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Urban League: Inspiring Action Through Community Leadership

by | Jun 16, 2023 | Newsroom

Urban League: Inspiring Action Through Community Leadership

Two years ago, the Kansas Leadership Center began an inspiring journey with Kansans of color by launching the Creating Leadership Together initiative. This groundbreaking effort aimed to provide seed funding, design consulting, and comprehensive support to community-based organizations across the state. Its goal was to empower these organizations to offer sustainable leadership programs under their own direction.

The Urban League of Kansas was one of ten organizations selected to embark on an 18-month journey to create and launch a community leadership course specifically for communities of color. Building upon their formative accomplishments in standing up its program, the Urban League recently held its second one-day leadership training in May. The workshop had a profound mission: to empower community members to address critical issues head-on.

Scenes from the Urban League’s first leadership training in 2021.

The workshop focused on nurturing individuals who aspire to become changemakers within their organizations, churches, and communities. Participants engaged in interactive learning sessions, took advantage of various self-development and growth opportunities, gained insights from expert guest speakers, and had valuable moments of reflection. The event also incorporated assessments designed to enhance participants’ leadership abilities.

Conni Mansaw from CM Consulting & Development Services facilitated the program. A thought-provoking panel discussion included Kyla Enslinger from Dillons, Riccardo Harris from Wichita GEAR UP at WSU, Juston White with the Kansas Health Foundation, and Karen Wright from WSU’s TRIO Student Support Services. Program Associate Camille Scott and Director of Community Partnerships Racquel Thiesen of the Kansas Leadership Center provided steady assistance, support and occasional guidance throughout the event.

A second one-day course in May raised the bar for the future.

“What the Urban League team has done to bring leadership development to the neighborhood and community they serve is exactly what KLC hoped would happen,” said Thiesen. “We feel honored that Urban League said yes and put their trust is KLC to help them create a model that works for them.”

The Urban League of Kansas has experienced a remarkable upswing in momentum over the past few years, largely due to the hard work of interim Executive Director Cindy Miles as well as the unwavering dedication of Director of Operations and Community Engagement Frankie Kirkendoll.

The Urban League’s Frankie Kirkendoll 

“The Urban League is experiencing renewed energy in how we support the community, and our residents have us feeling hopeful,” says Kirkendoll. “We care about the issues and challenges our neighbors face and being a community partner with KLC is just what the Urban League needs to help empower people looking to make a difference in their own lives. I don’t know that we ever thought we’d be in the business of leadership development, but I guess we are!”

By mobilizing people to join in the work, the organization is making significant strides and gaining the traction it needs to continue growing. The success of these initial workshops has prompted the Urban League to plan an even more ambitious multi-session leadership program for this fall.

The Kansas Leadership Center has been a strong partner for dozens of community leadership programs in Kansas since its inception in 2007. Learn more about our CLP initiatives and our research on the impact of community leadership programs on workforce development and community engagement. If you’d like to create or redesign a skill-building leadership course for you community, contact us.


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