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

Leadership Abilene Class of 2020 Application

Deadline to apply is June 30, 2019

RISE Class of 2020 Application

Please email application to Frances Williamson

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:



  HD 71 Representative Stan Lambert


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

Click here for the leadership abilene class of 2020 application



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.

RISE Class of 2020 Application

Please email application to Frances Williamson
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? 

Youth Leadership Abilene Class of 2019

Sydney Awbry/ Abilene Christian HS

Sydney Baker/ Abilene Christian HS

Miller Bannister/ Cooper HS

Lydianna Bradford/ Wylie HS

Andrew Brokovich/ Cooper HS

Avery Bruntmyer/ Abilene HS

Ben Camp/ Abilene Christian HS

Case Coker/ Wylie HS

Sydney Fields/ ATEMS HS

Marlee Goode/ Wylie HS

Devin Marshall/ Cooper HS

Connor McCray/ Wylie HS

Julia Melson/ Abilene HS

Grace Pacatte/ Cooper HS

Sierra Rayburn/ ATEMS HS

Summer Rektenwald/ Abilene HS

Trevor Schwiethale/ Abilene Christian HS

Madi Sipe/ Abilene HS

Justin Turk/ Abilene HS

Nkurunziza Violette/ Cooper HS

Allison Vogt/ Wylie HS

Diana Waddle/ Wylie HS

Halle Wade/ Abilene Christian HS

John Wallace/ Abilene Christian HS

Rachel Warren/ Wylie HS

Morgan Woods/ Wylie HS

Leadership Abilene Class of 2019


Darrin Black/ Black Plumbing

Dayton Borger/ First Financial Bank

Ashley Bradford/ Noah Project

Triston Cauthen/ Arrow Ford

Will Christoferson/ First Financial Bank

Steve Dieterichs/ Abilene Chamber of Commerce

Will Duncan/ Jacob & Martin

Ketta Garduno/ Abilene ISD

Kimberly Hall/ Condley and Company LLP

Candi Hammett/ Hendrick Home for Children

Nathan Hathorn/ Silverthorne Investments

Courtney Head/ Hendrick Medical Center

Pete Horban/ Dyess AFB 317th Airlift Wing

Cody Kelley/ Barr Residential Roofing

Scott Landreth/ TX Farm Bureau Insurance

Dana Lee/ Mãia Aesthetics

Chris Mabry/ Betty Hardwick Center

Kelsi Mangrem/ Holland Hearing

Jonathan Moore/ Wagstaff Law

Tiffany Nichols/ Abilene CVB

Kassidy Nygaard/ Edward Jones Investments

Glen Pugh/ Congressman Jodey Arrington’s Office

Carol Purser/ Community volunteer

Zach Reyes/ First Financial Trust

Lisa Ridinger/ Arrow Ford

Pablo Rodriguez/ Dyess AFB 7th Bomb Wing

Dan Searight/ Parkhill Smith Cooper

Ethan Shepherd/ Abilene Regional Medical Center

Joel Templeton/ Hardin-Simmons University

Brandi Terry/ Cisco College

Cole Watts/ Mosquito Joe/ More Clean of TX

Robb Walker/ West Texas Rehab Center

Blake Williams/ Blake Williams State Farm

Clayton Young/ Rentech Boiler Systems

RISE Class of 2019

Michelle Beaty/ Eide Bailly LLP

Brad Brazell/ Black Plumbing

Alicia English/ Abilene Christian University

Chris Ford/ Hendrick Health System

Ryan Gibson/ Condley and Company LLP

Chancey Golson/ Batts Communications, LP

Michael Jones/ Betty Hardwick Center

Marjorie Knight/ City of Abilene

Laurin Kocurek/ Abilene Chamber of Commerce

Erica Medina/ McMurry University

John Mendez/ First Financial Bank

Michelle Parrish/ Community Foundation of Abilene

Jackie Powell/ Wylie ISD

Chris Rockett/ Rentech Boiler Systems

JoBeth Huber-Willis/ West Texas Rehabilitation Center

Jeffrey Leonard/ 39th Airlift Squadron, Dyess AFB

Shawn Combs/ 28th Bomb Squadron, Dyess AFB