Lincoln Series Leadership Institute Graduates Eight

Representing McLean County were Cat Petersen, Norma Brown,
Connie Beard, Joanne Knipmeyer and Chelsie Leffelmen

“I know moving forward, all I learned with Lincoln Series will impact me and my involvement as a Republican leader,” noted 2023 program graduate Joanne Knipmeyer. She should be well prepared. The Lincoln Series is the foremost educational and preparatory leadership initiative for Republican Women. This program equips participants with essential tools, knowledge, and a broad statewide network, fostering purposeful leadership development. (Click on title to continue if necessary.)

A graduation event was held to honor the Class of 2023 from the Lincoln Series on Sunday, October 15. The Class of 2023 consisted of eight women from across the state, including two from McLean County – Joanne Knipmeyer of Heyworth and Chelsie Leffelman from Bellflower. They are both active in McLean County Republicans.

Chelsie Leffelman serves on the Blue Ridge School Board and is a regional manager for Empower Illinois, which focuses on tax credit scholarships in Illinois. She has also served as a Precinct Committeeperson and assisted the county GOP Executive Board on various projects. Leffelman commented about the leadership institute’s experience, “Graduation is the culmination of the ten months of hard work and constant learning and is an experience that will impact me forever going forward and all those with whom I come into contact.”

Knipmeyer is a Precinct Committeeman who works for SURUS Illinois, a statewide organization working to turn the Land of Lincoln “red” by 2030. She serves as a project manager with the McLean County GOP. When asked to comment about the event, Joanne said, “We graduate being embraced and supported by many who have gone before us. That community has led by example using the roles they hold today and willingly shared with us.” Before Surus, she served as a Missionary Liaison and International Support Representative for Classical Conversation, serving many U.S. families working abroad.

The graduation program included a keynote address by Congresswoman Mary Miller of the 15th Congressional District. The event was emceed by Cat Petersen from Cities 92.9 Radio. There were approximately 100 people in attendance for the event, which was held at the Hesed House Venue just outside of Heyworth and included a lovely dinner and silent auction.

A key objective is to amplify the presence of Republican women in both elected and appointed roles within governmental and political spheres. Notably, over 200 graduates of the Lincoln Series have successfully transitioned into diverse roles, contributing to government, policy, and campaigns.

The Lincoln Series is funded by generous donors and Republican groups statewide. Another Lincoln Series graduate was in attendance from the Class of 2007, Norma Brown. Norma, a well-known McLean County Republican, has served as Precinct Committeeman and Vice Chair of the McLean County GOP. Also attending was Connie Beard, Chairman Emeritus of the McLean County Republicans. She stated, “The Lincoln Series has been training and encouraging women to serve their communities since 1994. The program is leaving a positive mark on the political landscape of our state and deserves the Republican support it garners from all corners of Illinois and beyond.”

The Lincoln Series is part of a national coalition of Excellence in Public Service Series Programs. The program provides leadership and campaign training to increase the number of Illinois Republican women in elected and appointed government and political positions at the local, state, and federal levels. The Lincoln Series is a statewide network supporting women pursuing careers in politics and government. Women interested in political service are encouraged to visit the website to learn more.

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