CONTACT: Kristen Brunkow, co-facilitator, Leadership Greater Topeka, 785.231.6006

TOPEKA, Kan., Dec. 14, 2016: Thirty-six individuals from the Greater Topeka area have been selected to participate in the 2017 Leadership Greater Topeka program. Leadership Greater Topeka, a program of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce since 1984, identifies outstanding potential leaders from various components of the community and teaches participants how to lead in a community setting. There are over 1,000 alumni of the program, 70% of who still live and contribute to the Shawnee County community.

Class members will attend a retreat and eight-day-long sessions between January 12 and May 5 to learn about challenges facing the City of Topeka and Shawnee County and how they, as individuals, can work to influence community issues and problems. 

The curriculum for the programs utilizes a combination of speakers, lessons, activities, small group discussions, community projects and tours. The class works to identify adaptive ways of addressing community issues and situations. 

The 2017 class was chosen from more than 150 nominees representing a variety of backgrounds and a cross section of the community. 

Members of the 2017 class are: 

Jared Beam, Director of New Business Development, Brier Payne Meade Insurance
Dawn Bicknell-Reiser, Senior Auditor, Capitol Federal Savings
Kayla Bitler, General Manager/Director of Operations, Holiday Inn Express and Mirza Beg Hotels
Lisa Brown, Associate Attorney, Goodell, Stratton, Edmonds & Palmer
Matthew Bult, Manager, Distributions Automation/Technologies, Westar Energy
Ben Broxterman, Supervisor, Child Life Services, Stormont Vail Health               
Amy Chandler, Assistant Vice President, Director of Internal Controls, Security Benefit
Aubrey Coufal, Vice President of Operations, Topeka Housing Authority (THA)               
Joel Cromwell, United States Probation Officer, United States Probation Office-District of Kansas
Amy Crouch, Vice President, Director of Financial Reporting, Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka
Dan Decker, Assistant Director of Employment Services, State of Kansas Department for Children and Families
Michelle De La Isla, Diversity and Inclusion Representative, Westar Energy
Matt Deutsch, Director, Berberich Trahan & Co.
Angela Duncan, Director, Student One Stop, Washburn University
Pam Evans, Director of Marketing & Development, Family Service & Guidance Center
Michael Gleason, Director, Leadership Institute, Washburn University
Damon Gomez, Senior Group Manager, Bartlett & West, Inc.
Holly Graves, Director, Internal Sales and Customer Service, Blue Cross and Blue  Shield of Kansas
Megan Green, Accountant III, SE2, LLC
Al Hammons, Jr., Vice President of Communications & Information Systems, United Way of Greater Topeka
Lisa Jones, Director of Strategic Communications, Kansas Health Institute
Kari Kearney, Business Banking Relationship Manager, US Bank
Linda Kehres, Executive Director, Let’s Help, Inc.
Joanna Lassley, Business Manager, Kansas Starbase
Nickie Lee, Budget & Performance Manager, City of Topeka
Scott McWilliams, Superintendent of Schools, Auburn-Washburn School District #437
Jeremiah Metsinger, Senior Pastor, South Knollwood Baptist Church
Jeff Morris, Vice President, Project Manager, J.F. McGivern, Inc.
John Ostenson, Lieutenant, Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office
Mitchell Paige, Public Education Officer, City of Topeka Fire Department
Robert Simmons, Police Officer/Sergeant, City of Topeka/Topeka Police Department
Robbie Smith, Business Consultant, Blue Valley Telecommunications DBA Network Plus
Jamie Stafford, Risk Manager, Key Staffing
Joe Terick, Salesman, Propane Central
Alice Weingartner, Regional Operations Director, GraceMed Health Clinic
Kari Zimmerman, Volunteer Director, Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library

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Matt Lara

Matt Lara

Matt is the resident social media guru and website guy, working on the marketing and communications team. He supports GO Topeka, the Topeka Chamber of Commerce, Entrepreneurial & Minority Business Development, Forge and Heartland Visioning.
Matt Lara