Thrive Excelsior’s Citizen Leadership Academy Kicks Off

Leadership Panel at the Thrive Excelsior Citizen Leadership Academy. Left to right: Mark Bullimore, Sharon Powell, Kristen DeHart, and Sonya Morgan. Photo by Jason Cole.

Thrive Excelsior is a local initiative that came from the City of Excelsior SpringsCommunities of Excellence program. The initiative has local task forces, made up of community leaders, that are focused on improving three key focus areas, economic vitality, health and wellness, and housing in Excelsior Springs. With all working toward the same cause, Thrive’s task forces have allowed local leaders opportunities to connect and partner. It was recognized that there needed to be a way for future leaders to learn more about the inner workings of the city, so they will be better prepared to lead. This is how the Citizen’s Academy was formed, which allows interested citizens to participate in the seven-week series, covering a range of topics, all meant to educate them.

Last year Thrive Excelsior’s coordinator Kim Halfhill, of KH Consulting, wrote curriculum and guided a test pilot program on selected leaders in the community, who then gave their initial feedback of the program in order to perfect it for the public cohort that will start now. There are fifteen local citizens enrolled and had their kickoff for the course on Thursday, February 23, 2023 at the Excelsior Springs Community Center. The Excelsior Springs Hospital provided a hot meal and the new cohort was introduced to a panel of leaders that included Excelsior Springs School District Communications Director Mark Bullimore, Excelsior Springs Hospital CEO Kristen DeHart, Excelsior Springs Mayor Sharon Powell, and City Councilwoman Sonya Morgan.

The first focus of the series is Leadership, by allowing participants to identify their own leadership strengths and weaknesses. It will also give them insight on long-range planning while also building connections with community leaders. Early in the program attendees will be introduced to different data sets that are being used to guide decisions happening throughout the city.

Thrive Excelsior Coordinator Kim Halfhill keeps business moving along.

Participants will deep dive on topics ranging from community health and wellness issues, to public safety, economic vitality, housing, and more local issues. In addition to self-guided assignments, they will also tour various entities throughout the community in order to give a better understanding for each. For instance, as Community Health and Wellness is being studied and discussed, they will have an opportunity to tour the hospital and ask healthcare leaders questions directly.

The goal of the academy is to educate future leaders, giving citizens an avenue for learning more about the inner workings of the city. Even if someone isn’t interested in running for an office or serving on a commission, the academy gives a great overview and understanding of the community as a whole. Those interested in learning more are encouraged to follow Thrive Excelsior’s Facebook Page:

Prior to the Academy being made available to the public, there were a number of community leaders who tested the program last fall. We want to thank them! They were invited to attend the kickoff as alumni, receiving a certificate of recognition from Mayor Sharon Powell. Alumnae present and pictured belo included: Sonya Morgan, Julia Mees, Jason Cole, Greg Broadbent, and Logan Arcano.

Kim Halfhill has more than 15 years experience working in the nonprofit sector, specializing in supporting organizations through team building, strategic planning, volunteer management, and leadership coaching. She is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where she completed her Master of Science degree in Administration with an emphasis in Leadership at the University of West Florida. She is the founder and principal consultant of KH Consulting. Kim and her family are residents of Excelsior Springs and are active members of the community.

Communities of Excellence 2026 (COE 2026) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that hosts a national learning collaborative of communities across the country, trains communities in the Baldrige-based Communities of Excellence Framework, and provides opportunities for communities to work together, share successes, challenges, ideas and best practices, and learn from each other on their performance excellence journey. Visit our website for more information about the 22 communities participating in the National Learning Collaborative.

Visit to learn more about the National Learning Collaborative: A Systematic Approach to Excellence in Communities: Using a Baldrige-based Framework to Lead Transformation.

For more information on our local Communities of Excellence program, click here.

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