Abilene’s talent pool and LEADERSHIP NETWORK isn’t just a driving force of our economy. It’s what separates us from the pack.

We help our members invest in that talent through comprehensive leadership development offerings designed to connect and grow strong leaders who lead both inside and out of the office.

Our leadership development programs offer a unique blend of classroom and experiential learning that allows participants to:

  • 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



Young Leadership Abilene

As growth momentum in Abilene continues to mount, the Chamber is committed to its mission of Growing and Developing the Economy and Quality of Life in the Abilene Area. A key component of this mission is preparing the next generation of Abilene’s workforce to take the reins:

We want to ATTRACT/ RETAIN/ ENGAGE young talent in Abilene.

This is the driving force of our Young Professionals program and it is the same motive behind our Young Leadership Abilene (YLA) program.

A near-mirror of the Chamber’s successful Leadership Abilene program, YLA is tailored specifically for Abilene area high school sophomores. Leadership training opportunities, tours, speakers and relationship building are the backbone of each one the program’s eight themed days, stretched out over 9 months. We want to give students a look “behind the curtain” into the inner workings of their community and we are going to show them that almost anything they aspire to, is available HERE, in Abilene.

Sponsored by:

Atmos Logo


Who should apply? 

This program is for Abilene area high school sophomores. The application period will be March & April of the 9th grade school year.

What is the time commitment?

This program runs once monthly, September-May (no class in March). Program days run from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, usually on a Tuesday. These are excused absences from school but you will be responsible to make up your work.

Why should I do this?

I really enjoyed connecting with people from different professions and business as well as being able to explore different parts of Abilene I rarely see. Leadership Abilene helped me discover professions I have interests in pursuing, and I’m so thankful for those opportunities.

– Macie Hill, Abilene Christian School

Thank you for making such an eye-opening experience available for our young people.  I know for Austin it was building on skills that he has developed through Boy Scouts and I hope it will encourage him to consider all the possible directions his life can take. Helping our young people dream can only be a good thing!  – Vickie Britten, parent

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. An overnight 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



The Chamber is focused on NEXT LEVEL leadership development opportunities that will help Abilene maintain its recognition as a community with a strong commitment to building its future leaders. We feel strongly that Abilene is ready to elevate our emerging leaders into a next-generation offering.

RISE (Relationships, Insight, Service and Engagement) is an eight-month, intensive and participant-interactive leadership training program designed and conducted by a proven and respected leadership trainer.  Participants will dialog with other emerging and key leaders in Abilene, apply the learning through their current role in his or her organization, develop and grow as a professional with stretching commitments, and build supportive relationships with the community of leaders in Abilene.

Sponsored by:


Who should apply?  

This program is designed specifically for managers or people of influence and decision-making ability in their organization.

What is the time commitment?

Seven days, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, stretched out over eight months, October- May. Usually on a Tuesday.

Why should I do do this? 

Leadership Abilene Class of 2020

Jessica Ambrose Eide Bailly LLP
Kristi Andrew Abilene Group Premiere Real Estate Advisors
Kenneth D. Bowles Happy State Bank
Elise R. Bruntmyer Hardin-Simmons University
Matthew D. Butler Abilene Regional Medical Center
John Callahan CBS Insurance, LLP
Amelia Carnagey West Texas Rehabilitation Center
Jessica M. Connell Hendrick Health System
Suzann Couts McMurry University
Michael Derrick Condley and Company, LLP
David Eldridge Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages
Clayton S. Farrow Jacob & Martin, Ltd.
Veronica Fuentes Abilene Chamber of Commerce
Michael Gilliland Arrow Ford Mitsubishi, Inc.
Andre J. Gwinn Hilton Garden Inn of Abilene
Bobbi Hanson Global Samaritan Resources
Steve Harrell Abilene Christian University
Kyle D. Jones Dyess Air Force Base
Michael Jones Betty Hardwick Center
Craig D. Jordan City of Abilene
Kaden Kimberlin Community Broadcast Partners (KORQ-KABW)
Deon Lawson Nothing Bundt Cakes
George Levesque Historic Paramount Theatre
Meghan E. Martin Meghan E. Martin
Jon Miller First Financial Bank
Roy Mourot Market Street
Corie L. O’Connor First Financial Bank/South Office
Grant Seabourne First Financial Bank
Chris Shelton McMahon Surovik Suttle, P.C.
Major Darshan R. Subramanian Dyess Air Force Base
Jill Teague Big Country Eye Center
Erin M. Walker Big Country Title, LLC
Jennifer A. Weber Community Foundation of Abilene
Cameron Wiley Dyess Air Force Base
Pamela M. Williams City of Abilene