KU News Release


July 1, 2011
Contact: Mary Christine Banwart, Communications Studies, 785-864-5681

KU Heartland leadership institute hosts 18 women from six countries

LAWRENCE — Eighteen young women from six countries attending a leadership institute at the University of Kansas this summer are not only attending classes but also sampling local cultural activities such as a Fourth of July picnic on a family produce farm.

The women are university students in their countries: Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Morocco, Pakistan and Sudan.

They are attending the Women’s Civic Leadership from the Heartland U.S. Institute on Women’s Leadership, June 15 to July 27.

This is the second consecutive year that the U.S. State Department has selected KU to host a leadership institute. The KU program is part of the U.S. Institute for Women’s Leadership, which is designed to promote a better understanding of the United States abroad and to help develop future world leadership.

In addition to classroom sessions devoted to understanding leadership theory and skill and developing on a class project on social change, KU’s program includes various activities in Lawrence, Topeka and Wichita focused directly on leadership or area cultural life.

In the remaining weeks of the program, the women will:

— Spend the July 4 holiday on a family produce farm in Lawrence for fireworks, a barbeque and wiffle ball.
— Decorate six dollhouses in the cultural traditions of their countries for the July 16 auction to benefit Court Appointed Special Advocates of Douglas County (CASA). The dollhouses will be among 20 auctioned at the Lawrence Arts Center as a benefit for “Casitas for CASA: Little Houses for a Big Cause.”
— Attend a leadership seminar on “Engaging the process of leadership: being responsible for your actions and reactions,” conducted by Barbara Carswell, first vice president for the Capitol Federal Savings Bank offices in Topeka, and meet with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback in the state Capitol.
— Visit the Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita, funded by the Kansas Health Foundation to foster civic leadership for healthier Kansas communities.
— Attend lectures by KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and other women faculty members from communication studies, KU Libraries, political science, public administration and social welfare.

The women will also meet area women in leadership positions, including:
— Erika Dvorske, executive director Douglas County United Way
— Brandi Fisher, vice president of Community Investment and Initiatives, United Way of Wyandotte County
— Carol Gonzales, city manager, Shawnee
— Lorinda Hartzler, owner, Body Boutique in Lawrence
— Jewel Scott, executive director, Civic Council of Greater Kansas City
— Susan Sherman, assistant city manager, City of Olathe
— Penny Strauss-Tuckel, manager, Color Studios in Lawrence
— Kala Stroup, part-time faculty with KU Honors program and former president of Nonprofit Leadership Alliance

Before the institute concludes, the women will travel with the institute’s staff to Philadelphia to visit the National Constitution Center and then to Washington, D.C. Once they return home, the women remain in contact with institute staff and alumni.

Mary Banwart, associate professor of communication studies and director of KU’s minor in leadership studies, is academic director for the institute. The institute also draws on expertise from the staff of KU’s Center for Service Learning, including the center’s director, Andi Witzcak, who designed the institute curriculum with Banwart, and Linda Dixon, who serves as the institute administrative director. Astrid Villamil, recent doctoral graduate in communication studies, is program coordinator.


The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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