Atchison Leadership Conference at Benedictine on April 30

  • Thursday, April 26, 2012

Benedictine College and the Atchison Area Chamber of Commerce are pleased to present the 2012 Atchison Leadership Conference at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, April 30, 2012 in O’Malley-McAllister Auditorium on the college campus.  The event features three powerful speakers, all successful women who grew up in Atchison.  It is free and open to the public.

The three speakers for this year’s event are Mary Carol Garrity, founder of Nell Hill’s; Sandy (Cummings) Sampson, president and CEO of Hays Companies, Kansas City; and Karen Seaberg, co-owner of Long John Silver’s and a longtime associate of The Travel Center of Atchison.  The three will address area high school students as a means of encouragement.  Students from Atchison High School, Atchison Community High School and Maur Hill-Mount Academy are expected to attend.

Garrity is best known for her successful home decorating stores, Nell Hill’s, located in Atchison and Kansas City, and Garrity’s, located in Atchison.  Her entrepreneurial spirit and wonderful sense of style have made the retail store legendary in the home decorating world.  Success has brought her national attention from Forbes magazine, CBS’s The Early Show, NBC’s Today show, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Midwest Living, Country Living, Victoria, and many other media outlets.  In addition to the stores, she also has her own series of books, a column syndicated weekly throughout the U.S., a line of home accents carried by 750 stores, and custom paint colors. 
Mary Carol has been involved with Benedictine in everything from hosting college events to treating female BC students to a special entrepreneurship dinner.  She also provides BC students with marketing internship opportunities at Nell Hill’s.

Sampson has been with Hays since 2001 and became the president and CEO in 2005. Hays Companies is a privately held insurance brokerage firm and is the 16th largest insurance broker in the United States.  The Kansas City office is the 3rd largest of Hays’ 32 national offices.  Prior to joining Hays Companies, she was a Sr. Vice President with Aon Risk Services in Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York.  She has been in the insurance industry since 1981.  Her family has resided in Atchison County for over 100 years.  She attended rural elementary in Atchison County and graduated from Atchison Catholic Elementary School.  She is a 1977 graduate of the Academy of Mount St. Scholastica, now Maur Hill-Mount Academy.  She graduated from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, with a degree in business.

Sampson is active in numerous charity organizations and, as a cancer survivor, she is particularly involved in those organizations supporting the education and awareness of women’s cancer related issues.  She has two children, Sarah and Jack, and is the daughter of P.J. and Ramona Cummings, long-time Atchison County residents.

Seaberg’s professional business background includes over 20 years as a board member of MGP, business owner and civic leader. She is well-known for her involvement in civic activities and played a key role at the local, state and national levels in the development of the 2004 Lewis & Clark Bicentennial commemoration, including serving on the executive committee for "A Journey Fourth," one of 15 national Lewis & Clark Bicentennial signature events. She served as the Governor's Chair of the Kansas Lewis & Clark Bicentennial and was a member of the National Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation Board from 2003 to 2007, serving as president from 2007 to 2008.

Seaberg also performs a vital role in Atchison's nationally-acclaimed Amelia Earhart Festival, which attracts an estimated 50,000 guests to the local community each year. She served as a member of the Governor's Committee for the Amelia Earhart Birthday Centennial in 1997. She additionally was a principal organizer and events coordinator for the centennial festival in Atchison in 1997 and has served as festival chair since then. She was also very active in Atchison's major Riverfront/Downtown Development project, serving on the Design Committee from 1997 to 2000 and the Development Committee from 2000 to 2004. She is a charter member of the Riverfront Development Foundation, which was organized in 2005.

From 1998 to 2004, she served on the Atchison Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. She has continued as a member of the Chamber's Tourism Council since 1991 and served as chairperson of the council from 1998 to 2001. She additionally served on the Riverbend Regional Healthcare Board, the Atchison Hospital Board of Directors, the Board of the Cray Medical Research Organization at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan., Theatre Atchison Board of Directors, and the board of MGPI.  She and her husband have two daughters, Mrs. Roy (Lori) Mingus, of Lawrence, and Mrs. Kyle (Melissa) Huntington, of Kansas City, Kan., and six grandchildren.