Leadership Students Capture First in International Competition

Topic: Reform in U.S. Police Structures

SPOKANE, Washington – A team of four students in Gonzaga University’s Comprehensive Leadership Program won first place and a $1,000 prize in the undergraduate case-study competition of the International Leadership Association Conference in Atlanta. The presentation addressed the need of leadership reform within police structures nationwide.

Seniors Maggie Douglas, from Almira, Washington, Tyler Hamke, Sammamish, Washington, Gladys Suarez, Toppenish, Washington, and Will Stephan, Chicago, developed the presentation earlier this month titled, “21st Century Policing: A Community Based Approach.”

Competing against 15 undergraduate teams from around the world, the Gonzaga team completed a two-page brief of a social symptom of misguided leadership and proposed theories and responses to address the issues. After all teams were judged on poster delivery and a brief presentation, Gonzaga was among three teams selected as finalists to present to a panel of six judges and 60 audience members.

The Gonzaga students distinguished themselves by citing Ronald Heifitz’s theories of adaptive leadership and Robert Greenleaf’s model of servant leadership, and incorporated some of the work of theorists and professionals they encountered at the conference.

This was the fourth ILA conference attended by Gonzaga CLP students. The ILA, a global network for those who practice, study and teach leadership, has been holding student case-study competitions since 2007, giving undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to analyze contemporary leadership issues.

Gonzaga’s CLP teams placed first place at the Montreal conference in 2013, first at the 2015 conference in Barcelona, and second in San Diego in 2014.

CLP Director Josh Armstrong, Ph.D., who attended the conference, said he was impressed with the leadership theory that was brought to a timely and important issue facing our nation.

“Faculty and leadership practitioners judging the competition were captivated by our students’ depth of understanding, the complexities of this case, and their immediate and long-term adaptive solutions,” Armstrong said. “This victory affirms the leadership education Gonzaga students receive and I’m extremely proud of Gladys, Will, Maggie and Tyler.”

Gonzaga’s CLP and Minor in Leadership Studies offers undergraduates the opportunity to participate in the global dialogue around leadership, and share experiences with their cohorts.