In 1976, the KC Chamber launched a new program designed to prepare Kansas City’s leaders of tomorrow. They called it the Centurions Leadership program. Throughout 2017, in honor of the Centurions 40th Anniversary, we’ll be sharing some of the stories of Centurions alumni.
Where were you in your career when you went through the Centurions program?
I was a very young associate at Shook Hardy & Bacon. I wanted to get involved with the Centurions program to learn more about the City where I grew up and hoped to raise my own family.
Tell us about the strongest connection you made from the program (personal or professional).
During my first year in Centurions, I was on a task force group that presented a program about public education in Kansas City. I learned a lot about the magnet school concept in the KCMO Public School System and helped plan a half-day program regarding the French-Immersion language school, Ecole Longan. As a result of my involvement in that program, I later decided to send my children to that school and became a strongadvocate for foreign language immersion curriculums. Eventually, I joined forces with other parents from Ecole Longan to create the first charter school in Missouri, Academie Lafayette, which was and remains today a full-immersion French language K-8 option for students within the district lines of the KCMO Public School system.
How did Centurions make you a better leader?
The Centurions program provided me with a two-year overview of the important institutions that Kansas City's business, political, and social landscape. The program helped connect me to current and future civic leaders who have our town into the "World Class City" that Mayor Emanuel Cleaver imagined so many years ago.
How has Kansas City changed since you were in Centurions?
Kansas City is no longer just an aspirational town hoping to become a big city. It is now a vibrant, thriving, cutting-edge metropolis that offers all of the amenities of the cities we once envied. Our downtown has revived, our sports teams are exciting again, and suburbanites are returning to the urban core to live, work and play. Without a doubt, leaders who emerged from the Centurions program have helped shape the dream of KC LIVE that has become our reality.