Women in Leadership Breakfast Marks New Milestones

Women in Leadership Breakfast Marks New Milestones
Shawnee Mission School District


The fourth annual Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) Women in Leadership Breakfast was a milestone for both the program and the district. The now district-wide program strengthens bonds between the district and its community partners by celebrating the accomplishments and success of local female leaders while inspiring and empowering girls from five SMSD high schools. 

This year’s event was held at the new CPKC Stadium in Kansas City- one of the first stadiums built for professional women’s athletics and home to the Kansas City Current soccer club. 

“The Kansas City Current is honored to be able to host this group of leaders,” said club owners, Chris and Angie Long. “We so admire their leadership and the massive impact they have on our community. We look forward to finding more ways to collaborate going forward.”

Dr. Kelley Capper, associate principal at Shawnee Mission West, launched “Women in Leadership” during the 2019-2020 school year to show students they are capable of achieving leadership positions, and encouraging young women to work together. Since its inception, the program has grown from about 50 students to more than 400 this year – the first year that five Shawnee Mission High Schools have participated. 

“I want to be a part of this program because it's very inspiring for me,” said Teagan Wilson, a senior at SM South. “And, one day, I want to be a woman in leadership. I would love to become part of the special education system. This program helps with overcoming adversity, and learning about impostor syndrome, and what to do to be sure that I am okay and good for future positions.”

The annual breakfast is the culminating event that brings together all students and mentors, keynote speakers, and networking opportunities.

“It was a great opportunity to experience and learn different perspectives for leadership and get personal advice from your mentor,” said Grace Braswell, a senior at Shawnee Mission Northwest. 

Flower Cantu-Kelley, a senior consultant for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at T-Mobile, was a keynote speaker at last year’s event and was so inspired by the program, she asked to be a mentor for this year.

“It’s the fact that we're really empowering our next generation. Right? These women, young ladies, they're just so sharp, and they need, you know, additional support and mentorship,” said Cantu-Kelley. “At the end of the day, they’ve got this, we just need to empower them and elevate them even more.”

For Dr. Capper, the exponential growth and success of the program is encouraging. “It shows me that our community sees the value in all of our students,” said Dr. Capper. “Our young women will work together to make sure that all students will have leadership opportunities.”

The strength of the community partnerships can be attributed, in large part, to collaboration with the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation. The Foundation facilitates mentor relationships as an integral part of the Real World Learning initiative. 

Women in Leadership will continue at all five SMSD high schools next year and Dr. Capper says she would also like to explore mentoring opportunities between high school students and middle school or elementary students.