal League)
Now, after 24 years as City Clerk, Denise has attained the designation of MPCC (Missouri Professional City Clerk) through the Missouri City Clerks and Finance Officers Association and the designation of MMC (Master Municipal Clerk) through IIMC. She was named the Missouri “Outstanding City Clerk” in 2007, and has served MoCCFOA in every elected office. While President of MoCCFOA, she spearheaded the creation of the certification program for Missouri clerks.
Denise also served as Director on the Missouri Municipal League Board of Directors and currently represents the states of Missouri, Kansas and Illinois as Region VII Director on the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC) Board of Directors. She helped create the City’s Citizens Leadership Academy in 2011 that runs January through April. The program teaches citizens about the inner workings of their government.
When asked if she enjoys participating in these organizations she said, “Oh, yes. I never thought I could do it, because I’m really pretty shy, but I have a passion for my job and mentoring. I’m a teacher at heart. It makes me feel good. Some Clerks that I respect very much have told me I’ve inspired them to become more involved in our organizations. It’s a great feeling.”
Denise also has a love for history. “By default I’m the City historian, mainly because I love history. We do a lot of research, which most people find tedious, but we love to unravel the puzzle.” Denise also is one of six writers for the soon-to-be-released history book sponsored by the Historical Society of Lee’s Summit. The book, “History of Lee’s Summit 1865-2015” will be available for Presale in August.
Denise also enjoys supporting her community by being a subcommittee member for special events for the Truly 150 Committee, a committee that is planning Lee’s Summit’s 150 birthday celebration with events throughout the year. The Celebrate 150! event will take place on August 1st with a parade and an evening extravaganza that starts at 6 pm at Lee’s Summit High School.
Denise commented on the possibility of retiring in the near future, she isn’t sure when, since she is happy where she is. When it happens she has lots of projects planned and wouldn’t mind spending more time with her two daughters and five grandchildren, plus another one that’s on the way.
For more information about the job duties of the City Clerk, check out the website www.cityofls.net or for more information about the Truly 150 committee and events, check out www.truly150.com.
Look for this weekly column showcasing the successful women of Lee's Summit. To recognize women who have dug in their high heels and are making an impact contact firstname.lastname@example.org