Ed O'Malley | Matt Jordan | Julia Fabris McBride | Shaun Rojas | Darla Crowell | Shelley Kirkpatrick | Keshia Ezerendu | Jamie Crouse | Thomas Stanley | Thane Chastain | Blessy Abraham | Chris Green | Sheersty Stanton | Allie Denning | Amanda Cebula| Mike Matson | Amy Nichols |
The titles “president” and “CEO” may conjure up traditional notions of authoritarian leadership, but Ed O’Malley, who holds those titles at the Kansas Leadership Center, doesn’t see them that way. O’Malley spent four years as a state legislator, with a ringside seat for both effective and ineffective displays of civic leadership. To him, leadership is not a title, personality trait or workshop topic. Instead, it’s an opportunity that people can grasp and choose to exercise in many different ways and venues. He sees his role – and that of the Kansas Leadership Center – as fostering an environment throughout Kansas that makes civic leadership opportunities accessible, possible and inspirational for Kansans of all ages and from all walks of life.
Matt Jordan embodies the trajectory many Kansas communities want to promote: bright, young Kansans leaving home to learn and grow and then returning home to serve. Matt spent a transformational stint in the Mississippi Delta region of Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), an AmeriCorps program that tackles urban and rural poverty. Matt returned to Kansas to complete a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Kansas, which led to an eclectic mix of government and nonprofit organization work including an appointment as assistant city manager in Overland Park. The contrast between the impoverished rural south and the affluence of Overland Park clarified for him the importance of civic leadership, which he saw as the determining factor in the stark disparities between the two communities. As director of operations for the Kansas Leadership Center, he leads civic leadership development initiatives for people in communities across Kansas – people who share his desire to help others and make their communities better places to live.
Julia Fabris McBride sees herself as a connector – helping Kansans link personal passion with the skills they need to make progress on what they care about. She coordinates the development of the KLC faculty team, and directs the organization’s civic leadership coaching initiatives, ensuring a top-flight program experience for all KLC participants. Prior to joining The KLC, Julia ran her own business, coaching and training individuals and teams nationwide. She taught classes in leadership for nonprofit executives at the University of Chicago’s Graham School of General Studies and facilitated the yearlong program for the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute in St. Paul, Minn. A transplant to Kansas in 2006, Julia brings experience from her first career in Chicago’s Off-Loop theatre to everything she does. Now firmly planted in Matfield Green, she volunteers with The Pioneer Bluffs Foundation and enjoys life in the Flint Hills with husband Bill and son Luke. Julia holds a BA in Theatre from Case Western Reserve University and is a graduate of the three-year acting program at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
As office manager, Darla plays a critical role in piloting the KLC ship. She juggles the Center’s packed events calendar, handles employee benefits issues, oversees KLC insurance and generally manages the facility. Hotel sales managers across Kansas know her by reputation. She negotiates top-flight rates with a combination of business savvy and personal warmth. That care and concern extends from a personal life of selfless giving and deep patriotism. She sacrifices occasional weekends to care for foster kids, giving their parents a break. She mentors and tutors children in her church and volunteers as a member of Blue Star Mothers, a support group for mothers with children in the military. Her other interests include oil painting Kansas landscapes and studying Kansas history.
Shelley arrives at the office every day not only with a cheerful attitude, but with the talent, education and credentials to keep KLC’s financial house in order. She has a degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations from Wichita State University and more than 20 years of experience in bookkeeping from her husband’s construction business, Kirkpatrick and Sons, Inc., which she helped found. She also has her general building contractor’s license. While at WSU, she reported for the campus newspaper, The Sunflower, and went on to work at Associated Advertising Agency for more than a year as a Public Relations Coordinator and Accounts Service Manager. Shelley contributes mightily at the office, but her heart resides at home with her husband and three children (sons 18 and 20 and an 8-year-old daughter) and with helping girls develop into confident women through her volunteerism with the Girl Scouts.
Keshia is a "behind the scenes guru" as aprogram associate. But don’t let her gentle, pleasant manner fool you. She rigorously plans and implements KLC programs and already has set new standards for precise program organization. Keshia holds a bachelor’s degree in communications, with an emphasis in integrated marketing and is working on her MPA. She is an active member of the Nigerian Association and is an alumna member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority. She has previously interned for Young Professionals of Wichita and served as an advisor for the Women’s Panhellenic Association at Wichita State University. When she isn’t working or studying, Keshia is pursuing the art of portrait photography.
Jamie's work at the KLC is centered on implementing and developing aspects of the Kansas Community Leadership Initiative (KCLI). Her commitment to KLC and her aspirations for healthier Kansas communities runs deep. She earned a bachelor of science in education in community health from the University of Kansas which makes her a perfect fit for our team. She understands that healthier communities result from better leadership as well as healthier personal lifestyles. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, being active, spending time with loved ones and cheering on her alma mater.
Thomas is a program associate charged with developing and implementing strategies related to the KLC Role-Based initiative. He manages the Academy for Team Leadership Initiative, Leadership on Demand and Your Leadership Edge. In 2008, he received a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Wichita State University. He is currently an adjunct instructor at WSU for the course Leadership in Self & Society. A part from work, Thomas and his wife manage a community garden which is focused on fostering a healthy community. For fun, he runs endlessly to train for his next marathon or ultra-marathon.
By their very nature, communities of faith are motivated by a higher principle. Thane Chastain has been deeply involved in this work for nearly three decades. Thane is the project director for the Kansas Leadership Center’s Leadership and Faith Transforming Communities effort. His professional career in Kansas spans broadcasting, marketing and technology.
Thane graduated from Bethel College in North Newton, with a bachelor of arts in History and in Communication. He later earned a master's in Communications from the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University. He is a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church and currently supports Calvary United Methodist Church in Wichita as Director of Emerging Media Ministries. Thane has worked with the American Legion Boys State of Kansas Leadership Academy for over three decades. He also serves as Technical Director of the Wichita-based Tallgrass Film Festival.
Blessy is the Executive Assistant to the CEO. This task is fraught with the challenge of assisting Ed O’Malley and his busy schedule. Blessy is a 2006 graduate of Wichita State University with a BA in Communications with an emphasis on integrated marketing. Though she grew up in Oklahoma, she moved to Wichita at age 12 and considers herself a true Kansan. She’s worked in several fields prior to the KLC but an internship as a wedding planner prepared her by learning how to organize and plan events. With that skill she has taken on programs and various projects.
Sheersty Stanton, an alumna of KLC’s first Open Enrollment program, is now a KLC staff member. As the Program Associate for the faculty development initiative, her duties include managing the faculty schedule, coordinating quarterly Design Team gatherings, and supporting internal and alumni communication efforts. She is particularly excited to be working on a new program for Kansans under 40 interested in teaching and consulting in the field of leadership development. Sheersty has a BA in Management from Wichita State University. Away from work, she enjoys spending time with her husband Andrew, swimming, biking, running, writing and connecting with members of her church community.
Allie Denning serves as the Program Associate for The KLC’s Leadership and Faith Transforming Communities program. She received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Kansas where she studied in the former Czech Republic and in South Africa. Her work experience includes an internship with former State Senator Janis Lee and an internship in the Washington, D.C. office of former U.S. Congressman Jerry Moran. She recently joined The KLC after a stint with the Ellsworth Co. Independent/Reporter newspaper as an Ad Representative. She spends her time away from the office exploring rural Kansas and cheering on the Jayhawks.
As Program Associate for the Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) Fellows program, Amanda Cebula is focused on building a network of community leaders who are concerned with the health of Kansans. She coordinates an intense leadership development experience for Fellows participants and also seeks to connect Fellows alumni with each other and with KHF. Amanda is a Communication Studies graduate from Kansas State University, with minors in Music and Leadership Studies. She also holds a Master of Arts degree in Management & Leadership from Webster University. Before joining KLC’s team, Amanda spent over four years working in higher education in the areas of recruitment, event planning, public relations and community outreach. Aside from her passion for leadership development, she enjoys playing the piano, reading and traveling with her husband.
A love of storytelling propelled Chris Green into a career in writing and journalism. For much of the past decade, he has written about Kansas, its residents and its civic life, interviewing hundreds of citizens and traveling extensively across the state in the process. In the role of newspaper reporter, he has covered government, politics and civic life at the local level. He also spent four years in the Kansas Statehouse chronicling state politics. His most recent endeavors include developing a series of case studies on civic leadership challenges facing Kansas communities for the KLC. A native Kansan and graduate of Baker University in Baldwin City, Green lived overseas for a year while obtaining a master's degree in international politics from Scotland's University of Edinburgh.