Change takes leaders

Difficult change usually doesn’t happen just by electing the right politician. Or by passing the right public policy. Or by having just the right amount of funding.

It also requires broad-based engagement and leadership from the public.

That’s why the Wichita-based Kansas Leadership Center is launching a bold initiative to train a large number of people to tackle a specific problem.

The center’s Academy for Team Leadership will provide training valued at up to $1 million to help an organization make measurable progress on a civic challenge. The goal is to “quickly move the needle on a tough issue,” said Ed O’Malley, the center’s president and CEO.

The center isn’t dictating what the tough issue should be, but it is looking for a daunting challenge that has defied easy answers and affects many people. Though the center will train up to 400 people, that doesn’t mean the chosen organization has to be that large.

For example, a small nonprofit organization that works to keep kids in school or to reduce infant-mortality rates could team with churches, school districts, social workers and concerned citizens to receive training. Or a group such as the Regional Economic Area Partnership could work with area governments and other stakeholders to tackle an issue, such as water quality or substandard housing.

Key objectives for the training, which could span a two- to four-year period, are to help individuals exercise leadership more effectively, establish high-functioning teams dedicated to progress, and help teams create support for greater investments from the community, individuals or other organizations on the issue.

An informational workshop about the initiative will be held Wednesday. The deadline for applying for the program is Jan. 13.

Good for the 6-year-old center for undertaking this ambitious new project — and congratulations to the Kansas Health Foundation on last week’s announcement of a multimillion-dollar expansion on East Douglas to accommodate the Kansas Leadership Center.

“This is a different type of strategy to make change happen,” O’Malley said of the team project. He said the center will invest in the capacity of local people and trust they can handle it.

Local groups should apply for the initiative and put that trust to the test.


Those who want to learn more about how to apply for the Kansas Leadership Center’s Academy of Team Leadership can attend a workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday at the center, 300 N. Main, Wichita.

To reserve a spot, contact Thomas Stanley, program associate, at 316-712-4958 or tstanley@kansasleadershipcenter.org. For more information about the program, go to www.kansasleadershipcenter.org/academy.