Meet Dean

Being in service to others is at the
core of who I am. It’s how I was
raised, what I’ve spent my life doing,
& why I want to be your
City Councilor At-Large


The example of service.

My father, Speros, was a Greek immigrant who fought with the Greek resistance during WWII. When all was lost to the Nazis, he caught a ship in Piraeus, the port of Athens, and fled to the U.S. He immediately joined the U.S. Army and went back to Europe to fight as an American soldier.

He spent a little time at the Topeka VA hospital after the war and soon settled in Coffeyville. My mother, Maria, was also Greek. Her family came to the States in the 20’s and she was born in Boston. Much of her family relocated to Kansas City. And it was there that she and my father had an old-world arranged marriage. 

My dad was killed in a car wreck when I was six. My mother raised my sister, Kris, and me as a single parent. Initially in Coffeyville, she ran our family restaurant. She went on to work as a linotype operator and reporter for the Coffeyville Journal. She earned her GED then went to Coffeyville Community College for her Associates Degree. We then moved to Emporia so that she could earn her teaching degree. From there, we moved to Leavenworth where she spent her full career teaching kindergarten to third grade in Leavenworth Public Schools.

My mother raised us in the traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church and with several classical Greek core values that have served as guideposts throughout my life. The first is the idea of independent critical thinking. It is your responsibility to question all that is around you and to use your own logic based deductive skills to reach sound conclusions. You are in charge of leading yourself and you determine your life.

The second is Philotimo, which is considered to be the highest of all Greek virtues. The core concept is that of respect and walking in right paths. In its simplest form, the term means "doing good," acting in a way that ensures one's behavior is exemplary and demonstrates one's personality and the manner in which one was raised. Philotimo best describes the value that underpins my actions as I have worked to demonstrate how I was raised and honor the service my parents demonstrated in their actions.



Service to our nation.

My military service began when I was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant through KU’s ROTC program. Over the next 30 years my wife, Julie, and I, both born and raised Kansas, travelled the world. I had numerous assignments in Washington, D.C. and throughout the U.S. My operational assignments took me to Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East. We had many “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore” moments and I learned that leadership is not about the exercise of power. It is about service to others.

I am fortunate to have spent a lot of time deployed in the military. I have served with the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Infantry Divisions; as well as the 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions. During these assignments, I commanded two companies, a battalion, and a brigade. I am a veteran of both Iraq and Kosovo operations. Serving with soldiers in the field is an extraordinary honor and taught me the balance between the lesson that you must always lead from the front. There is no substitute for presence. And that a good leader is an equally good follower.

After brigade command in Europe, I worked as the Chief of Staff for the Chief Operating Officer of the Defense Logistics Agency in Washington. DLA is the Defense Departments supply chain organization responsible for the purchase and distribution of the full spectrum of materials used by all of the Services world-wide. 

My final assignment was at Fort Leavenworth where I served as the Director of Academic Operations for the Command and General Staff College.  In this role, I provided oversight of all aspects of the delivery of educational programs and support to 16,000 officers annually and provided oversight of professional development for the 300-member faculty. While there, I also ran the Army’s School for Command Preparation. The school provides final education for incoming battalion and brigade commanders. It is their last step before they ship out around the world to assume their key leadership positions. The responsibility of ensuring the success of our troops was never lost on me and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to assist our troops in that important step.



Continued Service.

My service to others did not stop when my military career ended. Upon retiring from active duty in 2006, my wife and I settled down in Olathe. For the last 15 years, we have put down roots and committed ourselves to supporting the good life here in the City of Champions.

In civilian life, I’ve been honored to serve in management and leadership roles in operations for corporate and educational institutions. In these roles, I was able to hone and exercise the principle that a good leader is a sound manager. You must know your business.

As the Associate Vice President, Finance and Administration for Park University, I provided financial and administrative management of Park University’s extended campus system consisting of 40 locations outside of Parkville and around the country supporting 20,000 students.

And as the Chief Operating Officer for the K-State University Olathe Campus, I managed all aspects of financial, facilities, human resources, information technology, security and general administration. Duties required both strategic and operational level decisions with a cross-functional focus.

My eight years in higher education was focused on public service, helping to prepare both undergraduate and graduate students to be successful in life and engaged members of their communities. That experience was a good reminder that my role is to continuously set the stage for the success of others.


Serving you on olathe city council.

I have continued my public service on 15 different boards and commissions. I served as the President of the Olathe Citizens Association. This small group established the grassroots campaign to help orchestrate the Street Maintenance Sales Tax initiative. We raised $65,000 to finance the campaign, which culminated in a successful ballot initiative during November 2013. The result is a ten year 3/8th cent sales tax that translates to over $90 million to help fund residential street maintenance. Every year since, this source of funding has helped to improve the quality of City streets.

I’ve also served on the City Library Board and as a City Planning Commissioner. For the last five years I have Chaired the Planning Commission, giving me an in depth look at the needs and possibilities of Olathe. Building on that experience, I also served on the Olathe 2040 Future Ready Community Advisory Committee helping to steer the development of Olathe’s new Strategic Plan.

Good fortune allowed me to retire from the full-time workforce this past February. While I was a little sentimental as I stepped away from my Chief Operating Officer duties at the K-State Olathe campus, I have long looked forward to increasing my level of public service.

A lifelong learner, I have just completed a two-year Master of Public Administration program at KU. This degree reflects my continued public service commitment, and the knowledge it represents adds further value to what I feel I can contribute to Olathe, Johnson County, and the KC metro community.

Olathe experienced a tragic loss of leadership this past year. Former Mayor Copeland left an indelible mark on Olathe. I look to serve as your next At-Large City Councilor with a desire to put what is best for Olathe first, just as Mike did and as I know our current council strives to do as well.

Dean Vakas-43.jpg

As someone who has dedicated my life to serving others and has accumulated a breadth of skills and experience relevant to or in public service, I will bring immediate value to the Olathe City Council and people of our community to help keep our city strong and positioned for continued success. I hope to earn your support to be your next Olathe City Councilor At-Large.

*Dean was a Colonel in the U.S. Army. Use of military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Army or the Department of Defense.