Overland Park taps Johnson County native, former city official as new city manager

Lori Curtis Luther, Overland Park's new city manager is set to start in August. Image courtesy city of Overland Park.

Following a months-long search, the city of Overland Park has found its new city manager to replace Bill Ebel, who retired earlier this year.

Who is it? At Monday’s meeting, the Overland Park City Council announced Lori Curtis Luther as the new permanent city manager, just the city’s sixth in its history.

  • Curtis Luther is not completely new to Overland Park, having served as assistant city manager from 2001 to 2005.
  • She currently serves as the city manager in Beloit, Wisconsin, a position she’s held since 2015.
  • She graduated from Olathe North High School and has a Master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas.

Previous experience: In Beloit, she focused on improving the city’s police department, growing the business community, and connecting with surrounding and indigenous communities in the area, a city press release says.

  • Other city and county roles Curtis Luther has held in her career include county administrator for Peoria County, Illinois, and city administrator for Waukesha and Reedsburg in Wisconsin.

Previous time in Overland Park: Some of Curtis Luther’s work in Overland Park city administration nearly two decades ago included budgeting, strategic planning and economic development, with a focus on neighborhood revitalization and redevelopment, the city says.

  • As an assistant city manager, she helped oversee the Overland Park Fire Department’s transition from a private to public service and the Tomahawk Ridge Elementary School building’s transition into the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center.

What’s next: The council unanimously voted to appoint Curtis Luther as the new city manager, pending her approval of the employment and relocation agreements of the position, with a tentative start date set for sometime in August.

  • “Lori has a proven track record of local government leadership, and I’m excited about her passion and energy to move our organization forward,” said Mayor Curt Skoog in a release.

In her own words: At Monday’s meeting, Curtis Luther expressed excitement about getting to work with community partners in Overland Park and continue the city’s “forward momentum,” as she termed it.

  • “I am so excited to return home and to lead this organization and to be part of the Overland Park community again,” she said. “This is truly an opportunity to come full circle.”

Replacing Ebel: Ebel formally stepped down in March after announcing his intention to retire last year, after 11 years on the job.

  • Overall, Ebel served in Overland Park city government for 21 years.
  • He often earned plaudits from councilmembers for his leadership on the city budget, especially during the troubled months following the pandemic shutdowns.
  • But he also garnered criticism for his handling of a severance agreement with the former Overland Park police officer who shot and killed teenager John Albers during a welfare check in 2018.