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Instructor Biographies

Kelly Walsh, Dan Jones & Mike Burton


Kelly Walsh: Kelly helps individuals and organizations achieve exceptional performance by applying specific tools and techniques that guide leadership development.   She works on large scale vision and strategy but also deploys specific actionable steps that deliver measurable results. 


Kelly has worked in a variety of industries including for profit, non-profit, and city government, but her heart is with the public sector where she can bring her strengths to the people who protect and serve our communities. 

Uniquely qualified to work with Fire Departments, Kelly has 20 years of experience in Human Resources with 10 years as an HR partner (partially imbedded) to a 350 person municipal fire department in Mesa, Arizona.  She holds a Master of Education degree with a major in Counseling, is a certified leadership coach and mediator, and has worked in organizations as a recruiter, leader, mentor, trainer, coach, and strategist. 

The development of future leaders and creating a culture of well-being for employees are at the cornerstone of Kelly’s expertise.


She has authored, and is featured as an industry expert in, articles published in the Wall Street Journal, Computer World, CEO Blog Nation, Huffington Post, and others.

Dan Jones:  Dan Jones entered the fire service in February 1974 and rose through the ranks to retire as a Fire Chief in 2015.  Jones served for over 16 years in the Pinellas Park, Florida Fire Department before relocating to Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1990 to become Fire Chief.  Upon his retirement, Jones was the longest serving municipal fire chief in the State of North Carolina.


Chief Jones has served on a variety of committees, councils and boards at the local, state and national levels.  Jones is the former Editor-in-Chief of National Fire & Rescue Magazine and is a Past-President for the International Society of Fire Service Instructors.  He is a former special on-air commentator for CNN Headline News Network on breaking fire and rescue stories.  He is a frequent emergency services conference speaker and is recognized throughout the fire service as an authority in the field of leadership, management, campus housing fire safety, fire sprinklers and motorsports fire-rescue.  He was a guest lecturer at the University of North Carolina and has taught or presented in 34 states, Canada, England, Germany, Botswana and Scotland.  Jones is the recipient of numerous awards including Florida Fire Instructor of the Year, IAFC Presidents Award and North Carolina's highest civilian honor, Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award. 

Chief Jones attended St. Petersburg College, Alamance Community College, the National Fire Academy, the National Staff & Command program at the University of Maryland, and the Institute of Government at the University of North Carolina.    Jones has held up to twelve emergency services technical certifications.  He currently resides in Chapel Hill with his wife of 44 years in a home they built with fire sprinklers. 

Mike Burton: 

MS, BS, EFO, CFO, Fire Chief, Pinellas Suncoast Fire Rescue District (Ret.); Tamarac, FL Fire Rescue Department (Ret.); Greenville, NC (Ret.); Grand Rapids, MI (Ret.); St. Petersburg, FL (Ret.)

Mike Burton is a 46-year veteran of the fire and EMS service. Burton started his career in St. Petersburg, FL. and subsequently served as the fire chief in Grand Rapids, MI; Greenville, NC; Tamarac, FL; and recently retired from the Pinellas Suncoast Fire Rescue District.  

Mike is a credentialed Chief Fire Officer through the Center for Public Safety Excellence and serves as a peer reviewer for Chief Fire Officer Candidates for the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Commission on Fire Accreditation International. He serves the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) on their Program Planning Committee for their annual international conference and served six years on the IAFC’s Human Relations Committee.

He holds a master’s degree from Grand Canyon University in Executive Fire Service Leadership, and a bachelor's in Organizational Studies from Eckerd College. He is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program through the U.S. Fire Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency and serves as an instructor at the National Fire Academy.

With support from the National Development & Research Institute, Inc., he also provides training through United In Service, a diverse group of colleagues committed to social justice issues within the fire service.  

Mike has been married to his wife Mary for 45 years and they enjoy seven grandchildren.

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Igniting the leadership fire in fire department leaders for more than two decades 

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