Phillips, Buhler cited for civic service

Paula Phillips, Douglas County's director of emergency management, has been named the Don Volker Leadership Award winner. The award honors people who help others realize success through leadership skills.

Leadership Lawrence recognized two outstanding leaders in the Lawrence community Friday.

Paula Phillips, Douglas County’s director of emergency management, received the Don Volker Leadership Award and State Sen. Mark Buhler, vice president and managing broker at Stephens Real Estate, received the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Kim Murphree, of the Lawrence Police Department, nominated Phillips for her award, which honors people who help others realize success through leadership skills. Murphree said Phillips was adept at helping other people solve their problems without focusing attention on herself.

“Paula exemplifies civic duty and service to others,” she said. “She never looks for her name to be recognized. She does it because she believes in that ethic.”

In addition to her county job, Phillips has served her community in several service organizations. She has held every office in the Lawrence chapter of Soroptimist International, serves as agency liaison for the United Way Advisory Committee and served many years on Ballard Community Center’s board of directors.

She also helps area nonprofit groups by organizing retreats for board of directors of charities at no charge. The retreats help those leaders gain leadership skills, training and experience. The Social Service League of Lawrence and the Pelathe Center are among the groups that have participated, and Phillips also advised the board of Penn House.

Recipients of the Don Volker Award do not have to be graduates of the Leadership Lawrence program, in which participants meet once a month for nine months to learn leadership skills within the context of the community. To honor graduates of the program, Leadership Lawrence also gives out the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mark Buhler graduated from Leadership Lawrence in 1983, but his roots in the community run deep. He has lived in Lawrence since 1958. He graduated from Lawrence High School in 1972 and from Kansas University with a Bachelor of General Studies in personnel administration in 1977.

Buhler has used his leadership skills in a number of public offices and service posts. He served two years on the Community Development Block Grant Advisory Board for the city, five years on the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission and eight years as a member of the Douglas County Commission. He has also worked in leadership roles for The Lawrence Boys and Girls Club, Salvation Army, Chamber of Commerce, Plymouth Congregational Church and the Cottonwood Foundation.

Pat Flavin, of Lawrence Realty Associates and Mike Corliss of U.S. Bank, nominated Buhler for the award.

Corliss said he met Buhler several years ago when buying a home in Lawrence.

“As I became more involved in the community, it seemed like Mark was everywhere,” Corliss said. “He’s someone, in my mind, that really represents leadership.”