Past Leadership Challenge Events

2016 Leadership Challenge Event


The Leadership Challenge Event™ is a two-day leadership development program that consists of a half-day educational orientation conference and a full-day competitive leadership simulation in which small teams of high school and college students interact within a variety of leadership environments. This is a student-led event and is facilitated by the students of the Washburn University Leadership Institute.

Day 1: The Orientation (Thursday, March 31, 2016)

The orientation portion of the Leadership Challenge Event™ is more traditional and allows students to learn from area experts about key leadership competencies, many of which are evaluated during the leadership simulation on Friday.

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

Session 1: Community Collaboration Panel

Michel’ Cole, Tara Dimick, Susan Duffy, Miriam Krehbiel (moderator)

Session 2: Crucial Conversations

Marissa Dake & Greg Pruett

Session 3: Team Building Workshop

Mckinlaye Harkavy

Session 4: What Goes Up Must Come Down: Why Humility Comes Before Honor

Dr. David Carter

On Thursday evening student participants, team advisors, event sponsors and community members gathered at the Washburn Memorial Union for a banquet and Annual Chamber meeting where the Chamber President & CEO discussed the creation of a task force specifically focused on furthering the economic development in Metropolis. They were to find new and creative ways to help grow the business community.

Additionally, the banquet featured keynote speaker, Martha Bartlett Piland. After graduating from Washburn University, Martha spent several years in retail management before joining a major Midwestern marketing firm, which helped launch her career as one of the premier marketing professionals in her field. In 1998 MB Piland Adverting & Marketing was born. Martha shared her insights on why it is so important to be a powerful problem solver and how the students could enhance their creative muscle.

Day 2: The Competitive Simulation (Friday, April 1, 2016)

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

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

  • Live interactions in which community leaders role-played scenarios with participants to enhance the reality of the simulation
  • Video and audio feeds that provided real-time updates and simulation theatrics were used for participants to gain information and make decisions
  • Planned and unplanned tasks and meetings for team members
  • Recruitment presentations where students had to create and present innovative proposals to professionals.

Student Participants

30 teams participated in the LCE™

  • 25 high school teams
  • 5 colleges and university teams
  • These teams represented four states: Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Arkansas

High Schools

  • Blue Valley CAPS
  • Derby High School
  • Highland Park High School
  • Louisburg High School
  • Metro Meridian High School
  • Northeast Magnet High School
  • Piper High School
  • Rossville High School
  • Seaman High School
  • Shawnee Heights High School
  • Topeka High School
  • Topeka West High School
  • Washburn Rural High School (2 teams)
  • Wellington High School
  • Wichita Heights High School
  • Wichita High School East (2 teams)
  • Wichita High School South
  • Wichita High School Southeast
  • Wichita North High School
  • Wichita Northwest High School
  • Wichita West High School (2 teams)
  • Winfield High School

Colleges and Universities

  • Arkansas Tech University
  • Fort Hays State University
  • Southwestern College
  • University Nebraska-Lincoln (2 teams)


There were 151 volunteers representing Washburn University students, faculty and staff and the Topeka and Shawnee County communities.

  • Community – 59, representing 35 organizations
  • Washburn University Faculty/Staff – 34, representing 29 departments
  • Washburn University students - 58

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: Roles included:
    • Angry Resident
    • Environmental Protester
    • Concerned Student
    • Company Representative
    • Journalist
  • Administrative volunteers, comprised of Washburn University Leadership Institute students, managed the logistics of the two-day event

Award Recipients

High School Division Champion Award:

Shawnee Heights High School

High School Division Second Place Award:

Seaman High School

High School Division Third Place Award:

Topeka West High School

High School Division Outstanding Team Collaboration Award:

Washburn Rural High School #2

High School Division Outstanding Team Communication Award:

Piper High School

College Division Champion Award:

University of Nebraska-Lincoln #2

College Division Second Place Award:

Fort Hays State University

College Division Third Place Award:

University of Nebraska-Lincoln #1

College Division Outstanding Team Collaboration Award:

Arkansas Tech University

College Division Outstanding Team Communication Award:

University of Nebraska-Lincoln #1

Community Involvement

The Leadership Challenge Event™ required the involvement and support of the entire community in order to be successful.

Advisory Board

Eleven community members serve on the Leadership Institute Advisory Board, representing their respective organizations:

  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas
  • Capitol Federal Foundation®
  • Educational Credit Union
  • Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce
  • Grogan Coaching and Consulting
  • Jack Hope Design
  • Schendel Lawn and Landscape
  • Topeka Metro
  • Topeka Community Foundation
  • United Way of Greater Topeka
  • USD 501 Topeka Public Schools
  • Visit Topeka
  • Washburn University
  • Westar Energy


Westar Energy and Capitol Federal Foundation® were the title sponsors for the 2016 Leadership Challenge Event™, providing significant financial and human resources for the production of the event.

Award sponsors:

  • BA Design
  • Berberich Trahan & Co., P.A.
  • Dake/Routsong families
  • First Year Experience
  • Heartland Visioning
  • Laird Noller Ford
  • Leadership Institute Class of 2010
  • Pleasant Hill Animal Hospital
  • Ron and Margaret Brown
  • Shea and Lindsay Kirsop
  • Student Activities and Greek Life
  • The Robb Company
  • Tower Metal Works Inc.
  • UMB Bank
  • United Way of Greater Topeka

Team sponsors:

  • Advisors Excel
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas
  • BNSF- Finance Department
  • BNSF- Technology Services
  • Educational Credit Union
  • GOTopeka EMBD
  • Hill’s Pet Nutrition
  • Ron and Margaret Brown
  • TAACCCT On! Conference
  • The Craig Group
  • Topeka Community Foundation
  • Washburn University Foundation
  • Washburn Small Business Development
  • Washburn University Office of Student Life

General and in-kind sponsors:

  • Dillon’s
  • Sunflower Marketing
  • Washburn Memorial Union and Dining
  • Washburn University Office of Admissions
  • Westside Stamp and Award

Team Registrations:

  • GO Topeka EMBD

Media sponsor:

  • KTWU