Annual Leadership Challenge Event ready to kickoff

Anzhelika Tolstikhina

The annual Leadership Challenge Event is set to start March 31 at Washburn and will continue April 1 at the Manner Conference Center, located right next to the Capitol Plaza Hotel.

“This is really one of a kind opportunity in a nation and a really neat experience that we are proud of as an institution,” said Michael Gleason, director of the Leadership Institute.

A growing demand from high schools and colleges ready to participate in such an all-around beneficial event completely outweighs the relatively small age of the LCE. Washburn University and the Leadership Institute, therefore, could not be more motivated to put all of their effort into the organization of the challenge event.

The Leadership Challenge Event is an annual two-day competition that is hosted by the Washburn University Leadership Institute. There will be more teams this year than any previous year. This year, the LCE will welcome 26 high school teams from all over Kansas as well as six college teams coming from multiple states such as Arkansas and Nebraska.

Each team consists of five members that will unite together during the two-day simulation challenges. The event will be conducted by 160 volunteers from Washburn who were specifically selected and trained to perform different roles that they were assigned. Teams will address a variety of interactive real-life challenges that will require the participants to execute their leadership skills in order to successfully overcome all of the obstacles. Meanwhile, Ichabod volunteers who were assigned the role of judges will be evaluating the teams’ problem-solving skills, decision-making tactics, interactions, team collaboration and other leadership skills.

The first day will hold a traditional conference lasting for the first half of the day. Students will have a chance to hear from community and campus speakers on topics of interest related to leadership.

Later in the night, the LCE will host a banquet where students will have a chance to meet sponsors, community members and teams to converse.

The second day, Friday, April 1, will consist of the main section: simulations and challenges that will end with an awards ceremony during which competitors who demonstrated exemplary leadership skills will be recognized individually and as teams. Winners will receive trophies and also be acknowledged on the LCE website.

The Washburn University Leadership Institute student members have been working on raising money to ensure successful conduct of the event. The Leadership Institute along with its advisory board were able to raise around $30,000 that will go toward additional expenses that the teams’ entry fees will not.

“Our advisory board provides a lot of input and helps us build community connections,” Gleason said.

In addition to solving financial issues, the advisory board is involved in developing the content of the challenge itself.

Maddison Wiegers, who has been building her leadership career since her freshman year and now is an overall organizer of the challenge event, said, “The board of advisors was a lot of help. We had our brainstorming sessions with them and really together we just broke it down into three parts in which we decided the overall goals to be achieved in each round and other specifics.”

This competition is significant in its nature because it also serves as a great resume builder for Ichabods. There are two types of volunteer opportunities for students who wish to get involved in the Leadership Challenge Event. Students can either apply to participate in preparation of the content for the simulations, or they can simply volunteer at the facilitation of the event.

More information of this opportunity is provided at

Washburn University looks at the event as a chance to not only improve leadership skills of students from different parts of the country and offer volunteer opportunity, but also to attract new students from local high schools.