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Wichita to host leadership conference with global reach

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, at 7:51 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, at 9:08 p.m.

Civic leadership development in Kansas is drawing global interest.

Starting Thursday, community leaders from across the United States and abroad will gather in Wichita to learn how the Kansas Leadership Center promotes community leadership efforts in Kansas.

“People are coming from around the world to look at something that’s happening in Kansas and wanting to model it,” said Ed O’Malley, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Leadership Center, 300 N. Main.

“The idea of the Kansas Leadership Center (is) to train lots of people in leadership skills to try to create a stronger state, stronger communities and help solve tough civic problems. And it’s a thrill that they are all coming here.”

The three-day meeting will be held through Saturday at Hotel at Old Town, 830 E. First St. More than 60 participants from Australia, Canada, France, India, Ireland, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Singapore and 17 U.S. states and the District of Columbia are expected.

O’Malley said he organized the gathering after several people who attended a Harvard University class he helped teach in May asked to learn more about KLC’s large-scale, statewide approach to fostering community leadership.

The Kansas Leadership Center — founded in 2007 with a 10-year, $30 million grant from the Kansas Health Foundation —offers leadership programs and services to Kansans interested in advancing the good of citizens statewide. Its mission is to create healthier communities by training local leaders, business people, faith-based organizations, politicians and others to lead.

The center trains about 1,000 residents in the state each year. Its most-recent large-scale initiative — the Academy for Team Leadership — awarded $1 million in civic leadership training each to two Kansas groups seeking to promote civic change at a grassroots level.

O’Malley said he hopes those attending this week’s meeting will be able to improve and expand leadership development in their own communities and countries after learning about KLC.

“This is much larger than we thought it would be, which tells us that there must be an appetite for this sort type of activity in civic life, not just in Kansas, but beyond,” O’Malley said.

“I hope that these people leave after these three days thinking of Kansas as a hotbed for civic activity in America — as an example of the right kind of civic engagement."

For more information on the center and its programs, go to www.kansasleadershipcenter.org or call 316-712-4950.

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.

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