Past Leadership Challenge Events

2013 Leadership Challenge Event

"I feel like I practiced my leadership skills tremendously – in a group, in front of people, and as an individual."  - Anonymous Volunteer through evaluation

The third annual Challenge EventTM took place on April 7th and 8th, 2013.


The Leadership Challenge EventTM was a two-day leadership development program that consisted of an educational orientation conference as well as a competitive leadership simulation in which small teams of regional high school and college students interacted within a variety of leadership environments.


Day 1: The Orientation (Thursday, March 7, 2013)

The orientation portion of the Leadership Challenge EventTM was more traditional and allowed students to understand leadership roles and challenges specific to the organizations and positions they would be simulating on Friday.

Leaders from the community provided insights and leadership lessons in break-out sessions:

Session 1: Introduction to Political Leadership

  • David Kensinger, Campaign Manager for Governor Brownback’s Campaign in 2010

Session 2: Introduction to Candidate Values and Priorities

Session 3: Political Research

Session 4: Introduction to Political Engagement

  • Kim Borchers, Director of Appointments for Governor Brownback

On Thursday evening student participants, team advisors, event sponsors and community members gathered at the Washburn Memorial Union for a dinner and political nomination convention.

  • Banquet Featured Keynote Speaker: Jason Kander, Missouri Secretary of State


Day 2: The Competitive Simulation (Friday, March 8, 2013) 

The full-day competitive leadership simulation expected students to work both individually and as a team to solve critical leadership challenges. Students were judged at each step of the competition, and winning teams were announced at the end of the day.

The simulation recreated real-world leadership scenarios for students using a variety of methods:

  • Live interactions—community leaders role-played to enhance the reality of the simulation
  • Video and audio feeds provided real-time updates and simulation theatrics
  • Online environments for information provision
  • Planned and unplanned tasks, meetings and presentations for team members

Student Team Participants

28 teams participated in the LCETM

  • 20 high school teams
  • 8 colleges and university teams
  • Teams represented three states: Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska

High Schools

  • Rossville (Rossville, KS)
  • Hayden (Topeka, KS)
  • Highland Park (Topeka, KS)
  • Shawnee Heights (Tecumseh, KS)
  • Topeka High (Topeka, KS)
  • Topeka West (Topeka, KS)
  • Washburn Rural (Topeka, KS)
  • Benton (St. Joseph, MO)
  • Hill City (Hill City, KS)-three teams
  • Louisburg (Louisburg, KS)
  • Marian (Omaha, NE)
  • Medicine Lodge (Medicine Lodge, KS)
  • Seaman (Topeka, KS)
  • Lawrence Free State (Lawrence, KS)
  • Wichita North (Wichita, KS)
  • Wichita West (Wichita, KS)
  • Blue Valley CAPS (Olathe, KS)
  • Educational Credit Union (Topeka, KS)

Colleges and Universities

  • Southwestern College (KS)-two teams
  • Fort Hays State (KS)
  • Tabor College (KS)-two teams
  • Metropolitan Community College (MO)
  • Missouri Southern University (MO)
  • Kansas State University (KS)


There were 102 volunteers made up of Washburn University students, faculty and staff as well as the Topeka and Shawnee County communities.

  • Community – 47, representing 17 organizations
  • Washburn University Faculty/Staff – 16, representing 12 departments
  • Washburn University students - 50

Volunteer opportunities included:

  • Judges—individuals that engaged in the evaluation of the competitive teams in the leadership simulation, focusing on elements of both leader and leadership effectiveness
  • Simulation role players—individuals that played fictional roles as part of the simulation in a live interactive format; examples of these roles include:
    • Candidates from each party
    • News Representatives
    • Head of Local Campaign Offices
    • Political Consultants
  • Administrative volunteers that help manage the logistics of the two-day activities

Award Recipients

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas 2013 College Division Champion Award

Kansas State University

Topeka Community Foundation 2013 High School Division Champion Award

Washburn Rural High School

Ron and Margaret Brown Award for Team Communication

Shawnee Heights High School

McGivern, Inc. Award for Team Communication

Southwestern College Team 1

BNSF Railway Awards for Team Collaboration

Southwestern College Team 2 and Blue Valley CAPS

Community Involvement

The LCETM is truly a representation of the Heartland Visioning initiative strongly underway in Topeka and Shawnee County.  The LCETM requires the involvement and support of the entire community in order to produce this event.

Advisory Board

11 Members on the Leadership Institute Advisory Board, representing 11 separate organizations:

  • Capitol Federal Savings
  • Easter Seals Capper Foundation
  • E2 Communications
  • Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce
  • Grogan Coaching and Consulting
  • Heartland Visioning
  • Hutchinson Correctional Facility
  • First Med
  • United Way of Greater Topeka
  • Educational Credit Union
  • Washburn University


The Capitol Federal Foundation was the title sponsor for the 2013 LCETM  providing significant financial and human resources for the production of the event.

 Award sponsors:

  • BNSF Railway – Team Collaboration awards
  • J.F.McGivern, Inc. – Team Communication award (college division)
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas - LCETM  Champion award (college division)
  • Topeka Community Foundation - LCETM  Champion award (high school division)
  • Washburn University Admissions - scholarships to high school champion participants
  • Ron and Margaret Brown - Team Communication award (high school division)

Team sponsors:

  • Capitol Federal Foundation
  • BA Designs
  • Capital City Bank
  • The Craig Group, Inc.
  • Educational Credit Union
  • GO Topeka EMBD (3 team sponsorships)
  • Hallmark Cards (2 team sponsorships)
  • Heartland Visioning
  • Hill’s Pet Products
  • Meers Advertising
  • Washburn University Foundation
  • Washburn University Office of Student Life
  • Westar Energy
  • Wheatland Property Management
  • Security Benefit

General and in-kind sponsors:

  • Kansas Air National Guard
  • Panera Bread
  • Washburn University Admissions
  • Westside Stamp and Awards

Anecdotal Feedback

“Our students really enjoyed their time and we look forward to hopefully sending groups in the future! Please tell the student leadership team they did a fabulous job. The organization of the event was seamless and we could tell they put great effort towards planning the event!”  -Bethany Miles, Team Advisor to Kansas State University


“Let me take this opportunity to thank you for the tremendous event that the Leadership Institute conducts and the opportunity to participate in the awards presentation.  As the Chief of Police for Topeka Public Schools (and a retired Division Commander from the Topeka Police Department) it is refreshing to associate with wonderful young people doing wonderful things.”   -Ron Brown, 2013 LCETM Sponsor


“I thought that your choice of keynote speaker at the banquet was excellent.  I heard from several students that they were empowered from his speck and found his words relevant to both their life and simulation.”  -Anonymous Participant through evaluation


“Even though I don’t plan on going into politics, these speakers are so inspiring and really are fabulous speakers!  They are deep and down to the core where they want to relate to us.  Loved them!”  -Anonymous Participant through evaluation


“It’s an excellent experience…The banquet that combined the real person with the role was awesome!”  -Anonymous Participant through evaluation


“This is great. Wonderful facilities, personable persons involved, great schedule and idea. Thank you!”    -Anonymous Participant through evaluation


 “I thought the day went really well! I had so much fun today, and can’t wait for next year. It was crazy at times for me, but overall it was great.  This was my first time volunteering for it, and I definitely enjoyed it. Great job to everyone!”    -Anonymous Volunteer through evaluation 


“I love the alternate reality universe that you’ve created! It’s awesome that you’ve been able to tie in the prior year experiences without making it an unfair situation for schools that haven’t been here before. It’s hilarious! Thanks for doing all of this each year for our students. I know it’s a ton of work to put this together, but the effort is greatly appreciated.”   -Anonymous Participant through evaluation