Leawood Magazine Spring/Summer 2024

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a hello from us.

Dear Leawood Community and Business Associates, I am pleased write to you as Leawood’s new mayor in this Spring/Summer issue of Leawood magazine. I am finishing my third month as your mayor, and it certainly has been a period of transition as I settle into City Hall.

With November’s election, we said goodbye to Peggy Dunn, our mayor of 26 years, and to council members Andrew Osman, Jim Rawlings, and James Azeltine, who collectively have given nearly 90 years of service to Leawood. Despite these changes in our leadership, our professional staff, led by city administrator Diane Stoddard, continues to deliver the best city services in Johnson County.

As we continue with this transition, we want to hear what you think of our city government. We just issued our first citizens satisfaction survey, and I encourage everyone to respond (find it on the Leawood website, leawood.org, and on our Facebook page, City of Leawood, KS, Government). We also invited the Leawood homeowners association presidents to provide feedback and input form residents during a conference held April 21.

It’s an honor to serve as your mayor. I look forward to hearing from you as we continue to “live with distinction” in Leawood.


Hello, Leawood Residents and Business Partners,

Spring is officially here—and it’s a beautiful time to be in Leawood! I hope you’re enjoying our beautiful parks, walking the extensive trail system, or doing some spring shopping at Town Center, Ranch Mart, or one of our many other fantastic local businesses.

It’s been a busy season for the Leawood Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council, and we’re particularly excited about the launch of our first-ever Leadership Leawood class, featured in this issue (page 12). It’s a dynamic group of regional professionals who are already making an impact on our city. We’re grateful for all our partners— particularly UMKC TalentLink—who helped bring the program to life, and we look forward to watching it grow and develop in the future.

Spring is also a season for change, and here in Leawood, that includes a new face as mayor, as longtime mayor Peggy Dunn retired in early January. We welcome Mayor Marc Elkins and look forward to working with him and the entire governing body.

We hope you enjoy this second issue of our newly redesigned Leawood magazine, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if we can ever be of assistance!


Editor Jean Teller jteller@sunflowerpub.com
Director Shelly Bryant Advertising Executive Angie Taylor ataylor@sunflowerpub.com Copy Editor Leslie Clugston Andres Contributing Writers Jill Dutton
Spradlin Mahajan Kari Williams
Anderson Brooke Buck
Peyton Portrait Studio
Uhler Director
and CEO
President of Programming & Communications
President of Operations
of Membership
Cull On the Cover Marc Elkins is the new Leawood mayor.
by Strauss Peyton Portrait Studio leawood | 5
Publisher Bill

8 New Face in Top Office

Recently elected Leawood mayor aims to continue predecessor’s legacy.

12 Lessons for Leawood Leaders

The Leawood Chamber of Commerce offers its members a leadership program for professional and personal development.

20 More Than Good Food

Company’s goal is to put fun in front of families, which means, of course, pickleball (and more).

inside the pages.

26 Where Fashion Meets Philanthropy

A look at Story Boutique, an upscale resale store that benefits families receiving services through Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care.

32 Linking to the Future

Professional and personal development is the focus of UMKC TalentLink.

38 The Art of (Medical) Tradition

Leawood practice merges with AdventHealth to add resources and keep moving forward.

PHOTO Brooke Buck
leawood | 7
Marc Elkins, Mayor, City of Leawood

New Face in Top Office

Recently elected Leawood mayor aims to continue predecessor’s legacy.

Marc Elkins has served the City of Leawood for years, but he never planned on being the one to lead it — until then-mayor Peggy Dunn announced in summer 2023 that she would not seek reelection.

It was the first time in nearly 30 years that Dunn would not be at the helm of the Johnson County city of nearly 34,000 people.

“I had recently retired after nearly a 40-year career of practicing law,” Elkins says, “first for 20 years in a large law firm, and then for the last 19 years as associate general counsel and chief compliance officer at Cerner. And so, I had just started to enjoy my retirement between Peggy deciding to retire and my wife thinking that maybe I was watching too many Star Trek reruns.”

Elkins, who has served on the city’s planning commission along with several other area organizations for 20 years, faced off in the November election against Steve Hentzen. Elkins earned more than 5,000 votes, or 57.33%.

Between the knowledge he had gained from the planning commission and his belief in service, Elkins says he felt an “obligation” to offer to serve.

“I learned at a really early age, through my experience in (scouting), about the concept of servant leadership and the obligation that a citizen has to engage in community affairs,” Elkins says, also noting President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech as an influence.

Electoral Transition

Elkins says he and the former mayor have “many of the same beliefs” as far as servant leadership and serving Leawood residents.

“From the minute the election results were announced, she made herself available to help me with that transition,” Elkins says. “And she continues to be available today.”

The City of Leawood, according to Elkins, is in a time of transition. The most recent election saw three of the city’s most experienced council members and mayor retire, he says.

“They had 88 years of experience in city hall,” Elkins says. “And with city government, we have a new city administrator who just celebrated her first anniversary with the city.”

There also is a new IT director and a new finance director. And due to an early retirement, one of Elkins’ first responsibilities as mayor is to work with the city administrator in a search for a new police chief.

The real learning curve for Elkins has been the municipal finance side, he says.

“Certainly, citizens today are very concerned about property taxes, and we want to do everything that we can to be good stewards of their money,” Elkins says. “We want to figure out a way to figure out that balance between delivering the quality of municipal services that Leawood has always

I learned at a really early age, through my experience in (scouting), about the concept of servant leadership and the obligation that a citizen has to engage in community affairs.
leawood | 9

Learning from a Sister City

Shortly after Marc Elkins took the helm as Leawood mayor, the Kansas town hosted the mayor and city administrator from the Gezer region of Israel—Leawood’s sister city.

“The sister-city relationship is much stronger than just merely something on paper,” Elkins says. “And we talk to each other over Zoom every once in a while. (Mayor) Rotem (Yadlin) came along with her city administrator to tell us a little bit about their experience in delivering city services during the last 120 days at a really stressful time in their community.”

The Gezer region is halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and has been directly affected by the Israel–Hamas war.

“In their particular case, as an example, their fire department and their police department had all been pulled to the Gaza area when the (Oct. 7, 2023) terrorist attacks came,” Elkins says. “And they were faced with figuring out how to deliver police services and fire services to their citizens and other city services.”

Hearing what Leawood’s sister city was facing made the Johnson County city’s issues “pale a little bit in comparison,” Elkins says.

“It was really a humbling experience, is the best way to say it, when you think about what she as mayor has to do and accomplish in the environment that she does versus the relative luxury that we have here in worrying about plowing snow and things like that,” he says.

been known for while … doing so in a responsible fashion.”

City Prepares for Change

It’s important, according to Elkins, to serve as a “consensus builder” and manage the whole transition.

“We have one little strip along 135th Street that is currently being developed. And so, our traditional mantra of growing with distinction is kind of transitioning, pivoting to the idea of a city that’s living with distinction,” Elkins says. “And how we pivot from that growth mode into kind of a status quo that continues to be the quality and character of our neighborhoods and of our commercial areas that we’ve enjoyed.”

The city recently launched a monthly newsletter, and, shortly before Elkins was elected, brought on its first director of communications.

A conference for homeowners association presidents also has been scheduled. The concept, according to Elkins, is to create a venue for city council, city staff, and HOA presidents to discuss city initiatives.

• Conducting a Citizen Satisfaction Survey every two years;

• Creating “Leawood Week,” including a potential partnership with the Leawood Chamber of Commerce;

• Conduct a total compensation survey;

• Create a communications program to better communicate with residents and businesses;

• Consider planning and design for Fire Station No. 4;

• Add strategic/master plan to a page on the city website.

In addition to engaging citizens, the city will revisit the 135th Street Corridor Plan, which Elkins says is more than 15 years old.

For More

City of Leawood

4800 Town Center Drive

Leawood, KS 66211



Portal for residents: https://leawood.civicweb.net/ Portal/Default.aspx

“But even more importantly, we’ll have more than an hour of time set aside for the homeowners association presidents to engage with the city council members of their ward so that we can hear directly what their concerns are, what their perspectives are, and how they think that the city, especially along 135th Street, ought to continue to expand,” Elkins says.

Building a better relationship between the city and HOA officers is one of several goals listed on the city website. Others include:

• Providing an education program for bicyclists/motorcycles about obeying traffic regulations;

“We traditionally had a policy of being committed to mixeduse development, which contemplates a number of uses in the same geographic area for residential, commercial, and some office,” Elkins says.

“Certainly, the pandemic has changed the market for office space, and our friends at Amazon have revolutionized retail spending in a way that makes brick-and-mortar retail space different than it once was. And so, we need to revisit that, taking into account the input that we get from both the developers community as well as our citizens generally, through this community engagement.”

Regardless, Leawood is a wonderful place to live and work, according to Elkins, and it’s up to city leadership to ensure that reputation continues.

“One of the things that we’re really proud of is the fact that Leawood is statistically the safest city in the state of Kansas for cities with populations of 5,000 or more,” Elkins says. “And public safety is a real item of importance to us. All the statistics bear out the fact that we’re delivering on that promise of public safety.”

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COMING SOON: EXPLORE LEAWOOD’S NEW DIGITAL HUB! The city is launching a brand new website later this year! Packed with user-friendly features and tools, navigating through city services, updates, and community events has never been easier!

GOING MOBILE! Leawood Parks and Recreation will be launching a mobile app in 2024! Save your pool pass, get updates on upcoming events, and so much more right at your fingertips.

SOCIALS @cityofleawoodks & @leawoodparksrecreation @cityofleawood & @leawoodparks STAY INFORMED STAY CONNECTED STAY ENGAGED
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Park for an evening of live music, food, activities, and of course FIREWORKS! Check out the many events, activities, and camps at www.leawood.org 4800 Town Center Drive Leawood, KS 66211 913.339.6700 www.leawood.org
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Lessons for Leawood Leaders

The Leawood Chamber of Commerce offers its members a leadership program for professional and personal development.

When Leawood Chamber of Commerce president Stephanie Meyer joined the organization in late 2022, she heard from many members that they were looking for additional opportunities for personal and professional development. A graduate of similar programs in other municipalities, Meyer knew that Leadership Leawood would be the perfect solution to help connect and train current and future community and business leaders.

For its inaugural class, which began in January 2024, the chamber looked for individuals living or working in Leawood or the surrounding Johnson County area who “demonstrate commitment to our community and leadership experience or potential,” Meyer says.

Photos by Strauss Peyton Portrait Studio, www.strausspeytonkc.com
leawood | 13
Leadership Leawood participants, from left, Stephanie Adams, Samantha Murry, Jessica Crandall, Derek Stephens, Cristine Lindholm

I’ve been fortunate to receive guidance from a diverse array of mentors who have supported me through both professional and personal challenges. I aspire to pay it forward but knew there were crucial competencies such as effective communication, strategic decision making, and adept problem solving that still need refinement. I knew Leadership Leawood would help me sharpen those skills needed to take things to the next level.

The application process yielded an impressive cohort of 21 distinguished professionals representing various sectors, including private enterprise, government, and nonprofit organizations.

“Leadership Leawood is only as good as our participants, and we’re very proud of the diverse group of individuals who make up this inaugural class; we think it sets a wonderful precedent for future years, and for the strength of the program,” says Meyer.

The program itself consists of nine sessions, each focused on a different subject. Participants get an in-depth look at the City of Leawood, the State of Kansas, regionalism, the nonprofit ecosystem, local healthcare, and public education, all culminating with a May graduation.

“We really wanted our class members to hear from the experts, so we enlisted the help of some of our city’s and region’s best talent to discuss leadership, the City of Leawood, our nonprofit community, and more. It’s a dynamic group of subject matter experts over the nine sessions,” Meyer says.

Business Support

The 2024 Leadership Leawood program was sponsored by two local Chick-fil-A operators: 113th & Nall and 135th & 69 Highway. The owners and operators of these locations, Dustin Andrews (Nall) and Kylie Oberweather (135th), partnered with the chamber to bring this program to Leawood because

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Leadership Leawood participants, from left, Kassi Simpson, Michelle Kriks, Sierra Debrow, Christa Viloria Leadership Leawood participants, from left, Dr. Gwen Landever, Brent Blazek, Sarah Riley

they believe in leadership development and in supporting local businesses.

The program’s leadership development partner, UMKC TalentLink, led the first two sessions, which were focused on participants’ management, learning, and leadership styles, as well as practical ideas and conversations about time management, focus, and delegation strategies. As a part of program completion in May, participants also receive a continuing education leadership certificate from UMKC TalentLink. For more on UMKC TalentLink, turn to page 32.

We really wanted our class members to hear from the experts, so we enlisted the help of some of our city’s and region’s best talent to discuss leadership, the City of Leawood, our nonprofit community, and more. It’s a dynamic group of subject matter experts over the nine sessions.

City Day was a highlight for many participants in the class and included a variety of tours, public safety demonstrations, and workshops. Members participated in a mock budget session and traffic court trial and were able to have conversations with Leawood mayor Marc Elkins, as well as several other members of the governing body and professional staff.

The Leawood Chamber of Commerce also partnered with other Johnson County chambers to present State Day, Regionalism Day, and County Day during the Leadership Leawood program.

Personal Growth

Crafted with the objective of nurturing future business leaders and fostering heightened civic engagement among Leawood residents, the five-month program endeavors to cultivate participants’ leadership acumen and aptitude, equipping them to effect positive change within their respective spheres of influence.

Matt Peppes, a member of the Leawood Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council co-chair, viewed Leadership Leawood as an invaluable opportunity to refine his leadership skills while expanding his professional network.

www.GatesBBQ.comwww.GatesBBQ.com K
leawood magazine | 17
Chamber staff and Leadership Leawood participants, from left, Stephanie Meyer (chamber president), Brett McMahon, Sharon Carey-Fanning, Melisa Cull (chamber director of membership)

For More


“I’ve been fortunate to receive guidance from a diverse array of mentors who have supported me through both professional and personal challenges. I aspire to pay it forward but knew there were crucial competencies such as effective communication, strategic decision making, and adept problem solving that still need refinement. I knew Leadership Leawood would help me sharpen those skills needed to take things to the next level,” he says.

Leadership Leawood is only as good as our participants, and we’re very proud of the diverse group of individuals who make up this inaugural class; we think it sets a wonderful precedent for future years, and for the strength of the program.

and development, which is an opportunity that Leadership Leawood has also offered.

Taylor Limoges, vice president of programming and communications for the chamber, was instrumental in putting together the Leadership Leawood program, and she feels it’s the most significant opportunity that has been offered since she joined the chamber in 2021. She says the class members’ excitement is contagious.

“They are the movers and shakers of our community.

Committed to mentorship and continuous personal growth, Peppes anticipates a transformative journey of self-discovery and impact, and he views participation in the program as an instrumental step toward holistic leadership development. Peppes also says he encourages others to stay committed to lifelong learning

Our staff and class aren’t the only ones feeling the excitement either, as we already have an exciting group of local leaders ready to join next year’s class,” Limoges says.

The next Leadership Leawood class is scheduled for January to May 2025. Applications will open later this fall.

leawood | 19
Leadership Leawood participants, from left, Kristy Shepard, Shea Callahan, Brad Robbins, Tami Lorenzen Samantha Murry at Chicken N Pickle in Overland Park.

More Than Good Food

Company’s goal is to put fun in front of families, which means, of course, pickleball (and more).

If you’re searching for a dining spot that serves up more than mere food, look no farther than Chicken N Pickle in Overland Park. From Sunday brunch and Singo (a combination of Bingo and songs) to kids’ pickleball leagues at spring break and in the summer, there is always fun to be had at this entertainment complex.

“Chicken N Pickle is not just your typical restaurant,” says Samantha Murry, sales account manager.

The first Chicken N Pickle opened in Kansas City, Missouri, and was the only venue to include both a restaurant and pickleball courts. There are currently eight Chicken N Pickle locations, but by the end of the year there will be 14, with locations in Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, and—of course—Kansas. The company has headquarters in both Kansas City and Dallas, with more than 2,000 employees. There were even two particularly notable investors named this year— Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce.

What’s in Kansas

The Overland Park location offers bocce ball and shuffleboard courts, as well as six indoor and four outdoor pickleball courts. Pickleball leagues play on Mondays and Tuesdays. Other game options include corn hole, Ping-Pong, Battleship, and Jenga.

“The great thing about the sport of pickleball is it is for all ages,” Murry says. “We have kids’ clinics in the summer and open play for all ages up to 70plus. Anybody can play. Anybody can come here and enjoy themselves and know that it’s a family-friendly atmosphere.”

Pickleball is a sport where two, three, or four players use a solid paddle to hit a ball over a net. It shares similarities with racquetball and tennis. At the Overland Park location, indoor or outdoor courts can be rented for between $4 and $10 per person for open play and $10 and $40 an hour for private play. To learn the game or improve your skills, private pickleball lessons are offered for $50 to $60 per person. Semiprivate or group lessons are $25 to $30 per person.

The restaurant is not just for warm-weather days either. “A lot of people, when they think of us, they think of just our outdoors, but we do have a pretty big indoor area as well,” Murry says.

They host multiple events throughout the year, including the Holiday Hideaway where the rooftop is transformed into a retro ski lodge. This year, patrons can even rent their own igloos.

In addition to the diverse selection of games and yearround events, the restaurant has plenty to offer when it comes to tasty cuisine. Everything is locally sourced,

The great thing about the sport of pickleball is it is for all ages. We have kids’ clinics in the summer and open play for all ages up to 70-plus. Anybody can play. Anybody can come here and enjoy themselves and know that it’s a family-friendly atmosphere.

leawood | 21

and the menu contains a variety of gluten-free and vegetarian options, says Murry. “Our menu is very versatile … we are always changing it based on the season, so you can come in and know that there is going to be something new on the menu.”

All about the Community

Beyond serving ever-evolving dishes, community is a key focus of the rapidly expanding company. They intend to give back in every city in which they have a location. “We always partner with local nonprofits,” Murry says. “Never a national organization, always local.”

One such way they are giving back in Overland Park was Pints with Purpose. Benefiting A Cure for Charlie, the event allowed attendees to stroll around the property, enjoy beer and food from vendors. The restaurant also partners with breast cancer organization Peace Out Cancer for a Wine Walk in October.

Another way the company demonstrates its commitment to the community is by supporting local artists. Kansas City-based artist Lance Flores created the murals in the North Kansas City location, and he’s currently working on a new mural in the rooftop stairwell.

Ready to celebrate a big event? Chicken N Pickle also offers private event packages, including those for graduations, birthday parties, fundraising galas, and corporate events. More details can be found on the website by clicking on the Private Events tab.

Still, Chicken N Pickle is far from just a spot to celebrate special occasions. The entertainment complex can be an excellent choice for an average day’s fun with the family as well. “We have never had a bad experience at Chicken N Pickle,” says recent customer Bailey. “I absolutely love the atmosphere and how family friendly it is. They have a large selection of drinks, and no one bats an eye at kids running around and having fun. It’s always a blast for all of us.”

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For More Chicken N Pickle Overland Park 5901 W. 135th St. Overland Park, KS 66223 913-703-5950 www.chickennpickle.com/ location/overland-park

Chicken N Pickle

by the Numbers


The year pickleball was invented

The current number of Chicken N Pickle restaurants

The number of pickleball courts at the Overland Park location




The number of Chicken N Pickle restaurants slated to open by the end of 2024


The numbers of Kansas City Chiefs players and Chicken N Pickle investors Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce


The number of people the Leawood location can host for private events, from birthday parties to fundraising galas

24 | leawood
By Jill Dutton Photos by Kevin Anderson

Where Meets Philanthropy

A look at Story Boutique, an upscale resale store that benefits families receiving services through Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care.

PHOTO Adobe Stock/Ruslan Grumble

Comedian and Saturday Night Live cast member Heidi Gardner was in town to attend the NFL Draft at Union Station, and she needed a dress to wear to the event.

A Leawood native, Gardner learned about Story Boutique, a resale store that benefits Kansas City Hospice. The boutique receives clothing donations, many of them designer apparel, and the shop happened to have a vintage Chanel dress in Gardner’s size. She purchased it and was thrilled with the dress and the knowledge that her donation was helping an important cause. Gardner paired the evening gown with combat boots to put her unique creative spin on the ensemble.

Story Boutique once again provided a unique blend of fashion and philanthropy.

Hospice and Palliative Care

Jeannie Wilcox, senior communications manager for Kansas City Hospice, says the mission of the hospice, which has been around since 1980 and is the largest hospice in Kansas City, is “to bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance, and hope to people who are affected by serious illness or by grief.”

In addition to hospice and palliative care, the organization hosts a support center—Solace House—that was started 26 years ago to aid adults, children and families through grief and healing.

“Grief support fits with the Kansas City Hospice mission and vision,” Wilcox says. “Solace House is open to anyone who is experiencing grief in Kansas City. It’s a beautiful thing to have a place that’s been around for so long, where people can turn when they’re experiencing grief.”

At its core, Kansas City Hospice provides hospice and palliative care.

“Whatever stage someone might be in their illness, our expert staff is there for them. And we’re not just there for the patient but also for their families,” Wilcox says. “There is an entire team who takes care of a patient—physicians, nurses, social workers, and chaplains, and the caregiver is often so absorbed with taking care of their sick family member that there’s little time to care for themselves. Kansas City Hospice gives the caregiver the chance to step back and be a family member versus a caregiver 24/7. It’s an incredible service.”

Volunteers are a key component of Kansas City Hospice, with more than 300 volunteers trained at any given time, whether visiting people in their homes, working at Story Boutique, or taking part in other volunteer opportunities.

Kansas City Hospice, as the name says, covers the entire Metro area and has hospice houses in the Northland and in Kansas City, Missouri. Their services are provided throughout the 12-county area, whether someone needs hospice care in their homes, one of the hospice houses or in a long-term care facility.

“If someone needs to be seen in their home, then that’s where our services are,” Wilcox says.

Story Boutique

OPPOSITE Story Boutique is an upscale shop in Leawood that benefits families receiving services through Kansas City Hospice and Palliative Care. Caryn Hohnholt, left, and Jane Kilcoyne help keep the shop running.

Caryn Hohnholt, chief development and communications officer for Kansas City Hospice, had the vision that led to Story Boutique’s fruition.

The idea for Story Boutique, Hohnholt says, grew from the previous store, Top Drawer, when they moved locations.

28 | leawood

“I started to wonder what we wanted our next chapter to look like. One thing that makes Kansas City Hospice and Story Boutique unique are the stories that come with the donations we receive. How the donors, who have often benefitted from hospice care, want to pay it forward to other families,” she says. “So when you come to the store, you see all these stories, each item with a history. It just makes buying here—versus purchasing something mass produced that doesn’t really have a history— so much more interesting and fulfilling.”

The customers at Story Boutique appreciate both knowing their purchase supports the hospice and finding quality items at a fraction of the original price.

Hohnholt agrees. “We’ve developed a reputation of having top-quality items, lots of designer items but also beautifully curated mall brands, at a fraction of what you’d normally pay.”

Leawood residents Shelly Legler and Bob Legler are passionate about the work done through Kansas City Hospice and are avid promoters of Story Boutique—whether helping to organize a Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care fundraiser, donating clothing, or promoting the boutique. Shelly, a model and photographer, takes her camera each Friday to “Fashion Fridays,” and the photos are then posted on social media by IN Kansas City Magazine and shared by Story Boutique. The photo shoot highlights current donations to Story Boutique and draws an online audience eager to shop the sales. Shelly donates personal items and shops at the boutique as well.

“I have a love for fashion, for clothing,” she says. “And there are so many hidden treasures at Story Boutique. You’ll often find designers such as Gucci, Chanel, or Dior.

“I’m a big proponent of not always buying new. Renewable resources such as repurposed clothing allow you to create a great new look while giving new life to a vintage piece. By purchasing items from Story Boutique, you’re helping to support such an important cause in Kansas City.”


Store manager Jane Kilcoyne handles the day-to-day operations at the shop, making sure they’re staffed with volunteers, taking donations, tagging items, and helping to stage the floor to give items the best exposure.

She says the volunteers are an integral part of the boutique’s success.

“They’re so enthusiastic about sharing their time at the shop, helping customers. (We’re thankful) for the volunteers, and people like Bob Legler and Shelly Legler, who go out of their way to help with fashion tips, fundraising, and any other way they can be of assistance,” Kilcoyne says.

Of the Heidi Gardner story, Kilcoyne says it was Bob Legler who ran into Gardner at a fundraiser. “Shelly had just modeled the vintage gown, and Heidi wears the same size. Bob mentioned it to Heidi, who later went to see it for herself. She walked into StoryB and said, ‘Would you show me the Chanel dress?’ She tried it on, it fit perfectly, and of course she looked fantastic.”

The symbiotic relationship between Story Boutique and Kansas City Hospice illustrates Kansas City’s compassion and community support—plus a flair for fashion.

To get involved, there are many ways to support Kansas City Hospice and the caring services they provide, whether as a volunteer, donating clothing or home decor, and always by shopping at Story Boutique. There’s a sense of pride in knowing your purchase fully benefits Kansas City’s hospice care and grief support for families.


Kansas City Hospice


Story Boutique

3704 W. 95th St., Leawood, KS

Facebook: StoryKCH

Heart & Soul

The sister store to Story Boutique is open two days a week and features home decor and furniture

12904 State Line Road, Leawood, KS

Facebook: HeartandSoulOlathe

Solace House

Grief support through Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care




leawood | 31
UMKC TalentLink executive director Jake Akehurst


Professional and personal development is the focus of UMKC TalentLink.

Bob Luder Photos by Molly Kuplen

When choosing a partner to launch and implement the five-month, nine-session Leadership Leawood program this January, Stephanie Meyer, chamber president, knew exactly who to contact. (For more on the leadership program, turn to page 12.)

Throughout her professional life, Meyer has been an ardent believer in leadership programs. When she assumed her current position as president and chief executive officer of the Leawood Chamber and Economic Development Council, she quickly initiated plans for the leadership development program. The program’s goal is to help existing and aspiring leaders throughout the community to learn new skills and improve existing ones.

Meyer had worked with UMKC TalentLink executive director Jake Akehurst previously. UMKC TalentLink formally launched in January 2022 as part of the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s UMKC Forward initiative, when the world was recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

UMKC TalentLink provides professional development through expertled courses for those wishing to either learn new work skills or

improve existing skills. It offers training and skill development in a wide variety of disciplines. It includes leadership training, which made it an easy choice for Meyer and her Leadership Leawood program.

UMKC TalentLink provided the first two sessions of a “Leadership with Purpose” workshop developed by instructor, coach, and communication expert Warren Wandling. Twentytwo leaders or aspiring leaders, all members of the Leawood Chamber of Commerce, attended each six-hour session, held January 25 and February 8 and facilitated by Wandling.

“We focused from a corporate business perspective,” says Wandling, who’s been an instructor with UMKC TalentLink for two years. “We want to help executives upgrade leadership skills through both group coaching and individual coaching. It was a great group of leaders and made for a great workshop.”

“TalentLink has a great reputation,” Meyer says. “We wanted to provide real-world leadership training. They’ve been a phenomenal partner. Hopefully, this leads to additional qualified leaders in the chamber and the city.”

“It’s short-term, skill-based … looking at the best way people can pick up practical skills. I would say (most learners) are people interested in attaining new skills, whether that’s wanting to make career switches, or those wanting to move up in their company.”

Professional Development

UMKC TalentLink’s professional development helps employees learn practical skills in a short, focused timeframe. They partner with UMKC schools, education resources, and experts in their

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FOR MORE UMKC TalentLink UMKC Innovation Center 4747 Troost Kansas City, MO 64110 816-235-6259 www.umkctalentlink.com
Stock/Right 3, Adobe Stock/Gorodenkoff

fields to provide top-notch instructors, course curricula, and certificate programs.

“We have all the resources of (UMKC),” Akehurst says. “We can tap into the faculty or work with external instructors. We have the best of both worlds.”

Employees can take workshops, courses, and certificate programs online, in person, or onsite at a workplace. Training can be designed to meet specific development needs and can be individualized or done in group settings.

In addition to leadership training, UMKC TalentLink offers programs for first-time supervisors, as well as trainings that focus on “soft skills” useful in successfully navigating the workplace, such as intercultural development, human resources, web development, manufacturing, and health-care skills. UMKC TalentLink engages with partners—recently with WorkForge for manufacturing training and MedCerts for healthcare training— for their industry-specific programs.

“It’s short-term, skill-based … looking at the best way people can pick up practical skills,” Akehurst says. “I would say (most learners) are people interested in attaining new skills, whether that’s wanting to make career switches, or those wanting to move up in their company.”

Housed in UMKC’s Innovation Center, TalentLink has direct lines to the Missouri Small Business Development Center,

Technology Venture Studio, and KC and MO SourceLink for regional entrepreneurial ecosystem building.

“A lot of our business comes from employers that want to retain people,” Akehurst says. “They want to invest in their employees. Unemployment is low right now, so we want to help employers recruit good people and then retain them.”

Staying Nimble

With direct access to many different resources, UMKC TalentLink adapts what it can offer businesses and nonprofits. Their flexibility to develop and tailor information and course material for clients is important in an ever-changing workforce environment.

“We’ve consistently tried to roll out new products that meet demands at the time,” Akehurst says. “We want to put out training that is deliberate and in need. Education is changing. We can pivot, be nimble, and work quickly to help a business or individual.”

That changing landscape also includes civic leadership. Meyer at the chamber says she will be calling on UMKC TalentLink again to help navigate even more changes down the road.

“We’ve been thrilled with the response (of the Leadership with Purpose workshop) thus far,” Meyer says. “It’s all been very positive.

“We’ll continue to plan with Leadership Leawood, and UMKC TalentLink will certainly be a part of those plans.”

Lakeview Village Receives National Top Wellness Award

9100 Park St., Lenexa | 913-744-2449 | LAKEVIEWVILLAGE.ORG To see our blog scan here

(Medical)THE ART OF

Leawood practice merges with AdventHealth to add resources and keep moving forward.

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| 39
By Jackie Hostetler Photos by Sarah Reeves

AUTHOR HENRY JAMES once said, “Tradition is kept alive only by something being added to it.” The physicians and staff of AdventHealth Medical Group Primary Care at College Boulevard not only understand this sentiment well but have built their careers around it.

Tradition has always been important to this medical practice, and the recent addition that has kept this team—and their traditions— energized and moving forward has come in the form of a merger with AdventHealth.

The medical group, formerly known as Leawood Family Care, successfully merged with the medical corporation AdventHealthcare in June 2023. Like all long-standing traditions, it took decades for the physicians and staff to build and maintain the strong values and core principles the business was based around.


Louis Christifano, DO, currently practices within AdventHealth Medical Group Primary Care at College Boulevard. Prior to the merger, Christifano and his colleagues had a long history of medical service within the Johnson County area.

Christifano himself has been practicing medicine for more than 30 years. For the first several years of his career, he worked within a hospital-owned practice. Christifano and several colleagues went on to open a privately owned clinic in 2002—Leawood Family Care.

Prior to the current era of round-the-clock walk-in services, Leawood Family Care introduced one of the first walk-in clinics in the area. In addition to the regular Monday through Friday hours, the group incorporated the walk-in clinic, serving patients on a first-come, firstserve basis after hours and on weekends. The walk-in clinic has always been staffed with two providers. In addition to that, at least one, if not both, are physicians.

“We found a solution in terms of the old problem—I’m sick and I don’t want to wait two weeks to see a doctor. Or it’s Saturday morning and my 2-year-old is crying with an ear infection, but I don’t want to go to the


AdventHealth Medical Group Primary Care at College Boulevard

7025 College Boulevard, Suite 200 Overland Park, KS 66211 913-338-4515


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Dr. Louis Christifano
leawood | 41

emergency room for $500,” says Christifano. “Patients can utilize the walk-in service and be seen by the doctors they know. It’s always been good for our patients and for our community.”

The walk-in service was just one of a number of services that allowed Leawood Family Care to become a leader in the local medical field. As the practice grew, so did the need for resources.


As 2020 approached, the providers began discussions around structural and technological updates. Christifano was fortunate to have a long-standing professional relationship with Scott Woods, an AdventHealth Care administrator, who brought it to his attention that Advent was seeking to lease office space to general practice physicians. It made perfect sense for the medical group to lease space in the updated facility rather than dump funds into


“I get to work with a lot of different clinics and medical groups and, Leawood Family Care, now the AdventHealth Primary Care at College Boulevard team, has just been one of the best to work with. The patients who have been going there for years have been going there for a reason. The team has been incredible. They’ve even helped to define some best practices for other groups we’ve worked with. It’s been a really good partnership. They’ve made us better.”

their current space. Though Christifano spearheaded some of those original discussions, he and the other physicians worked as team within the practice at the time.

“Effective December 2020, we made the move,” says Christifano. “At that point we were still Leawood Family Care. We were just renting space in AdventHealth’s new building. But over time, we started to have some internal discussions.”

Challenges from the effects of COVID, coupled with partners looking toward retirement in the coming years, led Leawood Family Care into deeper discussions around a possible merger.

“We decided that over the next few years, we were likely going to be dealing with some retiring staff and, in turn, recruiting younger doctors. The number of owners was going to be shrinking. We thought that somewhere within the next 5 to 10 years, it would be a good time for us to find a parent hospital to partner up with,”

says Christifano. “We wanted to continue to do the things that we had been doing, but we knew we could get some outside resources to help us with things like recruiting, human resources, and technology. We were leasing space in their building anyway, so we decided that it would be the logical entity.”

In conjunction with Christifano, the three other owners of Leawood Family Care at the time of the transition—Drs. Mary Ann Campbell, John Horton, and Lisa Winkler—made the decision to merge with AdventHealth.

Since the acquisition, Campbell has retired and two additional doctors have joined the team: Connor Gill, DO, and Claudia Wendell, MD.

The benefits of the merger have been numerous, including access to the most advanced technology for both staff and patients and support in billing and staffing. Christifano is

pleased with the commitment to maintain the high quality of staff and services provided. The walk-in service and the cohesion of the team continue to be priorities..

“One of the reasons that we wanted to do the merger was to keep our staff whole. We have more than 10 people who have worked for us for more than 25 years. Most of the other 20 employees have worked with us for more than 15 years. Our staff loyalty has been really impressive. And our patients have enjoyed that, as we have,” says Christifano. “Our medical assistants, our nurses, our X-ray techs, our front office staff have not changed. We insisted on that.”

When asked about the team’s hope for the future, Christifano’s response is simple.

“Our goal for the future is to do exactly what we’ve always done. Except better.”

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Leawood Chamber Staff

Stephanie Meyer President and CEO Alan McGrew Vice President of Operations Taylor Limoges Vice President of Programming & Communications
leawood | 45
Melisa Cull Director of Membership
Strauss Peyton Portrait Studio, www.strausspeytonkc.com



EDC Investors


www.adventhealth.com/hospital/ adventhealth-shawnee-mission


Affinis Corp



Bank of Blue Valley



BCCM Construction



Block Real Estate Services LLC






City of Leawood



Commerce Bank



Contract Furnishings



Country Club Bank



CrossFirst Bank



Cuvee KC








Hallbrook Office Center LLC


816-831-1405 (property manager)

JE Dunn Construction



Johnson County Community College



Johnson County Management



Martin Pringle Attorneys at Law



Menorah Medical Center

www.hcamidwest.com/locations/ menorah-medical-center


Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City



MOD Architecture



Musselman and Hall Contractors



Oddo Development






Greg Peppes, DDS


913-642-3939 (office)

913-593-6471 (personal)

Polsinelli PC



Reece Commercial Real Estate



Saint Luke’s Health System



Security Bank of Kansas City



Sunflower Bank



Town Center Plaza • Crossing



UMB Bank


816-860-7000 (KCMO location)

Woodworth Snow LLC



46 | leawood

Everyone has a story. What will be yours?

Everyone has a story. What will be yours?

Visit Story Boutique for your next unique find.

Visit Story Boutique for your next unique find.

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