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KU announces Emerging Leaders Academy program graduates for Fall 2016

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas Public Management Center has announced the fall 2016 Emerging Leaders Academy (ELA) graduates. The graduation ceremony took place Jan. 11 in Lawrence.

The 51 graduates began their coursework in September and come from various public sector organizations across Kansas and the Kansas City metropolitan area, including government agencies at the local, state and federal levels as well as nonprofit organizations. The fall sessions took place in Shawnee and Topeka.

ELA is a program targeted to promising, nonmanagerial staff to help them prepare for leadership roles in their departments and agencies. Participants meet together 10 times over five months, with classes designed to help them hone their skills for positions of increasing responsibility while also growing their effectiveness in their current roles.

“Being in a training program with other public service professionals provided a great learning environment,” said Anne Forrester of the City of Gardner. “Hearing the perspectives of others, including my classmates, the instructors and our guest practitioner-speakers, has broadened my understanding of government.”

The classes are designed to help participants learn and enhance skills in leadership, organizational dynamics, communication and career planning to help them identify and achieve their professional goals while equipping them to make even stronger contributions at work.

“ELA supplied me with tools that will truly assist in my professional development,” said Mychal Davis, a participant from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Organizations that invest in sending staff to ELA gain a more prepared and engaged talent pool to draw from as they plan for the future.

“We hear from our graduates — and their supervisors — that the program re-energizes them and reminds them that their work matters,” said Noel Rasor, ELA program manager. ”This is particularly important in this era when public servants are so often portrayed negatively. The Emerging Leaders Academy, like all of our PMC programs, recognizes and celebrates the significant contributions these individuals make to our communities in this very challenging environment.”

When limited public budgets mean that many public employees aren’t seeing pay increases, professional development opportunities offer a way for organizations to show their staff that they are recognized and valued. “The vast majority of our graduates remain in their organizations, even several years after graduation,” Rasor said. “Keeping these high-potential staff engaged helps ensure that public organizations are well-positioned for the future.” 

The Spring 2017 ELA session begins March 1 with classes offered in Overland Park and in Topeka. Applications will be accepted through Feb. 20. For more information or to apply, visit the KU Public Management Center’s website (www.kupmc.org) or contact Noel Rasor at noel@ku.edu or (785) 864-6864.

The list of graduates is below:


Douglas County


Elizabeth Benfield, University of Kansas

Steven Craig, City of Lawrence

Mychal Davis, Kansas Department of Health & Environment

Andrew Ensz, City of Lawrence Department of Utilities

Sara Godinez, Bert Nash Mental Health Center

Tonya Hagedorn, Lenexa Kansas Police Department

Annette Scott, Kansas Public Employees Retirement System

Timothy M. Smith, City of Olathe

Jessica Van Meter, Douglas County Treasurer


Johnson County

Erica Immenschuh, Johnson County Government


City of Olathe

John Simmons, Johnson County Public Works



Anne Forrester, City of Gardner



Hanley Barker, WaterOne

Sara Walker, City of Lenexa



Joe Fodera, Johnson County Developmental Supports

Brenda Rehm, Johnson County Government

Elizabeth Worth, Johnson County Government


Overland Park

Vytenis Drunga, City of Olathe


Prairie Village

Brian Montgomery, Consolidated Fire District #2

William Waller, Consolidated Fire District #2



Spencer Rogers, City of Shawnee

Trent Menssen, Johnson County Wastewater


Miami County


Craig Hufferd, City of Louisburg


Shawnee County


Melissa Weisgerber, Kansas Bureau of Investigation


Shawnee County


Candice Byrd, Kansas Department of Corrections/KJCC

Darrin A Coffland, City of Topeka

Anthony Escalante, Kansas Department of Corrections/KJCC

Elaine Gaer, Kansas Public Employees Retirement System

Constanza Molina, Kansas Bureau of Investigation

Joe Perry, Topeka Police Department

Gary Smith, Kansas Bureau of Investigation

Alan Stahl, City of Topeka Fire Department

Rebeka Stanley, Kansas Bureau of Investigation

Jason Ward, City of Topeka



Kansas City

Jose Gomez, Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas

Chloe Grabanski, Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas

LaMonica Upton, Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas

Bernard Williams, Wyandotte County Sheriff's Office



Jackson County

Kansas City

Amy Brenner, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Nyeesha Brooks, City of Kansas City, Missouri

Tess Brothersen, City of Kansas City, Missouri

G. Steven Diegel, City of Kansas City, Missouri

Alaina Maxwell, City of Kansas City, Missouri, Finance Department


Jackson County


Scott Peterson, City of Raytown, Missouri


Platte County

Kansas City

Amanda Malone, City of Kansas City, Missouri.


Alecia Gray, Public Relations Manager
KU School of Public Affairs and Administration
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