Butler Announces 40 New Graduates of Advance Kansas

Published May 20, 2014 at 03:02 pm

Community action projects presented as Class VI concludes

The sixth Advance Kansas class will culminate on Friday, May 23 at the Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita. Forty area business and community leaders will graduate from the program after presenting their community action projects.

Advance Kansas consists of four full-day workshops spread over a four-month period. Between workshops, participants meet in teams to develop a community action project. This year’s forty participants were divided into four teams, each of which then tackled a community issue important to them.

Team 1 is focusing on bullying. Bully Busters is the Anti-bullying Network Team (A.N.T.) program for recognition, education and intervention to help stop bullying among youth. A.N.T. selected the Greater Wichita YMCA summer camp programs as its group focus because of the diversity of campers they host each summer at their camps. Through pre-service training for staff, a kit of tools – including anti-bullying tip cards for discussion, educational materials for parents, a pledge card, hands-on activities, and an A.N.T. Bully Buster wristband - campers will learn about how to deal with and prevent bullying. Team 1 members are Keith Asplund, Delta Dental of Kansas; Roberta Berry, Sedgwick County; Yolanda Camarena, Kansas Hispanic Education and Development Foundation; Adele Dunn, City of Newton; Bridgette Franklin, Sedgwick County Department of Corrections; Rickey Frierson, Butler Community College; Aaron Hunt, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.; Danielle Johnson, Wichita State University; Emily Lies, YMCA; Crissy Magee, Sedgwick County Developmental Disability Organization; and Athalene McNay, McNay and Voth Coaching Services.

Team 2 is partnering with the United Way of the Plains on developing a career awareness model that could be replicated by other communities, corporations, schools and organizations. The model would be based on a partnership between United Way, Wichita Public Schools and Airbus called “The Flying Challenge.” The program, just completing its second year, has enabled more than 100 middle school students to become exposed to a variety of career opportunities in aviation. “The Flying Challenge” culminates in an airplane ride for every student and includes an extensive mentoring opportunity matching the students, Wichita State University engineering students and Airbus executives. The intent is to use this career awareness model with numerous other industry groups. Team 2 members are Jenna Bottolfsen, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.; Ebony S. Clemons, Wells Fargo; Stacy Cofer, Butler Community College; Christy Harmon, Wichita Area Technical College; Tim Johnson, City of Newton; Irma Luna, Kansas Hispanic Education and Development Foundation; Marla McFarland, City of Arkansas City; Gary Plummer, Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce; Ricky Shellenbarger, Sedgwick County; and Denise Sherman, Southwestern College.

Team 3 is partnering with CORE of Wichita to assist the organization in its efforts to turn a plot of land into a community garden – a gathering place for community members to plant, nurture, pick and eat delicious vegetables as well as plant, grow, and enjoy beautiful flowers. Research shows that community gardens offer a focal point for community organizing, and can lead to community-based efforts to deal with other social concerns, bringing people together from a wide variety of backgrounds (age, race, culture, social class). They can reduce crime, offer cultural exchange with other gardeners, and offer a healthy, inexpensive activity for youth, allowing them to interact with each other in a socially meaningful and physically productive way. The team supported CORE’s efforts in a variety of ways – from creating marketing material to identifying resources and community partnerships to encourage sustainability of the garden. Community members came together to build the raised beds, playground, gazebo, and dining area. Team 3 members are Joan Barrett, Sunflower Broadcasting; David Butler, Air National Guard; Andrie Krahl, Kansas DUI Impact Center; Ryan Murphy, Fidelity Bank; Makala Navarro, Bombardier Aerospace; Susan Pfeifer, Butler Community College; Jennifer Porter, Koch Industries, Inc.; Shaun Rojas, Kansas Leadership Center; and Jill Staats, The Arnold Group.

Team 4 is working to create a Business Advisory Council (BAC) for Project Search, a national business-led collaboration securing competitive employment for persons with disabilities. Each Project Search site relies upon the support and guidance of a Business Advisory Council. The BAC is a business-driven initiative whose purpose is to help move the Project Search interns into competitive employment after graduation. BAC members serve as ambassadors for Project Search, providing employment opportunities for graduates; connecting them with other businesses that would be supportive; and offering advice regarding hiring trends, needed skills, and employment opportunities. Team 4 members are Greg Baker, Sedgwick County; Kim Batiste-Bufford, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.; Vanessa Combs, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.; Myra De La Torre, Complete Exteriors, LLC; Vicki Forbes, City of Wichita; Will Johnson, Butler County Commission; Tim Norton, Sedgwick County Commission; Susan Smith, GLMV Architecture; Suzi Thien, Sunlight Children’s Advocacy and Rights Foundation; and Anna Villarreal, Butler Community College.

With support from Spirit AeroSystems, Advance Kansas is designed to bring together leaders from all demographic groups and across all sectors of society – business, nonprofit, education, religion, government – and to educate them in effective ways to engage pressing diversity issues in their communities. Advance Kansas is facilitated by Juan Johnson, president Diversity Leadership in Action, of Atlanta.

This sixth Advance Kansas class will bring the number of Advance Kansas graduates to 232, representing 94 organizations in the Wichita metro area.

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