Judge Karen Humphreys, chair of the Kansas Leadership Center’s board of directors, grew up in rural Clark County in Southwestern Kansas – one of 33 in her high school graduating class from Ashland High School. A U.S. magistrate judge since 1993, she has seen many Kansans’ bleakest moments from her vantage point on the bench, yet retains her optimism about people and their potential. The role of the Kansas Leadership Center, she believes, is to look everywhere – even in unlikely places – for leadership, and to encourage it across the state. She hopes the civic leadership the center promotes will lead to more collaborative problem-solving and to a shared vision of community in neighborhoods, towns and cities across the state. “I want young people in Kansas to stay here to work, live, raise a family, serve in the legislature and run for the school board,” she says. “I want to make this a state we’re all proud to live in and that’s the envy of the rest of the world.”
Carolyn Kennett directed advertising and marketing for the Parsons Sun newspaper and moved on from there to become the city’s economic development director. In both roles, she has sought out and listened to the voices of Parsons residents. For example, to gain a better understanding of what was drawing people to and from Parsons, Kennett created the Parsons Action Council (also known as “Carolyn’s PAC”). Through the Council, Kennett brought together 30 people who had grown up in Parsons, gone away to school, but returned to raise their children – reasoning that these motivated parents would have a vested interest in Parsons’ future and had made a conscious choice to be there. "Carolyn’s PAC” became instrumental in redevelopment efforts after a devastating tornado in 2000. In her board role with the KLC, Kennett brings this same quality of attentive, constructive listening to Kansans throughout the state.
Head coach of the Kansas State Wildcats, Snyder led his football team to an unprecedented 11 straight bowl games in the decade between 1993 and 2003 – one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history. Among the leadership lessons Coach Snyder drew from this experience (and recounted in his book on leadership) is the fact that all problems and dilemmas, great and small, have within them the seeds of a solution. Another is that quality leadership depends on truly caring about nurturing success in others. In his role as a member of the Kansas Leadership Center’s board of directors, Coach Snyder will have ample opportunities to discover new solutions and to demonstrate once again his profound caring for Kansans, especially youth and young adults. During a brief hiatus from the gridiron, “Coach” poured his energies into helping establish Kansas Mentors, a statewide mentoring initiative. Improving civic leadership throughout the state, he believes, will help keep bright, young Kansans home who might otherwise leave – an important goal for the father of five and grandfather of eight.
Laura Kelly ran for the State Senate in 2004 and now represents a diverse district that includes rural areas of Wabaunsee and Shawnee counties as well as the metropolitan hub of Topeka. Her motivation for running was to make a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis – especially in the lives of children – and to promote an economic development approach to tackling issues such as education and health care. Kelly is a member of the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and is particularly concerned about high school dropout rates that suggest Kansas youth are not engaged in their futures. “In Kansas, we can’t afford to overlook one kid,” she says. She’s also a believer in community, grassroots-level work – the kind of work that the Kansas Leadership Center hopes to initiate across the state.
David Lindstrom spent 9 years as a defensive end with the Kansas City Chiefs, retiring in 1986. Performing at the highest level of professional sports requires practice, hard work, and excellence – all of which shaped his leadership skills and earned him many awards in his post-Chiefs life. He chaired the Kansas Special Olympics board, runs four successful Burger King restaurants, ran for lieutenant governor, and is Johnson County’s third district commissioner. But it was the kinship Lindstrom felt among his Chiefs teammates that stayed with him – the camaraderie of team members relying on one another to accomplish their common goals. In all his subsequent pursuits, Lindstrom has continued to apply the lessons of pro football: adopting qualities he admires in others and trying to make them his own. “When you want others to become more than what they could be on their own, you have to provide motivation and encouragement,” he says. That philosophy clearly carries over into his role as a KLC board member.
Consuelo Sandoval was born in La Junta, Chihuahua, Mexico. Searching for work and a better life, her parents moved the family from Mexico to Nebraska, where Sandoval worked harvesting soybeans throughout her school years. When a Kansas business owner extolled the virtues of Garden City, Sandoval’s father moved the family once again, to Western Kansas – where they still live today. Sandoval has been involved in a variety of children’s and health programs, including bringing fluoride to Garden City. Her current professional role is the Director for the Finney County United Way. Sandoval is excited about serving on the KLC’s innovative board of directors and she will continue to be an advocate for Kansas children.
As former president and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents, Reggie Robinson is no stranger to conflict. The former artillery officer and now professor of law and director for the Center of Law and Government at Washburn University, Reggie sees a profound need for people with leadership capacity to step outside their own assumptions and perspectives, bridge different points of view, see common ground and help others see it as well. For Robinson, serving on the KLC’s board of directors represents an unprecedented opportunity to cultivate this rare, essential leadership capacity within Kansas. Although he has many demands on his time, Robinson says that the idea of a center purposely pursuing an agenda to develop leadership was “something I couldn’t say no to.”
As student body president at Kansas State University in 1979, Greg Musil learned some early lessons in leadership when he helped negotiate the rebuilding of Nichols Hall – the empty shell of Nichols Gym, which had burned down a decade before and was slated for demolition. Musil is proud of his role in helping to channel the considerable anger and emotion on all sides of the issue into something positive. Today, as a lawyer specializing in real estate and land-use planning, he helps his clients navigate through similarly difficult disputes and negotiations. He looks forward to helping the Kansas Leadership Center involve more Kansans in resolving the major issues that society faces. “We need more folks involved in a better, more civilized way,” he says.