Our first session for the Class of 2021 was held over three days March 2-4 and included personalized welcoming video comments from Mike Parson, 57th Governor for the State of Missouri, Columbia Mayor Brian Treece, and Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergen. All can view these greetings as well as session highlights at our You Tube Channel.

The class participated in a full slate of activities including a virtual strengths-based leadership training including a working lunch conducted by Leigh Anne Taylor-Knight (Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, The DeBruce Foundation, Alumna 2010, Lifetime Member and Member of Alumnae Council); a tour of the Jefferson City Correctional Center as well as an introduction to ASPIRE MO, a 20 week program for felony offenders in Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center featuring Kellie Ann Coates (Executive Director of the Missouri Women’s Council, Alumna 2018); a restorative justice overview with offenders in JCCC; an insightful conversation with the Honorable Judge Mary Rhodes Russell of the Missouri Supreme Court; and a panel discussion of the challenges and opportunities for access facing the future of education featuring Susan Deakins, Executive Director for K-12 Education for the Columbia Public Schools, and GMLC alumnae Jen Bradley, Class of 2009 and member of the Cole County R-V School District Board of Education and Ann Merrifield, Class of 2018 and new Executive Director at Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Central Missouri.

Director Zora Mulligan from the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development for the State of Missouri presented a keynote presentation discussing the alignment of higher education and workforce systems for state talent development and Kelly Schultz, Director for the State of Missouri Office of Child Advocate and Alumna 2013 conducted her “chocolate chip cookie tour” in a new format that was educational and enjoyable by all.

Members of the Class of 2020 joined in an evening session to interact and get to know each other.

In addition to other activities, the Class of 2021 participated in a discussion about bias and what we can do about it. The discussion included tips on intentional conversations that will allow all to be honest, respectful, and in touch with their feelings throughout the sessions.

The planning team and all speakers were exceedingly adaptable to ensure that the virtual training was beneficial to all. Comments included:

“Truly appreciate all the work that must have gone into “rearranging” the program/speakers because of COVID. The experience we still quite remarkable and the speakers were incredibly knowledgeable and engaging! Cannot wait for the in person!”

“I really thought the session was good but I think the days were too long on Zoom. By Day 3 I was exhausted and finding it harder to focus on the subject matter. Admittedly that might be true with an in-person session too!”

“Inspired and ready to take on greater responsibilities at work and in the community already. I can’t imagine how I am going to feel by our final session (and I hope we can meet in person but I appreciate the attention to our health needs).” 

Get to know the Class of 2021 cohort and join us if you are in the area for our next session, June 9-11 in Kirksville. We are planning for an in-person event for all at this time.