A community of leaders: Leadership Austin enters its 14th year – Austin Daily Herald


A record number of participants have been admitted to the 2019-2020 Leadership Austin class.

Twenty-eight people have been confirmed for the nine-month program, which kicked off with a social gathering at Ike’s Cabin in Todd Park on Tuesday evening.

While the number is down two from last year’s record number of participants, the 28 registered for this coming year is still a strong indication of the popularity of the program.

“I think there’s a lot of interest,” said Jeanine Nelson, daytime program coordinator. “I think that’s really where a lot of people want to take it. There are a lot of companies taking advantage of it. “

Launched in 2006 and organized by the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Riverland Community College, Leadership Austin is designed as an educational opportunity that enables participants to learn about resources, values, strengths , the weaknesses, opportunities and challenges of this region.

This gives participants the chance to get involved in the community around them, giving them the skills to be leaders themselves.

“I think it gives them an opportunity,” said Nelson. “They meet many current city and community leaders and make that connection with them. “

This connection in turn acts as a base to come out and help exact change within the community.

“Once they complete this course, they understand the community better and maybe can help the community and be more engaged.”

The program days that followed provide attendees with a series of tours and presenters, covering key aspects of Austin including education, quality of life and diversity, government, business and industry, community health services, public safety and agriculture and agribusiness.

From year to year, the schedule remains roughly the same, although this year participants will see a different side to farming. In years past this normally fell in April, however, last year it was canceled due to the late snowstorm.

This was moved to November to give people a chance to see the harvest rather than the planting.

Nelson said Leadership Austin not only helps people get involved in the community around them, but it can be transformative as well.

“This could lead to they are passionate, ”she said. “He’s trying to find their passion where they can help their community through this program.”

This year’s participants

Since its inception in 2006, more than 250 people have participated in Leadership Austin.

This year’s cohort includes:

• Laura Anderson, Director of Marketing and Communications, Akkerman Inc

• Wendy Anderson, Marketing and Communications Specialist, Austin Regional Chamber of Commerce

• Brooke Downey, Director of Administration, YMCA

• Angela Felten, Chief Financial Officer, Austin HRA

• Blake Flores, National Sales Director – Applegate Foodservice, Hormel Foods Corporation

• Kyler Green, Clinic Operations Supervisor, Mayo Clinic Health System-Albert Lea / Austin

• Jacob Gross, Senior Supervisor, Hormel Foods Corporation

• Jeff Gross, Director of Commercial Relations, American Bank

• Trish Harren, County Administrator, Mower County

• Mike Hartman, Sergeant, Austin Police Department

• Michelle Hjelmen, communications partner, The Hormel Institute

• Cozy Kriehn, Cooperative Response Center, Inc.

• Kirk Kuchera, general manager of transit, Cedar Valley Services

• Katie Kuchera, Primary Care Nursing Supervisor, Mayo Clinic Health System-Albert Lea / Austin

• Sara Lee, Community Engagement Manager, Mayo Clinic Health System

• Savile Lord, Director of the Spam Museum, Hormel Foods Corporation

• Yang Liu, tax accountant, Hormel Foods Corporation

• Danielle Morem, President, Damel, Inc.

• Tim Olson, Firefighter / Engineer, Austin Fire Department

• Karem Salas Ramirez, Community Impact Coordinator, United Way of Mower County

• Tucker Schieck, dentist, Schieck Dental

• Ben Schuller, Facilities Coordinator, Austin Public Schools

• Holly Sherman, Executive Assistant, Riverland Community College

• Rachel Sippel, Career Planner, Workforce Development, Inc.

• Rain Suereh, social services coordinator, reception center

• Eric Tupy, Director of IT Strategy and Enterprise Architecture, Hormel Foods Corporation

• Mary Weikum, Director, Food and Nutrition Services, Austin Public Schools

• Jenn Wilson, Director of Event Services, Holiday Inn


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