High School Leadership Academy

June 7-12, 2021

Established in 2017, the High School Leadership Academy (HSLA) is facilitated by the Washburn University Leadership Institute. The program strives to develop leadership skills in high school students and create a greater awareness about ways they can become involved in influencing positive change in their communities. The program was originally made possible by a three-year grant from the Topeka Community Foundation.

Who can participate?

Participation in the High School Leadership Academy is open to rising high school juniors and seniors in Shawnee County. Selection for participation will occur through a nomination process by each school followed by an application by each nominee. Each Shawnee County high school will be represented, with a maximum of 25 total participants (each school should have 2-3 representatives).

Interested in participating? Visit with your high school counselor or principal to learn about your school's nomination process.


Community Partners

The High School Leadership Academy would not be possible without the help of our community partners, including the Topeka Community Foundation, who helped establish the High School Leadership Academy in 2017 through a three-year grant. “As we look to develop home-grown talent in Topeka, we believe this grant opens doors for collaborative work in finding opportunities to benefit our community,” said Marsha Pope, President, Topeka Community Foundation.

In 2018, the Topeka Youth Commission was founded by five high school students from Topeka, three of which are High School Leadership Academy Alumni. TYC founder and 2018 HSLA alumnus, Bryce Liedtke, had this to say about the program. “The Washburn Leadership Institute has changed my life in multiple capacities. The High School Leadership Academy was an amazing experience that allowed me to grow as leader, create a network of other youth leaders in my community, and most importantly it created my love for Topeka. I was able to establish meaningful connections and "see behind the curtain" of all the amazing things happening in Topeka. It opened my lens and appreciation of Topeka, I saw the change, the momentum, the eagerness from adults to listen to youth, and the desire to have youth stay in Topeka. I often say you can not love something you do not understand. For me this was Topeka but through HSLA I gained understanding and fell in love with my community.”

Matt Pivarnik, President and CEO, Greater Topeka Partnership, said the following about the program. “Not only will the students become exposed to community initiatives, but our community’s organizations and leaders will have the opportunity to gather the input and ideas of these young minds. The more we involve our high school students in the leadership of community change, the stronger our community will be moving forward.”

Several other organizations in Topeka have worked closely with the HSLA program over the past three years, allowing participants to see how they are tackling issues that affect our community. These include Pine Ridge Prep, United Way of Greater Topeka, Forge Young Professionals, Topeka Public Schools, and many others.

Chloe Jones

Meet the HSLA Fellow: Chloe Jones

Hey friends! My name is Chloe Jones and I am excited to say that I will be the 2021 High School Leadership Academy Fellow. I am excited to be the HSLA Fellow because I will be able to learn from the young leaders of Topeka and watch them grow during the program. 

At Washburn University I am a Junior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Leadership Studies. Aside from my studies, I am involved with several different organizations on campus. I am part of the Leadership Institute, Best Buddies, and Alpha Lambda Delta. I also serve as a Peer Educator and a Bible study leader for Christian Challenge. When I am not on campus, I work at Bed Bath and Beyond.

I know it may seem like I am always busy, but I enjoy having fun! In my free time, I LOVE hiking, riding my bike, being with friends and family and of course going to the local coffee shops. I grew up in the Topeka area and never saw its beauty until I became part of the Leadership Institute.

My goal for this year is to show the HSLA participants some of the beautiful things in Topeka, so they too can fully enjoy everything this city has to offer. 

GET IN TOUCH WITH the Leadership Institute

Mailing Address
1700 SW College Avenue
Benton Hall, room 408
Topeka, KS 66621

Phone & Email

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