CEO Academy of Kansas City


Join us for the CEO Academy of Kansas City on October 17-18, 2024

  • For aspiring, new and developing CEOs.
  • Designed and delivered by former CEOs, drawing on decades of CEO experience.
  • Participate in interactive sessions addressing topics critical to CEO success.
  • Network and engage with Kansas City CEO Academy faculty and peers.

Program Details:

October 17, 2024 (8am to 9pm) and October 18, 2024 (8am to 12pm)

Registration fee:

If you are an aspiring CEO, new CEO or developing CEO, please submit your application for review. Once you receive confirmation of admittance, you will also receive a note and link for the course fee of $3000. Because we aim to make this experience as interactive as possible we will limit the number of students attending——so we encourage you to apply early.



Day 1 – October 17, 2024

Breakfast Kickoff: Championing Success
Mark Donovan

Owning the Strategy—-it all starts here
Bill Zollars

Culture- The CEO’s Most Important Role?
Dan Hesse

Passing the Torch: Exploring Succession Strategies
Beryl Raff

Lunch with Faculty and Peers

The Personal Characteristics of History’s Greatest CEOs
Greg Graves

Elevating Your Board: Transforming it into an Asset
Brent Shafer

From Aspiring to Achieving: How to become a CEO
Panel Discussion

Intimate Dinner and Dialogue with CEO Faculty and Peers

Day 2 – October 18, 2024

Breakfast Kickoff: You’re in charge— now what?
David Feinberg

Building Bridges: Fostering Community Support
Brent Stewart

Feedback Matters: Turning Challenges into Opportunities
Dave Dillon

Session Close and Lunch

CEO Academy of Kansas City faculty
Mark Donovanmark donovan headshot is entering his 26th season in the National Football League and his 16th season in Kansas City in 2024. As president, Donovan is responsible for all aspects of the club’s business operations and reports directly to Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt. Donovan brings unique experience and perspective to the team. He is one of only a few executives league-wide who has worked both at the NFL league office and multiple clubs, with valuable perspective and strong relationships both in the Kansas City area and on a national level. In addition to serving as the President of the Chiefs, Donovan also serves as the President of Arrowhead Events, the special events arm of the organization that is responsible for bringing concerts and major events like the 2026 FIFA World Cup to GEHA Field at Arrowhead, as well as Arrowhead Equity Ventures, a partnership that funds strategic investments.

Donovan’s leadership extends to the community where he sits on the Board of Directors for the Hunt Family Foundation. He has helped establish a more strategic approach to the Chiefs charitable giving and community involvement, better enabling the club to carry out its vision to focus resources for greater impact. This approach has prioritized a handful of causes: children’s health and wellness, children and families in crisis, civic responsibility and legacy of the Chiefs and the NFL. The Chiefs Charity Game, one of the many Kansas City traditions started by the Hunt family, is the longest-running and most successful charity game in the National Football League.

Donovan arrived in Kansas City after six years with the Philadelphia Eagles as Senior Vice President of Business Operations (2003-08). Prior to joining the Eagles, Donovan held leadership roles as the NFL’s Senior Director of Sales and Marketing (1999-2003) and the Director of Sales and Marketing for the National Hockey League (1997-99). He also brings seven years of experience in the private business sector.

The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native graduated from Brown University with a double major in political science and organizational behavior/management. He captained the Brown football squad as the team’s quarterback and signed with the New York Giants as a free agent upon graduation.

Bill Zollarsbill zollars headshot led YRC as the Chairman, President, and CEO from 1999-2011. During that time the company became one of the largest transportation companies in the world—with revenue in excess of $10 billion and over 60,000 employees. YRC rose to #146 on the Fortune 500 and delivered record revenue and earnings 3 consecutive years from 2004-2006 reaching a market cap of more than $3 Billion. Closer to home-YRC was named the “Fastest Growing company in KC” 3 straight years. He appeared more than 50 times on CNBC during his tenure as an expert on the economy. Bill retired from YRC in 2011 after leading the company through the “Great Recession” of 2007-09.

Prior to his time at YRC, Bill led the growth at Ryder Integrated Logistics from 300 million to 3 billion in revenue over 3 years (1994-1996). He also spent over 20 years at Eastman Kodak with assignments in Finance, Logistics, Strategic Planning, and General Management—including 5 years in London, 2 in Toronto, and a year in Tokyo.

Bill has been the Chairman of 2 Fortune 500 companies and was a 20-year member of the Cigna, Prologis, and Cerner boards. He is currently a member of the United States Postal Service Board of Governors, and a director of 3 KC based private companies.

He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Economics from the University of Minnesota.

dan hesse headshotDan Hesse currently serves as Chairman of Akamai Technologies and as a board member of PNC where he chairs the Technology Committee. Dan served as President and CEO of Sprint from December 2007 to August 2014. Previously, Hesse was the Chairman and CEO of Embarq, Chairman, President and CEO of Terabeam, and he spent 23 years at AT&T, where from 1997 – 2000, he served as the President and CEO of AT&T Wireless, at the time the United States’ largest wireless carrier.

Inducted into the Wireless Hall of Fame, Dan received Corporate Responsibility magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award and was named “Most Influential Person in Mobile Technology” by LAPTOP magazine (Steve Jobs was #2), Wireless Industry “Person of the Year” by RCR magazine, “Executive of the Year” by Wireless Business and Technology magazine, one of the five “Best Turnaround CEO’s of All Time” by Fierce Wireless, and one of “10 Inspirational Leaders who Turned Around Their Companies” by Entrepreneur magazine. Glassdoor regularly named Hesse one of America’s highest rated CEO’s by employees. The 2014 American Customer Satisfaction Index recognized Sprint as the most improved U.S. company in overall customer satisfaction, across all 43 industries, over the previous six years. During Dan’s years at Sprint the company was recognized 20 times by J.D. Power and Associates for excellence in customer service, and the Reputation Institute recognized Sprint as the most improved company in overall corporate reputation among the world’s 1,500 largest public companies. For his last two full calendar years as CEO, Sprint’s Total Shareholder Return ranked #1 among all S&P 500 companies.

He received a BA from Notre Dame, an MBA from Cornell, and an MS from MIT where he was awarded the Brooks Thesis Prize. Dan co-hosts The Mentors Radio which is carried on the major podcast platforms.

Beryl Raffberyl raff headshot served as Chairman and CEO of Helzberg Diamonds, a Berkshire Hathaway company, for 13 years and became non-executive chair upon retirement in July 2022 to assist in leadership transition. Ms. Raff is widely recognized throughout the retail industry as an innovative, strategic and strong multi-store/channel retail executive. Her business achievements have centered around businesses and companies in need of new strategic direction, innovation and growth, and process improvement.

She graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and from Drexel University with a Master of Business Administration. Beryl began her career with R. H. Macy & Company in 1975, rising to senior vice president and general merchandise manager for Macy’s East. At Zale Corporation, she advanced to Executive Vice President and COO, President and COO, President and CEO, and Chairman, President, and CEO. At J.C. Penney, she was General Merchandise Manager and then Executive Vice President for the Fine Jewelry Division, earning the J.C. Penney Chairman’s Award multiple times. In 2009, Warren Buffett recruited her as Chairman and CEO of Helzberg Diamonds and she joined the Berkshire Hathaway family.

Beryl serves on the boards of Academy Sports and Outdoors, Helen of Troy, and the Larry H. Miller Group, and previously on the boards of Michaels Stores, Group 1 Automotive, and Jo-Ann Stores. She also served on the National Board of Make-A-Wish Foundation and locally on the Board of the National Association of Corporate Directors, Heartland Chapter. Her industry affiliations include The Jewelers Vigilance Committee, Jewelers’ Circular Keystone Advisory Board, Jewelers of America, American Gem Association, and the Kansas City Symphony board.

Beryl’s numerous honors include induction into the Women’s Jewelry Association Lifetime Hall of Fame, National Jeweler’s Retailer Hall of Fame, and receiving the American Gem Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She is a member of the International Women’s Forum, Women Corporate Directors, and the Kansas City Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business.

Beryl has one child, Edward, and resides with her life partner, Paul Russell.

greg graves headshotGreg Graves is the retired, Chairman and CEO, Burns & McDonnell. As Chairman and CEO of Burns & McDonnell, Greg Graves led one of the fastest-growing and most successful engineering, architecture, construction and environmental consulting firms in North America. Greg began his career at Burns & McDonnell in 1980, fresh out of college. Twenty-two years later, at the age of just 43, he was named the sixth CEO in the firm’s 104 year history. In his 13 years as CEO, the firm flourished: Employment grew from 1500 to 6300, all organically, revenues grew from $300M to $3B, an average ROI of above 25% over 13 years, named Fortune Magazine’s Top 100 Best Places to Work six times including 14th in 2014, named Kansas City’s Best Place to Work six times in a row, and the Corporate Foundation grew 1000%.

Perhaps no one in Kansas City over those 13 years led the civic charge harder. Greg was named Kansas Citian of the Year 2015, Midwest’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2014, and Kansas City Philanthropist of the Year (along with his wife, Deanna) in 2013. Greg chaired the Boards of Starlight Theater, University of Kansas Health System (through the first two years of Covid), Kansas City Area Development Corporation, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Greg’s biggest civic achievement was the Chamber’s adoption of the Big 5 Initiatives making greater KC a better place to work, start a company and raise a family. Greg still serves on the Boards of Barstow School, the University of Kansas Health System and is the Lead Director of UMBF, Kansas City’s biggest bank.

When it comes to philanthropy, Greg believes doing more isn’t an option, it’s a duty. Greg along with his secret weapon and wife Deanna have helped raise over $250M for not-for profit endeavors all across town. And, now they are taking on the challenge of a lifetime – the 10-year $2.5B University of Kansas Endowment Campaign.

His book ‘Create Amazing’ promotes employee ownership in America and internationally. It is an Amazon best seller, has sold over 10,000 copies and was a finalist for the 2021 International Business Book of the Year. In 2023 ‘Create Amazing’ was just awarded 2nd prize in the Rutgers School of Business Joyce Rothschild Book Prize. Greg has already keynoted 3 conferences with reference to his research and writings.

Brent Shaferbrent shafer headshot is the former chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Cerner Corporation, serving in this role from 2018 to 2021. Prior to Cerner, Shafer held a number of roles at Koninklijke Philips NV, including CEO of Philips North America and CEO of Philips Home Healthcare Solutions business. Before joining Philips, Shafer was vice president and general manager of Hillrom’s Patient Care Environment Division and worked at GE Medical Systems where he served in key positions in sales, marketing, and general management. Shafer has also held senior roles at Hewlett Packard’s Medical Products Group and Johnson & Johnson. He currently serves as a director of Tactile Systems Technology. Brent has served as a director of Baxter since May 2022 and was appointed lead independent director in February 2023.

David Feinberg, M.D.david feinberg headshot Chairman of Oracle Health, is committed to making healthcare more accessible, affordable and equitable. His work advances thought leadership and strategy related to unleashing the healing power of data through an open and connected healthcare ecosystem. Previously, David served as president and CEO of Cerner, now Oracle Health, where he led teams delivering tools and technology to improve the patient and caregiver experience.

As a pediatric psychiatrist, David built his early career around helping children and families. He served as president and CEO of both UCLA Health and Geisinger Health prior to assuming leadership of Google Health in early 2019. His work at UCLA provided David a clear view of how patient satisfaction translates to clinical success. His focus on the patient experience increased UCLA’s patient satisfaction scores from the 28th to the 99th percentile.

At Geisinger, David led a complex turnaround that made Geisinger one of the nation’s most innovative healthcare providers, including a first-of-its kind clinical program that made DNA sequencing a routine part of patient care. David also guided Geisinger’s transition to value-based care using Cerner’s population health platform, HealtheIntent, integrated with a non-Cerner EMR.

At Google, David leveraged Google’s technology, talent and search capabilities to tackle healthcare’s most important challenges. Under David’s leadership, Google was at the forefront of using Artificial Intelligence and mobile platforms to improve healthcare and – in partnership with Ascension Health – produced Care Studio, a tool that organizes patient records for healthcare clinicians at the point of care.

David began his career at UCLA, researching and publishing in the areas of addiction and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He took on additional leadership responsibilities, including becoming the Medical Director of the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital. By implementing rigorous service metrics and patient satisfaction measures and completing a financial turnaround, UCLA’s neuropsychiatric hospital is now considered the premier psychiatric hospital in the western United States.

David earned his M.D. from Chicago Medical School in 1989, finishing at the top of his class and is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He also holds an economics degree from the University of California-Berkeley and an MBA from Pepperdine University.

Brent Stewartbrent stewart headshot served as President and CEO of the United Way of Greater Kansas City from 2008 to 2021. He successfully integrated four regional United Way operations into a cohesive organization committed to community impact. Amid fluctuating economic conditions, he maintained a P&L approach to sustain and grow revenue, scaling the number of lives impacted. In 2020, he oversaw the merger with the Wyandotte County United Way, creating a unified vision for regional social impact. He co-led a multiagency COVID-19 response, developing a relief fund that raised $18M in less than two weeks, benefiting over 250 community agencies. Brent also helped launch the Urban Neighborhood Initiative, a project aimed at revitalizing Kansas City’s urban core.

Previously, Brent was President and CEO of the United Way of Columbia-Willamette in Portland, OR, where he restructured the staff, reduced overhead costs by 50%, and increased revenue by over 28%, leading to a top rating from Charity Navigator. As President of the United Way of Snohomish County in Everett, WA, from 1999 to 2004, he led a turnaround that increased major gifts by 40% and exceeded campaign goals by $600K during an economic downturn. In Battle Creek, MI, he exceeded campaign goals each year as President and CEO of the United Way of Greater Battle Creek.

Brent has served on several boards, including Country Club Bank, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Western Washington University, City Year of Kansas City, the National Association of Corporate Directors, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission as well as the Advisory Council for the University of Missouri–Kansas City Department of Public Affairs and the Workforce Investment Board for the Full Employment Council.

He has been named to The Ingram’s 250 for eight consecutive years and recognized by the Kansas City Business Journal among Kansas City’s Power 100, and by Kansas City’s 435 South magazine as one of the city’s 50 Most Powerful People. He received The Family Conservancy’s 2018 Betsy Vander Velde Award for service to the community. Brent holds a Master of Science from Avila University, a Master of Regional Planning from Pennsylvania State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Howard University. His additional training includes coursework at Stanford and Harvard Business School. He is a Certified Leadership Coach, Certified Nonprofit Board Consultant, and Certified Structured Professional Facilitator.

Dave Dillondave dillon headshot is the retired Chairman and CEO of The Kroger Co., based in Cincinnati. The company employs over 400,000 associates who serve customers in more than 2,700 retail food stores under two dozen names. Dave served in a variety of leadership roles after joining the Dillon Companies (now part of Kroger) in 1976 with its King Soopers division in Denver.

During his career, Dave served in various leadership positions with Fry’s Food Stores and the Dillon Companies before being named president of Dillon Companies in 1986. He was appointed executive vice president of Kroger in 1990, and he was elected president and chief operating officer of the company in 1995. Dave was named CEO of Kroger in 2003. He was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2004. Dave retired as CEO at the end of 2013 and as Chairman of the Board of Directors at the end of 2014.

Dave earned a bachelor’s degree in Business at the University of Kansas and a law degree at Southern Methodist University. Dave is a member of the board of directors of 3M, the Union Pacific Corporation, and Hallmark. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the University of Kansas Endowment, the University of Kansas Hospital Authority Board, MRIGlobal, and Kansas Nature Conservancy. In addition, he previously served on the Board of Trustees for the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati, Board of Trustees for the University of Cincinnati Foundation, and the Board of Directors for Catalyst, Directv, and Convergys.


Location and Parking:

The CEO Academy of Kansas City will be held at the UMKC Bloch Executive Hall (5108 Cherry Street, Kansas City, MO 64110). Parking passes and instructions will be mailed just prior to the beginning of the academy.

Photo & Video Policy

By attending the event, you are giving the Bloch School of Management permission to use any photos, videos, or images captured on site for future promotional purposes.

Cancellation & Transfer Policy

Program participants (or their organizational representative) should call or email Bloch Executive Education in order to change or cancel registrations.

  • Cancellations made prior to 30-days from the first day of the program are eligible for credit towards participating in the next year’s program or full refund.
  • Cancellations made between 30-days and 14-days from the first day of the program are eligible for credit towards participating in the next year’s program, or a 50% refund.
  • Cancellations made fewer than 14-days from the program start date are non-transferable and non-refundable.
  • “No-shows” are non-refundable and non-transferrable.

Contact us at or 816-235-2892 if you have any questions.