State Farm Grant of $10,000 for Emerging Leaders Program


State Farm $10,000 Grant. HELP
By Office of Marketing & Public Relations
On March 30, 2022

Area State Farm agents recently presented a $10,000 donation to support Blackburn College’s “Leadership Development for Emerging Leaders” program. This program is designed to help create strong leaders who provide guidance, inspiration, and a level of excellence in their roles ensuring the smooth and effective operation of the college’s unique student-led Work Program.

Dr. Laura Wiedlocher, Professor of Leadership, Law and Public Service at Blackburn College, spoke about the importance of developing leadership skills and how it directly impacts the success of the college’s Work Program. “For over 100 years Blackburn College students have served the institution as leaders within the Work Program. We could not run this school without our student leadership team. To develop leadership skills at this caliber takes continuous investment and mentoring. This grant from State Farm will help us invest in the continued professional development of student leaders and provide additional mentorship throughout the school year.”

She continued, “We are very thankful to State Farm for believing in what we do here. This investment in our student leadership today is also an investment in the future as our students graduate and become leaders within their communities. We are very thankful to State Farm for believing in what we do.”

The “Leadership Development for Emerging Leaders” program was established with the goal of cultivating authentic student leaders by guiding them through a process of exploring their own leadership and how to effectively lead, not simply manage, the students working in their department. Through this training, students learn how to lead from a place of strength and practice how to approach difficult conversations in a way that will be productive. These skills are immediately applied in their new roles as student leaders guiding nearly 400 students in the 12 departments of the college’s Work Program.

Not only will this donation affect the college’s Work Program, but it also helps students in their academic careers. Dr. Karla McCain, Provost at Blackburn College, explained, “This grant from State Farm will enhance leadership development training for students grounded in academic leadership theories. Students in this program have a leadership position in the Work Program and leadership education will help them develop the skills to be successful in the Work Program and in their careers after graduation.”

State Farm agent Richard Oswald said, “State Farm has always been passionate and deliberate about developing that next generation of leaders. Linda, Jessica, Mark and I are proud to represent a company that gives back, in a real and meaningful way, to the folks of the local communities we serve.”

Sarah Koplinski ’95, Senior Director of Development & Foundation Relations for Blackburn College, helped secure this gift for the Emerging Leaders program.

Individuals from the college recently gathered to show appreciation to State Farm for their generous support of the “Leadership Development for Emerging Leaders” program. These funds will allow the College to maximize the impact and effectiveness of the program for current and future students. At the event, State Farm agents presented a check for $10,000 to Blackburn college administrators, Work Program coordinators and individuals involved in the leadership development program. Pictured are, standing from left, Dr. Mark Biermann, President of Blackburn; Dr. Laura Wiedlocher, Professor of Leadership, Law and Public Service; Courtney Ohlrogge, Student General Manager of Work Program; Miriam Wali-Uddin, Student Manager of Lumpkin Student Success Center; Jody Sturgeon, Dean of Work; Dr. Karla McCain, Provost; and Dr. Lauren Dodge, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Blackburn. Seated center is Mihkyelle Cooper, Student General Manager of Work Program; with State Farm representatives from left Linda Worlow, Virden; Jessica Ely, Gillespie; Richard Oswald, Carlinville; and Mark Stieren, Litchfield.