“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
– John Quincy Adams
The Waukee Leadership Institute (WLI) provides leadership development through training, networking, mentoring and roundtable discussions. “The WLI can be summed up in three words: learn, lead and grow,” said Brian Conway, Executive Director of the WLI. “We want the participants to learn about the city and school district, become a better leader, and help grow the city and make it a better place.”
The WLI was founded in 2006 to develop community leaders and improve the quality of life in Waukee. More than 100 participants have graduated from the WLI, and many graduates, such as Chad Airhart, continue to engage the community as leaders and serve on the board of the WLI. Airhart is currently the president of the WLI. Dr. Brad Buck received the 2014 Alumni of the Year Award for his exhibited excellence in leadership. Dr. Buck, along with many other graduates, has used what he has learned in life and from the WLI to demonstrate active leadership in the community.
Tyler DeHaan is one of the most recent graduates of the WLI and recipient of the 2014 President’s Award, which is given for outstanding service and involvement. DeHaan says he enrolled in the WLI because he thought it would be a great way to network with people in the Waukee area and learn about various functions of local government. One of the greatest take-home lessons from the class for him was learning about the importance of working together to better the community. “Anytime you have two or more people in a room, you have to be cognizant of how other people like to work so that others are encouraged to work in ways that are suited best to their strengths,” he said. DeHaan also noted that he continues to apply the skills he acquired from the WLI in his workplace and throughout his life.
WLI participants work together to complete a class project prior to graduation. They brainstorm ideas and implement a project that will enhance the city of Waukee. In the past, projects have involved donating signs that direct people to the Waukee Historic district, raising funds for an outdoor amphitheater at Centennial Park, and supporting the Waukee Historical Society and the museum in the Waukee Library.
The 2014 class project was a Meals on Wheels project that delivered Easter meals to citizens within the Waukee School District. The class worked with the Waukee Christian Food Pantry and Waukee United Methodist Church to identify families that would like a warm Easter meal delivered the Saturday before Easter. Hy-Vee, Stivers Ford, Gilcrest Jewett, People’s Trust, and the Atlantic Bottling Company are just some of the local businesses that contributed to make this project possible. Over 150 meals were served to community members. “It was truly a collaborative project by many individuals and organizations in the Waukee community,” said DeHaan.
All current and future leaders are encouraged to enroll in the WLI in order to gain a better understanding of themselves and of the community while diversifying their training, enhancing their imagination and expanding their network. “If you want to learn all of the ins and outs of the city and school district, get an inside look at the new Kettlestone project, become a better leader and network, then this is perfect for you,” said Conway.
WLI classes are held at a convenient after-work time once per month from September through May at a cost of $550. For more information or to enroll in the fall session, visit http://waukeeleadership.org/about/.
“Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal”
– Vince Lombardi
Class of 2013
Todd Smothers, Brandon Converse, Ambria Luettjohan, Evan Koester, Tori Long, Andy Goodall, Brandon Lampkin, Jay Pearson, Chad Holtz, City Councilman Brian Harrison and Tyler DeHaan
WLI Director Brian Conway, Justin Luettjohan, Dallas County Recorder & WLI President Chad Airhart, Waukee Mayor Bill Peard and Kim Olson.
Graduates not pictured
Tomme Tysdal, Nate Zittergruen, Troy Dubberke