“Reflections on a Community Leadership Program” by Melissa Masoner, Ph.D.

Leadership Greater Topeka brings together a broad cross section of both acknowledged and aspiring leaders from every corner of the community for an annual community leadership training course.

For the Greater Topeka area to grow and prosper, we need leaders from all backgrounds and vocations, who will wrestle with the challenges facing our community. The goals are to challenge and motivate traditional and non-traditional leaders by teaching 21st century leadership capacities through information, dialogue and hands-on experience so participants are better prepared to strengthen and transform our community.

In place since 1984, Leadership Greater Topeka has more than 910 alumni with nearly 70% still living and active in the Topeka area. Leadership Greater Topeka alumni are challenged to apply their talents throughout the community in volunteer, appointed and elected positions.

Nominations and applications for the program are accepted each fall with the new class announced prior to year end. The course is offered beginning in late January and runs until mid-May with a two-day retreat and eight day-long sessions, primarily on Fridays.

The sessions cover key community concerns in the areas of quality of life, government, crime, business and economic development, community services, education, health care and the media. Woven throughout the program are concepts of:

  • Adaptive/Technical Leadership Skills
  • 21st Century Leadership Skills: learning styles, change, collaboration, consensus, facilitation, visioning and steps to a learning community.
  • Servant Leadership: the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead… to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are served.

2017 Tuition is $875.00; Scholarships are available for those who may see the tuition as a deterrent to applying.  Chamber membership is not a requirement for participation.

Important Dates for 2017 Leadership Greater Topeka Program

Nomination Deadline: Friday, Sept. 30

Application Deadline: 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, 2016

Conversations with Alumni (scheduled individually): Nov. 1-2, 2016

Selection Announcement: Friday, Dec. 9, 2016

Participant Orientation: 4 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 5

Two-Day Retreat: Thursday, Jan. 12, and Friday, Jan. 13; Location TBD

  • Session #1: Friday, Jan. 27, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Session #2: Friday, Feb. 10, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Session #3: Friday, Feb. 24, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Session #4: Friday, March 10, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Session #5: Friday, March 24, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Session #6: Friday, April 7, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Session #7: Friday, April 21, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Session #8: Friday, April 5, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Graduation/Alumni Luncheon: Wednesday, May 10, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Ramada Convention Center, 420 SE Sixth Avenue, Topeka

2017 Leadership Greater Topeka Class

Thirty-six individuals from Topeka and Shawnee County have chosen to participate in the 2017 Leadership Greater Topeka Class. Leadership Greater Topeka, a program of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce since 1984, identifies outstanding potential leaders from various components of the community. There are more than 900 alumni of the program.

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

Leadership Greater Topeka 2018 Nomination Form

We’re seeking individuals to participate in the 2018 Leadership Greater Topeka program. Nominations will be accepted through Friday, Sept. 22. Applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 76 2018. Nominees should be able to demonstrate an increasing level of responsibility, a potential for continuing to play a leadership role in the Topeka area and evidence of professional and personal growth. Work experience, scope of personal interests, level of community involvement and recognition of leadership abilities will have significant impact on the final selection process.


NOTE: Please use a separate form if nominating more than one individual. Fill out the form below or download the PDF here.