Professional Development Session

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Leading through the Gap

A Public Leadership Dialogue

Day: 7 November 2024
Time: 14:00 – 17:00
Price: $20
Location: Hilton Chicago Downtown 
Facilitators: Ariel L. Kaufman, Katherine Tyler Scott, Racquel Thiesen

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Full Description

We invite changemakers and innovative thinkers to spend time delving into gaps between challenges and the need for change.  ILA has been exploring ways to open our conversations and support creative leadership thinking about really pressing struggles of our times. The session will engage attendees in a deep exploration of such questions and hold the space for collective adaptive work and problem solving. We aim to create a session that convenes and bridges innovative thinking, theory, and practice. Small and large group engagement will give attendees opportunities to learn from one another and practice exercising leadership in the gap (Kansas Leadership Center’s Model; The Integrated Model of leadership based on research and work of change theorists from Kurt Lewin to John Kotter).  

Many of us work locally on global problems as practitioners of leadership in the public domain. We are part of our communities, and we support local communities. The world is continually changing and many of the issues that we face across the globe are threatening the very survival of the human species and the planet, i.e., the violence and resulting trauma and grief impacting so many, the rise in antisemitism, racial animosity, tendencies towards othering and supremacy, environmental degradation, rise in authoritarianism, attacks on democracy, etc. Our differences are being met with hateful rhetoric and behavior that creates division. 

As global challenges grow, persistent questions gnaw at our souls: Are we doing what is needed?  What is blocking meaningful change? What is needed to shift the way things are? Many ILA members are engaged in public leadership across member communities. How can we effectively work in a sustained way across boundaries and differences? Can we create and practice new ways to view reality and address challenges emerging from the context within which we now lead?  We welcome you to join us for homemade refreshments and global dialogue that will focus on pressing public problems and meet these session goals. 

Session Goals  

  1. Deepen our adaptive capacity to engage in conversations about current public issues. 
  2. Experience various learning approaches respectful of diverse cultural contexts and learning needs.  
  3. Recognize the power and impact of collective leadership in creating substantive change respectful of differences.    
  4. Explore models of leadership in practice, to better align our words and actions. 


  1. Welcome & Introductions 
  2. Creating the Framework & the Space for a Community Conversation 
  3. Setting the Stage: Current Public Context for Conversations 
  4. Models for Leading Through the Gap 
  5. Strategies for Action & Impact  


Ariel Kauffman

Ariel L. Kaufman currently works as the Assessment and Research Specialist with the Center for Leadership and Involvement (CfLI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), previously worked as CfLI Leadership Development Research specialist. She earned her master’s degree from the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with coursework in the former CAVE interdisciplinary program (Continuing and Vocational Education Program). For 18 years at UW-Madison with student affairs, academic units, and across campus units, she has enjoyed working collaboratively with students, staff, faculty, and community partners, especially in place-based civic engagement with community partners and in the practice, teaching, and research of leadership for the public good.  She views assessment, evaluation, and research as ways to learn and improve programming and impact positive change. Prior to her work in higher education, she supported various types of nonprofit organizations in programming, organizational consulting, information services, and funding research for many yearsAriel has been active in the International Leadership Association for over a decade, serving as 2017 Public Leadership chair, currently she serves as co-stream convenor for Public Leadership and on its Core Leadership team. She has organized ILA sessions and presented at conferences in Atlanta, Georgia, Washington D.C., Barcelona, SPAIN, Brussels, BELGIUM, Vancouver, BC, CANADA and more.   

Katherine Tyler Scott

Katherine Tyler Scott is co-founder and Principal of Ki ThoughtBridge, LLC, a company known for its integrated approach to the development of individual, organizational, and community leadership. The company offers innovative pedagogy that increases the adaptive capacity, efficacy, and resilience of leaders.  She has developed and led numerous leadership programs and consulted with a variety of educational, philanthropic, religious, and business organizations. Katherine’s expertise is grounded in a depth of knowledge, experience and training in leadership and organizational development. She is committed to the development of integrated leaders with the capacity to engage in the work of adaptive, transformational, sustainable change for individuals, organizations, and communities. She is trained and certified in Conflict Resolution and Negotiation by The Harvard Negotiation Project; and is certified to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Emotional and Social Competency Indicator (ESCI). 

Racquel Thiesen

As Director of Community Partnerships at the Kansas Leadership Center (KLC), Racquel Thiesen works to ensure that the leadership development and organizational support partners receive from KLC is what they need to achieve maximum impact at the community level. Much of her effort is centered around community leadership program partners in Kansas and beyond and KLC’s Leadership Transformation Grant partners. Racquel has worked to build community leadership programs for more than 25 years and has contributed to the strategic development and support of Transformation Grant partners for more than a decadeShe particularly enjoys energizing leadership development directors and volunteers to consider new ideas and dream larger for their local programs. KLC’s civic engagement initiatives for alumni in public service are also dear to her heart, as this is familiar work for Racquel. She was an elected official for 12 years and understands the challenges of exercising leadership from a position of authority on community issues. In addition to her responsibilities with community partnerships, Racquel is a KLC teacher and facilitator and travels widely representing the organization as a speaker and presenter.