JAG-K is developing leaders for the next generation of the Kansas workforce.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 Student Leadership Development Conference gathered hundreds of students virtually to hear speakers and learn about skills to succeed. Among the speakers participating in the event were Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The evidence-based JAG-K program helps students prepare for post-secondary education and employment opportunities. JAG-K served more than 4,100 students in 79 programs last year. JAG-K students had a graduation rate of 96 percent for the Class of 2019.

The annual Leadership Development Conference brings together elected officers from each JAG-K program across the state. Each JAG-K Career Association elects up to four officers to represent their school, and these are the students invited to attend the conference each fall. This year, because the event was virtual, more students were able to participate.

“The Leadership Development Conference is a highlight of every year, because it brings together students who are already leading and imparts to them the vision and skills to take their leadership to greater heights,” said JAG-K President/CEO Chuck Knapp. “Even though we had to do the conference virtually this year, we had a tremendous slate of speakers, productive workshops, and other opportunities for students to interact.”

Students viewed presentations from keynote speakers including Emmy Award-winning broadcaster Brenda VanLengen and motivational speakers Odell Bizzell and SJ Hazim. Each speaker shared personal experiences and encouraged students to focus on their strengths and use their resiliency and creativity to overcome obstacles.

Gov. Laura Kelly, a member of the JAG National Board, shared an inspiring message to students to open the conference.

“At its core, JAG-K is about building leadership skills, and helping young people identify and grow their innate talents,” Kelly said in the video. “So much of leadership is about service. Once you are a leader, continue to look for ways to give back and give a hand up to those coming behind you.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared advice with the students and told them about his first job. Kansas Highway Patrol Superintendent Herman Jones also shared a message of motivation and encouragement.  Watch those videos at the links provided below.

JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades seven through 12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally-accredited, evidence-based model.

The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 40 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include AT&T, Capitol Federal, John Deere, Synchrony Financial, Taco Bell and Walmart.

To learn more about JAG-K, visit www.jagkansas.org, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.