The Abilene Chamber believes we have leaders within our community on the cusp of greatness. To help foster and further develop a community of leaders, we’re proud to offer you the opportunity to have one of your team members apply to the Leadership Abilene Class of 2024.

We’re committed to helping our partners invest in their talent through comprehensive community leadership development training so your business leaders can connect and grow within our community.

What it looks like: Through monthly, full-day sessions focusing on key community issues and topics, participants have a chance to deepen their understanding of the inner workings of the Big Country and develop the broad and inclusive mindset needed for community stewardship.

The Goal: To create a network of community leaders who act on the need, the desire, and the ambition to work for the common good and serve the primary needs of others by holding our community in trust.

In short, each attendee will:

  • Build meaningful, long-lasting connections
  • Learn from our region’s most influential leaders
  • Think critically about key business, policy and civic issues facing the Abilene area

Ready to dive in?

Applications for the next Leadership Abilene Class will open June 3, 2024. For questions about this process, please reach out to Leadership Abilene staff liaison, Jennifer Kent.


Leadership Abilene

  • Identify and motivate potential leaders

  • Acquaint them with community needs

  • Provide insight into techniques, opportunities, and challenges of leadership

  • Explore alternate perspectives for community challenges

  • Encourage new leaders to community involvement

Leadership Abilene strives to expose participants to the many services, resources, organizations and businesses that make Abilene unique. Each month (of the nine-month program) the group will attend presentations, tour facilities and interact with representatives from local businesses, non-profit organizations, educational institutions and public offices. 

This highly sought-after and respected program accepts up to 36 participants each year from a wide cross-section of Abilenians. After almost 40 years, Leadership Abilene Alumni can be found serving on boards, leading companies and creating new opportunities.

Who should apply?

Anyone 21 and older who is interested in expanding your network and gaining deeper insight and access to all that Abilene has to offer.

What is the time commitment?

This program runs one full day, monthly, September through May. Usually on a Thursday or a Friday. A mandatory orientation and seven out of the nine program days are required to graduate from the program.

Why should I do this? 

Leadership Abilene offered me an avenue to explore leadership opportunities alongside others with the same goal. Leadership Abilene also provided valuable insight into how I can make an impact in my community. -Emerald Cassidy, ACU

Two of the many great experiences I took from Leadership Abilene are, one, the numerous close friendships that developed during that year and beyond, and two, I gained a greater understanding
and appreciation for how this GREAT city operates and serves its GREAT citizens! -Luke Harwell, Baack’s Florist

Being part of Leadership Abilene gives you an opportunity to see what it takes to make and keep Abilene the great city that it is. If you want to be part of this community, from the inside out, Leadership Abilene should be on your bucket list!  – Yanell Rieder, Casa Authentique


Class of 2024

Grayson Allred, Historic Paramount Theatre

Samantha Baker, First Financial Bank

Peter Bosma, Rentech Boiler Systems

Karla Brown, West Texas Rehabilitation Center

Rosten Callarman, Habitat for Humanity, Abilene, Inc.

Starla Cason, Betty Hardwick Center

Essie Childers, Mvita Educational Consulting, LLC

Dillon Clark, Clark Nissan

Phil Crowley, Taylor County Judge

Michael Dean, Big Country CASA, Inc.

Denise Decker, Eide Bailly LLP

Jesiree Driskell, Hendrick Health

Denae Duesler, Abilene Zoological Society

Marcus Dunn, Abilene Christian University

Alejandro Elias, Victory Spinal Care

Chris Flemming, Dyess Air Force Base

Keeley Gaddis, Condley and Company, LLP

Collin Heidenheimer, First Financial Bank

Whitney Herrington, Frontier Texas!

Jery Huddleston, Dyess Air Force Base

Michael Hutchison, McMurry University

Andrea Jackson, Jackson Law Firm

Tristan King, Jacob & Martin, Ltd.

Jordan Kittley, Expo Center of Taylor County

Robert Lopez, Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau

Robert Marshall, Hendrick Home for Children

PJ Martinez, Abilene Christian University

Jeremy McBrayer, Lantrip’s Custom Homes, Inc.

Ryan Mitchell, McMahon Surovik Suttle, P.C.

Wes Modawell, Atmos Energy

Cristal Murillo, KTXS – CW Abilene – MeTV – ABC38 – CW San Angelo

Jordan Robison, Natura Resources, LLC

Kacey Stanfield, CCSB – Coleman County State Bank

Bradley Stevens, Action Professional Outsourcing

Taylor Swanzy, Buffalo Gap Chamber of Commerce

Sandra Welling, Hardin-Simmons University

Robyn Wertheim, State Representative Stan Lambert