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University of Iowa News Release


March 29, 2011

LeaderShape helps UI students create positive change on campus and beyond

As president of the campus chapter of Invisible Children, University of Iowa student Keely Kemp is committed to working to end the use of child soldiers in Uganda's 25-year-old civil war. But she also knows it takes more than a title to lead an organization, which is why she recently took part in the LeaderShape Iowa Institute, offered through the UI Office of Student Life.

A journalism and Spanish major from St. Louis, Kemp said the six-day training program in January and follow-up activities have helped her take her chapter to a new level. She created a public relations campaign, networking with her LeaderShape cohorts, to help raise awareness about the international, nonprofit organization's efforts.

Her work soon bore fruit. After launching the campaign, she was interviewed by several local media outlets and blogs. Attendance at Invisible Children's bi-monthly chapter meetings jumped from two or three people to 12. And while the first screening of an "Invisible Children" documentary only drew 20 people, 300 packed a local theater to watch the film following her public relations and networking efforts.

The 2011 graduates of the LeaderShape Iowa program will share their stories of success during a LeaderShape Vision Showcase from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31, in the Hubbard Commons of the Iowa Memorial Union.

This is the second year the Office of Student Life and the Division of Student Services has hosted LeaderShape, which now has more than 100 graduates, including Kemp who attended in 2010. A group of 52 students attended LeaderShape Iowa 2011 from Jan. 10-15 at Crooked Creek Camp in Washington, Iowa. Eleven UI staff members also attended the institute.

"I have never gained more knowledge and more experience with any other leadership development program that I have ever taken part in," Kemp said. "We contributed to enriching conversations and leadership skill development activities and had the opportunity to meet some of the UI's most outstanding students.

"LeaderShape gave me the courage to do what I needed to do in order to see my vision succeed," she added. "I learned how to be a better, more efficient leader, skills that I will use every day for the rest of my life. Without my experience at LeaderShape, I don't think I would have ever been able to accomplish all that I did. I walked away with not only some incredible friends but also the ability to effectively lead. That means more to me than anything else."

The Iowa program is part of international nonprofit LeaderShape organization ( that has more than 40,000 graduates, including NFL football player Brian Griese and Google founder Larry Page.

During the six-day program, students embark on a voyage of self-discovery, learning how to build leadership concepts, skills and abilities. Participants are then encouraged to develop their own plans for a particular organization, community or cause.

Using interactive program methods rather than classroom lectures, LeaderShape participants work in large groups and smaller groups called family clusters. It emphasizes commitment to acting consistently with core ethical values, personal values and convictions. It gives students a chance to practice teamwork, hone their ethical decision-making skills and tips for dealing with change.

"These students come back to campus with amazing new friendships, mentors and leadership outlooks," said Tara Edberg, program coordinator for LeaderShape Iowa in the Office of Student Life. And maybe, the students come away with a healthy disregard for the impossible, too. I believe LeaderShape is one of the best and most impactful programs at the university."

LeaderShape also draws a diverse group of participants, Edberg said. Of the 52 January graduates, there were 22 men, 30 women, six graduate students, seven international students and 18 students of color. Most of the students had not participated in a leadership program previously.

"I tell everyone that it is a life-changing experience that cannot be expressed by words," said Shuqi "Ariel" Li, a freshman international student from China. "The only way you can have the same emotions as I have is to take part in it."

Ashley Kasper, a junior from Des Moines, had a similar reaction to LeaderShape: "It is almost impossible to explain what we experienced. I usually go with it was awesome, life changing, and one of the best experiences I've had to date at the UI."

Informational meetings are planned in the fall semester in advance of the 2012 institute over winter break. For more information visit or contact Edberg at 319-335-3059.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Tara Edberg, Office of Student Life, 319-335-3059,; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,