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Leonard Wood Institute and Sustainable Ozarks Partnership Announce New Leadership Team

by Erin Younkin | Jul 02, 2019

After 3 years as the Executive Director of the Leonard Wood Institute and Sustainable Ozarks Partnership Kent Thomas will retire once again. Kent joined the organization(s) as the Director in June 2016 following his predecessor Joe Driskill’s appointment to the Missouri Military Advocate position. 

After retiring from the Army in 1998, Colonel (R) Thomas worked for Missouri State University, serving as System Vice President for Administrative Services, Chancellor of the West Plains campus, Project Manager for the implementation of the university’s administrative computing system, Special Assistant to the President, and Assistant Vice President for International Programs. 

During his time as the LWI/SOP Executive Director the organization achieved many significant successes highlighted by the region receiving the 2017 Army Community Partnership Award, regional jet service being established at the joint use airport on Fort Leonard Wood, advancements in mutually beneficial partnerships between FLW and the communities, research on acute effects of traumatic brain injury as part of a regional consortium, continued emphasis on improving the quality of public education, analysis and development of mitigating strategies related to personnel reductions at FLW, focus on regional tourism, advocacy for credentialing of transitioning service members and licensure for military spouses, as well as building regional consensus on many other issues related to strengthening FLW. 

“Kent Thomas stepped in and has done an outstanding job to fill some big shoes upon the departing of our former executive director, Joe Driskill. Through Kent’s guidance and leadership LWI/SOP, was able to flourish even through a very difficult transition phase of the organization.  His leadership and contributions to LWI/SOP have ensured the sustainability of this vital organization to our region. We all wish him the best of luck and success in his next adventure,” said LWI Board President Mike Dunbar.

Thomas and his wife Barbara will return to their home in Springfield, Missouri. 

As Thomas transitions, Command Sergeant Major (R) Dorsey Newcomb, formerly the organization(s) Program Manager will assume responsibilities as Executive Director. Newcomb has been with the organization(s) since his retirement from the Army in 2008. Newcomb has been involved in virtually every aspect the organizations’ missions over the past 11 years.

Colonel (R) Ken Tauke will join the team as the Deputy Director as part of the transition in leadership. Ken recently retired from the Army after 37 years of distinguished service. His most recent assignments included Senior Army Advisor Kansas Army National Guard and Garrison Commander Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois. 

“Ken is a very experienced and knowledgeable professional who will undoubtedly make a tremendous impact on the organizations and our desired outcomes. I have known Ken for over 25 years, and I am extremely confident in his abilities and what he brings to his new position,” said Newcomb.

The Leonard Wood Institute (LWI) is a tax-exempt, non-profit research organization established at Fort Leonard Wood in 2004, that was created to help fulfill technology needs of the U. S. Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence (MSCoE) and Fort Leonard Wood (FLW), Missouri and improve the technology base of the region. LWI has expertise in enabling and managing collaborative and innovative efforts to assist in developing solutions that meet Missouri S&T needs and inform Army capability development, primarily focused on the missions associated with MSCoE. LWI fulfills this mission by providing a mechanism to connect the expertise of private sector researchers and small, technology producing companies with these identified Army needs in a systematic, efficient, and effective process.

The Sustainable Ozarks Partnership is a non-profit organization formed in 2013 as a way to unite the work of local governments, businesses, civic organizations and citizens in a 4-county region to ensure the long-term sustainability of Fort Leonard Wood (FLW). The SOP allows the region to work together to improve the region’s quality of life measures and business climate that also support and enable FLW mission success, sustainment, and military readiness while advocating for new military and federal missions all as part of regional efforts to strengthen the Fort Leonard Wood Region.

Strengthening the Fort Leonard Wood region