Leadership River Falls

Mission: Leadership River Falls is dedicated to providing a comprehensive learning experience that cultivates community leadership while participants explore key community issues and avenues of involvement.

Program: Following a one-day retreat in September, participants meet for a full-day session the first Thursday of each month, October through May. The program focuses on applying leadership skills to facets of the River Falls community including natural resources, government, community life, business/industry, education and heritage. In addition, small groups work on projects designed to enhance awareness of community problems and identify systems and methods to affect change.

2016-17 Leadership River Falls Application - Click Here

Goals and Objectives:

The program's goal is to prepare future community leaders for positions of responsibility by:

  • Acquainting them with significant community processes, programs and problems.
  • Teaching them about involvement opportunities, special challenges and demands using forums with current leaders.
  • Improving understanding of various economic, social and political forces impacting the community.
  • Providing a network of new community talent for service on public and private commissions, agencies, organizations and associations.
  • Educating and counseling leaders on skills necessary to become more objective.
  • Encouraging placement of graduates in key leadership positions in the community.
  • Qualifications:
  • A sincere concern about the future of our state and commitment to help shape its future.
  • Commitment through past and present community involvement.
  • A demonstrated capacity for leadership within the individual's own organization.
  • A willingness to commit the energy necessary to complete the program, including monthly attendance at all sessions.

Local Experience and Topics: The sessions generally meet on the first Thursday of each month and are designed to provide information on community processes and answer the question, “What can I, as a concerned community leader, do to foster positive change in the River Falls area?” Participants will meet monthly (8 a.m. - 4 p.m.) to learn more about the community leadership topics listed below. In addition, each monthly session will include a leadership skill development workshop that will be facilitated over lunch. Topics for these sessions will include skills such as teamwork, goal setting and action planning, ethical leadership, defining a shared vision, and motivation. The leadership development workshop portion of the day will be designed to provide tangible ideas and resources that can be helpful in participants’ daily work and in completing the Leadership River Falls project.

2016-2017 Calendar and Day Leaders:

  • September 1 – Leadership Retreat – Paul Shepherd, Renewing Leadership
  • October 6 – Natural Resources Day – Mike Noreen, River Falls Municipal Utilities
  • November 3 – Heritage Day – Mike Moody, Moody’s Corner
  • December 1 – Community Life Day – Dan Semi
  • January 5 – Government Day – Scot Simpson, City of River Falls
  • February 2 – Business/Industry – Danielle Campeau, University of Wisconsin-River Falls and Paul Schwebach, Pierce County Economic Development Corporation
  • March 2 – Education – Shelly Olson
  • April 6 – Health and Human Services – Jennifer Elsesser and Alice Reilly-Myklebust, University of Wisconsin-River Falls
  • May 4 – Reflection and Graduation – Paul Shepherd, Renewing Leadership

September Retreat: Participants will have the opportunity to explore personal leadership strengths, philosophies, and skills that are applicable to all industries. The retreat will also provide resources for team development that can be easily used and that will build a solid foundation for the Leadership River Falls experience.

Tuition: The tuition fee is $800. Tuition is expected upon admittance into Leadership River Falls and is non-refundable.

Community Project: Each class is required to participate in a small group community project. The amount of time devoted to the development of the project will be determined by consensus of this group. One representative from the class will be responsible for presenting the idea at the Leadership River Falls Graduation.

Examples of Past Projects:

  • Handicap Swing in Glen Park
  • Hoffman Park Disc Golf Course
  • Little Free Libraries
  • Leadership River Falls Food Booth
  • Benches on Main Street
  • Historic Plaques on buildings on Main Street
  • Video capture of Leadership River Falls Heritage Day Presenter
  • Benches along Main Street

Things to consider when selecting a project:

  • Would this be a sustainable project or would someone need to be responsible for maintaining it?
  • Is there an unfulfilled need in the community?
  • How financially feasible is this project? Is this group willing to fundraise? If yes, how much?
  • What resources are currently available?
  • Will the project be accomplished in the given timeframe?
  • Can the group work together on this project?

Past Participants and Distinguished Alumni:


Class of 2015 - 2016
Angie Bond, City of River Falls
Dan Lytle, Chippewa Valley Technical College
Danette Olson, First National Bank of River Falls
Jennifer Peterson, School District of River Falls
Jordan Lubich, Security Financial Bank
Karen DesLauriers, River Falls State Bank
Kensey Schultz, Vibrant Health Family Clinics
Kristi Hartmon, City of River Falls
Kristin Samp, UW-River Falls
Kristin Frank, WESTconsin Credit Union
Michelle Filkens, Greg Peters State Farm Agency
Monica Wright, Express Employment Professionals
Pamela Terwilliger, Chippewa Valley Technical College
Tammy Smith, Royal Credit Union (RCU)

Class of 2014 - 2015

Danielle Campeau, UW-River Falls
Chris Cernohous, City of River Falls
Debbie Eastman, River Falls State Bank
Bridget Heib, City of River Falls
Julie Hove, Royal Credit Union
Mike Huth, City of River Falls
Amanda Kane, UW-River Falls
Tami Langer, Security Financial Bank
Amber Pechacek, WESTconsin Credit Union
David Schmidt, First National Bank of River Falls
Monica Steiner, Steiner Plumbing Electric & Heating Inc.

Class of 2013 - 2014
Vicki Andersen, Family Fresh Market
Judy Berg, River Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau
Lisa Cernohous, River Falls Police Department
Julie Christine Cross, Chippewa Valley Technical College
Tiffany Gaulke, UW-River Falls
Dave Hovel, City of River Falls
Cliff Jennings, River Falls Area Hospital
Greg Koehler, River Falls Municipal Utilities
Colleen Leuschner, Royal Credit Union
Brian Manion, WESTconsin Credit Union
Roxane Molinari, Chippewa Valley Technical College
Mike Moody, River Falls Fire Department
Caitlin Perszyk, UW-River Falls
Kaydi Peterson, First National Bank of River Falls

Class of 2012 - 2013
Linda Berg, Renaissance Academy
Russ Blasius, WESTconsin Credit Union
Jennifer Herink, UW-River Falls
Robert Hughes, Econo Lodge
Laura King, Chippewa Valley Technical College
Pat Lapekas, Lapekas & Associates
Amy Luethmers, UW-River Falls
Maranda Mahr, River Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau
Kerri Olson, River Falls State Bank
Bridget Schaefer, First National Bank of River Falls
Amy Tryba, River Falls Area Hospital
Nate Wells, School District of River Falls

Class of 2011 - 2012
Judie Babcock, Foster Community Foundation Inc.
Casey Cook, Bo's 'N Mine
Brian Dado, School District of River Falls
Mark Gillen, UW-River Falls
Lu Ann Hecht, City of River Falls
Toni Hinz, Riverview Hotel & Suites
Karen Jubie, Chippewa Valley Technical College
John Lisowski, Security Financial Bank
Paul Shepherd, UW-River Falls
Richard Smith, First National Bank of River Falls
Tony Steiner, City of River Falls

Class of 2010 - 2011
Janet Burns, River Falls Municipal Utilities
Janna Carl, River Falls Food Pantry
Christine Engel, School District of River Falls
Tonja Lesmeister, Big Brothers Big Sisters
Mike Noreen, River Falls Municipal Utilities
McKenna Pfeiffer, UW-River Falls
Angela Schoettle, First National Bank of River Falls
Lori Severson, River Falls Area Hospital
Jolene Sullivan, American Family Insurance
Mary Van Galen, UW-River Falls
Dawn Wills, River Falls Community Television

Class of 2009 - 2010
Cedric Ellingson, Bo's 'N Mine
Nelson French, Kinnickinnic River Land Trust
Dale Gallenberg, UW-River Falls
Mark Huttemier, UW-River Falls
Kent Kittleson, River Falls Area Hospital
John Kleven, Chippewa Valley Technical College
Joel Larsen, First National Bank of River Falls
Kristin Loney, First National Bank of River Falls
Gregg Nelson, Chippewa Valley Technical College
Susan Nielsen, Leaderscapes Incorporated
Jim Thies, UW-River Falls
Michel Tigan, Big Brothers Big Sisters

Class of 2008 – 2009
Program not held.

Class of 2007 - 2008
Fred Barr, Designer Doors
Leslie Bleskachek, Chippewa Valley Technical College
Aaron Davis, Aaron Davis - Country Insurance Agency
Ryan Johnson, BioDiagnostics, Inc.
Ozcan Kilic, UW-River Falls
Dr. Rion McClelland, Chiropractic Family Health Center
Carol McClelland, UW-River Falls
Joan McDonald, UW-River Falls
Lori Otto, UW-River Falls
Nicole Shella, River Falls State Bank
Margaret Smith, Kinnickinnic River Land Trust

Class of 2006 - 2007
Chris Blasius, River Falls Municipal Utilities
Jennifer Elsesser, UW-River Falls
Isaac Grover, Quality Computer Services
Dawn Kerr, Chippewa Valley Technical College
Sheri Kromrey, Designer Doors
Ken Osowski, First National Bank of River Falls-Prescott
Beth Senoraske, River Valley Physical Therapy
Lauri Wilson, Community Member
Melissa Wilson, UW-River Falls

Class of 2005-2006
Claire McCarty Kilian, UW-River Falls
Dallas Giles, River Falls Area YMCA
Heather Logelin, River Falls Area Hospital Foundation
Isaac Cudd, Pack & Ship at the Renaissance
Jason Neuhaus, UW-River Falls
Jon Michels, Kinnickinnic River Land Trust
Keven Syverson, UW-River Falls
Laura Thompson, First National Bank
Laurie Hansen, Picture Perfect Studios
Lisa Thompson 
Matt Fitzgerald, UW-River Falls
Mary Ayala, Designer Doors
Nick Carstens, River Falls Chamber
Susie Swenson, First National Bank
Todd Schultz, River Falls State Bank

Class of 2004 - 2005
Kris Ainsworth, River Falls Medial Clinic
Dean Benoy, Designer Doors
Chuck Beranek, River Falls Municipal Utilities
Rosanne Bump, River Falls Chamber of Commerce
Amy Carroll-Olson
Jack Cullen, First National Bank of River Falls-Prescott
Linda Jacobson, UW-River Falls
Stasia Robbie, Express Personnel
Rose Rude, UW-River Falls
Dan Semi, UW-River Falls
Jane Terkelson, First National Bank of River Falls

Class of 2003 - 2004
Melissa Godden, First National Bank
Gretchen Link, UW-River Falls
Lynette Nack, First National Bank
Brad Mogen, UW-River Falls
Brandi Poellinger, River Falls Chamber of Commerce
Jean Solum, River Falls State Bank
Michael Thompson, BioDiagnostics
Jerry Waller, UW-River Falls

Class of 2002 - 2003
Darian Blattner, River Falls Area YMCA
Barb Cernohaus, First National Bank
Sandy Ellis, UW-River Falls
Brent Greene, UW-River Falls
Jeff Hanson, PressEnter!
Steve Healy, Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services
Mike Niesen, O’Keefe, Inc.
Susan Ginter-Watson, UW-River Falls
Sheila Wickersham, First National Bank

Class of 2001 - 2002
Tracy Bruesewitz, First National Bank
Susan Taylor Campbell
Jacquelyn Goodman, Chippewa Valley Technical College
Steve Healy, Pierce-Pepin Cooperative Services
Valerie Malzacher, UW-River Falls
Alice Reilly-Mykelbust, UW-River Falls
Maxfield Neuhaus, St. Bridget’s
Wendy Querna, River Falls State Bank
Kimberly Gould-Speckman, UW-River Falls Foundation
Mike Stifter, UW-River Falls

Class of 2000-2001
Kent Forsland, Designer Doors
Connie Foster, UW-River Falls
Dawn Gallinger, UW-River Falls
Carl Gaulke, River Falls Municipal Utilities
Lois Jenkins, First National Bank
Tom Parent, Whole Earth Grocery
Ken Pletcher, Rodli, Beskar, Boles & Krueger
Emily Ronninger, UW-River Falls