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Butler Announces Graduates of Advance Kansas

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Published: Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Community Action Projects Presented as Class XI Concludes

The 11th Advance Kansas class culminated on Friday, May 3, as 45 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 432, representing 144 organizations in the greater Wichita area.

Class members met 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 worked in teams to create community-action projects. Members of a CEO Roundtable on Diversity and Inclusion established by the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce identified priorities the region should pursue to tackle the human capital challenge around diversity and inclusion. These issues became the basis of the six projects presented at the culmination.

Team One and Team Two each built on the Dream Keepers/STEM Day initiative launched by two Advance Kansas project teams in 2018 in partnership with Wichita Public Schools. Their common mission is to engage, enrich and inspire middle school students while providing educators and parents information about career paths in STEM or skilled technical fields that enable middle school students to make informed decisions about their future. Team One is building on the initiative by bringing additional industries into the project with commitments from the Associated General Contractors and Wichita Manufacturing Association. Team Two, Dream Builders, developed a toolkit for industry ambassadors to conduct a successful STEM Day. Team One members are Buck Buchanan, City of Andover; Andy Buessing, Hutton; Kyle Ellison, Real Men, Real Heroes; Diana Ensign, Kansas Turnpike Authority; Kristy Hawkins, The Arnold Group; Courtney Houghtaling, Spirit AeroSystems; Na’shell Williams, Sedgwick County; and Bill Young, Butler Community College. Team Two members are Julius Bell, T-Mobile; Jessica Clarke, Hunter Health Clinic; Dustin Hendricks, Exploration Place; Jitendra Kapur, Spirit AeroSystems; Stephanie Kou, Emprise Bank; Kimberly Luckert, Intrust Bank; Jorge Martinez, JR Custom Metal Products; and Kendra Moody, Koch Industries.

Team Three expanded upon last year’s Advance Kansas Diversity Toolkit project, adding content and working to create a sustainability plan. In addition to the Wichita Regional Chambe of Commerce, the group worked with the Wichita Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Heartland Wichita Black Chamber of Commerce and the local chapter of Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to expand the toolkit’s reach as all have agreed to host a link to it on their website. The team is finalizing arrangements to have Wichita SHRM’s Diversity & Inclusion workgroup take on the management role to ensure the toolkit retains validity and value. Team Three members are Gregory Cole, Good Life Company; Rich Moon, Envision; Richard Nichols, Butler Community College; Troy Nordman, Butler Community College; Vicki Plank, Meritrust Credit Union; and Doris Queen, WSU Tech.

Team Four is creating NeighborGOOD, an initiative to redefine the region by focusing on neighborhoods and personal interaction. The project encourages communities to promote their assets instead of focusing only on assets needs. This positive reframing will help redefine the region on a micro scale with the hope that this will have a ripple effect. Team Four members are: Kali Babich, Wichita Community Foundation; Whitney Belshe, Fidelity Bank; Bradley Dyer, Credit Union of America; Adam Gragg, Decide Your Legacy; Britten Kuckelman, WSU Tech, Camille McCraw, Building Controls and Services; Amanda Paget, T-Mobile.

Team Five is partnering with a group of local volunteers and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to bring the Work Smart salary negotiation training to Wichita. The team’s goal is to train 250 women in underrepresented groups to effectively negotiate their salaries in an effort to close the gender pay gap. Team Five members are Steve Coen, Kansas Health Foundation; Kim Doze-Lohman, Martin Pringle Attorneys at Law; Junetta Everett, Delta Dental of Kansas; Sherii Farmer, Westar Energy; Kate Huggins, Wesley Medical Center; Vivian McMillan, Cargill; Jonathan McRoy, US Air Force; Justin Mohr, Emprise Bank; and Ashley Newberry, Meritrust Credit Union.

Team Six partnered with the Workforce Alliance Youth Employment Program. The team spread the word about various events as well as participated in Manufacturing Interview Day and two Youth Job Fairs. During those events the team connected with the youth, provided support and explained the type of work they were applying for. One positive result of this project is a stronger drive for collaboration between the Workforce Alliance and USD 259. Team Six members are Laura Fischer, Hutton; Shelley Hansel, Envision; Sherry Hoelker, JR Custom Metal Products; Kelly Meier, Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas; Michael Mendoza; William Polite, USD 259 Wichita; and Megan Wagner, Westar Energy.

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. Advance Kansas is facilitated by Juan Johnson, president of Diversity Leadership in Action, of Atlanta.