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VOLUME 4 - ISSUE 2 - FALL 2012

The Kansans Who Work to Keep You Informed

YOUR MEDIA DIET For Civic Leadership

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RISING HIGH Civic Clubs Adapting and Thriving in Challenging Times




The Journal is published by the Kansas Leadership Center, which receives core funding from the Kansas Health Foundation. The Kansas Leadership Center equips people with the ability to make lasting change for the common good. KLC stands alone in the field of leadership development with its focus on leadership being an activity, not a role or position. Open to anyone wanting to move the needle on tough challenges in the civic arena, KLC envisions more Kansans sharing responsibility for acting together in pursuit of the common good. KLC MISSION To foster civic leadership for healthier Kansas communities KLC VISION To be the center of excellence for civic leadership development KANSAS LEADERSHIP CENTER BOARD OF DIRECTORS Karen Humphreys, Wichita (Chair) Ed O’Malley, Wichita (President & CEO)

Susan Kang, Lawrence Carolyn Kennett, Parsons David Lindstrom, Overland Park Greg Musil, Overland Park Reggie Robinson, Topeka Consuelo Sandoval, Garden City Clayton Tatro, Fort Scott PERMISSIONS

Abstracting is permitted with credit to the source. For other reprint, copying, reproduction permission or subscriptions, contact Mike Matson at KANSAS LEADERSHIP CENTER

300 North Main, Suite 100 Wichita, Kansas 67202 316.712.4950 PHOTOGRAPHY

Jeff Tuttle Portrait Photography 220 N. Terrace Wichita, KS 67208 316.706.8529 PAINTINGS (Right and page 96)


Chris Green 785-550-1322 GRAPHIC DESIGN

Clare McClaren/luxedesign 816.868.9825

©2012 Kansas Leadership Center

















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CONTENTS Welcome to the New Journal By President/CEO Ed O’Malley. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Letters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Welcome to the Journal Cover Story: Two Governors, two parties, one topic: Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 By President & CEO Ed O’Malley . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 The Leadership Library . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Letters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 In Memory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Dispatches from the Kansas Leadership Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 $1.7 Million KHF Grant Opens Doors . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Serving not Just Surviving: Thriving Civic Clubs Shared Dreams By Jamie Crouse . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 By Laura Roddy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 The Power of Civic Leadership Coaching By Julia Fabris McBride . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Your Media Diet for Civic Leadership Leadership That’s Good for the Soul By Mark E. McCormick. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 By Patsy Terrell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Explain it to me like the I’m News a Third-Grader Demystifying the state budget . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 The People Behind Dispatches . . . . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ...... .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .38 By Patsy Terrell 28 (Not) Giving Ground: Voices of Civic Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 ALeadership KLC Alum Library Shares Tough . . . . . . Lessons . . . . . . . .About . . . . . .Working .. . . . . . .Across . . . . . .Factions . . . . . . . .By . . Chris . . . . .Green . . . . . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .40 52 The ChangingProfile: Face ofEmporia Civic Leadership in Our Communities By Sheersty Stanton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Community The Fuse: Caldwell Information and Inspiration By Sarah Hancock . . . . . . . . . .about . . . . ..KLC . . . .Alumni . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 55 Column: Their Fly Like Eagles . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Reflecting Values Profiles ByAlumni Chris Green . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 68 The Gap on the Move . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Alumni Photo by Jeff Tuttle . . . . . . .of . .KLC . . . .programs .. . . . . . . .By . . .Keshia . . . . . Ezerendu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62 76 “GetEssay the Picture” Photo. .Collage TheKLC Fuse: Information The Calendar . . . . and . . . .Inspiration . . . . . . . . . .about . . .. . .KLC . . . Alumni . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Profiles: Konza Club 82 The Alumni Leadership Laboratory . . . .Edition . . . . . . . .. ...... .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .68 Civic Issue Focus: Kansas Tax Factions The KLC Commentary Service . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 ByDarrell Mike Matson . . . . . . . need . . . . .a. shared . . . . . . purpose . . . .. . . .to. .guide . . . . .state. . . . . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .75 90 Hamlin: Kansans Journey to theLeading Summit: Program’s Storyrequires a different style than your business. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 Ed O’Malley: anOne outside organization Photo by Jeff Tuttle . .leadership . . . . . . . . .isn’t . . . .about .. . . .being . . . . .popular . . . . . . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .78 93 Markessay E. McCormick: Civic Leading to Common Ground News from the Front Lines . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 By Chris Green . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98 Special Guest Feature: Dr. Roz Diane Lasker: Engaging Unusual Voices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Featured Artist: In the Burning Hills Poem: The Quickening . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 By Lisa Grossman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 The Back Page By Mark E. McCormick . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92 Poem: Hope By Roy J. Beckemeyer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 The Back Page By Mike Matson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104



As a former legislator, I love an election as much as anyone. I’m intrigued with races from city hall to the White House. I was a proud papa when my two third graders snuck out of bed so they could watch more of the first Presidential Debate. And, as much as I love elections, I also feel all the focus on the candidates can warp our sense of what is really important within a democracy. It can be easy for us to place an inflated sense of importance on our elected officials. They are important, yes. And, their service should be much appreciated. It’s important to remember that elected officials have a role in solving tough, daunting challenges; but theirs is not the only role. During my first day in the Kansas Legislature in 2003 my father sent me the following two lines of poetry from Samuel Johnson: Of all the human heart endures, How small the part laws or kings cause or cure. He was doing his part to help me remember the limitations of my office. Similarly, Paul Tillett in the 1965 volume titled The Political Vocation wrote: Politicians are important to the system, but it is easy to overestimate their capacity to achieve reform. They are competitors for place and power, not the architects of the polity. They will more likely respond to than suggest far-reaching changes in their environment. So, if Samuel Johnson, Paul Tillett and my father are correct, elected officials can only do so much. And it is through partnership between elected officials and general citizens that true progress on daunting challenges will be made. Most of us didn’t have our name on a ballot this fall. But, don’t confuse that with who is responsible for progress on challenges facing our communities and state. It’s up to all of us. Our elections are a key part of democracy, but the heart of democracy resides within citizens, striving for the common good. Onward!

Ed O’Malley President & CEO Kansas Leadership Center



came from every corner of the state. There were no keynote speakers; instead the event was facilitated in a manner that harvested the collective brilliance of each person. One-fifth of those in attendance were PowerUps (people ages 21-39 who are rural by choice), and their influence was significant.

The Journal gladly welcomes letters to the editor, including responses to articles in the publication. Readers should address their comments to

The brainstorm was oriented around 1) everyone having a voice, 2) creating action and 3) making it clear that rural communities were valued and important to the state of Kansas. People were fired up after the event because they found a network of understanding and support and together developed actions that made sense to rural communities. Forty people came forward at the end of the event to say what they would go home and do.

We encourage readers to keep their submissions to fewer than 500 words. You may also mail letters to the Kansas Leadership Center offices at 300 North Main, Suite 100, Wichita, KS 67202.

People were motivated and energized afterwards. Oakley held its own Big Oakley Brainstorm within a couple of weeks and made immediate progress on some housing issues. A sampling of results included the formation of an online newspaper, a community foundation, a community garden and plans for abandoned buildings. Many actions have had a snowball effect.

‘BRAINSTORM’ EVENTS GROW FROM SYMPOSIUM DISCUSSION There are 626 incorporated cities in Kansas, and approximately 75 percent are volunteer led. What it means to be volunteer led is that there is no paid city manager, administrator or chamber of commerce director, so volunteer citizens must step forward to fill the leadership void. The complexity of sustaining a community that has likely lost its school, grocery store and other key businesses sits on the shoulders of volunteers.

PowerUps have asked for their own Big Rural Brainstorm so two of those were held in October. The 21-39ish age group is vital to the sustainability of rural communities. They are excited about connecting with one another, developing their own voice, and helping improve the quality of life in rural Kansas for all ages.

The desire of the Kansas Sampler Foundation is to help support, engage and empower these volunteer “doers” and leaders as they develop pathways of forward motion for citizenry-led towns.

Several organizations and regions are using some of the concepts of the Big Rural Brainstorm for their annual conferences or planning events. Later this year, a group in northeast Kansas is planning to host its own Big Northeast Kansas brainstorm.

A number of people at the 2011 Kansas in Question symposium (“Kansas in Question: Shaping Kansas for the Future,” Summer 2012) decided to create a rural-focused event. The goal was to produce an event that would bring every aspect of rural life together and be designed in a way that would allow each attendee to have a voice.

With BRB concepts in mind, rural communities are focusing on speaking constructively, concentrating on what they do have, assessing their social capital as a resource and thinking outside the box for ways to help their town be the best it can be at being itself.


Led by the Kansas Sampler Foundation, the Big Rural Brainstorm (BRB) took place in early February at Newton’s Meridian Center. Two hundred people

Director, Kansas Sampler Foundation INMAN




Every day my voice becomes less a voice for the future. After reading KLC President & CEO Ed O’Malley’s “Open Letter to a Young Professional” (Summer 2012) in the most recent Journal, my decision to overcome fear and value every opportunity to share my voice today as a young professional was only bolstered. I challenge fellow young professionals to consider if the risks of stepping up as a young professional are risks others perceive, or if we just impose them on ourselves.

The challenges and opportunities associated with starting a community leadership program are many and varied. Not the least of these challenges is identifying what we want our community leadership program to be. What’s the outcome we aim for? The easy path would have been to establish a structure that allows good-hearted Wellingtonians to come together on occasion to build and strengthen relationships. But early on in our process we realized that, while valuable, such a structure did nothing to formally recognize our responsibility to each other within the framework of civic engagement.

While participating in KLC’s Art & Practice of Civic Leadership program, I experienced one of those moments that felt like an epiphany. My concerns about age being an inhibitor were mine; they weren’t owned by others. While I thought I had to know the answers, the “power structure” wanted exactly the opposite; they wanted me to help identify the direction as a part of the collective. It is my belief that young professionals are desired for civic organizations because of the newness they bring. We can think and act in a way that challenges our communities to continuously adapt.

The curriculum, the ideas, the support, the KLC-connected people who have helped us build what we hope will become Wheat Capital Leadership in Wellington and Sumner County have taken us a step beyond the norm. The annual Kansas Community Leadership Initiative Summit in Wichita has very quickly become the “go-to” event in Kansas for those of us involved in some facet of community leadership. We share ideas, learn new skills and challenge what we think we know about leadership.

As young professionals, we will be in the shoes of the current civic leaders one day. We will take the same pride in what we have built because we have taken risks and reaped the rewards at every level and in every strata of Kansas life.

Our partnership with the Kansas Leadership Center has been among the highlights of our efforts to get off the ground and keep moving forward. So here’s a very public, “thank you.”



Manager, Design, Development & Learning, Via Christi Health. Inc.

Executive Director, Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce/Convention & Visitors Bureau





GROUND BROKEN FOR NEW KLC BUILDING Ground was broken July 25 in downtown Wichita for a new Kansas Leadership Center and Kansas Health Foundation Conference Center. Construction is underway at the site on the corner of Douglas and Topeka. The building is designed specifically to bring together Kansans for multiple purposes. The new facilities, which will be approximately 36,000 square feet, will feature flexible meeting space for the purpose of hosting conferences, large group meetings, small gatherings, lectures and leadership trainings.

PICTURED LEFT TO RIGHT: Karen Humphreys, KLC Board Chair; Bill Docking, KHF Board Chair; Steve Coen,

KHF President & CEO and Ed O'Malley, KLC President & CEO.



of directors. She joins a 22-member board representing leaders from across the state. The Kansas Humanities Council is a nonprofit organization that supports community-based cultural programs, serves as a financial resource through an active grant-making program, and encourages Kansans to engage in the civic and cultural life of their communities.

You don’t have to get very far down the list of Kansas Leadership Center principles to get to the purpose behind the new Konza Clubs springing up across the state. Leadership is an activity, not a position; anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere; it starts with you and must engage others. Konza Clubs allow alumni to continue their learning about civic leadership and to connect with others in their community who have had a similar KLC experience. (See p. 82)


The two Kansas organizations selected to receive $1 million worth of KLC training are on parallel paths. Continually evolving as these folks define themselves: One project is a wide-ranging effort that aims to use regional cooperation to improve the economy and quality of life in an area bordered by Miami and Franklin counties on the north, Greenwood and Chautauqua counties on the west and Cherokee county in the southeast. Wichita’s Visioneering Health Alliance, meanwhile, seeks to make measurable progress on health and quality of life issues in south central Kansas. Approximately 100 Kansas organizations expressed interest in the program.


ExecCoach Kansas is a civic leadership development experience custom-designed for you and your busy schedule. Work one-on-one with a Kansas Leadership Center coach in a powerful partnership aimed at increasing the effectiveness of your leadership. In six coaching sessions, you’ll set goals, assess strengths and vulnerabilities, and design action steps.


Leadership on Demand is a KLC-inspired and designed learning component that will help KLC alums refresh their competency and allow firsttime participants a convenient method to learn at their leisure and pace. Leadership on Demand is being piloted this fall in an upper level business leadership class at Wichita’s Newman University.


Nothing helps keep you more energized toward a goal than reconnecting with those on the same path That was the thinking behind the first-ever KLC Leadership & Faith Alumni Gathering this fall in Wichita. Participants in the six separate KLC Leadership & Faith teams programs from 2009 through this year gathered to reflect, recharge, reconnect and rejoice.


As a KLC alum, you recently received an e-mail invitation to update your contact information and answer a few questions about your leadership experiences. By spending five minutes on this survey, you not only ensure our records are accurate, but help tailor our ongoing services to meet your leadership needs.


The Kansas Leadership Center Board of Directors has expanded by two. Susan Kang (left), Development Director for the Dole Institute of Politics, University of Kansas Endowment Association, Lawrence and Clayton Tatro (right), president of Fort Scott Community College have joined the KLC Board, which serves as vigorous thought partners in helping inform the KLC direction.


The Kansas Leadership Center has created a new Civic and Community Leadership Coach Certification to empower people to use coaching skills to strengthen communities. The effort sets standards for training, practice and assessment of individuals who are coaching in civic and community settings.


KLC Director of Faculty and Coach Development Julia Fabris McBride, Matfield Green, has been elected to the Kansas Humanities Council’s board


THRIVING CIVIC CLUBS: As the nature of civic engagement changes, some of these traditional bastions of civic pride are adapting and prospering




“These service clubs are vital to small towns.” MARY HAMMOND, HAYS

On Labor Day, members of many Kansas Kiwanis clubs rose early and unfurled American flags at businesses and residences across their cities. At dusk, the Kiwanis collected the flags for storage until the next holiday. It’s the kind of project that makes a statement and serves multiple purposes. For one, it is a fundraiser – businesses and individuals sign yearly contracts for the service. It also boosts patriotism. Additionally, members of two western Kansas clubs say the flag project has helped increase the public profile of Kiwanis and has contributed to membership increases. Hays and Goodland are home to the two largest Kiwanis clubs in the

state, with memberships at 97 and 81 members, respectively. What’s more, they have witnessed a ripple effect, with other civic clubs in their towns also managing to grow. That’s no small feat in an era where some of the nation’s longstanding service organizations – such as Rotary and Lions, as well as Kiwanis – report membership decreases. A story in The Wichita Eagle earlier this year documented the decline of several local civic organizations “struggling with an aging membership and competing with younger generations’ definitions of community.” While it is true that the nature of civic engagement is changing and some longtime civic clubs are closing, it is also true that some of these traditional bastions of civic pride are changing and prospering. The civic organizations that are thriving in Kansas seem to have several threads in common. They have strong leadership, a service element and


Mary Hammond, a member of the Kiwanis in Hays, holds one of the more than 700 flags that the group displays in front of local homes and businesses on holidays throughout the year.

are oriented toward the future. They also adapt to changing circumstances and make plans to recruit and retain their members. Mark Glaser, professor of urban and public affairs at Wichita State University, has studied community attachment, and he says leadership is critical to making civic organizations and institutions flourish. Glaser says his research works from the paradox of community. “We are all driven by self-interest to some extent, and we are all driven by responsibility to society.” It is a continuum with some people closer to the self-interest end and some people at the other. Where leadership comes in, he says, is in making the case for the public interest. “Do things that bring out the community side of these individuals, not the self-interest side,” Glaser said. “If someone doesn’t show leadership, people will naturally gravitate toward their self-interest.”

Kiwanis in Hays and Goodland In Hays, Mary Hammond’s local club now has 720 flag customers for five holidays. In her 13 years with Hays Kiwanis, she has seen membership rise from 62 to the current 97. Hammond is also quick to point out that it’s not just that Hays Kiwanis are getting a fresh crop of members yearly; she is proud of the club’s retention rate of about 90 percent. “These service clubs are vital to small towns,” said Hammond, who recently became governor for the 88 Kiwanis clubs and 2,500 members statewide. “If your population is declining, yes, it is hard to recruit new members. … You need to adapt. I think it’s important for a club to survive to have seasoned members.” Hammond says a lot of the newer members of Hays Kiwanis come from the Hays Area Young Professionals. She says the infusion of new ideas is critical, as is balancing those new ideas with experienced perspectives to ensure the club's continuity.




Brad Schields of Goodland tells a similar story with Kiwanis there. He witnessed the Goodland Kiwanis dwindle to 21 members and then begin to turn around with the inception of the flag project, borrowed from the Elkhart Kiwanis. By 2006-07, Goodland Kiwanis had 52 members. Today, there are 81 members. In addition, Goodland’s Rotary and Lions clubs have grown during this time, too. “You have to find a need and want for your community,” said Schields, who is the outgoing governor for Kansas Kiwanis.“In smaller areas are our more vibrant clubs. In smaller communities we’re used to doing it ourselves and don’t depend on anybody else to do it.” Schields firmly believes that service projects are critical for engaging members in civic organizations. It can’t just be about having weekly meetings – there has to be action, he said. Hammond also attributes flexibility on behalf of the Kiwanis organization for clubs’ longevity. There are some Internet clubs being started, as well as 3-2-1 clubs, which instead of having a weekly meeting, ask members to do three hours of service, two hours of social and one hour of business meeting per month.

Rotary in Eastern Kansas

about serving as a resource and trainer for individual clubs as opposed to a top-down organization. Tubbesing, 43, acknowledges that he is younger than the average Rotarian. To him, the draw was a chance to serve, as well as an opportunity to demonstrate that his generation is highly engaged. The former Army special operations officer was also drawn to the Rotary Foundation’s work around the world in peace discussions and conflict resolution. “If you give more to Rotary than you get out of it, then you’re in it for the right reason,” Tubbesing said. “It really is a decade-long or lifetime commitment.” Rotary relies on personal networking for recruitment. Tubbesing also says the organization is decentralized to allow individual clubs to find their own passions. He says it is important for clubs to attract young members in the ways that interest them. “Generation Y is extremely service-oriented,” he said. “To some extent it also means turning over the leadership of your club to the younger generation.”

A 20-something’s Perspective

Kevin Tubbesing of Shawnee leads Eastern Kansas Rotary, which has 2,680 Rotarians. He takes pride in the fact that although Rotary has experienced a shrinking membership in North America, the Eastern Kansas District has actually grown over the last 10 years.

The rise social media has helped redefine the concept of community. Those broadened options may mean that a traditional civic service club model doesn’t work for some.

Tubbesing attributes that to continuity of leadership. He also said Rotary in eastern Kansas has moved away from the old model of “grand dictatorship” into collaborative leadership. Now, he said, it is more

Yet Anne Chandler of Wichita is a 20-something who does see the benefits in traditional civic engagement. In fact, she places such importance on it that she is active in three civic organizations, Junior League of Wichita, Rotary Club of Wichita and Young Professionals of Wichita.


“To some extent it means turning over the leadership of your club to the younger generation.” KEVIN TUBBESING, EASTERN KANSAS ROTARY



CIVIC ORGANIZATION Professor Mark Glaser of Wichita State University has spent years studying the connections between citizens and governments and other organizations. He looks at the nature of community and how community attachment is formed. Glaser says organizers must achieve relational community in their members, which consists of three dimensions:

1. COMMUNITY There is a continuum between community and self-interest. “They’re waiting for leadership,” Glaser says. “All of us sort of know that we have some sort of responsibility for sustainable community”.

2. FUTURE Research has shown that people do care about the future, Glaser says. “It’s now versus the future,” he said. “If we don’t do some things to preserve the future, we are somehow sentencing future generations to a poorer quality of life…You have to demonstrate that connection to the future.”

3. OPPORTUNITY Also referred to as social equity, this concept refers to the creation of opportunity for all classes of citizens. An organizer needs to persuade members of a group to extend the opportunity for others to go further than where they are. “There’s a lot of resistance to social welfare – to gifts,” Glaser says. “A lot think we pulled ourselves up from our bootstraps, but there were a lot of people along the way that provided opportunities.”

Glaser pointed to the Greater Wichita YMCA as excelling at the three dimensions that help build relational community. In the last 20 years, the YMCA managed to go from being in the red to in the black, drew in the middle and upper classes as members, drew in volunteers and drew in people who care about kids. It then has been able to shift resources that it collects from the middle and upper classes and have a portion go toward building the next facility and a portion go toward creating opportunity – through after-school programs, sports, etc. – for underprivileged children.



“It seems like there’s a place for all young professionals, whether you are looking for social, professional development, service,” she said. “They kind of cast a wide net.”

Every time she thinks she is going to need to cut one of them out in the endless struggle for life balance, something draws her back in. Chandler, director of corporate and foundation relations at Newman University, also counts herself lucky that she has an employer that finds value in her involvement. She has been part of the downtown Wichita Rotary group for five years, one of the largest nationally with about 400 members, and currently serves on its board.

Young Professionals groups across the state, in particular, are flourishing. They most often have solid backing through local chambers of commerce. Heather Denker, the director of Young Professionals of Wichita, says the group has grown from 400 members to 1,900.

Although Chandler joined on the recommendation that it was good for business and civic connections, she has found service projects the most fulfilling, in particular reading to schoolchildren and distributing dictionaries to third-graders in Wichita.

The group is an initiative of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce but is financially independent, supported by 29 corporate investors who cover their employees’ memberships. Denker said the organization started with a social aspect and then began expanding its programming and shifting toward offering a visible voice in the community. Members have opportunities to join various action teams.

“It truly makes you realize how much you have, and it makes you more grateful for the things you have,” she said. The opportunities to do service work also helped her relate better to fellow Rotarians, be they doctors or company CEOs. “It really helped to break down that age barrier,” Chandler said. Chandler views the Young Professionals of Wichita, which formed in 2005, as a good way to get younger people involved in civic life.

Denker attributes the group’s robust membership to a couple of things: It is aimed at those under 40, and the group isn’t industry-specific. As with long-established civic clubs, the YP group's efforts are resulting in a higher level of civic engagement.

“This was a chance for young people to connect and reach out across the community. It means a lot more to people when they feel like their voice means something.” HEATHER DENKER, WICHITA


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Four decades ago, Walter Cronkite was credited with being the "most trusted man in America.� When he signed off the CBS Evening News saying, "That's the way it is," many of his viewers surely felt like it truly was all they needed to know.



choices about seeking out and processing information, according to Skip Hidlay, executive director of communications for Via Christi Health in Wichita and a former publisher at The Wichita Eagle.

Decades ago, professional, authoritative sources dominated the day. Most of Cronkite’s viewers had probably read the morning paper, heard some radio newscasts during the day, and now watched the evening news, contributing to a common civic context.

"When there were fewer sources of information, and everyone engaged in those sources, it created a common language and a common base of knowledge, for better or worse," says Hidlay. Now people may only get bits and snippets of information. "The danger I think is that people are less fully informed. We know a lot about a little bit of stuff, but that little bit of knowledge can sometimes be distorted."

For Kansans looking to be informed enough to exercise leadership on local, state or even national issues of civic concern, today’s news and information environment looks nothing like that. A handful of authorities have given way to a much broader array of voices and viewpoints that stretch far beyond traditional media onto the Internet and social media.

‘WE’RE JUST WORKING HARDER’ One place to start is to think more deeply about where your news comes from and how much it has changed. A handful of professional media sources has given way to a buffet of choices, which puts more responsibility on the individual to be informed.

These days, the stream of information that consumers must manage from television to news websites to Facebook and Twitter is both instant and constant.

For one thing, many traditional news sources aren't what they once were. Newspapers have taken a serious hit, with advertising revenues in 2011 less than half what they were in 2006, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism annual report.

"It has changed the world having immediate access to information," says Greg Bird, a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Liberal, who volunteers for multiple organizations in his community.

The economic squeeze has resulted in one of a newspaper’s largest expenses -- the people who report the news -- ending up on the chopping block. Newspapers tend to have fewer staff members than they did just a few years ago, and each does more.

But despite all that’s changing, close observers of the state’s news and media landscape say accessing and utilizing information remains a key priority for individuals wanting to foster progress in their communities. "Being informed is critical to leadership," says John Montgomery, editor and publisher at The Hutchinson News, a daily newspaper that’s long been an active civic voice in central and southwest Kansas.

For instance, Deb Gruver, a reporter who covers metro and county government for The Eagle, describes news gathering as a non-stop process now, from developing successive iterations of stories to writing tweets about meetings so people can follow along in real time.

Yet being educated, informed and engaged is not something that happens automatically in this day and age. It takes work and requires conscious





"Shouting in a room that is oc believe as you do accomplish built on people of different m to decide what we’re going to

ccupied only by people who hes very little. Democracy is inds talking with each other o do." DAVIS "BUZZ" MERRITT

How Informed am I?

"We're not writing a story just once; we're writing it online, and then we're updating it all day,” Gruver says. “We're just working harder." Lou Heldman, interim director of Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University, says he sees media professionals in the Wichita area, specifically, “valiantly fighting to maintain quality, even after year upon year of cutbacks.”


Make conscious choices.

The changing economic climate for journalism over the last decade has clearly taken its toll. Staffing cuts have made it tougher for traditional media to undertake its customary watchdog role.

Being civically informed is something you have to work at. Seek out and test ideas and opinions that challenge you or may be different from your own.

Jim McLean, vice president for public affairs at the Kansas Health Institute, notes that when he was part of Topeka’s Statehouse press corps in the early 1980s, there were about 30 members. During the last session, there were only eight organizations represented by 12 people under the dome.

In lieu of authoritative sources, you’ll have to choose from a broad menu. That means more personal responsibility for your own level of knowledge.

While there’s still quality work coming from news organizations, Heldman says he doesn’t see a clear business model to return them to their pre-recession profitability.

Be discerning about the information you consume. Seek out multiple sources and think critically about a source’s credibility and where its biases may lie.

"And what that says to me is that new models are going to come not from the media legacy organizations, but from pioneers," he says.

Don’t just consume; connect. Developing your own “information ecosystem” that includes personal connections and involvement with others is an important part of being informed enough to lead.

ANYONE HAS A VOICE The power to cheaply and efficiently publish information has transferred in recent years from the few to the many. Traditional news organizations are just one of many vying to capture people’s attention on a daily basis.

Take responsibility in your own role as an information source for others. Technology allows you to be a creator and curator as well as a consumer of information. Information travels quickly on social media, so check it out before sharing it.

"Anybody with an Internet connection has a voice and has a reach," says Davis "Buzz" Merritt, a former Eagle editor, author of three books on journalism and a pioneer in the concept of “civic journalism.”

Be curious and enthusiastic. Lou Heldman at Wichita State says they are the two most important human qualities – first to care enough to ask questions and then to use the information to improve the situations you can touch.

As a result, news sources these days are increasingly not connected with traditional news organizations. Ever-growing numbers of people report, analyze


and define the “news,” sometimes from viewpoints that had a less robust platform in the past.

EVERYONE CAN BE A PUBLISHER Yet individuals can also now take that power to publish and use it to fill major information gaps in their communities. Stephanie Clayton of Overland Park is an example of what is possible.

"The great power of the Internet and a great power of 21st century communications is that you can be a publisher yourself, you can be an editor yourself, you can be a reporter yourself," Hidlay says.

She volunteered to be the civic affairs person for her homeowners association and started live tweeting from the meetings she was attending. The move brought her into conflict with some politicians, who didn’t like her tweeting what they were saying from the dais.

Transitions are often difficult, too, and traditional journalists are not necessarily comfortable with the trend. "This period of change is highly unsettling,” Heldman says. “But I think anything that makes power more widely available is a good thing in the long run."

“With technology, you have to assume that you are always being recorded,” Clayton says of those in the public eye. “I think it's ultimately good because it makes politicians stand by every statement they make and own it."

But it’s also easier to find people who share your particular viewpoint and to avoid any dissension, which Merritt says is not healthy. Seeking out and weighing ideas and opinions that challenge you or may be different from your own is another important part of staying informed enough to lead.

Blogs and social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook have allowed Kansans to share information and news, and gain followings based on their own personal credibility, rather than the esteem of a particular media organization.

"Shouting in a room that is occupied only by people who believe as you do accomplishes very little," says Merritt. "Democracy is built on people of different minds talking with each other to decide what we’re going to do."

Bob Weeks began publishing, a blog that focuses on state and local civic issues through the lens of individual liberty, limited governments and free markets, in 2004.

McLean believes part of the reason for this trend is that people have less access to coverage about their local and state issues, so they choose a more general source that may have an agenda.

He suggests that while citizens can start with traditional news media and blogs like his, they can also inform themselves directly by seeking out state and local government information online, such as meeting agenda packets that can often be found on city, county and school district websites.

"People pick some news organization that reinforces their world view and they hunker down, and that's really then all they know about what's going on,” he says. “I think that is contributing significantly to the political divisions in this country and making it much harder for policy makers to get their work done. So it has real implications for how people interact with their government and how government operates."

Even though time is likely to be limited for many individuals, he still encourages people to make an effort to be involved, “even if a citizen is only able to produce like one article a month or something, that would be helpful,” he said. Utilizing information from a variety of sources also means it’s important to be discerning about




person who is willing to concede that every value is not an ultimate value.”

the information you consume. Being adequately informed may mean seeking out multiple sources and thinking critically about their veracity and what their biases may be. Just as we can't always believe everything we hear when we're talking to people, the same is true of reading it online, according to Joe Denoyer, news director at KSCB radio and the vice mayor in Liberal. Sorting through what's real and what's not is something everyone has to do in any format.

He goes on to say: "Everything we believe and value cannot be a core value, or society really cannot exist." Even when done well, just consuming information from the media probably isn’t enough to stay informed enough to be civically engaged. There’s a connection piece, too. Vera Bothner, managing partner of Bothner & Bradley, a Wichita public relations firm, actively works on a number of community initiatives. As useful as social media and traditional media can be, Bothner urges individuals wanting to exercise leadership not to forget about the importance of forging strong personal relationships.

"There are challenges because there are so many different ways to get news. A lot of time they're interjected with opinions," says Denoyer. "I think it's good to gather as much information from as many sources as possible, and then you discern what you believe and what you don't believe." Of course, there’s huge potential in technological tools for helping people “effectively organize, do civic work, and do good things," Merritt says. But that requires people to break out of their comfort zone to have a “real conversation” with those who think differently.

"Yes, you can find things out through social media, but you get bits and blips,” Bothner says. “And so I will say that the way I stay in touch -- the traditional media helps provide me the basis of knowledge of what's going on -- but how I really, really know what's going on is a lot of phone calls, meetings, connections. That's how I truly know what's going on in the community."

"We need better people," Merritt says. "A better person would be somebody who is willing to risk exposure to strange beliefs, different beliefs. A

"...gather as much information from as many sources as possible, and then you discern what you believe and what you don’t believe." JOE DENOYER



Discover what the Kansans who work to keep you informed have to say about their roles and what it takes to be informed enough to exercise civic leadership.


SIMRAN SETHI Emmy award-winning journalist, strategist and educator


A VOICE W I T H M A NY DIFFERENT O U T L ETS A journalist who has utilized audio, video, print and blog platforms, Sethi taught journalism at the University of Kansas for the past six years before moving on this fall. Her focus is on sustainability, environmentalism and social media for social change. Named “the environmental messenger” by Vanity Fair and a “top ten eco-hero of the planet” by the UK’s Guardian, Sethi is dedicated to a redefinition of environmentalism that uses innovative forms of engagement and includes voices from the prairie, urban core and global community. She has been civically involved in Lawrence by serving on the city’s Sustainability Advisory Board and as the former chair of its working group on climate change policy, education and outreach. “It’s important to be seeking out a diversity of information. The consolidation of media and the reduction of reporting in rural places really creates the perfect storm of hearing a single story. Now more than ever we have an opportunity to hear a diversity of voices, so I think it really behooves us as Kansans to make sure we’re seeking out those stories. Yes, the responsibility is put on the leader or the citizen, which isn’t the ideal way to do it. But, the way news has become so politicized is appalling. It leaves a lot of confusion, and it really creates an environment where people are pitted against each other. It’s only by hearing a diversity of voices that we come together and grow stronger as a state.”



DEB GRUVER Reporter for The Wichita Eagle

Deb Gruver is the metro and county reporter for The Wichita Eagle, the largest newspaper based in Kansas. Each Monday she writes a column in which The Eagle highlights a government record that is available to the public. “I think it's really important to know what's going on at both the state and local level. People should be watching what the Legislature does at all times. There's always going to be something that will affect our lives. Having a basic understanding of what's going on at the top helps you be better informed. One thing I'm a big proponent of is open records. I wish more people cared about them.�



B R YA N T H O M P S O N Kansas Public Radio

Bryan Thompson is a health reporter for Kansas Public Radio in northeast Kansas. He covers health issues across Kansas. He started his journalism career in El Dorado, then worked in Liberal and Salina before joining KPR in 2000. Initially, he was reporting on children’s health issues and now covers health information for Kansans of all ages. “One of the most important things is to ask, ‘Who is it that’s telling me this and what might their motivation be?’ So much of what I get and see is politically oriented. It’s somebody who is pro- or anti- the Affordable Care Act. Well, do I just take that at face value or think about it and go try to find original source material? It used to be harder to spread information, disinformation and misinformation because you had to have a lot of money to be able to disseminate it widely. That’s not true anymore. You no longer have to own a printing press or a broadcast tower to be able to spread your viewpoint far and wide. Or at least far — I don’t know how wide. It’s incumbent on the rest of us to be more vigilant about what we believe. My job is to try and bring people legitimate information about their health, or about the laws, treatments or whatever else that affects it. You can’t have healthy people if you have unhealthy communities.”



P O S I T I V E LY LINKING A COMMUNITY TO G E T H E R Bonita Gooch is the editor-in-chief of The Community Voice, Wichita’s African American newspaper. It is published every other week, and also maintains a website. The Community Voice has been publishing for 18 years, and Gooch has been editor for 16 of them. Gooch, who writes many of the stories, has one full-time person who manages the office and does sales, and otherwise she relies on freelancers for photographs and copy. She says there’s a great need for her publication because it devotes much of its space to covering the positive social interactions in the community. “Our publication is providing to an audience that’s underserved. Anybody who gets involved in this has to have an interest in activism and a love for a community you’re representing. That’s what motivated me to stay in it. I get up every day loving what I do, and that makes the difference.”


B O N I TA G O O C H The Community Voice, Wichita


S TAT E OF THE M E D I A: A personal reflection on the connection between journalism and civic engagement


So, I continue to do what I can. Today, that means overseeing the KHI News Service. The Kansas Health Institute started the news service in 2006 to help fill the information gap being created by the retreat of traditional media. Declining newsroom budgets were forcing newspapers and television stations to pull back from their coverage of public affairs and government.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was coming down a back stairway at the Statehouse, bleary-eyed, tape recorder in hand. It was well after midnight, and the 1982 Kansas Legislature had just ended its session. I was tired, but the adrenaline was flowing as I headed back to my tiny office to sort through hours of tape and produce my story for the morning newscasts on Kansas Public Radio.

The Statehouse press corps was shrinking. Fewer stories were being written about the important decisions being made by the Legislature and work being done in state agencies. And the coverage that remained was more focused on politics than policy decisions and how they affected Kansans.

I felt like the people of Kansas were depending on me. Something important had happened, and it was my job to tell them about it. As I sat down to write, I imagined thousands of listeners getting out of bed in a few hours, pouring their first cup of coffee and switching on the radio to hear the latest dispatch from the Statehouse.

The Kansas Health Institute might at first glance seem like an unlikely place to launch a journalistic enterprise. But think about it. What does any news organization need to be credible? It needs to be independent, nonpartisan and objective. Well, KHI had earned a reputation for being all three since its founding in 1995. So, we charged ahead.

Thirty years later, I remain just as committed to the beliefs that caused me to make journalism a career. I believe that Kansans owe it to themselves, their families and their neighbors to be informed participants in their government. And I believe that good journalism is essential to exercising that civic duty.

Here’s how Robert St. Peter, M.D., the president and chief executive officer of KHI, explained the decision in a recent letter to the institute’s stakeholders.



Thankfully, the accuracy of the stories was not questioned. Even so, the controversy about them influenced our thinking about how best to protect the independence of the News Service and the integrity of the institute’s research and policy work.

“KHI’s only product at the time was – and remains today – timely, relevant and objective information that is useful in the policymaking process. Just like our policy briefs, research reports and educational sessions, our news coverage was built on a commitment to the same level of excellence and objectivity. Our goal is to inform the debate and provide useful information, not to advance a specific political agenda.”

To emphasize the independence of the News Service, we recently moved it out of KHI’s main Topeka office. And we continue to make other internal changes to ensure that the operational firewall we have erected between the News Service and the research and policy side of KHI is respected by staff members on both sides.

Now, starting a credible news organization is not easy. Virtually anyone can launch a website or blog and claim that they’re providing readers with an unbiased report on the issues and events of the day. But claiming that’s what you’re doing and actually doing it are different things.

There is growing evidence that our journalistic experiment is working. The institute and its primary funder, the Kansas Health Foundation, have been recognized nationally as pioneers in the growing field of nonprofit journalism. Readers who depend on our coverage have told us in surveys and testimonials that the KHI News Service is often the only place they can find timely, in-depth information on many of the issues that are important to them.

Anyone reading this can probably point to at least one example of a news organization that claims to be objective and unbiased that in reality is operating with an ideological bias. Initially, some in the journalistic community had such concerns about the KHI News Service because they mistakenly believed that the institute had some sort of an advocacy mission.

So, today as I sit down to write about health reform, the transformation of the Kansas Medicaid program or efforts to operationalize health information exchanges across the state, I feel the same sense of purpose that motivated me 30 years ago. There are important stories to tell. And Kansans are counting on us to tell them.

But over time, we have demonstrated to our readers and those news outlets that either publish our stories or base their editorial opinions on our reporting that our only mission is to provide reliable, rock-solid information on the important health issues of the day. We work to inform Kansans, not sway them to one point of view or another.

Jim McLean is the Vice President for Public Affairs at the Kansas Health Institute. Visit the KHI News Service at

To be sure, we’ve had some challenges along the way. A series of articles that examined then-gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback’s assertions about the federal health reform law drew criticism from some because they were published just before the election and because we didn’t similarly examine the views of his Democratic challenger, Tom Holland.

The KHI News Service provides weekly Monday email alerts about its featured story package as well as a Friday digest of the week’s top stories. You may register and sign up to receive these emails to stay informed about the issues, people and events that affect health policy in Kansas at



SUZIE GILBERT Former Topeka television reporter

Suzie Gilbert recently transitioned from television news reporter to communications director for the City of Topeka. She spent three years working for WIBW Television, reporting weekdays at 5 and 6 p.m. She also contributed to WIBW’s web team, a combination of news and sales people devoted to increasing WIBW's online presence. “You need a Facebook account and a Twitter account. Twitter is more to find the news, and gathering what's happening right now. If you start an account, follow the people you're interested in, follow the leaders in the community, and you'll start to see what they're doing. You'll see how easy it is to share your thoughts on what they're doing, and you'll develop a presence as well. It's just a conversation. You're just having a conversation with people. You just have to start the conversation.”


SA RA H K ESS I N G E R The Marysville Advocate


KEEPING SMALL TO W N S IN THE KNOW Sarah Kessinger is owner and publisher of The Marysville Advocate, a weekly newspaper covering Marshall County in the northern Flint Hills of Kansas. She was raised in a newspaper family and studied journalism at Kansas State University. She worked in various news organizations before returning to Marysville in 2007 to be editor of her parents' newspaper. She maintains a staff of five full-time and two part-time employees to sufficiently cover the local news in her town of 3,500 and county of 10,000. Local news is her "bread and butter." “Leaders need to be informed on what their local governments are all doing - schools, city, county and state. What is affecting their population? What is government doing about it? They need to know the trends in housing, health care, poverty and education. They need a pretty wide-ranging understanding of their community. That's why newspapers are so important, it has to be a broad brush of the community rather than just one area. They've got to have a picture of the full society around them. Leaders can't act on the best behalf of the public if they aren't informed about what's going on in all those different sectors.�



Bob Weeks started the website in October of 2004 to explore issues of government, media and individual liberty. The site was started in response to what he felt was a misunderstanding of the issues in the November 2004 elections. He saw little discussion of what he thought were important issues and very little media coverage, so he started the website to explore the topics. “I really feel strongly in the causes that I advocate, and I just feel really compelled to do that. It’s more than just any sort of job or anything like that. I really feel that I bring a viewpoint that is not expressed by a lot of regular news media that I think is important, and that’s why I remain committed to doing this.”


B O B W E E KS Civic issues blogger in Wichita


J O H N M O N TG O M E R Y Editor and Publisher of The Hutchinson News

John Montgomery has been the editor and publisher of The Hutchinson News since 2006. He was previously editor and publisher of The Hays Daily News and The Ottawa Herald. Now in its 141st year, the paper covers 36 counties in central and southwest Kansas. A regular writer of the newspaper’s editorials, Montgomery considers being informed a critical component of exercising leadership. “It's important to leadership to be an independent thinker and to be able to see the complexity of an issue and to see that it's not just black and white. Traditionally, good leaders have always been good consensus builders. There aren't many of those in our leadership in government these days, but I still think that's an important leadership quality.”






Growing up as the child of a Southern Baptist minister deeply influenced my perspective on public speech. Our worship services were very speaker oriented, grounded in a faith that the preacher was presenting an interpretation of scripture that was a “revealed” word of God. Yet those of us hearing the message had work to do, too. It was our job to “listen” for God in our own hearts and to respond accordingly as individuals.

women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times.” The words were disconcerting to many citizens who were trying to get used to this relative newcomer as possibly their next president. Many citizens did not understand that Carter was referring to the fifth chapter of Matthew, a biblical passage where Jesus said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28, New International Version). Carter was trying to assure his audience that, while he was a devoutly religious man who had never violated his marital vows, he recognized that in the eyes of God, he was no better than the serial adulterer. Yet what secular ears heard was the bizarre confession of a deviant.

As a facilitator in KLC’s Leadership and Faith Transforming Communities, I work with Kansans whose spiritual values guide them in efforts to make their communities healthier. Regardless of where we work, I think we all know fellow Kansans who take a stand in public life from a deep reservoir of spiritual commitment. People of faith belong in the public conversation. We need their passion and grounded purpose. Yet those from an alternative faith tradition or secular perspective may not have the “ears to hear” when spiritually motivated citizens speak from the heart. Several examples can illustrate the problems of using religious language in the public arena.

What a miscommunication! More recently, and only hours after his inauguration as governor of Alabama in January of 2011, Robert Bentley attempted to connect on a spiritual level with his audience at a prominent African-American church in Birmingham. Hoping to transcend any political suspicions, Bentley reached out to the congregation as his “brothers and sisters.”

In the run-up to the 1976 presidential election, Playboy published an interview in which Jimmy Carter admitted that he had “looked on a lot of


Yet because citizens outside his own faith were excluded as members of his spiritual family, the new governor’s words ignited both religious and political controversy. Bentley did not intend to offend non-Christians, but he failed to grasp that as governor, his words carried far beyond any immediate audience to a larger public realm. Exercising leadership in public life means finding your voice. But speaking from a core of religious values in a public context is a complicated challenge. Words in the public square are most effective when the speaker communicates to public audiences in a public language. Religious concepts convey religious purpose, and that can lead to political resistance from non-believers.

Conversely, when secular voices demand religious neutrality in public life, many faith-based actors hear that as the exclusion of what matters to them the most, and they grow anxious about the suppression of what they hope to see represented in our public priorities. I hope we all join the public conversation in a way that voices our values. But we must be understood by others in a useful way. Otherwise, whatever we seek to build in public together may end up as just another unfinished Tower of Babel. Darrell Hamlin is an Assistant Professor of Justice Studies and Senior Fellow at the Center for Civic Leadership at Fort Hays State University. He also serves as a civic leadership coach for the Kansas Leadership Center and works as a church-team facilitator in KLC’s Leadership and Faith Transforming Communities program.


Sometimes the path to thinking more deeply about engagement and leadership starts off with taking a lump. Back in fall 2005, I traveled to WaKeeney to meet with an alliance covering 55 western Kansas counties. Earlier that spring, I had been hired as the first director of the Kansas Center for Entrepreneurship, known as NetWork Kansas. We were brand new, a creation of the Kansas Legislature to develop a statewide network of resources for entrepreneurs. My operations manager, Erik Pedersen, and I had both worked in the private sector for years. This was the first job in the public sector for either one of us. In presenting to the Western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance, we hoped to get enough buy-in that most would join the network of resources and help us find additional partners in our area. As I prepared my slick PowerPoint presentation, Erik chatted with some of the economic development directors. About five minutes before I was introduced,

Erik walked over to me. “Listen,” he said, “I just talked to one of the directors. She said she didn’t know why we were needed and doesn’t believe in what we are doing.” Not a good start. But I powered through my presentation. Afterward, no one asked any questions, and the group took a break. It had not gone well. As Erik and I wondered what to do, Sheila Frahm, a former lieutenant governor and U.S. senator whom we had met earlier in the summer, walked up to us. “They’re just going to have to get used to you,” she said. Her words were encouraging, but behind them was an admonishment. She knew effective civic action required engaging at a deep and local level. The meeting proved pivotal for us. We didn’t realize it at the time, but like many other organizations, we had shown up to offer a technical solution -- tools and resources -- to a group that had seen them all. Now we saw, for the first time, how we were being perceived. We realized that our approach wouldn’t have the impact that we wanted unless we gave a lot more consideration to local engagement.


So we set out to: engage partners and communities by relying on them; empower them with assets; and push decision making away from us.

with partners and communities have transformed our efforts. It’s a formula that’s proven effective, from our perspective.

We moved from short-term projects to long-term processes and from trying to have all of the answers to asking more questions.

Since 2008, our flagship approach, the Entrepreneurship (E-) Community Partnership, has grown from six to 30 communities. It provides communities with a locally controlled loan fund to assist entrepreneurs and small business owners with capital and connectivity to resources.

We didn’t know it, but we had started to take our first steps towards an adaptive approach to civic engagement. That approach solidified further after I participated in the first week-long “open enrollment” training program offered by the Kansas Leadership Center in the fall of 2008.

And in our relationship with the western Kansas alliance, we’ve gone from being strangers to being friends, with 12 of our E-Communities hailing from the region. They have become one of our most valuable connectioning points, representing multiple communities and network partners.

The competencies I learned and experimented with there represented a framework that could expedite the design of more skillful interventions. I began to see the road we had started down at NetWork Kansas more clearly. When I returned to work the following week, Erik and I concluded that we were on the right track and wanted to expedite our efforts by ensuring that the staff understood the four KLC competencies so we could accelerate growth in all phases of program development. Today, all of our full-time staff members participate in programs or are being coached to learn and apply the competencies. This has accelerated engagement

I often tell skeptics who question the plight of rural communities that they haven’t met the people I’ve met. If they had, they would think differently. Those folks were nice enough to give us exactly what we needed -- a good, swift kick. Steve Radley is the President and CEO of the Kansas Center for Entrepreneurship, known as NetWork Kansas. A resident of Wichita, he also serves as a civic leadership coach for the Kansas Leadership Center. He can be found on Twitter posting under the username @SteveRadley3.




get energized by it; I typically feel drained by it. So unless an issue, especially a public one, directly involves me or something or someone I really care about, I usually find myself on the fringes, lurking. I find it interesting and often intriguing to watch others in the fray, just happy it’s not me doing the work. But when watching someone in a position of authority threatening someone I care about or abusing their

I was amazed at my reaction when a close friend of mine had a heated meeting with his boss. Knowing this confrontation was approaching, and holding a belief that the boss was abusing his power, I found myself energized by the injustice of the situation. This is noteworthy because I really, really don’t like dissension. It goes against my nature. Some people


authority, the tables turn. So I’ve wondered why this same burst of energy I feel around fairness and justice rarely translates into intentional action related to issues in my community, my state or my country. As public issues go, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to explore this dilemma in the past year. For example, I’ve watched presidential (and local) candidates vie for position by appealing to the emotions of voters who face losing or gaining something important to them. I’ve heard various debates around the benefits and possible calamities in changing the health care laws in the country. I’ve also heard prominent folks make clear statements about their beliefs about abortion, homosexuality and marriage that, in some circles, would be considered suicidal for business. Lately, it feels that we’ve all been hurled into value-laden debates spawning off factions with multitudes of reactions. It’s interesting to contemplate which, if any, of these groups or people are demonstrating leadership. It seems that in this society, standing up for what you believe without compromising your values to please people carries a high risk of alienation and anger from others. Holding to purpose and speaking from your heart is not necessarily an effective thing to do unless it also acknowledges the perspectives of others around the table. Any perspective in extreme loses power — it marginalizes the person holding the perspective as well as those who agree solely with it. Anymore, the vocal response of the naysayers seems to rise to the point of being threatening or manipulative in order to be heard. When factions resort to this level of fighting, they’ve lost me. They don’t realize that their extreme positions, and the way they are expressed, push others away. Most of us just won’t respond, seeing the deaf ears upon which the arguments are falling, wishing someone else would do the difficult work of reining in the discordant factions. Many times we feel helpless, not knowing how to navigate the negative energy

and hardened opinions of others to help create a shift in the progress of the work. Frankly, sometimes it’s just easier to do nothing. But what if we lived in a society where none of us was willing to do the hard work of holding to purpose, voicing our values and speaking up when we felt it was important to do so? Would we get anything done? If intervention around an issue doesn’t engage others in productive conversation or work, one could argue it wasn’t very effective. Effective intervention requires a keen sense of self-awareness and awareness of others, which is really hard to hold onto when the person across the table is polarized. People have territory and values to protect and often get mired in the energy this defensiveness brings. Whether one agrees with any factions’ opinions or not probably isn’t the issue when it comes to practicing leadership. It’s OK to hold to purpose and not compromise values. But one is always presented with a potential dilemma when deciding to make opinions and beliefs clear. This work requires us to be honest, yet challenges us to be intentional in reaching out and embracing those who have different life experiences, beliefs, values and sometimes fears to protect. It highlights our own beliefs and exposes our biases and potential losses. It requires tremendous courage, openness and love for our neighbors to be effective. That kind of vulnerability seems to be too risky these days for most of us, including myself. But we need a greater strategy than playing it safe or doing nothing in order to make progress. Joyce Webb, Ph.D., is a professional consultant and certified coach. She works to provide organizational capacity-building, leadership training and coaching for nonprofits that include the Kansas Leadership Center, the State of Kansas and the Center for Community Support and Research at Wichita State University.




The End of Leadership

By Barbara Kellerman The powerful must deal increasingly with a landscape where “followers” – what Kellerman calls those with less authority -- hold greater sway. In this provocative critique of the “leadership industry,” Kellerman outlines her view of historic trends affecting leadership and argues for more focus on those who lack formal pull. Kellerman uses different terminology than the KLC, but her words illuminate why viewing leadership as an activity rather than a position is so crucial for making civic progress in this day and age.

Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives

By Robert Draper Exercising leadership requires having a purpose. But what happens when your purpose conflicts with what’s driving others? That, in essence, is the story of the 112th Congress, with 435 members who represent a microcosm of America. Draper provides a deep understanding of what drives everyone from ‘old bull’ Democrats to Tea Party Republicans. The end result is a book that should prompt readers to think not just about Congress’ low approval rating but about their own part of the mess, too.


Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen

By Joe Drape When New York Times reporter Joe Drape moved to the country’s center to write about Smith Center’s dominating high school football team, he found far more than just a good sports story. He learned about how a community can rally around a common focal point and spur leadership from different groups and ages. It’s a tale of leadership lessons carried down through the generations to the benefit of rural communities.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

By Charles Duhigg Our habits represent powerful forces in shaping how we go about our daily lives. According to one study, habits shape 45 percent of our daily decision making. But as Duhigg suggests, “habits aren’t destiny.” He outlines the science behind habits and shows how, with greater levels of self-awareness and by making conscious choices, we can change them. Such insights on habits represent a resource to tap in both leadership and life.

Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization

By Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey What we intend to do and what we actually bring about as individuals or in organizations often aren’t the same thing. In fact, our beliefs and mindsets create barriers that make changing difficult, despite our best intentions. In this classic, influential book, Kegan and Lahey provide a framework for us to overcome those obstacles and close the gap between reality and aspiration.




EMPORIA Citizens of regional hub take initiative to lead By Sarah Caldwell Hancock

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Emporia sits at the crossroads of the Kansas Turnpike, Interstate 35 to Kansas City and U.S. Highway 50. A crossroads can be a place of meeting, drawing people together, or it can be a place of departure, bypassed as people hurry on their way. Leadership can define which type of crossroads a town will be. People here strive to make Emporia a gathering place for the entire region. Take a look at the vibrant movement already within Emporia's orbit. This city of 24,900 in the rolling Flint Hills of eastern Kansas boasts many assets, including a large regional hospital, a lively downtown, Emporia State University and Flint Hills Technical College. Well-maintained parks, tree-lined neighborhoods, a small zoo, a farmers market, community concerts and movies, and an aquatic center are additional amenities. Emporia also faces challenges. The recession has hit the city harder than others in Kansas, and more residents live in poverty there than is typical for the state. In the middle of it all are the people who live and work in Emporia who are exercising leadership to build on the community’s strengths and tackle the areas they want to improve. Like the traffic that speeds through and into the city, leadership is coming and going from different places and heading in many different directions.



‘CIVIC RENT’ AND THE ‘TOWN-GOWN’ RELATIONSHIP Emporia State, with an enrollment of close to 6,000 students, sits at the north end of Commercial Street. The campus increasingly reaches beyond its boundaries to the community at-large, an effort being spearheaded by Dr. Michael Shonrock, the college’s president since January 2012. He emphasizes visibility and positivity that work both ways in the “town and gown” alliance.

10 hours on campus to be recognized by student government. The university organizes two major community service events each year, Clean Sweep and The Big Event, which attract as many as 100 students to help. Working with Emporia businesses is also a priority. Along with two ESU colleagues, Kriley helped create the Community Trek Challenge as part of a program for incoming students last summer. Students visited 10 locally run businesses to see what they had to offer. Kriley says the activity helped students connect to the community and feel like active citizens.

“We are both stronger together than we are individually,” he says. Chamber of Commerce CEO Jeanine McKenna says Shonrock partnered with the Chamber this summer to supply every youth camper at ESU a T-shirt emblazoned with “Emporia Empowered,” which meant hundreds of “walking billboards for Emporia” left cheerleading, music, athletics, Shrine Bowl and dance camps.

That’s her objective in teaching leadership, too. As one of the first students to graduate from ESU with a minor in leadership, Kriley believes the program provides a transformative experience for students. Shonrock particularly likes ESU’s leadership minor for how it prepares students to be good citizens.

McKenna says Emporia business owners have noticed his approach. A recent survey elicited comments such as, “The new president of the university is bringing a new attitude to town. Nothing should hold us back! The Chamber should have the same attitude to attract new business.”

“I borrow a concept from a friend whose father served as a United Way drive chair — I asked him when he was in his 90s why he did all that, and he said it was his ‘civic rent,’” says Shonrock. The concept stuck with him as the reason to teach young people leadership. “We have an obligation and responsibility to prepare students, regardless of discipline, for life, and to understand the importance of giving back.”

As for Shonrock’s on-campus role, Student Body President Brooke Schmidt says, “He’s always asking questions: What do students want; what would make it better for you? Everywhere he goes, he’s building a relationship with somebody.”

Shonrock says Kriley and Schmidt are good examples of how ESU gives back to Emporia and the rest of the world, and he can readily see the influence they have on others. Kriley has made bolstering others her leadership mission.

Taylor Kriley, assistant director of the ESU Center for Student Involvement and Greek Life and instructor in the school’s leadership program, adds that Shonrock models the collaboration the university needs to build relationships in Emporia.

“When students leave ESU, I hope I have empowered them or ignited some passion in them to make a difference in the world. I want them to make a better place for us,” she says.

Kriley sees a new emphasis on enhancing student awareness of the larger community. As of 2011, student organizations must complete 10 hours of service in the community along with


Left to right, staff member and leadership instructor Taylor Kriley and ESU student body president Brooke Schmidt help freshman students move into the dorms in August.


DOWNTOWN CREATIVITY A couple of blocks south of ESU is the Emporia Arts Center, home of the Emporia Arts Council. After a local fundraising campaign succeeded in providing $3.1 million to renovate space on Commercial Street, adjacent to the restored Granada Theatre, the council moved from a small building off the beaten path and opened its gallery, performance, classroom, office and meeting space in January 2011. Fundraising challenges continue as a result of changes in state-level arts funding, but Executive Director Melissa Windsor works constantly to find new corporate partners, grant support and local partnerships that can help. The quality of the center is being noticed by the Emporians filling classes and attending activities. The center attracted an enrollment of 400 children to its summer 2012 art offerings, and adult offerings are growing. Windsor also collaborates with the school district and summer day camp programs to educate elementary school students and with Granada Theater and ESU to bring performing arts and concerts to Emporia. Windsor’s major goals are to advocate for the arts and to keep bringing people downtown. Capitalizing on that creativity seems to be working in Emporia. The EAC has brought meetings and conventions downtown, and Windsor sees housing and business growth, too, including the Granada lofts and other housing close to the university. She’s hoping the arts can contribute to bringing more vitality and amenities to downtown.

“We don’t want to compare ourselves to any particular city, but we want to be one of the top arts communities in America someday,” she says.

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Melissa Windsor, of the Emporia Arts Council


LIFE-AND-DEATH LEADERSHIP: LAW ENFORCEMENT A successful city needs to be a safe one, too. As someone who has been involved in Emporia law enforcement since 1980 — as a police officer for 31 years and now as chief deputy for the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office — John Koelsch helps make that possible. Koelsch supervises the county jail and works to foster good relationships with the Emporia Police Department and the community. On his desk, Koelsch displays the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center slogan: “Integrity is the basis for community trust.” Koelsch works to uphold this principle and push back against solely technical solutions to law enforcement problems. “We’re more concerned about how to handcuff, how to shoot … as compared to adaptive challenges,” Koelsch says, citing community-oriented policing as addressing largely intangible problems. Koelsch invokes the example of a neighbor dispute. “A neighbor mows two feet into the other neighbor’s yard,” he says.

“What I find is, the neighbors don’t know each other; they have no connection. If you really want to fix the problem, you try to get them to meet one another and realize they have some commonalities.” Koelsch says law enforcement has adapted by becoming proactive. If officers spend more time with those quarreling neighbors the first time, they won’t need to return.

“That’s practicing leadership: learning how to intervene skillfully,” he says. Koelsch advocates an adaptive approach both in his management of staff and in how he advises law enforcement officers to interact with the public. Helping citizens understand what law enforcement does is also paramount. One way to do that is to work with volunteers through programs such as senior patrol, part of the federally funded Retired Senior Volunteer Program, which has 23 volunteers in Emporia. The senior patrol supplements law enforcement by, for example, performing vacation house checks, checking on the elderly or disabled, or staffing events to provide information. Another goal is to establish a citizen’s academy by 2013 to provide citizens a taste of law enforcement training experiences. Enhancing collaboration between county and city public safety officials is important to Koelsch. He says the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office has monthly meetings with chiefs from Emporia’s fire and police departments, as well as quarterly meetings with mid-level supervisors from those entities and the Kansas Highway Patrol. The meetings include discussions of upcoming events and debriefings of incidents, which lead to “better understanding of each other and improvement of response,” Koelsch says.

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John Koelsch, of the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office 3.

David and Teresa Hurlocker walk in downtown Emporia, where their business, At-Home Health Care, is located.


HEALTH CARE’S ADAPTIVE CHALLENGES Like communities throughout the country, Emporia faces spiraling costs and questions about implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It also has to meet the needs of a geographically dispersed and aging population. When David and Teresa Hurlocker started At-Home Health Care in 2007, only one home care agency was operating in the area.

Hurlocker says. “The idea is lighthouses don’t compete. We’re not trying to work against each other. We’re trying to connect some resources that in the past haven’t been.” In the effort to connect resources, the definition of patient care sometimes expands. Hurlocker tells of a young wheelchair-bound Medicaid patient whose mother was caring for him, including carrying and lifting him into the family’s nonhandicapped-accessible bathtub. Teresa Hurlocker heard about the situation, made some calls, and eventually found an organization in Colorado that could help the family pay for a bathroom remodel. A sibling suffered from the same disorder and would need the lift eventually, so solving the problem helped the family continue to care for the boys at home.

David Hurlocker says his region’s sparser population makes serving patients more challenging than it would be in a larger city. But the Hurlockers and their staff, which has grown to around 45, do not shy away from this difficulty. “We need coverage in small-town and no-town America,” Hurlocker says. “These clients have spent their lives building their farming empire. They have built an honorable business...They have been a part of the Kansas economy. Now they can’t be a part of our society because their illness keeps them in their house. Now we can be a service to them.”

Making that kind of difference has become Hurlocker’s mission. Leadership Emporia has also allowed Hurlocker to pursue the passion he claims as second only to health care: teaching.

Hurlocker explains that collaboration is a vital concept in providing such service, even more so with changes coming from the Affordable Care Act.

“It thrills me to see people who went through Leadership Emporia — I started teaching the year after I took it — and see them take leadership roles in the community,” he says. He cites a local pharmacist as an example. After Leadership Emporia, she gained confidence and is now Hurlocker’s co-chair for the program’s health care day.

“Instead of isolated pockets, we’ll have to all work together,” Hurlocker says. “We’ll be working with nursing homes, physical therapy and medical equipment people. As a group, we’re going to manage the population to keep them out of the hospital.”

Hurlocker’s other driving force is his religious faith. He says caring for and teaching people is important because: “God’s idea for us is to be whole people taking a whole message to the whole world. God wants us to have whole communities and be whole people—not a group over here that’s great, and a group over here that’s a mess. We need to have a holistic approach to people.”

The need for collaboration extends even to the company’s competitors, including making referrals when a patient needs a service it doesn’t provide. Other agencies are encouraged to do the same, all in the name of patient care. “For the longest time, different home cares would look at each other as essentially enemies,”




Another organization interested in that approach is Emporia First United Methodist Church, which has looked to provide assistance to those in need.

brushes and toothpaste for local school children at the suggestion of school nurses. They also supplied a place for the Great Expectations program to meet and offered free child care in the church nursery during meetings. The program is for new and expectant parents who need help escaping the cycle of poverty through education in areas such as financial planning and nutrition.

Saying you want your faith-based organization to help the needy is easy, but determining just how to help is not. Paula Sauder, member of the church, says that another church had the reputation of meeting community needs, and Sauder’s congregation was struggling to become “a credible entity in the community.”

Beverly Long, program development manager for the Kansas Children’s Service League, says the church’s support and assistance have been “priceless.” In addition to providing facilities, the congregation donated money for supplies. The church, which is welcoming to other groups as well, is helping further efforts to “teach families to budget and plan, and hopefully help themselves right out of poverty,” Long says.

Church members responded to a challenge from then-Kansas Area Bishop Scott Jones, who now oversees United Methodist churches in both Kansas and Nebraska, to do better by participating in KLC’s Leadership and Faith Program, but the journey remains difficult. Sauder says, “We learned that even when you have new skills, it’s so easy to go back to the old way of doing things,” such as waiting for one person to take the lead. Susan Cockrell, another church member who attended the program, says the group “started out with one project and ended up with another. We ended up doing several different projects.” They saw needs but were unsure how to meet them. Even appealing to local authorities for ideas yielded nothing specific.

“They are a blessing to us and to the community,” she says. Sauder and Cockrell have faith in their ability to build on what their church has done and continue to help all Emporians.

“Whenever anyone’s life gets a little bit better, everybody’s life gets better,” Cockrell says. “It’s a chain reaction or a ripple in a pond.”

Instead of launching a larger project, the group listened for modest opportunities to make a difference. For example, they collected tooth-


Susan Lockrell and Paula Sauder at First United Methodist Church in Emporia.

Johnson County Commissioner Micahel Ashcraft greets those attending the weekly meeting at the Johnson County Courthouse.


By Chris Green

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LEFT: Ed Eilert, chairman of the Johnson County Commission, directs the weekly meeting. RIGHT: Calvin Hayden, 6th district, listens during the meeting.

WHEN JOHNSON COUNTY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS FACED ANOTHER ROUND OF TOUGH BUDG ET CHOIC ES T HIS Y EA R, T HEY TU RN ED TO T HE VERY PEOPLE THEY SERVE FOR S OME HELP. The trade-offs involved in developing a plan that kept property tax rates steady meant that the level of services paid for and utilized by taxpayers would be affected. Commissioners and staff hoped to tap citizen input to ensure their spending choices aligned with the community’s values.

To improve opportunities for citizen engagement, Johnson County staff created an online budget simulator, which invited citizens to balance the budget and decide whether to increase or decrease service levels in several areas of public interest. Johnson County officials specifically tailored the questions to focus on elements of the county budget that touched the public and made it interactive so that citizens immediately see likely consequences of their choices.

As a result, county officials developed new avenues for citizen engagement that borrowed from existing approaches. Their experiment may offer lessons for any organization trying to better gauge and reflect the views of the people it serves.

The county also convened a series of focus groups and forums in February and March that used the simulator to help launch deeper discussions about why constituents made their decisions and what services they valued the most.

The biggest challenge in such an effort, County Manager Hannes Zacharias says, isn’t necessarily developing new ways to ask stakeholders for their opinions. It is being open to the feedback and figuring out how to accept and make use of it.

The effort represents a great opportunity to increase the level of understanding citizens have about the county, its services and the budget challenges it faces, says Commissioner Michael Ashcraft, an alumnus of KLC’s Community Collaboration Academy in 2010.

“The heavy lifting is changing your own mindset,” says Zacharias, an alumnus of the Kansas Leadership Center’s Civic Leadership Lab for Elected Officials in 2009.


However, requesting input carries risks, too. If you ask people what they think and don’t do anything about it, Ashcraft says, “you’re actually going to be further behind than if you’ve done nothing.” “The trick is our ability and our willingness to use that information in decision making,” Ashcraft says. “To be aware of it, to reflect on it and to act on it. We have to learn as an organization, as an elected body, that stakeholder input may not always be agreeable, but it can and should be insightful.”

and to take stock of what services might need to be reduced or even eliminated. The reductions could initially be absorbed internally. But heading into this year’s budget cycle, officials faced the prospect of instituting more painful service cuts. However, existing forums didn’t necessarily give commissioners much to work with in terms of feedback. Hearings that allowed for public comment on the budget prior to its approval tended to be lightly attended.

Desiring More Input THE PUS H FOR INCREA S ING C IT IZEN ENG AG EMENT SPRA NG FROM T HE TOUG HER ECONOMIC C ON DIT ION S C REATED BY THE G REAT REC ES S ION . Over the last four years, commissioners in Johnson County, the state’s most populous with more than 544,000 people, have worked to hold their spending in line with projected revenue levels. Accomplishing that, Zacharias says, forced the organization to look closely at being more efficient

“Through many budget cycles, unless there was something really controversial that caught the public’s imagination, seldom did people show up at your public hearings,” says Johnson County Commission Chairman Ed Eilert, a former Overland Park mayor involved in local government since 1977. Furthermore, those who showed up tended to only speak about the issue or budget item that affected them the most. This year, Eilert says, the commission wanted to expand its efforts “to see if you couldn’t gather a larger sense of the community.”


Setting Priorities for Services During Johnson County’s citizen engagement process, participants expressed an interest in protecting core public health and safety services, such as the criminalistics laboratory (bottom). Amenities that contributed to the quality of life, such as libraries (top right) also tended to rank high. Most participants focused on cuts that would cause inconvenience, such as added wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles (center-right). To reflect the public’s preferences in the budget, officials did not propose the elimination of some health and human services positions and fully staffed the crime lab. They also did not propose additional funding to transit services (top left), an area citizens seemed to favor reducing, to soften the impact of reduced state and federal funding coming down the pike.

Developing a New Process WHILE THERE WOULD STILL BE A PUBLIC HEA RING PRIOR TO THE B U DG ET ’ S APPROVAL, JOHNSON COUNTY OFFICIALS HOPED TO ENGAGE THE PUBLIC EARLIER ON IN THE PROCESS, WHEN THEIR INPUT MIGHT HAVE GREAT ER IN FLU ENC E. Commissioners also hoped to generate some greater public awareness of the county and what services it offered. Many of the county’s core offerings are mandated by the state, Eilert says, such as the motor vehicles department, the district court, sheriff, district attorney’s office and human services such as the public health department. It also provides services such as parks, libraries, museums and public transit. However, in a county with 21 cities and six school districts, citizens were often more familiar with the governments that were closest to them. “Over the years, commissioners and staff have discussed how do you give the county a high profile, if you will, and what can we do to raise awareness of what specific county activities are and why they’re important,” Eilert says. “This was one thing that we came up with and decided to give it a try.” To better bring the public’s voice into the budget development process, county staff formed a Citizen Engagement Committee. An online budget simulator developed by staff allowed 1,136 members of the general public to provide their input and wrestle with budget decisions and their consequences in much the same way that commissioners do. Users were given a target of making $5.8 million budget cuts across five different areas: public safety and emergency services, culture and recreation, health and human services, infrastructure and general government. Participants could keep funding at the status quo, or raise it or lower it by one or two degrees. But changing funding levels came with consequences. For instance, citizens could reduce spending on the motor vehicle division by up to $793,000. But cutting to that extent increased the current average wait times for titles and renewals from 35 to 55

minutes. Participants could also see how changes in county funding would affect the property taxes on their homes. To help better understand citizens’ reasoning, county officials also convened six commissiondistrict focus groups. Seventy-two people in all completed the simulator and discussed the most difficult choices and what values should drive budget cutting. The county also convened forums with students at six high schools, 157 youth in all, to get younger people involved and to talk about what would make them choose to live there as adults.

Glad to be Asked MOST PA RTIC IPA NTS FOC U S ED ON CU TS T HAT WOU LD MERELY C AU S E INC ONV ENIENC E INST EA D OF MA KING REDUC T ION S IN HU MA N S ERV IC ES FOR T HE V U LNERA BLE. In the focus groups, citizens shared a desire to preserve core services and retain elements that contributed to a high quality of life. Furthermore, a number of people expressed the desire to have the option to raise taxes. While most tried to reach the $5 million target in cuts, others chose to not meet that threshold. “We got really positive feedback from people,” says Danny Lenz, a management and budget analyst for the county. “They pointed out mistakes or things that they’d like done differently. But in general, they really, really liked that we were reaching out to them and trying to get information.” One participant, Douglas Gregg, a Mission business owner, says he appreciated the focus group discussions because they gave citizens an opportunity to hear from the individuals making the choices. The very fact that Johnson County officials wanted to hear from constituents left participants with positive feelings about the experience, he says. “The biggest benefit to come of it, to me, was the image thing -- that they took the time to ask my opinion,” Gregg says.


Mission resident Aaron Deacon says he liked making choices that came with clear tradeoffs during the simulation, even if the mechanics of the decisions offered to participants didn’t always seem perfect. Although the scope of what was up for discussion represented only a portion of the county’s budget, he says he felt like the feedback being generated was being taken seriously.

They also fully staffed the county’s criminalistics laboratory, a reflection of the interest in public safety. They also did not propose providing additional funding to transit services, an area citizens seemed to favor reducing, to soften the impact of reduced federal and state funding coming down the pike. In the future, county officials may look for ways to have the simulator reach more people in the public, allow participants to weigh in on more areas of the county budget and ask bolder questions.

“I do feel that it probably made a difference to the people who were making the decisions and oversaw the information,” Deacon says. “I think local politicians do pay attention when constituents express their opinions about things.”

“I think we’ve got to get better at designing a tool that really is honest and one that is basically more transparent in what we’re trying to achieve,” Zacharias says.

Megan Herbers, then a Shawnee Mission West senior, says the forum involving her government class actually gave her the confidence to vote and be more civically involved. She says it also changed her thinking about whether Johnson County would be a place she wanted to return to after attending Kansas State University. “I didn’t realize how much they offer and how much they really take care of us,” Herbers says of the county. “It’s amazing and there’s no place like it.”

Making ‘Wise Choices’

Providing for better citizen engagement in Johnson County, as it might anywhere, is emerging to be a learning process for county staff and elected officials, as well citizens themselves. Eilert says he would tell participants in this year’s simulator and focus groups that by giving their time, they are helping develop “this avenue of communication and feedback and that hopefully we can enhance the experience in a meaningful way not only for the participants but for those who are interested in the results.” As far as how commissioners use the information, Eilert says he considers it to be “another tool,” along with such resources as a community survey, “that the decision makers use in coming to their decision points.”


Ashcraft says that he hopes that data from the simulator and engagement process will become more useful as it’s developed to a greater level of sophistication.

“I think what it did was confirm to the commission and to all of us that we’re providing pretty good services and that people are pretty happy with the services we have,” Zacharias says. Still, some of the preferences that emerged in the forum did end up being reflected in the budget approved by commissioners in August. Lenz says officials did not propose the elimination of positions in health and human services that would have significantly impacted service levels.


Yet knowing the views and values of the public you serve is a challenge that defies an easy solution, Zacharias says. This past year’s efforts create “a much more rich environment to make wise choices,” he says. “The lesson that I think we’re learning here is that it takes many ways to engage the public,” Zacharias says. “It’s not one shot and you’re done. Nor is it one methodology and you’re complete.”

THINKING DEEPER ABOUT CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT: Ideas about Energizing Others from Johnson County’s Experience

• Start early enough in the process so that input can influence the decisions being made.

• Seek out as broad of an audience as possible to get beyond the usual voices.

• Be as specific as you can in requesting feedback, so stakeholders can be clear on what they are supporting or not supporting.

• Focus conversation on community values and the tradeoffs that could be involved in prioritizing them. Allow for discussion among those of different viewpoints.

• Be careful about constraining the areas of feedback. If you are asking for their views, stakeholders don’t want the decisions made for them.

• Constituencies within the organization should be open to asking tough questions and receiving feedback on their current ways of operating.

• Be prepared to respond to the needs of stakeholders who desire in-depth information, as well as those who only want the bigger picture.

• Appreciate any criticism that you get, because accounting for it can help improve future engagement efforts.

• Decision-makers should incorporate feedback as a resource for making wise choices. But stakeholder engagement is not a referendum for making all decisions.

• Provide a way for stakeholders to know how their input mattered in the final outcome.

• Treat engagement as an adaptive challenge, one that may not have a right answer and that may require successive iterations of experiments to keep achieving progress. Adapted from interviews with commissioners, staff, citizens and consultants in Johnson County.


A storm approaches at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in central Kansas this past August.




a Photography By Jeff Tuttle


In civic and community life, there’s often a gap between our aspirations and the status quo. Bridging that gap requires leadership. It’s a fundamental tenet underlying the work of the Kansas Leadership Center. Earlier thi s y ea r i n Ka nsa s, t he gaps in t he Earth itself gr ew wider a s t he dr ought to o k hold.

Drought forces difficult decisions. Farmers abandon crops. Ranchers cull herds. Merchants raise their prices. Family budgets are adjusted. Municipalities impose rationing. None of these decisions prove easy. We know the immediate solution to the problem of gaps in the ground, and it remains far from our direct control. But we do what we can to respond to the challenge. In ci vi c engage men t, we n ee d no t wait for a rainy day to begin to bri dge t he ga ps t hat se pa r at e what we have from what we hope.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Migrating shore birds feed in one of the few pools that have water at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

in central Kansas; Curtis Wold, of the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, examines a dry pool at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area; Rice County firefighters battle a grease fire near Great Bend, Kansas; Drought closed this pool at the Quivira refuge. 3.

Widespread drought has resulted in damaged crops, like this corn seen in Harvey County during early August, becoming an all too common sight in Kansas.



Participation in a Kansas Leadership Center program comes with expectations. With strings attached. A fuse, if you like. The KLC hopes to have equipped you with the skills to better engage in your civic leadership endeavors. Regardless of your point of entry, you now have the awareness and the potential to share responsibility to act together in pursuit of the common good. We hope you continue to visit this section of The Journal for ideas, inspiration and information to help you in your work. In each issue of The Journal, The Fuse will feature program alumni. If you know of a KLC program participant who would make for a great profile, please contact Mike Matson at: to nominate that person.

ARE YOU READY FOR KONZA CLUBS? ALUMNI PROFILES: KONZA CLUB EDITION Konza Clubs are designed to connect KLC alumni to foster collective progress on civic issues, support each other and continue learning. You can use your Konza Club to network and share experiences on civic challenges. This club will keep you connected to KLC in a new and exciting way. In this issue of The Journal, we are spotlighting the KLC alumni who have decided to become heavily involved with starting Konza Clubs in their communities. If you would like to learn more information, please contact one of the Konza champions below to learn more about clubs in the following communities Konza Dodge City: Duane Ross ( Konza Ellis County: Tammy Wellbrock ( Konza Emporia: Jeanine McKenna ( Konza Garden City: Allie Medina ( Konza Greenwood County: Jan Stephens ( Konza Kansas City: Marcy Smalley ( Konza Lawrence: Teresa Schwab ( Konza Manhattan: Ella Casey ( Konza Pittsburg: K.O. Noonoo ( Konza Salina: Andy Martin ( Konza Shawnee County: Marlou Wegener ( Konza Wichita: Cynthia Colbert ( and Gail Fisher (

If your community is not listed here and you would you like to get a Konza Club started, please contact Shaun Rojas at 316-712-4956 or You can learn more about the clubs and request a starter kit.



Where do you work?

Finney County Economic Development Corporation in Garden City What KLC program(s) have you participated in?

The 2011 KCLI Summit and currently attending The Art & Practice of Civic Leadership Development for Kansans in their 20s and 30s. How do you engage civically outside of work?

ALLISON (ALLIE) MEDINA What made you want to be involved in launching a Konza Club?

The experiences that I have had not only through the KLC programs that I have attended, but also our local leadership organization have definitely driven me to work hard for the community and Kansas. I feel that the communities in Kansas definitely deserve and have many hardworking individuals that do great work all over Kansas every day. If we can provide these individuals support and continued learning, then we can continuing building and growing our communities to their full potential. Where are you originally from? Ulysses

I have definitely made the Garden City Konza Club a priority, and I have had a chance to become a board member of the Garden City Leadership Foundation. The Garden City Leadership Foundation is the local leadership organization that originally provided me the opportunity to attend the KLC programs. I definitely enjoy being a part of these organizations. What civic leadership concept are you working to become more effective at? Why?

Specifically in the Konza Club Garden City I have been working on energizing others. It is one thing for me to believe that the KLC process is trustworthy and worth changing my behavior for, but it is an entirely different concept to energize others into changing their behaviors. I am definitely thankful for my Art & Practice program participants for their help and support for me throughout this process.

Where do you live now? Garden City

What is the most important lesson about leadership you have learned over your lifetime?

What’s your educational background?

I would definitely have to say that it is truly about the process. It is very easy for people to get so focused on the end results that they overlook the process and what they could truly be learning and experiencing, myself included. I have had two very great leadership coaches that have given me support and helped me remember to stay true to myself, the purpose and the process.

Graduated from Ulysses High School in 2004; attended Dodge City Community College in 20042005 on a volleyball scholarship; attended Oklahoma Panhandle State University in 2007-2008 on a volleyball scholarship; graduated from Fort Hays State University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Business Administration; currently attending Friends University in the MBA program.





What KLC program(s) have you participated in?

I was in the first and only Community Collaboration Academy. We were either so stellar they knew no other group would measure up, or we broke them. How do you engage civically outside of work?

Most of my work is civic in nature. Beyond that, I serve on boards, donate skills and try to be a good neighbor. Whose leadership style do you most admire?


My friend Pat Brune, who retired as clerk of the federal court in Western Missouri and is past president of Leadership 2000 in Wyandotte County. She built a culture in the court that was humane, innovative and encouraging, and her commitment to the Dotte inspires me.

What made you want to be involved in launching a Konza Club?

I loved my experience with KLC, believed in the mission and wanted to stay connected with likeminded folks. But now, working with co-facilitators Nancy and Marcy, it’s really all about the fun.

What civic leadership concept are you working to become more effective at? Energizing others. Why? I’m very analytical, and that often takes the form of troubleshooting. While sometimes useful, it can also yank the joy right out of a room. “Cheerleader” is not authentic for me, but focusing on possibilities makes everyone happier.

Where are you originally from? St. Louis Where do you live now? About a mile from the state line in the South Hyde Park neighborhood of Kansas City, Mo. I’m almost a Kansan. What’s your educational background?

What is the most important lesson about leadership you have learned over your lifetime?

B.S. in urban affairs from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Some of the most effective leaders are introverts.

Where do you work?

I’m director of Consensus, the nonprofit that puts the “public” in public policy for the community and clients. I believe KLC can transform when and how leaders engage the public by sharing the distinction of technical problems versus adaptive challenges.


Whose leadership style do you most admire?

Tony Dungy. As an NFL coach, he understood his role as an authority figure, but also took on the role as mentor and servant leader to his players in order to help them develop into the potential he knew they could be. I just recently began reading his Quiet Strength Bible study, and although it is geared towards men, I find that the questions he asks are applicable to any person’s life.


What civic leadership concept are you working to become more effective at? Why? I’ve spent

some time working on diagnosing situations and intervening skillfully. It’s been important for me to recognize collectively group and individual values involved in processes in order to outline how the work must be accounted for. I would like to be more effective at knowing when to raise or lower the heat in situations and if doing so, making sure that I’m keeping the objective at hand in mind.

What made you want to be involved in launching a Konza Club?

It’s an opportunity that allows for connections to build and blossom with other fellow KLC alums in my area. Where are you originally from? Wichita

What is the most important lesson about leadership you have learned over your lifetime?

Where do you live now? Garden City

I’ve become more comfortable knowing that with practicing leadership the possibility of risk will always exist. You may have to decide whether to push forward or take a step back, but the probability remains. Your ability to acknowledge that risks and to continue the process will better prepare you for the next chapter in the journey.

What’s your educational background?

Bachelor’s in Sports Science & master’s in Health Education from the University of Kansas Where do you work?

United Methodist Mexican American Ministries Dental Clinic (Dental Practice Manager) What leadership program(s) have you participated in?

Leadership Garden City and ExecCoach Kansas How do you engage civically outside of work?

Family Crisis Services volunteer and Community Oral Health Coalition member





How do you engage civically outside of work?

The wonderful part of my day job is the variety of opportunities available. For instance, the Chamber serves as co-partners with educational events, political events or other community events, opening doors for me to be active and/or serve on various committees. Most recently I served on a two-year effort for our city’s 20-Year Comprehensive Plan, which taught me so much about the forecasted growth for our community. I also volunteer when my work schedule allows at my son’s elementary school, whether assisting in the classroom or serving on the school’s Site Council. In addition, I also teach a marketing class at our local university as well as speak at a variety of groups regarding leadership, community development and women’s causes.

TAMMY WELLBROCK What made you want to be involved in launching a Konza Club?

As a facilitator for, and alum of, our Community Leadership Program, it is so exciting to see the energy created from learning more about leadership and community involvement. A Konza Club will keep that momentum going as well as continue the education and awareness for ongoing leadership training.

Whose leadership style do you most admire?

I find admirable qualities in so many people who I have worked with professionally or know personally, so it is difficult to narrow down to one person whose style influences me most. I’m drawn to: leaders whose moral character and actions are consistent; leaders who empower, inspire and motivate others to achieve; and leaders who can share tough (but necessary) messages with compassion and understanding.

Where are you originally from? Healy Where do you live now? Hays

What is the most important lesson about leadership you have learned over your lifetime?

What’s your educational background?

B.A. (1994) and M.S. (2002) in Communication from Fort Hays State University Where do you work?

Executive director at Hays Area Chamber of Commerce What KLC program(s) have you participated in?

Leadership Hays 2000; Leadership Hays 2011; KCLI Facilitator Training (2011, 2012); KCLI Summit 2011 and 2012


To listen with an open heart and mind. Whenever I have struggled during a situation, I realize poor listening skills were at the core of the problem. The best advice I received before approaching a leadership challenge is to take a deep breath, center myself while removing possible biases from my internal dialogue. This is so much easier said than done, yet when I remember this small step, the results are usually positive.

coaching, facilitation and organizational capacity building with a special emphasis on maximizing social impact. As part of my work, I am a member of the KLC Civic Leadership Coach Team and am also an instructor with the KU Public Management Center. What leadership program(s) have you participated in?

I participated in Context and Competencies in 2010, went through the initial Civic Leadership Coach Training and continue to participate with the Coach Team in educational opportunities.


Whose leadership style do you most admire? What made you want to be involved in launching a Konza Club?

I admire a number of people and have had the good fortune to have many wonderful mentors and colleagues throughout my career. If I had to sum up a couple of the qualities I most admire about them as a collective, those qualities include having great integrity, the desire to listen, being open to new information and ways to approach things, being willing to be vulnerable by admitting they don’t always know the answer and freely giving and receiving feedback.

I was first really interested in working with a group of people from my community on an issue that created a lot of excitement and energy, and I was also interested in bringing together a network of people who care about leadership and who are willing to wrestle together with the KLC principles and competencies.

What civic leadership concept are you working to become more effective at? Why? It seems like I’ve

Where are you originally from? I grew up in

Lenora, a small town in rural western Kansas.

been talking to people more and more about the importance of speaking to loss. With so many organizations going through budget cuts, layoffs and a myriad of other changes, we often don’t realize the longstanding impact that those losses have on individuals and organizations.

Where do you live now? I moved to Lawrence

in 1997 to attend graduate school then decided to make Lawrence my home. What’s your educational background?

What is the most important lesson about leadership you have learned over your lifetime?

I attended Colby Community College, then received a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Emporia State University in 1991. I graduated from the University of Kansas with a master’s in Social Work in 2000.

The simple shift from thinking about leadership as a position of authority to leadership as an intervention opens up incredible opportunities. I’ve seen the most amazing things happen when people stop believing they have to have a title or position to make a difference.

Where do you work?

I have a background in policy and systems advocacy. In 2010, I started an independent leadership development firm, offering services of





Where do you work?

After 30 years of professional experience, I now teach urban planning at the University of Kansas. Leadership skills in our graduates are increasingly wanted by urban planning agencies and consulting firms. The Professional Practice class I teach now includes leadership curriculum informed by KLC principles and case studies. What KLC program(s) have you participated in?

Competencies workshop


How do you engage civically outside of work?

I serve as board president of City in Motion Dance Theater Inc. I am also on the Senior Mobility Advisory Committee and the Communiversity board.

What made you want to be involved in launching a Konza Club?

Initially, a few of us thought an alumni club might enhance our leadership skills and be enjoyable. However, it was not until our first Konza KC meeting that the club’s potential emerged. Alums articulated an exciting vision to “create a critical mass in the community to create change” and to “transform civic leadership.” This vision was to be achieved by “being a think tank,” “using common KLC language and competencies,” “providing a safe venue to address our own leadership challenges” and “through experimentation.” So a hunch got a few of us initially interested, but the expanded thinking of the alumni group sealed the deal.

Whose leadership style do you most admire?

There are so many I admire, but my biggest influence was my aunt: Virginia Brown. She taught me a style she referred to as “Old Man Honesty.” What civic leadership concept are you working to become more effective at?

Managing self -If I can get that under control, I can do better at all the others. What is the most important lesson about leadership you have learned over your lifetime?

Where are you originally from? Kansas City

Do what you love, and don’t hog all the fun (give the work back).

Where do you live now? Fairway What’s your educational background?

I have a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Kansas, School of Architecture, Design and Planning.


What leadership program(s) have you participated in?

Context and Competencies How do you engage civically outside of work?

I am always looking for ways to get involved civically outside of work, from participating in focus groups and rallies about specific issues to being involved in campaigns for candidates about whom I feel strongly. Whose leadership style do you most admire?


I really can’t point to one person’s leadership style – it is more of a combination of several different people’s leadership styles. I suppose one of the qualities I admire most is those leaders who are clearly passionate – those about whom there can be no doubt that they are so very dedicated to their cause – they don’t hesitate when they describe what it is they do and why they do it. I also admire leaders who are empathetic, show respect for others and who lead quietly, if you will. They don’t carry or wield a big stick – they don’t have to.

What made you want to be involved in launching a Konza Club?

After I completed the KLC Context and Competencies program, I got together with one of my “classmates” from the program and we did something of a “debrief” and discussed what competencies we were using and which ones we were having trouble with. We got together a few more times and thought it might be fun and interesting to expand our scope to include other KLC alumni.

What civic leadership concept are you working to become more effective at? Why?

Resisting the temptation to immediately turn to a technical solution for an adaptive issue/problem. Technical solutions tend to be quick fixes – adaptive solutions are much more difficult, but more rewarding to work on and more long lasting.

Where are you originally from?

The Kansas City metro area Where do you live now? Prairie Village

What is the most important lesson about leadership you have learned over your lifetime?

What’s your educational background?

Undergraduate degree in secondary education and a juris doctorate, both from the University of Kansas

I’m still learning. But if forced to answer the question, I would say that leadership doesn’t have to be big and bold and loud. Some of the leaders I most admire are just the opposite. There is something about them – that they don’t have to advertise – that inspires others to follow. Maybe it is because they don’t necessarily want or need others to follow but to walk beside them.

Where do you work?

Oliver and Lindemenn Athletic Consulting. Just started with them in September. I spent many years – 14 to be exact – of my professional career with the National Collegiate Athletic Association before it moved its headquarters from Overland Park to Indianapolis. I chose not to make the move, but apparently the world of intercollegiate athletics is something that I never quite let go of.


Kansas Tax Factions Finding the Way Forward: Taxes, Our Economy and Core Services By Mike Matson



to expire. The state sales tax rate will drop from 6.3 percent to 5.7 percent beginning July 1, 2013.

It did not take long for the factions to emerge.

Since the figures are calculated using economic projections and assumptions vary widely, accurately gauging the real dollar number impact of a law of this magnitude is fraught with hazard. But for the sake of this discussion, a frame of reference is helpful. The most commonly cited price tag for the package runs $800 million for fiscal ’14. That translates to about 13 percent of projected state revenues.

“…a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy…” “…it’s a shell game…” One faction believes that with lower rates and fewer individual income tax brackets, the Kansas economy will kick into a higher gear and tax collections will rise. After years of losing ground to competing states, Kansas will now be positioned for growth.

Promise or Peril? The individual income tax relief is pretty straightforward: fewer brackets and lower rates for all taxpayers. The small business exemptions are a bit more complex.

Businesses will keep more of their hard-earned sweat equity and create private sector jobs. More people will earn income and pay taxes. Growth in the economy will supply the revenues needed to sustain government, and any shortfalls could be dealt with by trimming wasteful spending.

Small business owners typically pay themselves a salary, which is taxed as wage income when they file their taxes. Profit above and beyond the cost of doing business is categorized on the federal tax return in a host of categories and assessed under the personal income tax. Under the new law, this non-wage income will no longer be taxed by state government. Period.

In short, we’ll focus on creating a less expensive tax climate with the aim of helping Kansas grow faster and more robustly. Another faction is convinced this sort of tax reform won’t produce growth as promised and will result in massive state budget cuts and higher local property taxes.

It impacts limited liability corporations, subchapter-S corporations and sole proprietorships. Supporters say 191,000 small Kansas businesses will benefit.

Their view: We should focus on preventing harm to the state’s core services that citizens value the most.

Those who like the new law predict a limited, short-term bottom line budget impact, which they attribute to a projected surplus resulting from recent state government spending reductions in concert with a steady-as-she-goes Kansas economy.

There are true believers in each faction, each arguing they value the same outcomes: a strong state economy and preservation of essential services. But the paths they travel to get there head in divergent directions.

The other faction counters that even under the rosiest of scenarios, there will be a gap of two to five years until the small businesses begin to see enough tax relief to put them in a position to hire the number of people needed to start paying the lower taxes for the budget to break even.

When last we left Topeka, the Legislature had passed and the governor had signed into law an economic growth package aimed at creating jobs by reducing the personal income tax burden for everyone in Kansas. Gone will be a three-bracket structure for individual state income taxes, in favor of two brackets with lower rates.

During a time when federal dollars from Washington continue to dwindle and state funding transfers to local units of government have all but dried up, this faction has a nagging fear that the property tax may be the default stopgap from two different levels of government – state and local.

Income taxes on certain non-wage business income for small business owners are eliminated. The new law also continues to allow the bulk of a 1-cent sales tax increase passed in 2010


Some questions to consider:

And that city councils, community college boards of trustees, township boards, cemetery districts − in short, any local unit of government with the authority to levy a mill − will commence new levying.

Have we placed too low of a value on creating the conditions for economic growth over the past decade? What are we willing to risk or lose to facilitate it? How will we respond if the outcome our faction hopes for doesn’t materialize?


How do we define essential government services? Are there new ways of looking at this? How might we need to operate differently to sustain the services we have with the revenues we have? What should the relationship between our community and state government look like?

Factions represent competing value systems. One person’s silver bullet is another person’s Russian roulette. Competing value systems are nothing new in public policy or issue discussions. In fact, one might argue that without them, we’d be a pretty lousy democracy.

Is this is a rising tide that will lift all boats, or will we drown in a sea of unintended consequences?

Especially in Kansas. In the end, this is so much more than the political squabble du jour. It’s bigger even than a mere job creation strategy. It’s a conversation, a dialogue, a debate that helps us strive for the common good. Driving these funding dilemmas back to the local level initiates an opportunity for more local creativity and local ownership.

It’s up to us to decide our core values and how we will express them as both citizens and policymakers. Our civic culture is a reflection of us. If we like it, let’s keep improving it. If we don’t like it, let’s change it. What’s the way forward? Are there areas where our disparate factions can find common ground and work toward a shared purpose?

An opportunity to engage, care and risk.







<$30,000 >$30,000 <$60,000 >$60,000

3.5% 6.25% 6.45%

<$30,000 >$30,000

3% 5.5% (2013) 5.3% (2015) 5.1% (2016) 4.9% (2017)













“I think it’s putting us outside of our comfort zone because we’ve already been through the whole program ourselves, and so we’ve gotten to know each other and feel comfortable. So, this is now putting us back outside of our comfort zone with meeting all new people and their experiences.” NICOLE ZINK, CLAFLIN, on the value of attending the summit.


TOGETHER. Just days before their program’s graduation ceremony, a small group of Kansans from Leadership Golden Belt traveled to Wichita for the Kansas Community Leadership Initiative Summit. In doing so, they joined more than 200 Kansans from 30 communities across the state for the three-day event for community leadership program participants this past September. The 10 members of the group hailed from six different communities — Larned, Great Bend, Bushton, Claflin, Stafford and Ellinwood — spread out across four central Kansas counties. Although they’d already been taught Kansas Leadership Center concepts by their program’s facilitators, Carolyn Dunn and Kristy Rupe, the summit allowed them to push themselves even further. The experience was a challenge, allowing them to practice what they had learned while developing connections with people from other communities. They saw how many different places in Kansas face similar challenges. They not only revisited concepts but also strategized new ways for making more progress in their communities. They left with a greater

awareness of how important and necessary their own leadership could be for both Kansas and their communities. Participating in the event required the group to not only talk about leadership but actually exercise it. When their facilitator fell ill on the first day of the summit and could not attend, Leadership Golden Belt members succeeded in leading their own group debrief by working together to summarize the lessons of the day. The summit also proved to be a celebration of the ties they had developed with one another over the preceding months. Having already gained one another’s trust, they formed even stronger bonds, whether it be through joking over lunch or dining one evening at a Japanese steakhouse. Before going their separate ways, the participants in Leadership Golden Belt huddled up as a group for one last time. When they left, it was as Kansans more inspired, connected, prepared and equipped to exercise leadership on behalf of their communities and their state.

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS FROM LEADERSHIP GOLDEN BELT AT THE 2012 KCLI SUMMIT: William Nusser, Larned; Chuck Marshall, Great Bend; Lori Behnke, Bushton; Nicole Zink, Claflin; Stacie Lopez, Stafford; Tana Cooper, Great Bend; Joe Vinduska, Great Bend; Jon Prescott, Ellinwood; Michell Conner, Great Bend; and Deanna Vannoster, Great Bend; and facilitator Carolyn Dunn, St. John.

“My takeaway is we are way more powerful than we think. One person really can change a community.” MICHELL CONNER, GREAT BEND, on how she was inspired by the summit.

“There are challenges that we need to face because we are residents of this state — and not just of the community and not just of the county — and we have responsibilities to address those needs.” JON PRESCOTT, ELLINWOOD, on what he took away from a presentation by James Chung, president of Reach Advisors, titled “Kansas — Its Future is Here Today.”

“For me, the summit has been about clarity. Because we have gone through our classes, we were introduced to the concepts and the entire time I would leave feeling completely frustrated. Coming here and going back through some of those concepts, I realized that I was learning in the process.� DEANNA VANNOSTER, GREAT BEND, on how the summit helped her better understand she had learned previously.

“It’s important to say that people who are coming to the summit for the first time, they can expect to be uncomfortable, maybe even angry. But that definitely it’s important to get out of your comfort zone, and you get a good opportunity to do that here. And meet a lot of cool people. And the KLC faculty are great.They’re very passionate. You can tell. They really buy into this, and they really care a lot about what everybody takes from this.” JOE VINDUSKA, GREAT BEND, on the summit experience.

“If they can take what base of learning we’ve maybe helped provide and deepen it with an experience that’s higher value than what we were able to do, the participants maybe walk away with something that is impactful, and lasts and sticks with them and that they can put to use.” CAROLYN DUNN, FACILITATOR FROM ST. JOHN, on what the summit offers participants in her community leadership program.


For Johnson, featured in last year’s KLC documentary, “Draw a New Picture,” the program helped open the door to new avenues for making progress. He is presently building upon his skills as participant in the Kansas Leadership Center’s yearlong Art and Practice of Civic Leadership Development program for Kansans in their 20s and 30s.

Brandon Johnson first looked to start a leadership and community engagement organization in 2010, talking the idea over with the mentor he’d had since age 9. Because of a new leadership program aimed at the minority community, the 26-year-old Wichitan could count on a few more allies for his effort when he, along with a co-founder, officially started Community Operations Recovery Empowerment Inc. (CORE) the following year.

CORE focuses on career development; tutoring, mentoring and counseling; prevention and intervention; and community service and neighborhood revitalization. It has launched programs to bring men into schools as mentors and to teach youth gardening, and is developing a summer jobs program.

Johnson’s links to Roberto Baeza and Marcos Montemayor, who serve on CORE’s 10-member board, came through their participation in the inaugural class of the Community Leadership Development Project. Montemayor serves as the board’s president.

In addition to meeting two individuals who would join his board through the Community Leadership Development Project, Johnson made connections there that led him to a Hispanic community activist, Sulma Arias, executive director of Sunflower Community Action. The two opened a dialogue last year about fostering stronger ties between the two communities.

A partnership between Wichita’s African American Coalition and the Kansas Hispanic Education & Development Foundation, the Community Leadership Development Project graduated its inaugural class of 15 last year. “With that program, I’m connected to the Hispanic community in a way I probably wouldn’t have been beforehand,” says Johnson, CORE’s executive director.


Hispanics represented about 15 percent of Wichita’s population in the 2010 census while African Americans made up just under 12 percent. Although efforts to better connect the two populations remain a work in progress, what’s happened so far fits with what

Fifteen participants in the Community Leadership Development Project, a new leadership program aimed at Wichita minorities, celebrated their graduation last year, along with program organizers. The group represented the inaugural class of the program, which was a collaboration between Wichita’s African American Coalition and the Kansas Hispanic Education & Development Foundation. Organizers continue to look for partnerships to allow additional classes to enroll in the program. (courtesy photo)

organizers had in mind when they launched the Community Leadership Development Project. A trio of KLC alumni -- state Rep. Melody McCrayMiller, Yolanda Camarena and Wakeelah Martinez – helped spearhead the program’s creation, which was initially funded by a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation and featured a KLC-influenced curriculum. McCray-Miller, chairwoman of the African American Coalition, and Camarena are alumni of the same KHF Fellows program. Martinez, who designed much of the program and facilitated it, is an alumna of KLC’s faculty development initiative, as is McCray-Miller.

The challenge going forward for the Community Leadership Development Project will be making the program sustainable and allowing for more emerging young African-American and Hispanic leaders to connect in the future. Organizers say they are in the process of developing partnerships to allow the program to be funded for additional classes. Furthermore, Camarena says the leadership program could be only the first in line of projects that Wichita’s African-American and Hispanic communities might work on together. “We saw the importance of the collaborative effort being made by both communities,” Camarena said. “It just reinforced the idea that we really wanted to continue doing collaborative projects.”

The effort, organizers say, reflects the common ground that Africans Americans and Hispanics in Wichita have when it comes to leadership and the need to develop a new generation of individuals with the capacity to mobilize others inside and outside their respective communities.

Mark McCormick, former director of communications for the Kansas Leadership Center, contributed to this story.

In that spirit, participants from both communities worked collaboratively to support the development of each other’s leadership projects during the program. “Two populations within our community found a way to work together and found benefit in the collaborating,” McCray-Miller said.



Lisa Grossman is a painter and printmaker based in Lawrence whose work focuses on the open spaces and prairies of Eastern Kansas and the Kansas River Valley. Originally from Slippery Rock, Pa., Grossman earned an associate’s degree from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and moved to Kansas City, Mo., in 1988 to work as an illustrator for Hallmark Cards. Grossman began plein air painting in earnest when she discovered the tallgrass prairies of east-central Kansas, and left Hallmark in 1995 to pursue painting full-time. She received a BFA from the University of Kansas in 1999.


A prairie painter has to be comfortable with sparseness and pay closer attention. Because of less obvious subject matter, I think the prairie landscape forces an artist to look more deeply, carefully, and be more creative – do more with less. I enjoy that part of the challenge. More often than not, “space,” is my subject. Since the early 1990s, my work has been an ongoing exploration of what it feels like to be in that space, surrounded by all that air and light, feeling the tug of that blue horizon 360º around, the sense of limitlessness and blissful isolation. Plein air painting (or painting outdoors on location in the (“open air”) is, for me, about the first-hand experience of a place. It’s my ritual of positioning myself in the land, watching and waiting, being open, sharpening my awareness in a multisensory way. It’s centering. It keeps me in touch with what’s going on in that moment, that day, that season. I stay connected. For me, there is a unique kind of discovery inherent in the process of plein air painting. It leads me into an elevated state of right-brain openness and creative engagement that leads to larger discoveries. I want to show up open to possibility. Plein air painting allows me to participate in my surroundings in an intuitive, spontaneous manner. Things change quickly, and you have to commit and dive into the work, holding on to that initial inspiration. My creative process has to be about discovery, or I’ll end up with a pretty lifeless painting. Working this way, the paintings are hit or miss. They don’t always work, but if they do, there’s an energy embedded in them that is impossible to duplicate in the studio.


Roy J. Beckemeyer of Wichita is a retired Boeing executive with degrees in aeronautical engineering from St. Louis University, Wichita State University and the University of Kansas. He and his wife have lived in Kansas for almost 50 years. He draws his poetic inspiration mostly from this place, the prairie and the people who call it home.


I could tell the story of a dusk swept with layers of dust across this flat land, of wind that dared the horizon to lift its head, a story of stars scoured dim by sand blasted against the frailest sky, a story of how we’d clung to these lines, hoping to keep them from blowing away. But I would rather speak of how we rose again, buoyed up by hope and perseverance, slapped dust from our legs and arms and wiped grit from our eyes, watched the fat cumulus clouds billowing skyward, set about wreathing this land once more in moon light and in stars. For all of history is hope - the stargazers who first named the bright patterns of stars in the sky had hope that they might make some kind of sense of the wide spectacle of the heavens by giving familiar names to its parts. We should do no less with all this Kansas sky. Look, there is a bison - that red star is his eye - and up a little higher in the sky is a teepee tilted west. And that could be Comanche, the horse that survived Little Bighorn (talk about hope), to die in peace in a Kansas pasture. Oh, we can see hope in these Kansas stars the most encouraging word in the world is hope, and these stories of hope are what we need, what we cherish, how we survive.




LOOK HOMEWARD Growing up on the farm in rural Plainville and in the middle-class mean streets of a Wichita neighborhood that is actually called Pleasant Valley, I could not wait to leave Kansas. I would seek my fame and fortune in the bright lights of the big city. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago. Anywhere but here. This place is Nowheresville. Thirty years later, I’m still here. What gives? You could chalk it up to steady work. A professional career spanning journalism, politics/government in the Statehouse and a family farmer trade group. A tripartite career with a thread of similarity weaving through all three swatches. As a reporter, I observed and wrote about the process and motivation of those engaged in civic discourse. In politics and government, I formulated and communicated a message to move a political and public policy agenda. Similar work in the advocacy realm, except on behalf of a special interest: farm and ranch families with deep Kansas roots just like mine. Just like mine. Different roles: observer, operative, advocate. Thirty years of hands-on Kansas civic needle moving viewed from divergent perspectives. But it’s more than just a paycheck that kept me here. As the years progressed, I experienced a slow, gradual dawning of a couple of things. Each career progression brought deeper connections to Kansas and Kansans. Familiarity breeds admiration. And that too often when we pull together for the common good, we fall short.

pigs who would wind up as the first KLC Context and Competencies group, my reaction was, “Funny you should ask.” This summer the career in Kansas went quadripartite. Today my steady work at the Kansas Leadership Center will help fill in the blank in the hearts and minds of the overwhelming majority of Kansans who are not familiar with who and why we are, or what we do. It’s a compelling story. It will also be another part of my own Kansas story. Pieces of me are all over this state. My grandparents are buried in Rooks County. I grew up there and in Wichita, where my father’s home remains. I’ve lived and worked in Hays, Topeka and Lawrence. Today, my wife and I make our home where I was born, in Manhattan, in a house built into a Flint Hill. Her family is from southeast Kansas. We buried her dad this past spring in Girard. My son and his fiancée live in the Rosedale neighborhood of KCK. She grew up in rural Clay County. They’ll be married this spring in Johnson County. The Kansas of my youth that I couldn’t wait to leave is a fading memory. Rooks County and the rest of northwest Kansas struggle with the effects of shifting population. Pleasant Valley has evolved from a postwar, suburban “baloney on white with Miracle Whip” sameness to a vibrant, multicultural panoply of 21st century Kansas. Time marches on. Frames of reference shift. Human beings evolve. What was Nowheresville for a naïve kid with stars in his eyes has become home. In every sense of the word. Mike Matson joined the Kansas Leadership Center professional staff this summer. As Director of Innovative & Strategic Communication, he works to share the KLC's compelling story.

In the middle of all this, I can remember literally thinking, wouldn't it be great if there was some sort of “organized value” that could be added? Something more than networking and résumé enhancers? Something that got to the underlying difficulties that impede meaningful progress? So when my friend Ed O’Malley called in the summer of ’08 and asked me to be part of a collection of guinea



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