City Manager Matt Allen was presented with Leadership Kansas’ Jim Edwards Alumnus of the Year Award in recognition of what the organization viewed as his steady, innovative community leadership.

Allen also was recognized for his commitment to the Leadership Kansas program. He has assisted area alumni in organizing local programming when classes visit the community.

“Since graduating from the program in 2004, Matt has given of his time and talent to making the Garden City stop one of the favorite local sessions each and every year,” said John Federico, executive director of Leadership Kansas.

Allen said he was surprised and humbled to be recognized last month in Lawrence for his contributions and accomplishments through the program.

“Leadership Kansas is an important program statewide in exposing leaders across different social and professional sectors to the issues facing our state, and it has played an important role in my life and professional development,” Allen said, adding that he graduated from the program in 2004, and it resulted in a “deepened passion and love for this state.”

Leadership Kansas is an affiliate program of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and is recognized as the second oldest statewide leadership program in the country.

Allen’s award was presented at the annual Leadership Summit in Lawrence on April 21, before 40 members of this year’s graduating class and more than 200 alumni.

Previous recipients of the award include former Kroger Foods CEO David Dillon, former Kansas Gov. Bill Graves and former Commissioner of Education Andy Tompkins.

The Leadership Kansas Class of 2017 currently is visiting the Garden City area.

While in southwest Kansas, the class is scheduled to visit Royal Farms Dairy, Reeve Cattle Co., Garden City High School and Garden City Community College. The group also will meet with dignitaries, various elected officials and Leadership Kansas alumni from across the area.

Allen said he will be speaking in a session focusing on embracing cultural diversity. He said he will give a presentation and answer questions as he fleshes out the role of the growing migrant workforce in southwest Kansas, and the role it has played throughout the community’s history.

Specifically, Allen said he would share personal experiences relating to the migration patterns of the ‘80s and ‘90s, and more recently the migration pattern established at the turn of the century and “how those have changed some things in the role of local government.”

According to Allen, the focus of the program has changed with changes in statewide issues and demands.

“It allowed me to better view things through the lens of other sectors and not just view things through the lens of a local government professional,” he said, adding that Leadership Kansas has a “very active” alumni base in Garden City.

Contact Mark Minton at mminton@gctelegram.com