The ninth Advance Kansas class kicked off Jan. 27 at Butler Community College with 38 business and community leaders from across the region. Advance Kansas is based on the premise that the future well-being of our region depends on our diverse community.

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 – to acquire skills for addressing diversity challenges and opportunities in organizations and in the community. These business leaders attend several workshops and then bring the skills they learn back to the community.

The Advance Kansas Class IX members are: Jessica Atherton, Fidelity Bank; Amanda Bally, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.; Tracia Banuelos, WSU SGA; Michael Blake, Westar Energy, Inc.; Marla Canfield, Workforce Alliance; Kevin Caron, T-Mobile; Carey Craig, Wesley Woodlawn Hospital; Jon Cressler, Butler Community College; Willow Dean, Butler Community College; Joyce Dixson, INTRUST Bank; Aron Dunn, Allen, Gibbs & Houlik; Molly Edwards, Delta Dental of Kansas; Jenn Fast, Koch Industries, Inc.; Haylea Grier, Sedgwick County Department of Corrections; Christyn Gunter, Kansas African American Museum; Lisa Hilyard, City of Wichita; Heather Hogan, Envision, Inc.; Michael Keller, City of Andover; Sequana Kimbrel, Health Care Clinic; Amie Lamar, T-Mobile; Demitria Larry, Boys & Girls Club; J’Vonnah Maryman, Sedgwick County Health Department; Redd Montelongo, T-Mobile; Dee Nighswonger, Sedgwick County Developmental Disability; Thea Pajunen, Apples and Arrows; Erin Pieper, Roderick H. Polston; Lisa-Marie Pulley, Wichita Independent Business Association; Keith Reynolds, USD 259 Wichita; Lesley Schmidt, Kansas Agri-Women; Mary Anne Szczepanski, Workforce Alliance; Aggie Tuxhorn, Meritrust Credit Union; Wendy Ward, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.; Stacy Ward Lattin, Zernco, Inc.; Rene White, INTRUST Bank; Rachel White McQuillan, Westar Energy, Inc.; Brad Wilson, Meritrust Credit Union; Lori Winningham, Butler Community College; and Monica Zavala, Butler Community College.