The 13th Advance Kansas class culminated on Friday, June 4, as 44 area business and community leaders were welcomed by previous graduates to the alumni network known as Advancers. This brings the network of prepared leaders to 513, representing 154 organizations in the area.
This year’s class proved their dedication to diversity, meeting over five months on Zoom, due to Covid restrictions. They formed relationships and developed skills to become better leaders in our increasingly diverse organizations and communities. Between class sessions, they worked in teams to accomplish community-action projects benefiting area not-for-profit organizations.
The Arc of Sedgwick County team worked on a strategy to promote the agency’s new name, which will be announced later this year. The new name will focus on their clients’ abilities vs. disabilities. After considering several options, the project team focused most of their time on a #lookwhaticando campaign. Arc of Sedgwick County team members are Dioane Gates, Mending Place at South City; Amy Jensen, USD 266 Maize; Kasey Jolly, Spirit AeroSystems; Belinda Spencer, T-Mobile; Mark Taylor, Hinkle Law Firm; Kathy Vines, Envision; and Rachel Wetta, Foulston Attorneys at Law.
The Community Operations Recovery Empowerment (CORE) team was asked to assist with marketing materials that CORE could use, and adjust, as needed. In addition to the requested materials, the team provided template resources for CORE to reach out to local organizations for opportunities to deepen partnerships. CORE team members are Phillip Beadles, T-Mobile; Scott Evans, Wesley Medical Center; Kristen Jones, Emprise Bank; Christina Manouphath, Evergy; Averie Nelson, Butler Community College; Trisha Rizzo, Bombardier Learjet; Nicole Rosenstiel, Meritrust Credit Union; and Sheila Rumsey, REALTORS of South Central Kansas.
The Kansas Eye Bank and Cornea Research Center team was tasked with creating a plan to increase visibility in the community and to promote tissue donation. The project team developed a plan using social media and expanding beyond just a Facebook page. Kansas Eye Bank team members are John Bates, Intrust Bank; Alicia Israelson, T-Mobile; Amy Johnson, Koch Industries; Tyrena Judie, Kansas Leadership Center; Whitney Neal, Evergy; Chris Pace, Meritrust Credit Union; and Jennifer Pierce, IMA Financial Group.
The Kansas Hispanic Education and Development Foundation (KHEDF) team worked with Micaela Ramirez, executive director of KHEDF, on a proposal to increase their community visibility. Specific strategies include the creation of dual-language marketing materials, recruitment/application expansion, enhanced communication through donor organizations, and increased media exposure. KHEDF team members are Susan Arensman, USD 259 Wichita; Chris Dodson, Evergy; Vince Evans, USD 259 Wichita; Sarah Kephart, Envision; Lance Onstott, City of Andover; Tiffany Rhodes, Butler Community College; and Teresa Taylor-Williams, Emporia State University.
The Passageways team was tasked to assist Passageways, a Veteran Living Center in west Wichita, in serving U.S. Military Veterans by increasing public awareness of the need in the community. Passageways team members are Shawna Dennett, Habitat for Humanity; Natasha Dyer, Cox Communications; Erika Gestring, Butler Community College; Sarah Haymaker, US Small Business Administration; Pete Najera, United Way of the Plains; Joe Schroeder, Andover Police Department; and Luke Scott, Evergy.
The United Methodist Open Door team developed a strategic plan with tactics the organization can implement over time to increase overall visibility in the community. The team also created a plan to enrich and build partnerships with businesses and other community groups through a pledge program to help increase volunteer hours. United Methodist Open Door team members are Nici Duncan, High Touch Technologies; Tim Dunham, Credit Union of America; LaShonda Garnes, Fidelity Bank; Drew Johnson, Wildcat Construction; Alexis Kokenge, Emprise Bank; Monica Lorg, Butler Community College; Vanessa Rusco, Wichita Police Department; and Arlene Sokolowski, Spirit AeroSystems.
Hosted by Butler Community College with support from Spirit AeroSystems, Evergy, Meritrust Credit Union and Envision, Advance Kansas is designed to bring together leaders from all demographic groups and across all sectors of society – business, nonprofit, education, faith based, government – and to educate them in effective ways to engage pressing diversity issues in their communities. Advance Kansas is facilitated by Juan Johnson, president of Diversity Leadership in Action, of Atlanta.