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41 Outstanding Young Professionals Graduate From KC Chamber’s Centurions Leadership Program

“Learn. Serve. Lead.”
That’s the motto of the Centurions Leadership program, and the 41 members of the graduating class of 2017 have certainly lived up to it.
The group has spent the last two years immersed in learning about the Kansas City region, serving in more than 175 community service projects and leading fellow participants through Centurions’ unique, self-directed program. Formal graduation ceremonies are scheduled for tonight, Friday, June 16.
At last Friday’s Centurions Executive Breakfast, Joe Reardon, President & CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, told the graduates, “You’re making a real impact on Greater Kansas City. I’m optimistic that you’ll continue to be involved in nonprofit and civic work well into the future.”
Reardon continued:  “Centurions have been preparing young people for leadership roles for 40 years now.  It’s been incredibly successful, and is distinguished by its distinct focus on understanding and serving the Kansas City region. Congratulations to the new graduates!”
Each Centurions class chooses a Legacy Project. This year, the 2017 class selected Turn the Page KC, an organization started in 2011 by Mayor Sly James whose mission is to mobilize the community to achieve reading proficiency at grade level or above for all third graders in Kansas City, Missouri. Centurions helped transform Turn the Page KC’s Early Learning Hub, which will serve as a multi-purpose space to provide parents of birth through five-year-old children resources to support early literacy and healthy childhood development. The transformation of the Early Learning Hub included remodeling the inside and outside of the existing building. Specifically inside, Centurions added new paint colors, large wall graphics, new office carpet and baseboards, new appliances, cabinetry, casework, furniture, office equipment and baby changing stations in the restrooms.

Meanwhile, together, the Centurions classes of 2017 and 2018 gave a total of 4,600 hours of community service during the past year.

During the past year, Centurions have held day-long sessions on a wide variety of subjects, including law and order, life sciences and animal health, and poverty in KC. The best session (determined by Centurions themselves) was the Transportation & Infrastructure session. The Task Force included a Public Transit Challenge and raffle where Centurions were asked to map the public transit route from their residence to Union Station.
The Task Force heard from a number of experts throughout the day, with presentations on KCMO infrastructure needs, the KC Streetcar and expansion plans, the history and future of KCI Airport, solar energy opportunities, intelligent transportation systems, and Kansas City’s Smart City initiative.
The graduates of the Chamber’s Centurion Class of 2017 are:
Chad Beashore, Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.
Jennifer Berhorst, Bryan Cave LLP
Austin Bickford, BicMedia
Amy Brozenic Kimbrough, Lathrop Gage
Jason Bueker, Lockton Companies, LLC
Tricia Bushnell, Midwest Innocence Project
Manuel Campos, Sprint
Matthew Carr, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
Brooke Chonko, Two West
Chelan David, Univision Kansas City KUKC
Sam De Jong, BNIM Architects
Julie Dragoo, KCP&L
Sally Everhart, DST Systems, Inc.
Gretchen FitzGerald, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City
Adam Gebhardt, Cerner
Mercedes Givens, Bank of Blue Valley
Kyri Gorges, KPMG
Katie Hall, Youth Entrepreneurs
Vanessa Herring, Jewish Family Services
Chad Iseman, National Kidney Foundation
Matt Jordan, Polsinelli
Tyler Kirby, Kansas City Chiefs Football Club, Inc.
Kaniah Konkoly-Thege, Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies
Daniel Lacy, McCownGordon Construction, LLC
Danielle LeRoy, Centric Projects
Seth Lindsey, Jones Development Company
Ashley McDonald, Shawnee Mission Health
Ryan Myers, Hallmark Cards, Inc.
Nathan Oleen, Husch Blackwell LLP
Edgar Palacios, Blue Hills Community Services
Karl Phares, Stinson Leonard Street LLP
Will Pryor, Grant Thornton LLP
Lindsey Rood – Clifford, EPIC Innovative Events
Lathem Scott, First National Bank
John Shoemaker, CBIZ
Aaron Siders, Commerce Bank
Megan Sturges, Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City
Nick Suarez, Newmark Grubb Zimmer
Kevin Ward, Mariner Wealth Advisors
Alissa Wehmueller, Helix Architecture + Design
Jeff Winters, Cushman & Wakefield

Awards presented at the Centurions graduation include:
  • Outstanding First Year Centurion – Trevor Flannigan
  • Centurion of the Year – Gretchen FitzGerald
  • Mentor of the Year – Edgar Palacios
Interviews for the Centurions Class of 2019 have been completed, with an announcement of the new class expected later this summer.