Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge 2012

November 6, 2012 ~ Way back on March 21, 2012 I began a program with 30 other women leaders around our state. This would be known as the Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge Class of 2012. We would travel around the state to Columbia/Jefferson City, Kansas City, Kirksville and then to St. Louis, MO. This traveling symposium was established in 1989 by the Missouri Foundation for Women's Resources, Inc. The tuition to participate in this program was $2,500 and thankfully I was given $1000 scholarship from Women's Network and Dave Benish when I was presented the 2011 Debin Benish Business Woman of the Year. I also received $750 in additional scholarship. I knew after completing Leadership Columbia in 2010 this was the next step for me and would be an investment in my future as a leader.

                                            Columbia/Jefferson City ~ March 21-23, 2012
In our first session we talked about issues dealing with Education, Executive Process, Legislative Process and Judicial Overview. We began at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City for a brief overview of our days. We heard discussions on "Who We Are, Where We Live And What We Do", "Discover Your Strengths",  "Hot Topics and Challenges In Education" and then ended the day with dinner at Karen Miller's house in Columbia, MO. What an awesome meal and host she was! We were able to take a "Top of the Dome" tour by Rep. Mike Kelley from the 126th District which was awesome! To see Jeff City from the top of the capital was amazing!

The following day we had further discussions on "Overview of Missouri Legislative Process", "Missouri Women Legislators Show Us How They Lead The Way", "The Role and Function of Special Interest Groups", "The Mechanics of the Democratic Process in Missouri", "The Missouri Budget", "State of the State's Economy", "Healthcare in Missouri", "The Missouri Judiciary" We then ended this day with a trip to The Brew House Coffee and Bistro in Jeff City to learn and taste Missouri wines.

Our final day we headed to Jeff City Correctional Center and took a tour. We learned about their Puppies for Parole program and the Restorative Justice program. We then traveled to Lathrop & Gage and heard discussion about "Missouri Kids in Crisis", "How To Advocate For Your Special Interest" and "Serving The Public". It was a jam packed 2 1/2 days but very interesting to see women's roles in our government.

                                                    Kansas City, MO ~ June 6-8, 2012
In our second session we would learn about Diversity and Impact of Race Relations on Urban Renewal and Economic Development, The Non-Profit Community and Women in Leadership. We began our day at Husch Blackwell Law Firm and heard discussions about "The Kansas Landscape" and "Creating A Strengths Based Culture". We then traveled to the Guadalupe Center and heard from an interesting man named Kar Y. Woo who was an artist that began helping the homeless. He talked about the power of one as one person can make the difference in lives of others. We then traveled to Nutter Ivanhoe Community Center and heard discussion about "Revitalization Of An Urban Neighborhood" and how one community banded together to remove drug ridden homes from their neighborhood to make it safe for the young children and members of the community to live there. Very impressive story. We ended with a reception at Lathrop & Gage.

Our second day we went to a women's shelter. This women's shelter recently had a woman that had been abused because she told her husband that she refused to have a child with him. He pushed her through, literally through a wall. When her dog came to her rescue the husband began to beat the dog. He drug the dog into the street and said if she reached for him he would kill him dead. Thankfully the woman and the dog were rescued and taken to this women's shelter. This would be the first dog welcomed to the shelter. They have now opened an animal area for women that have animals to remove them from an abusive relationship. We then traveled to Harvesters. We heard about "Changing Landscape of Non-Profits" and "Overcoming Barrier". The Harvesters had a great lunch exercise for us that split us into teams. Each team would have basic staples to prepare a meal but we would have one trip to the store and one trip to the local food bank. You were to make a meal together as a team for your group and then present it to the judges. This was a great exercise and one I wish Columbia had for team building.We then boarded the bus and picked up Sister  Berta. As we traveled the streets of Kansas City there were several women who boarded the bus to tell us their story. Many who were struggling to make ends meet and showed us places that they and their kids would often sleep as they were one step above homeless. Really eye opening to see / hear the lives these women had and how they protected their children. When we were done we all headed down on the plaza for dinner and shopping.

Our last day in Kansas City we went to Park University and received some history about it. We then heard discussions about "Supporting Women As Leaders" and "Breaking The Barrier: Women In Business Leadership". This session was very eye opening as we dealt with things that many of us have never dealt with in life. Certainly makes you think about your life and how grateful you should be.

                                               Kirksville, MO ~ September 12-14, 2012
Our third session we would learn about Rural Missouri, Role of Rural Towns, Evolution of Agriculture and Resource Management. We took the bus to Northeast Regional Medical Center and heard discussions on "A Snapshot Of Rural Missouri" and "Exploring Your Personal Strengths". We then headed to POET Bio-refining (an ethanol plant in Macon, MO) for a tour and discussion of "Pros and Cons of Ethanol". Very interesting to see / hear about this place. We then took the bus to the Pear Tree in Bevier, MO for dinner.... YUM!

Our second day we headed to Adair Foods and had a tour of the ham and bacon plant. (I was done with the pressed ham but still love bacon!) We then traveled to Western's Smokehouse and learned about this family business. They provided lunch for us too. We then traveled to the National Osteopathic Museum and Simulation Lab for a tour. We then traveled to the Missouri Conservation Center to hear about conservation and had a reception. We then headed back to the hotel and headed back to the plaza for dinner and shopping (hey... we are women!)

Our final day we headed to the Lost Branch Blueberry Farm which was owned and operated by a local family. It was interesting to see this impressive place. We then headed over to Truman State University to get an overview of the school and learn about their Farm to Table program. This session was great to see / hear as it took it back to the basics. You have full time farmers that care about their animals and making sure they feed them quality products. You defiantly could see the passion of what they do for a living.

During this session I missed out on our 15th wedding anniversary..... just sayin'! 

                                                  St. Louis, MO ~ November 7-9, 2012
On our fourth and final session we would learn how to gain a global perspective on Science, Green Business Movement (the Environment) and Life Sciences. This session really pulled everything together and began to make sense of the things we have heard about and learned. We headed out to Boeing and heard discussions on "Community Impact" and "Company Overview". We then got to go see the flight simulators. They needed a volunteer to fly one of the new F18 simulators so I climbed in... What an awesome feeling to fly an aircraft! (No worries folks... I can't afford a plane and I do good driving a car so you don't have to worry next vacation it won't be me flying it) We then went to Monsanto and got a tour of their building. Very interesting to see how they test seeds (corn, cotton, soybean, wheat) as they try to find a type that will withstand things like little or no water and produce more crops per acre. It was really interesting to see this. We ended with a reception and headed back to the hotel to get in a van and head out shopping!

Our second day we headed to the St. Louis Zoo and got a behind the scenes tour. We then had lunch while they recognized Deborah Patterson as the Women of Year. We then headed over to Washington University Center for Women's Infectious Disease Research. We then ended up at Vin de Set with a tour and dinner. Interesting old building that they restored in a "green" way and now a very successful building that houses several businesses.

Our last day I was not able to attend. Our business needed me and I felt it was important to go back. Today was the day of graduation. I am proud to say that I am officially a 2012 GMLC Alumni and honored to have gone through this program. I received a $1,000 scholarship from Women's Network and Dave Benish when I was named 2011 Debin Benish Outstanding Business Women of the Year. I also received additional scholarship money to help offset the $2,500 tuition. I felt this was an investment in me and I realize that an effective leader is one who listens well to others and things are not about you. You have to surround yourself around those that have strengths where you have weaknesses. I had the ability to meet 29 other amazing ladies from all over the state of Missouri. Shelley Simon was our leader through these sessions. What a great adventure!

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