McConnell selects three new Golden Eagles

by Pat Gallagher, Military Affairs, Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce

Pat Gallagher has been a Golden Eagle since 2009.

In the 1990s the Honorary Commander program was introduced on McConnell Air Force Base (AFB) and approximately twenty local business leaders were partnered with military members on base who, when it could be arranged, had a job on base that was somewhat similar to that of the civilian with whom he/she was matched. Some Honorary Commanders became frequent visitors on base participating in group or squadron activities and any other base opportunity that was open to them.

McConnell AFB later introduced the Golden Eagle award to recognize outstanding volunteer service and as a vehicle for base leadership to thank Honorary Commanders for their exceptional dedication. Only seven civilians have been named Golden Eagles since the program started.

First among those to earn the award were Robin Spurrier (Spurrier Chemical Companies), Keith Lesher (Lesher Investments) and Bob Dool (Mid-Continent Safety).  Jack Pulley with Davis-Moore Automotive Group was the fourth Eagle selected. Rael Hodgson with State Farm Insurance was named Eagle number five and I became a Golden Eagle in 2009. Wayne Roberts with Pioneer Balloon was selected for the award in 2011.

All of the Golden Eagles have been in leadership positions with the Friends of McConnell (FOM), the civilian support organization that has provided financial support to airmen and family related programs and events on McConnell for 60 years. The FOM is an affiliate of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Frank Suellentrop with Legacy Bank is one of three new Golden Eagles.

Three Golden Eagles have recently been selected to join the McConnell Eagle rank: Frank Suellentrop (Legacy Bank); James Havers-Strong (ABI Group); and Joel Rodell (Hutton Construction). All three business leaders have been exemplary supporters of their commanders, the airmen and their families. They are worthy recipients of this unique recognition.

Col. Josh M. Olson, 22nd ARW commander said, “We welcome these three outstanding community leaders to the prestigious Golden Eagles. The group is a direct reflection of the unsurpassed support our Airmen receive from this community. We look forward to work with them as we support combat air-refueling options downrange and bring on the next generation tanker in the upcoming months.”

Rodell said, “Becoming a Golden Eagle is a humbling experience and I look forward to contributing to the program. McConnell is a tremendous asset to Wichita and the surrounding communities. The opportunity to collaborate at a deeper level and help support their mission is something I’m very excited to be part of.”

Suellentrop agreed with Rodell and added that “It’s a great surprise and honor for me. Laura and I have really enjoyed our time as Honorary Commanders.”

We congratulate the newest Golden Eagles and thank all the Chamber members who strive to make McConnell AFB a great assignment for all those serving our country. Please contact the Chamber (316-268-1157) if you’d like to learn more about how you or your company can become more actively involved with the Friends of McConnell.

Introducing our 2017 Leadership Wichita class

Thirty-three citizens from the Wichita region have been selected to participate in the 2017 Leadership Wichita class, a leadership training program presented by the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce. This class will join the nearly 1,000 other individuals who have committed to become stronger leaders for the community since the program was launched in 1983.

Leadership Wichita participants are identified through a nomination process, followed by submission of a formal application to the program’s Board of Trustees for selection. The Chamber received a record number of both nominations (202) and applications (101) for the 2017 program.

“Leadership Wichita provides professionals the training to use their talents and skills to tackle local needs, such as education and economic development,” said Tyler Heffron, Chair of Leadership Wichita Board of Trustees. “Past participants of Leadership Wichita have made significant contributions in our community, and this year’s class will graduate equipped with the insight to build upon their professional successes to make Wichita the premier place to grow companies, careers and communities.”

The 2017 class will participate in eight sessions that cover issues such as economic development and the future vision for Wichita, workforce development and the impact of ensuring a highly educated workforce in our community, the importance of consensus within government, along with building leadership skills through real-life examples, group discussions and collaboration.

The 2017 Leadership Wichita class will begin Thursday, Aug. 24 and will conclude Wednesday, Nov. 8.

2017 Leadership Wichita Class:

  • Abigail Arthur, FreeState Healthcare
  • Keturah Austin, Sedgwick County
  • Kyle Blasdel, Conco Inc.
  • Maggie Butler, Via Christi Health
  • Anne Chandler, Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas
  • Carrie Cox, Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, LC
  • Mike Ellis, Delta Dental of Kansas
  • Amy Feimer, Hunter Health Clinic
  • LaShonda Garnes, City of Wichita
  • Clay Germany, Wichita Police Department
  • Michele Gifford, Textron Aviation
  • Andrew Gough, Reverie Coffee Roasters
  • Jeff Hersh, USD 265 Goddard Public Schools
  • Jennifer Hughes, High Touch Technologies
  • Danielle Johnson, Wichita State University Office of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Justin Kasel, USD 259 Wichita Public Schools
  • Jason Knobbe, Kansas Air National Guard
  • Melissa Knoeber, Fidelity Bank
  • Paul Lavender, Sasnak Management Corporation
  • Jonathan Long, T-Mobile
  • Sheila McGuire, Hutton Construction Corporation
  • Cindy Miles, Nonprofit Chamber of Service
  • Robert Moody, Martin Pringle Attorneys at Law
  • Justin Pfeifer, Wichita Area Technical College
  • Mark Pierce, Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office
  • Jake Ramstack, Insite Real Estate Group
  • Tyler Roush, 18th Judicial District
  • Courtney Sendall, Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Sharla Smith, University of Kansas School of Medicine Wichita
  • Ty Tabing, Hudbella Government Affairs
  • Jacob Wayman, e2e Accelerator, Inc.
  • Rachel White-McQuillan, Westar Energy
  • Rachael Woods, Spirit AeroSystems

Dundas receives Lifetime Sales Achievement Award

One of our favorite things to do is celebrate milestones with our member businesses. Almost equally as exciting is celebrating milestones in the careers of our employees, and today we have that opportunity.

Kresta Dundas, Director of Membership Development for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, has been recognized with the ACCE’s (Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives) Lifetime Sales Achievement Award. Kresta was honored in the Silver Category, meaning she is responsible for 750 new members or $300,000+ in sales over the course of her Chamber career. The official announcement was made in July at the ACCE’s national conference in Nashville.

Kresta joined the Chamber in July 2012. Her responsibilities include overseeing the sales of Chamber memberships, the retention of current members, representing the Chamber at Member Milestone events, and helping businesses get the most value from their membership investment.

“Kresta is an amazing asset to any business, big or small,” said Heather Branson, CEO of Dynamic Sign Solutions. “Her desire to help others grow their organization, along with the Chamber resources she provides, are well worth our annual Wichita Chamber membership dues. The business relationships she can help spark, the wisdom she can share, and her caring demeanor make her a quality investment.”

“Kresta is a key member of our leadership team and is committed to ensuring businesses are successful in their Chamber membership,” said Gary Plummer, Chamber President/CEO.  “She is most deserving of this recognition, and we are proud of her contributions to the Wichita Chamber and our region.”

She has more than 15 years of marketing and sales experience, including nine years in media sales. She is a graduate of Wichita State University and a volunteer for various animal welfare causes.

Please join us in congratulating Kresta!

About ACCE
ACCE—the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives—serves more than 7,500 chamber of commerce professionals, 1,300 chambers of commerce and hundreds of other businesses and organizations, like convention and visitors bureaus and economic development organizations. Established in 1914, ACCE offers resources, industry information and data, professional development opportunities, peer connectivity and best practice sharing through the annual convention and topical conferences, their award-winning magazine, online education, peer networking and other activities.

Introducing Kirby, the Chamber dog

Kirby is being trained to become a certified assistance dog.

If you have visited the Chamber building in the last month, you may have noticed the pitter patter of little paws or been greeted by requests for belly rubs by Kirby, a 15-week old female black lab. While more and more workplaces are becoming pet-friendly, Kirby is no ordinary pup because she is being trained to become an assistance dog.

Kirby is owned by KSDS Assistance Dogs Inc., located in Washington, KS. The nonprofit organization is fully accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and provides guide dogs for the visually impaired, service dogs to assist individuals with physical disabilities, and facility dogs that assist professionals in the field of education, counseling, health care, retirement or the legal system.

Kirby once received an invitation to City Hall to meet Mayor Longwell.

Volunteers known as “Puppy Raisers” are an integral part of the KSDS mission. The Puppy Raiser is responsible for teaching the puppy basic obedience, house and public manners, and socialization. Chamber staff member Courtney Sendall and her husband Jeremy are Kirby’s Puppy Raisers, and key to her socialization is accompanying her humans wherever they go (hence coming to work at the Chamber each day). So really, the entire Chamber staff is contributing to her raising.

When Kirby reaches four months of age, she will receive her official “Assistance Dog In Training” vest. If you see her when she is wearing this vest, we ask that you refrain from petting her because wearing the vest is her signal that she is on duty.

When Kirby reaches two years of age, she will return to KSDS for a year of formal training, after which she will be matched will an individual in need of an assistance dog.

So for the next two years, Kirby is will be an official part of your Chamber team. Will it be difficult to give her back? Absolutely. But will it be worth it knowing that she is changing someone’s life? Absolutely.

Even though she is a future assistance dog, she is also still a puppy, so we appreciate your patience if you hear her barks while you’re at our building for a meeting or if she doesn’t display proper manners when she meets you. We’re working on it and she looks forward to meeting you.

Note: A fully-trained KSDS dog is valued at $25,000 and is provided to individuals at no cost, and there is currently a three year waiting list due to a shortage of Puppy Raisers. KSDS reports that 90 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to the support and placement of assistance dogs. Learn more at ksds.org.

Web marketing expert Marcus Sheridan coming to Wichita

Author and web marketing expert Marcus Sheridan will be speaking in Wichita on Oct. 27. His speech is titled “The Digital Consumer: How Today’s Buyer Has Changed and What Your Business Must Do About It” and is specifically designed for marketers and small business owners. The program, presented by Digital Wichita and the Wichita Regional Chamber,  will be held from 7:15 to 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 27 at Abode Venue and includes breakfast.

Marcus is the author of the Sales Lion, a sales, marketing and personal development blog, and a partner in River Pools and Spas, which he is credited with saving during the 2008 economic crisis.

An internationally sought after speaker and strategic marketing consultant, Marcus brings clarity to what B2B and B2C companies must do to not only align themselves with the recent shift in buyer patterns, but take advantage of the digital age as well.

Forbes magazine named him one of seven “Best Speakers for Business Growth,” while Entrepreneur magazine last week named him among “11 Marketing Experts Whose Insights Could Change Your Business.”

Early-bird ticket are available for $40 through Aug. 31. A Social Host Package is also available for $375, which includes eight tickets and logo recognition at the event. Each ticket holder will receive a copy of Sheridan’s book They Ask You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer. Find more information register here before prices go up.

Event sponsorships are still available. Contact Rachel Douglass for more information.

Arts and Culture Grow Wichita’s Economy

Gary Plummer is the President and CEO of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The numbers tell an impressive story. The non-profit arts and culture sector in Wichita is a significant contributor to the local economy, generating $94.7 million in total industry expenditures in 2015 (according to an updated study conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology). Wichita’s arts and cultural offerings not only inspire joy and creativity, they also translate to 2,841 full-time equivalent jobs. The study confirms that “investing in this industry supports jobs, generates government revenue and is the cornerstone of tourism.”

There’s no doubt that the arts impact the perception we have of our own community, which is why one of the Chamber’s four 2017 Strategic Priorities revolves around continuing to improve our Quality of Life. Identifying transformational community projects that helps us grow our community and economy is of vital importance to our members.

The Wichita Art Museum won the Chamber’s Keeper of the Plains award this year for the popular new Art Garden.

Please take a moment to review the video prepared by Americans for the Arts and the area of the study that focuses on the economic impact of the arts on Wichita. Both are found on the Americans for the Arts web site.

VideoArts and Economic Prosperity 5
Economic impact of the artsWichita, Kansas 

Better yet, make it a point to support our many cultural offerings in the area. We are enriched by the museums, theaters, film festivals and dance companies we are fortunate to enjoy in Wichita. They are a key factor in transforming our lives and helping us retain and grow our workforce and businesses.

How Are you Celebrating Wichita’s Birthday? (Part 3)

We have four more ideas to share with you for celebrating Wichita’s 147th birthday bash on Friday, July 21.

Increased social media activity during the @wichitaflag’s 80th birthday celebration put Wichita on the map.

Share what you love about our city with the world
Using #ILoveWichita and posting on your favorite social media channel creates a constantly updated and authentic digital brochure about the best things to see and do in Wichita. During last month’s 80th anniversary celebration of the adoption of our city flag, Chamber Board member Mark Nichols with Koch Companies said he noticed the additional @wichitaflag Twitter activity and was impressed with the quantity, quality and creativity of the posts–everything from floral flags to flag cakes. And indeed, all those great posts put @Wichitaflag on the Twitter trendsmap. Nichols said Koch employees use Yammer as an internal platform to share ideas and create a sense of community. He noticed that many of the anniversary flag posts were shared that day in a popular group Koch employees can join called “We Love Wichita.”

Newman University shows their Wichita pride year-round on their digital signage.

Put a birthday message on your digital signage
We salute those Wichita businesses and organizations that have incorporated Wichita pride messages year-round on their digital signage. They’ve contributed to the growth in city pride. Return visitors to the community have noticed the change and first-time visitors are asking questions about the city’s flag. The ABC News crew that visited Wichita in February to cover local reaction to national politics wanted to know about the symbolism behind the Wichita flag since they noticed it displayed at all the locations they visited.

Add the #ILoveWichita decal to the front door of your business or organization.
You can join more than 50 Wichita organizations and businesses that have placed a decal on their front door. It’s fast and easy. And if your front door doesn’t have the perfect location for a decal, consider placing one in your employee break room or another spot that works best for your team. Check out the videos from area companies who have shared why they love being here after they’ve placed their decal and then call Courtney at the Chamber (316-268-1153) to learn about how to join the #ILoveWichita movement.

Stacy Ward Lattin just added the #ILoveWichita decal to the front door of Hopping Gnome Brewing on East Douglas.

Download a Wichita flag coloring sheet
Our partnership with Fidelity Bank has included the development of a coloring page for children and adults with flag facts. More than 900 have been printed and distributed to area basketball camps, preschools, and other organizations that provide services for children. The two-sided sheet is free to download and print and can be found on ilovewichita.org. It was developed at the suggestion of Wichita State University students from the Elliott School of Communication who recommended that the Chamber focus on instilling community pride at an earlier age. Download it, learn some flag facts, color the sheet, complete the sentence at the bottom, “#ILoveWichita because ______,” and then share it on social media.

Check out our previous two blogs this week for suggestions about more ways to celebrate.

How Are you Celebrating Wichita’s Birthday?  (Part 2)

Wichita’s 147th birthday bash is Friday, July 21. How are you celebrating? We shared some ideas in yesterday’s post and have five more listed below.

Hyde Elementary School proudly displays a Wichita flag.

Wave your #Wichitaflag
Gone are the days when only a handful of businesses and homes were flying the city’s official flag. Wichitans are showing their pride at home, school and work by flying their favorite civic symbol and tagging @wichitaflag on social media. Don’t own a flag, yet? Chamber members Henry Helgerson, The Workroom and Wings of the Wind Kites & Toys can set you up with various sizes of flags. Why is community pride and championing the flag imperative for rallying our city? Check The Chung Report article titled Raising the Wichita Flag and watch the Roman Mars Ted Talk about the impact city flags have on civic pride.

#FlagItForwardICT
Know a neighbor, business or organization you think would love to be part of the Wichita flag movement? Gift them a flag! A Wichitalks speaker proposed this idea last year and we think it’s a great one. This is the ultimate Wichita welcome, whether it’s for a business near you that just opened their doors or for a new neighbor who just moved to your block. And the connections built by becoming a better neighbor are imperative for growing our companies, careers and community. Visit this post from The Chung Report about the community and personal benefits of good neighboring – Good Neighboring and the Perception Challenge.

A young visitor from West Chester, Pennsylvania checks out one of Wichita’s outdoor murals.

Visit a mural
Take your picture at one of the many new murals featuring Wichita flag elements and post it on social media. What can you say about a community where three new Wichita murals went up just last weekend? We love art. The number of local-based outdoor murals has skyrocketed in the last several years. Locals and visitors are really enjoying all the new and interesting artwork and those murals are good for business. Check the Wichita Eagle story posted by Matt Riedel earlier this year about how a mural has attracted new customers for a local business. Find a current listing of mural locations at ilovewichita.org or the @wichitaflag mural Facebook album.

Area artisans are painting the Wichita flag on everything from tree stump tables to athletic shoes. This table was painted by local artist, Johnny Freedom.

Support a local artist
Stumped about how to mark a special occasion for a friend, family member or co-worker? Purchase some flag wearables or art to display at your home or office. The variety and quantity of creative folk and commercial art that Wichitans are creating is dazzling. Check the @wichitaflag accounts and look for the flag swag listing on ilovewichita.org

Watch and share flag videos
Look for these titles:

Your Wichita Flag – The Chamber produced a new video last month with member World Studios ICT that was released on the 80th anniversary of the Wichita flag. It’s received nearly 30,000 views on the Chamber’s Facebook page alone.

Resurgence of the Wichita Flag – A ‘first place’ was recently awarded by the National Federation of Press Women for the Resurgence of the Wichita Flag video that the Chamber developed last year with Washburn film student and Wichita native Ben Faires.

Check out yesterday’s post and watch for a new one tomorrow with more suggestions about how to celebrate.

How Are you Celebrating Wichita’s Birthday? (Part 1)

Wichita’s 147th birthday bash is Friday, July 21. How are you celebrating? We have some ideas to share with you in this week’s blog posts.

Attend a Birthday Celebration 
Several Chamber members are hosting special events.

Produce Your Own Birthday Bash
Offer a special discount or service for people wearing Wichita flag swag and promote it via your social media channels.

Watch for more suggestions on blog posts that we’ll publish this week.

Rachel Douglass promoted to Director of Engagement

Rachel Douglass

Gary Plummer, Chamber President & CEO, announced today that Rachel Douglass has been promoted from Manager of Engagement to Director of Engagement effective July 1. She joined the Chamber in September 2015, and her responsibilities include planning and implementation of events and programs which deliver visibility, education and peer connections for Chamber members. She has a comprehensive background in project management, marketing strategy and brand management. Douglass is a graduate of Wichita State University and a volunteer for several organizations including the Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Barton International Group.

Plummer said that Douglass has proven herself to be a valuable part of the Chamber team. “Rachel has shown a great talent for assessing Chamber member needs and connecting them with the most valuable program. Her ability to develop meaningful relationships with our members, vendors and the community at large makes her an important part of the Chamber’s membership engagement efforts. I’m very pleased that Rachel is assuming greater responsibility for the direction of Chamber programming.”