Advance Kansas class graduates
The 10th Advance Kansas class culminated on May 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 387, representing 134 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. Each of this year’s projects address what the Chung Report describes as Wichita’s Human Capital Challenge. Members of a CEO Roundtable on Diversity and Inclusion established by the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce identified six 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 is partnering with Butler Community College and the Greater Wichita Partnership to create the “Tracking Talent” survey, designed to capture key information from local professionals to help determine why underrepresented groups are leaving the greater Wichita area. Team One members are Shamain Bachman, Envision; Bryce Dougherty, Delta Dental of Kansas; Mindy McPheeters, Spirit AeroSystems; Matt Morris, BKD CPAs and Advisors; Terri Rice, Cox Business; Justan Shinkle, Foulston Siefkin Attorneys at Law; Shelley Stultz, Butler Community College; and Samantha Woods, Martin Pringle Attorneys at Law.
Team Two and Team Three joined forces to form “Dream Keepers” in partnership with USD 259.
The partnership’s goal is to engage, enrich and inspire middle school students while providing educators and parents information about career paths in STEM or skilled technical fields. Team Two is organizing a STEM Day for Coleman and Jardine Middle School students, featuring interactive presentations by people working in the STEM field. Team Three will establish a process through which programs emphasizing STEM careers can be certified as Dream Keepers programs, provide training for industry ambassadors, and coordinate scheduling of programs and students participation. Team Two members are: Chad Albin, Cox Communications; Shane Batchelder, Westar Energy; Aaron Bishop, Meritrust Credit Union; Shelby Davis, Cox Machine; Nazia Khan, High Touch Technology Solutions; Rosemary Lesser, Airbus Americas Engineering; Katherine Sanneman, American Red Cross; and Robert Smith, Foulston Siefkin Attorneys at Law. Team Three members are: Lynn Gilkey, Rise Up for Youth; Sean Hudspeth, Davis-Moore Auto Group; Wendy Johnson, USD 259 Wichita; George Marko, Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas; Sangita Richardson, Spirit AeroSystems; Taylor Robillard, Wildcat Construction; and Phil Speary, Butler Community College.
Team Four is proposing a partnership with Young Professionals of Wichita to implement the idea that businesses in Wichita, big and small, will be present on college campuses in a more intentional way to focus on building relationships with high-performing students in the hopes that this network of relationships can contribute to retaining talent even before they graduate. They are calling this partnership The Career Courtship Program. Team Four members are: Blake Blasi, Cornejo & Sons; Hayley Hobbs, Butler Community College; Stephen Kamunge, Airbus Americas; Stacey Petrie, Hutton Construction; Alicia Sanchez, Wichita State University; and Tim Smith, IMA Financial Group.
Team Five is working to create a Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit that area organizations may use as a starting point if they wish to develop related initiatives. To be housed online with the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, the toolkit will offer a pool of resources that companies may consult as they work to create more inclusive workplaces for their employees or customers, by designing and implementing a diversity strategy or in leveraging their existing diversity. Team Five members are Tara Clary, High Touch Technology Solutions; Miguel Cruz, iSi Environmental Services; Megan Hayes, Cox Machine; Ayerianne Hibler, Meritrust Credit Union; Heath Kintzel, City of Andover; Andrea Street, T-Mobile; and Cory Teubner, Butler Community College.
Team Six is working to find a partner to address the communication challenges around local events. While there are many things going on in Wichita, it can be difficult to learn about all of them since they are promoted on so many different sites. If you aren’t connected to the “right person,” you may not know about these events! Team Six is seeking a partner organization to serve as an overseer over all these activities to make sure they are being communicated to the population as a whole. Team Six members are Alex Bush, Friends University; Danielle Harmon, Koch Industries; Teresa Houston, Envision; Patrick Salmans, Equity Bank; Stan Smith, Martin Pringle Attorneys at Law; Faith Taylor, Westar Energy; and Rachel Thomas-Murphy, Thomas Grey Interiors.
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.