Butler Announces New Graduates of Advance Kansas

Published May 12, 2017 at 12:06 pm Advance Kansas

Community action projects presented as Class IX concludes.

The ninth Advance Kansas class culminated on May 5 as 34 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 343, representing 122 organizations in the greater Wichita area. 

Class members meet over the course of four months to form relationships and develop skills to become better leaders in increasingly diverse organizations and communities.  Between class sessions they work in teams to create community-action projects intended to positively impact the lives of people in our communities.  The program concluded with each team making a project presentation.

Team One is creating YAK (Youth Advancing Kansas), by partnering with USD 259 and the Greater Wichita YMCA, to create the mentors and leaders of tomorrow. The program is designed to provide leadership opportunities to disadvantaged youth through programming, mentorship and positive adult influences to promote the development of successful, integrated and diverse adults. Team One members are Aron Dunn, Allen, Gibbs & Houlik; Molly Edwards, Delta Dental of Kansas; Haylea Grier, Sedgwick County Department of Corrections; Heather Hogan, Envision, Inc.; Redd Montelongo, T-Mobile; and Keith Reynolds, USD 259 Wichita.

Team Two is partnering with The Kansas African American Museum to clean up the museum grounds and bring youth from all backgrounds together to help the museum and learn about diversity. The youth are from two church youth groups, each from the same faith and denomination, from both a predominately black and a predominately white church. The youth will plant flowers and other plants on the grounds while participating in a diversity curriculum workshop. Team Two members are: Jessica Atherton, Fidelity Bank; Amanda Bally, Spirit AeroSystems; Carey Craig, Wesley Woodlawn Hospital; Christyn Gunter, The Kansas African American Museum; Stacy Ward Lattin, Zernco, Inc.; Brad Wilson, Meritrust Credit Union; and Lori Winningham, Butler Community College.

Team Three is partnering with the Wichita Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) to create a financial mentorship program about budgeting, filing taxes, obtaining a credit card and other financial matters. WIN will provide a one-hour volunteer training session for mentors. Team Three members are: Michael Blake, Westar Energy; Willow Dean, Butler Community College; Dee Nighswonger, Sedgwick County; Erin Pieper, Polston Tax Resolution & Accounting; Lisa-Marie Pulley, Wichita Independent Business Association; Lesley Schmidt, Kansas Agri-Women; and René White, Intrust Bank.

Team Four is partnering with Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas to increase awareness and provide support for the Youth Employment Project (YEP). Team 4’s efforts include disseminating information through multiple mediums to employers and other non-traditional community partners and building financial literacy curriculum, as well as aiding in the recruitment of program participants. Team Four members are: Marla Canfield, Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas; Kevin Caron, T-Mobile; Jon Cressler, Butler Community College; Jenn Fast, Koch Industries; J’Vonnah Maryman, Sedgwick County Health Department; Aggie Tuxhorn, Meritrust Credit Union; and Rachel White-McQuillan, Westar Energy.

Team Five is partnering with Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters and Spirits Healing Souls to create “Horsin’ Around” to bring the power of equine therapy to children who have yet to be matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister. The youth will visit Spirits Healing Souls facility for a day of fun while interacting with and learning about horses and one another. Two groups of pre-teenaged adolescents will have this opportunity: six from an urban area (Sedgwick County) and six from a relatively rural area (Butler County). Team Five members are Joyce Dixson, Intrust Bank; Michael Keller, City of Andover; Sequana Kimbrel, HealthCore Clinic; Amie LaMarr, T-Mobile; Thea Pajunen, Apples and Arrows; Mary Anne Szczepanski, Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas; and Monica Zavala, Butler Community College.

Advance Kansas is hosted by Butler Community College with support from Spirit AeroSystems, Westar Energy and Meritrust Credit Union. 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. The group is facilitated by Juan Johnson, president of Diversity Leadership in Action, of Atlanta.

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