Each year, Dr. Linna Place, along with other trustees from the R.A. Long Foundation are invited to enjoy lunch with students, alumni and staff of 20/20 Leadership. Each year, the lunch is a reminder for her just how much the program has grown since 2003. The foundation was part of the first cohort of funders when 20/20 Leadership crossed state lines from Kansas to Missouri. “I see that it is an established part of secondary schools now,” she says.
The annual lunch is not the only opportunity Linna has had to see students in action. Linna and other trustees also are invited to program days and those experiences are equally impressive. “The students in the program are leaders and they are not necessarily always the class president,” she says.
R.A. Long, a lumberman and philanthropist, became wealthy in the 1900’s and a foundation was established. The foundation also looks to provide support to organizations that target youth in the Kansas City area and that fits in line with the work of 20/20 Leadership.
On behalf of the foundation, Linna continues to support the program for a number of reasons, including the feeling of appreciation she feels as a funder. “We always receive thank you letters in a timely fashion and as funders, we are always informed and engaged,” she says.
Despite growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Linna has had a lasting impact on the Kansas City area in a variety of roles. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas and began teaching history at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. She now serves as the Director of International Academic Programs at UMKC. Her initial introduction to the program came from a colleague and supporter of 20/20 Leadership, Lou Potts, who encouraged her involvement and the support has continued. Lou and his wife, Annetta still support 20/20 as well with an annual donation to the Gene Denton Memorial Scholarship.
When students graduate from high school as participants of 20/20 Leadership, Dr. Linna Place hopes they leave with at least two things: an awareness of self and an awareness of the larger community. “I also hope they leave the program as energetic and confident individuals,” she says.