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Kristen Ziman
Former Police Chief of the Aurora IL Police Department (Ret.)
Speaker | Author | Leader | Change Agent

Kristen is the former Police Chief of the Aurora IL Police Department (Ret.). In Kristen’s 30-year career in law enforcement, she blazed trails: she became the first woman Lieutenant in 2008, first woman Commander in 2010, and eventually the first woman Chief in her department’s history in January of 2016. Kristen was also the Chief on watch during a mass shooting in her hometown Aurora, IL.

Since retiring from the department, Kristen has now stepped into her new career as a professional speaker and consultant for organizations and police departments focused on the areas of leadership, women empowerment, positive psychology, and mass shooting prevention.

Kristen is also the author of Reimagining Blue: Thoughts on Life, Leadership, and a New Way Forward in Policing, a passionate and personal memoir of a misunderstood profession through the vantage point of a female police chief.

Read Kristen’s Long Bio

Kristen Ziman joined the Aurora Police force in 1991 as a police cadet and became a sworn officer in 1994. She worked in patrol, field training, community policing and investigations as a domestic violence detective before being promoted to sergeant in 2003.  She was promoted to lieutenant in 2008 and to Commander in 2010 and Chief of Police in January of 2016.

She recently retired after 30 years with the department and launched a professional speaking and consulting business to pursue her passion of helping organizations through leadership challenges. She also led her department through a mass shooting where five people were killed and five of her officers were shot. Her life’s mission has become to prevent the next mass casualty. And she provides guidance to organizations on lessons learned from the incident in her city.

Kristen earned her Associates Degree from Waubonsee Community College in 1994. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Aurora University and a Master’s Degree from Boston University. She earned a 2nd Master’s Degree in Homeland Security and Defense from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. She is a graduate of the FBI National Academy #249. She completed the Kellogg Women’s Senior Leadership Program at Northwestern University, Senior Executives in State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and the Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP).

Kristen is the author of Reimagining Blue: Thoughts on Life, Leadership, and a New Way Forward in Policing, a passionate and personal memoir of a misunderstood profession through the vantage point of a female police chief.

Kristen serves as Vice President at Large for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).





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Reimagining Blue: Thoughts on Life, Leadership, and a New Way Forward in Policing

Reimagining Blue is a passionate and personal analysis of a misunderstood profession from the vantage point of female police chief Kristen Ziman.

Ziman credits her colorful childhood for the temperament that led her to gravitate toward policing, a profession where chaos is all in a day’s work. Many times, she learned life and leadership lessons through the revelation of what not to do.

But nothing could have prepared Kristen for the turmoil that would unfold during her tenure. A mass shooting, a pandemic, and civil unrest that threatened the trusting relationship between her department and her community became her greatest professional challenges.

This deeply moving memoir is a story of resilience and perseverance in policing―and in life. It’s a raw and honest portrayal told by a flawed human about a noble profession suffering an identity crisis. Reimagining Blue is an urgent call to find a way forward, not because the system is broken, but because it can always be better.

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Police Chief Kristen Ziman Is on a Mission to Prevent Mass Shootings

The former top cop of Aurora, Ill., says that when it comes to shooters, ‘we are tripping over red flags’

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Kristen had the engagement from the entire room – listening to every word, as she walked us through the nightmare that her team endured that day. 

Articulating all the “if only’s”  that could/should have been communicated to the HR department sooner, which would have drastically changed the outcome of that day.  Numerous attendees left knowing their management teams needed to rethink their approach and the request to have her speak again so they could include more of their team to hear her powerful message.

Barbara Wood

Strategic Account Manager – Convergint Technologies

Chief Ziman was the keynote speaker at the opening meeting of our 2021 Annual Training Conference.

Her extensive experience and insight in contemporary policing provided a great beginning to a successful week of learning.  The impressiveness of her presentation was emphasized throughout the week by many conference participants.  

Mark Fettinger, MPA

Executive Director
International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors, Inc.

The Hollow Bunny Leadership Podcast

By Kristen Ziman and Sylvia Moir

Some leaders are full of substance, and others are hollow bunnies. Kristen Ziman and Sylvia Moir, having experienced both, share what they've learned and talk with other industry leaders in conversations that will frequently devolve from focused to fun.

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