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.
During my two years in the program I improved my speaking and leadership skills and made both business and personal connections that enable me to be a more successful leader at DST. The program exposes its members to some of top leaders in the community who can share lessons that immediately help Centurions enhance their leadership capabilities.
The learning opportunities provided to Centurions and networking with classmates, business mentors and alumni is invaluable to helping new leaders accelerate their professional development Last but not least, the program works. Many of the people who participated in my class have moved into top leadership jobs within the Kansas City area.
I can’t remember them all but the one task force that I loved the most was the Crime and Punishment task force. Growing up in a low income and high crime area of Dayton, Ohio, I got to see first-hand how things can go wrong when citizens make bad choices and when the justice system or policing is not done well. Participating in this task force gave me an eye opening view into the roles that various aspects of our justice system play in our community. Before completing this task force I saw things from only one perspective. I didn’t understand how quickly police officers have to make life and death decisions or how quickly someone’s life can change for better or for worse when dealing with our justice system. This task force is one that I will remember for the rest of my life because of the impact it had on my previous beliefs and biases regarding or our criminal justice system.
The best thing the program taught me is that we still have too many people in Kansas City and across our country who are struggling to live a decent life and they need our help. When I drive downtown and see people waiting in line at churches or other non-profit sites, it’s a constant reminder that we have more to do. I had my most meaningful service experience while driving around KC to give sandwiches to homeless people who were so appreciative that someone cared enough to stop and give them a small meal. When you deliver food, you get close enough to look into the eyes and/or have a brief conversation with people in need, and you realize how much even a small gesture of kindness means to them (that they are human beings who have been invisible but now feel differently for just a brief moment in their life).
Immerse yourself in the program if you are first or second year participant and enjoy the time that you spend together. Be bold and take on the hard work of leading a cause, to improve the lives of those who are less fortunate than you. Remember that there is a large network of Centurions who will support you for the rest of your life. Stay as connected as you can to your classmates and alumni to help them do great things as well. Live our creed: Learn, Serve and Lead.”