Challenge for Emerging Leaders, Chicago

Challenge for Emerging Leaders - Chicago


Twenty public relations students gathered at DePaul University in Chicago to take part in the second Challenge for Emerging Leaders, hosted by The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations on November 9 – 11.

With the overall goal of developing and inspiring emerging leaders, the Challenge is an intensive, hands-on leadership workshop. Dr. Bruce Berger, research director of the Center and program director for the Challenge, said, “Research reveals that experiences like the Challenge can energize young leaders, accelerate their development and inspire their vision for leadership.”

“Professionals in the field have access to many development programs,” Berger said, “but such opportunities are limited for students and young professionals.”

The Challenge consisted of public relations seniors from Ball State University, DePaul University Grand Valley State University, Loyola University – Chicago and Marquette University. Students were selected by their department chairs based on their high-leadership potential, demonstrated achievements throughout their academic careers and their diverse backgrounds and experiences. The overall goal is to develop and inspire these emerging leaders and enrich the profession’s future.

The Challenge participants were:

  • Ishmeal Allensworth, Ball State University
  • Dalia Awdi, DePaul University
  • Madison Barnes, Grand Valley State University
  • Brooke Beatty, DePaul University
  • Kelcie Boring, Loyola University – Chicago
  • Emily Caldwell, Loyola University – Chicago
  • Reece Harty, Marquette University
  • Caroline Hildebrand, Marquette University
  • Yara Ismail, DePaul University
  • Svetlana Jankewicz, DePaul University
  • Hannah Johnson, Marquette University
  • Amandari Karaca, Grand Valley State University
  • Adrienne (Dren) Kihn, Grand Valley State University
  • Asa McCormick, Ball State University
  • Evan Mimms, Loyola University – Chicago
  • Kate Neuberg, Marquette University
  • Morgan Reining, Ball State University
  • Danielle Rodriguez, Loyola University – Chicago
  • Erin Stehlik, Grand Valley State University
  • Hallie Welsh, Ball State University

The program was delivered by Dr. Peter Hammerschmidt, president of Leadership Consulting Services and professor at Eckerd College, Florida. Students also had the opportunity to learn from some of the best professionals and academics in the industry, including:

  • Bruce Berger, professor emeritus of advertising and public relations at the University of Alabama and research director for the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations;
  • Keith Burton, chair of the Center’s Board of Advisors and principal of Grayson Emmett Partners;
  • Ron Culp, consultant and professional director of the PR & Advertising Program at DePaul University;
  • Glenn Eden, leader of technology practice at Weber Shandwick (Chicago);
  • Raschanda L. Hall, director of global media relations for Business Wire;
  • Jon Harris, SVP and CCO of Conagra Brands;
  • Matt Ragas, associate professor at DePaul University; and
  • Joseph Tateoka, VP of corporate technology at Edelman (Chicago).

The Challenge emphasized advancement in four key competencies: deepen understanding of leadership, enrich leadership values and beliefs, expand leadership skills and capacity, and model appropriate behaviors. These competencies were addressed through activities and assessments drawn from eight core development areas: self-awareness, listening skills, conflict management, organizational dynamics, business acumen, critical thinking, team leadership and ethical orientation.

Along with the activities and assessments, students were divided up into teams to work through a diversity case study. Each group was assigned an industry advisor to motivate, encourage and provide feedback. The advisors were Emma Finkbeiner, integrated marketing coordinator for the Chicago Cubs; Lindsay Malone, digital marketing manager at Prophet; Brian Price, digital marketing manager at Starwood Retail Partners; and Myreete Wolford, business development specialist, Ketchum (Chicago).

On the last day, teams presented their case study findings and were awarded a Certificate of Leadership Achievement. The winning team, featuring Emily Caldwell, Svetlana Jankewicz, Dren Kihn, Asa McCormick and Kate Neuberg, were recipients of the Betsy Plank Diversity Case Study Award.

The workshop would not have been possible without the generous support of Conagra Brands and MillerCoors.

Download the Challenge for Emerging Leaders brochure (PDF)