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April 4, 2024

The Gerlachs join more than 40 community leaders honored over the years for their civic leadership and philanthropic activities in Johnson County, Kansas.

The Johnson County Community College (JCCC) Foundation has selected Carl R. Gerlach and Jill R. Flint Gerlach, RN, M.S., as the 2024 Johnson Countians of the Year. This annual award honors community leaders who have made significant contributions to Johnson County. The Gerlachs will be recognized at the Foundation’s annual fundraising gala, Some Enchanted Evening, on November 9, 2024.

“The JCCC Foundation is thrilled to name Carl and Jill Gerlach the 2024 Johnson Countians of the Year,” said Joy Ginsburg, Executive Director of the JCCC Foundation. “They are the epitome of community leaders and well-deserving of this esteemed honor.”

The Gerlachs met while studying at Kansas State University (KSU) and married in 1977. They have three adult children who live in Overland Park – Chris, Jennifer and Katie – along with three grandchildren. They will celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary this year.

Carl Gerlach is a lifelong Johnson Countian who dedicated decades of his life to public service, notably serving as the mayor of Overland Park from 2005 to 2021. Gerlach grew up in Leawood and graduated from Shawnee Mission South High School.  In 1976, he graduated from KSU with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus on marketing. He played basketball for the Wildcats from 1972-1976 and was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1976 NBA draft before beginning his career in Johnson County.

During his tenure as mayor, Gerlach oversaw the revitalization of downtown Overland Park, the construction of the Overland Park Convention Center and the development of the former Sprint campus, among many other accomplishments. Before he was elected mayor, he was a member of the Overland Park City Council from 1995 to 2005 and served as council president from 2002 to 2003. Gerlach’s leadership was key in the transformation of Overland Park.

Tirelessly dedicated to growth and economic development in Johnson County, Gerlach also served on the board of directors for both the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Furthermore, he held positions on the Overland Park Economic Development Council board, the governing body for the League of Kansas Municipalities and the Kansas State University National Alumni Association, among numerous others. He is currently on the board of directors for the Johnson County Community College Foundation and the board for AdventHealth Shawnee Mission and AdventHealth South Overland Park hospitals. Gerlach retired after a long and successful career as vice president of marketing for Gill Studios Inc. in 2018.

Jill Flint Gerlach, RN, M.S. is also a native Kansan who spent her career improving healthcare in and beyond Johnson County. Jill Gerlach graduated from Washington High School in Kansas City, Kansas, and went on to earn an associate degree in nursing from Kansas City Kansas Community College. She then earned bachelor’s degrees in nursing from Wichita State University and adult and continuing education from KSU. She also holds a Master of Science in Education from KSU.

Jill Gerlach began her career in healthcare as an intensive care unit nurse, before becoming the director of the Center for Women’s Health and of Women’s Services at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission Hospital. She left AdventHealth to start a healthcare consulting firm, Jill Gerlach Consulting. Additionally, she taught pediatric and adult care as a nursing instructor at JCCC. Her leadership extends to healthcare initiatives throughout the community – she was on both the executive board of directors for the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) and the American Cancer Society of Johnson County.

Like her husband, Jill Gerlach has devoted countless hours to serving Johnson County, demonstrating her passion for healthcare and education. She served on the executive board of directors for the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation and was president of the Junior League of Wyandotte and Johnson County. Her influence reaches the realm of higher education, where she was the president of the Johnson County Community College Foundation and chaired the Advisory Board of Directors for Kansas State University Olathe. Her multifaceted involvement underscores her dedication to enhancing the quality of life and opportunities within Johnson County.

“As someone who has lived and worked in Johnson County for decades, I have seen the positive impact Carl and Jill have had on Overland Park — and the county,” said Dr. Judy Korb, Interim President of JCCC. “Their lifelong dedication to supporting and improving this area, its communities and its healthcare services have been an inspiration for so many. I applaud the Foundation’s selection and look forward to celebrating them as Johnson Countians of the Year.”

The Gerlachs join a roster of over 40 previous Johnson Countians of the Year. The award is presented annually at JCCC’s Some Enchanted Evening Gala, an annual black-tie dinner that raises support for student scholarships. Thanks to the funds raised by the Foundation, each year more than 1,000 JCCC students receive the financial support they need to achieve their educational goals.

The 2024 gala will be held November 9 at the Overland Park Convention Center. Ashley Sherard, President and CEO of the Lenexa Chamber of Commerce, and Stephanie Meyer, President and CEO of the Leawood Chamber of Commerce, are the event co-chairs. The Foundation is currently seeking corporate sponsors for the event – secure your sponsorship today before they sell out.

The 2023 Johnson Countian of the Year award winner was Dr. Roy A. Jensen, M.D., of the University of Kansas Cancer Center. For a complete list of previous awardees, visit the JCCC Foundation's website.

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