MO Project: Contextual Branding

Office of Administration Announces Graduation of Seventh Missouri Leadership Academy Class, Launch of Eighth Class

February 10, 2022

JEFFERSON CITY - Today, the Office of Administration announced the graduation of 30 state employees from the Missouri Leadership Academy – a program that develops the next generation of state government leaders.

The graduates came from all 16 of the State of Missouri’s executive departments and were chosen by senior leadership to participate in the cross-department leadership development program. The Office of Administration also announced another 33 emerging leaders who will participate in the eighth class of the program this spring. The Spring 22 class will have their official kick off next week. You can learn about the new class of the leadership academy here.

“We applaud the graduates of the Missouri Leadership Academy Class Seven for their commitment to becoming better leaders for themselves and the people we serve,” Governor Mike Parson said. “This innovative professional development program helps improve state government, and Missourians undoubtedly receive better service because of it. Congratulations again to this group of Missouri leaders for completing this program and growing their skills.”

“Programs like the Missouri Leadership Academy continue to allow our team members across state government to collaborate in creative new ways to improve organizational practices and support our mission to better state government for all Missourians,” said Ken Zellers, Acting Commissioner, Office of Administration. “I am incredibly proud of the steps our graduates have taken these past months to further their professional development in becoming strong and effective leaders. Our team members are dedicated public servants committed to providing excellent customer service and have made incredible strides in moving Missouri forward.”

“Continuing to build on the momentum of our previous six Missouri Leadership Academy classes, cohort members of Class 7 have followed their personal passion to develop as leaders and provided very practical recommendations as part of their Capstone project efforts to help address issues that are important to the Governor, Senior Staff, and Cabinet members” program coordinator Aaron Dimmock, Deputy Director of Operational Excellence, Office of Administration. “We are grateful for all the support our senior leaders offer to our Academy. It is a most energizing journey in which to participate because we get to see what great cross-departmental collaboration and decision-making look like! It’s all about each of us constantly striving to better serve our 6.1 million citizens who call Missouri home.”

The Fall 2021 Missouri Leadership Academy class presented recommendations for improving state government from their capstone projects to Governor Parson and Cabinet leaders on February 8 & 9. The capstones for this class included: diversity & inclusion, organizational health, giving hiring managers more tools in the interview process to ensure we are hiring the best talent for the state, and improved customer service.

 The evening of February 9, Governor Parson hosted the Fall 2021 class for their graduation, followed by a reception in the Capitol Rotunda.

The Missouri Leadership Academy is an innovative program that brings together emerging leaders to develop new skills and become better leaders. The program is based on the idea that by developing leaders, Missouri state government will continue to improve and better serve its citizens.

Emerging leaders from the Missouri Leadership Academy build their capabilities in three core areas: leading themselves, leading others, and leading change in state government.

The Fall 2021 continued to meet completely in person. The Spring 2022 class will continue to adapt to COVID-19, as needed, to maintain public safety.

The graduates were able to meet with numerous state leaders, including legislative leaders, statewide officeholders, members of the judiciary, Cabinet leaders, and reporters covering the Capitol. They also toured the Supreme Court, Jefferson City Correctional Center, Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab, and were visited by staff from the Department of Social Services, who gave the class an overview of the hotline crisis center.

 “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Class 7 of the Missouri Leadership Academy! What an experience it has been! From thought-provoking activities to deep discussion on improving self and government, MLA has challenged me to improve my leadership skills and foster leadership qualities in others,” said Emily Wilbur, Deputy Director, Division of Energy, Department of Natural Resources. “I will always carry these experiences with me throughout my career. But most of all, I will cherish the friendships I’ve made during this time. Thank you to the Governor and Cabinet for supporting such a great leadership experience.”

“I am very grateful for the opportunity given me to participate in the Missouri Leadership Academy. Not only was I able to grow my own leadership skills, but I walked away with the skills needed to help others in my department grow as well,” said Tara Dampf, Director of Finance & Administration, Office of Administration. “The best part of the experience was the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from other departments on projects that will bring real solutions to problems our team members and citizens see every day. Very exciting to see Missouri moving forward thanks to programs like this!”

“The Missouri Leadership Academy is an unparalleled experience for State of Missouri leaders and I value the opportunity to participate in such a transformative program. It was refreshing to collaborate with a diverse group of leaders with different perspectives and experiences from agencies all across Missouri,” said Gil Long, Chief of Fiscal Management, Department of Correction. “Like leadership, the MLA is a journey, and through that journey I discovered a lot about who I am as a leader. I discovered areas where I excel and areas where I need to be better for our team. I also discovered that I am not alone on the journey. The members of my capstone team are like family to me now, and I will forever be grateful for their kindness and support.”

To be considered for participation in the program, department leaders must nominate their team members. Nominees then submit a resume and brief memorandum explaining why they are a good candidate for the program to a committee of Cabinet leaders. The committee reviews the applications and makes the final selections.

Since launching the program, the state has graduated over 150 emerging leaders and continues to have two classes per year. The Fall 2022 class will be nominated by Cabinet leaders this spring and will begin later this summer.

For more information about the Missouri Leadership Academy, visit You can also keep up with the new class on social media by following #MOLeadershipAcademy.