Interns Choose Wichita

by Barry Schwan
Owner, House of Schwan, Inc.
2016 Chairman of the Board for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Barry Schwan 2016 Chamber Chairman

Barry Schwan
2016 Chamber Chairman

Lyndsey Edwards has opted to stay in Wichita after completing her Bachelor of Arts in Communication at Wichita State University this semester. So has Madison Harris, who recently graduated from Valley Center High School. And Wichita will be a much better place because they’ve both decided to pour their considerable energy and talent back into our region.

Both of these high-achieving young women interned with the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce during the spring semester this year. And in doing so, they built stronger connections to the business community and a deeper affection for Wichita.

Madison said it best in a recent blog post she wrote about her internship experience. “Before starting my internship I was a Wichitan because I was born here. But now I am one because I choose to be.” In fact, Madison now describes Wichita as her “forever home.”

It’s clear from her comments that Madison understands that internships are about much more than sharpening your skills and building your resume. They’re also about making professional and personal connections that have the potential to accelerate career options and create a permanent home.

As a former educator and the 2016 Chairman of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, I want to thank every business leader who has committed the resources to creating these meaningful opportunities. Internships are essential for student growth, but they’re also imperative to the vitality of our business community.

That’s why the Chamber is so pleased to promote the Intern Return program developed by our affiliate, the Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW). Every year the YPW staff and volunteers develop activities and opportunities to familiarize interns with all that’s unique about Wichita. Deepening their ties to Wichita and connecting them with colleagues in other industries is another way to ensure that our community retains our brightest and best talent.

Not every intern will commit to staying in Wichita. But many of those who do make that choice will undoubtedly contribute innovative ideas that strengthen our organizations and companies. And those who move to other areas of the country and even the world will be goodwill ambassadors for our community.

The responsibility is on us, the business community, to create these meaningful opportunities. Involving interns in YPW’s Intern Return program is another important way to demonstrate that Wichita is a place they should consider for permanent employment. These investments in our students ultimately benefit all of us.

It’s nothing short of thrilling when high achievers who have the opportunity to contribute their talents anywhere on the globe make the choice to stay here. It means we’ve all done a great job of communicating the distinct advantages Wichita has to offer and strengthening their personal and professional ties to the region.

Congratulations to all of this year’s graduates. And a special note of  thanks to all the employers who gave them an opportunity to apply their classroom lessons in real-life situations.

Check the May 27 entry at to read the entire post by intern Madison Harris. An edited form of today’s blog post was published in today’s Wichita Eagle.

Finding a ‘forever home’ in Wichita

Madison Harris interned in our Communications Department during the spring 2016 semester. She graduated from Valley Center High School last month and plans to attend Butler Community College for Mass Communications in the fall. She will then attend Wichita State University to study Business Communications. The blog entry below demonstrates the value of providing valuable internship experiences for young professionals to build stronger connections to the business community and a deeper affection for Wichita.

Madison HarrisBy Madison Harris

Senior year, for most, is a time when involvement in school clubs, extracurricular activities and sports comes to an end. It is a time to say your final “good-byes” to what you have been accustomed to for the past 12 years. For me, my senior year ended my dancing and competitive public speaking career. While the high school door is closing, a new one is opening: college. As senior year started, I had no idea what career field to venture off into. Would it be education or business? However, during the course of my senior year and internship experiences I realized what I am truly passionate about: serving the community, people and networking, and Wichita. It is through my time interning at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce I found my true calling.

Valley Center High School, where I attended classes, provides an internship program. At the start of my senior year, I interned with the local middle school in English Education. The students offered an array of experiences – teaching, helping, planning, and mentoring students, but I felt disconnected. While I loved getting to leave an impact on the students and the way they thought, I wasn’t happy. I knew that even though I come from a family who values the importance of the school system, this career path wasn’t meant for me. So I reevaluated and at the start of the second semester I found myself with an internship at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce for business marking and communications.

Growing up I always thought I would become a doctor or a lawyer but I never saw myself in business. My teacher once told me, “Find a career not a job,” and after joining the Chamber staff, I can’t see myself inside any other career field. My time at the Chamber has been an experience that I won’t ever forget. The staff welcomed me and always motivated and pushed me to become a better communicator. The skills I have learned will not only carry me through college or my future career but they will help carry me through life. I have learned how to effectively write news releases, hone my skills in Photoshop, InDesign, and Adobe, how to utilize social media for business, and gained exposure to Chamber-led events.

After joining the Chamber team, I discovered how great of a city Wichita is. Before starting my internship, I was a Wichitan because I was born here. But now, I am one because I choose to be. I have been impacted by the way this city functions – the events, the small town vibe that radiates through downtown, the hole-in-the- wall restaurants you can’t find anywhere else, and the Wichita flag have all left an impression on me that is unchangeable.  Wichita is a place of simplicity and I know that it is a “forever home.”

Chambers cohost Kansas Commerce Secretary

Kansas Secretary of Commerce Antonio Soavo met Wichita City Council member Lavonta Williams during the Chamber reception.

Kansas Secretary of Commerce Antonio Soavo met Wichita City Council member Lavonta Williams during the Chamber reception held yesterday.

Yesterday the Chamber cohosted an after-work reception with the Wichita Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for Kansas Commerce Secretary Antonio J. Soave. Soave was appointed to the position by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback late last year. More than one hundred business leaders and elected officials turned out to hear his remarks about the business climate in Kansas.

Soave, who earned a law degree from Michigan State and a master’s in international law from the University of San Diego, spoke eloquently and passionately about the partnerships he’s been establishing with Kansas businesses so that his department can add more value to their export plans. Addressing the group in both English and Spanish, he also talked about his efforts to aggressively recruit new companies to the state and build on current efforts to retain those businesses that are already established here.

Soave said that the Greater Wichita Partnership, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and other area chambers are important partners in trade development plans and that he will continue working with them on retention and expansion efforts. He indicated that he is “doubling down” to help Kansas businesses attract new jobs to the state.

While Kansas companies are leaders in a variety of industries, Soave recognized that a competitive environment makes it important to utilize economic development tools to retain companies like Cargill. “Our companies here are resilient,” said Soave and they are known for their “integrity, drive and commitment.”

Photos from yesterday’s event are posted on Facebook. Our thanks to Pioneer Balloon for providing the reception location. Other sponsors included Greater Wichita Partnership, Kansas Global Trade Services, Molino’s Mexican Cuisine and the Kansas Beer Wholesalers Association.

The next Government Relations event is Wednesday, June 1, when U.S. Senator Jerry Moran will speak at a Federal Issue Forum luncheon. Register here.


Cargill Strengthens Their Community Commitment


Cargill Vice President Brian Sikes announced at a news conference today that Cargill will remain in Wichita.

The Chamber was honored to host today’s news conference about Cargill’s decision to continue to be a vital part of our business community. Retaining this legacy company is excellent news for our city, region and state.

Today’s announcement has a profound economic impact on Wichita. And just as importantly, it means 800 Cargill employees will continue to be our neighbors, friends and colleagues. The ripple effect of this decision is far reaching and we commend all those leading our economic development efforts at the local and state level for working together to produce the best possible result for Wichita.

There’s much to celebrate!

Photo Album of news conference on Facebook

Live News Conference Feed on Facebook
Cargill News Release

News Stories:
KSN-TV – Cargill to stay in Wichita
Wichita Eagle – Cargill to keep headquarters in Wichita
Wichita Business Journal – Cargill:  We’re staying in Wichita

Tyler Heffron covers the Leadership Wichita selection process

Nominations for the Chamber’s 2016 Leadership Wichita class are underway. This is the third post in a three-part series with answers to questions about the program. See Monday’s blog post for answers to questions 1-3 by 1999 Leadership Wichita graduate Tammy Allen. Questions 4-6 were answered in yesterday’s post by 2003 Leadership Wichita graduate Denise Sherman. Leadership Wichita graduate Tyler Heffron answers questions 7-10 below.

Tyler E. Heffron, an  Attorney with  Triplett, Woolf & Garretson, LLC is a 2008  Leadership Wichita graduate and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Tyler E. Heffron is an
Attorney with
Triplett, Woolf & Garretson, LLC. He is a 2008
Leadership Wichita graduate and the 2016 Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

  1. How much time does the program require and what topics will be covered? The class meets nine times and the program runs between September 8 and November 17. Eight of those sessions are day-long events. The program is so engaging and fun that it’s over before you know it, and you’ll leave invigorated about the Wichita area. There are three additional outside class activities related to media, government, and caring community. The program topics include:
  • The Strategic Wichita Vision
  • Working Partnerships with Media
  • An Education Responsibility
  • The Business of Government
  • Making Development Happen
  • Simulated Society
  • Shaping a Caring Community
  1. Who selects the Leadership Wichita class and when will the 2016 class be announced? Members of the 2016 Board of Trustees are responsible for the class selection process, and they each dedicate a significant amount of time to ensure the class of participants is diverse and balanced. Applicants who aren’t accepted the first time they apply are encouraged to apply again the following year. The 2016 Leadership Wichita class will be announced August 5.
  1. Who oversees the program? Suzy Finn, Director of Community Advancement for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, works with the Leadership Wichita Board of Trustees to organize the program and to select timely and topical speakers and session materials.
  1. Who makes up the Board of Trustees? Every Leadership Wichita class selects one representative on the Board of Trustees. Other members of the Board are selected by the Chamber and Board Chair from the list of distinguished program alumni. The 13-member Board has a number of responsibilities, including assisting with the logistics of the program, identifying trending topics and issues for inclusion in the sessions, and securing speakers. Board members typically serve a three-year term. Our 2016 Board is listed below:

Tyler Heffron – 2016 Chair
Attorney – Partner
Triplett, Woolf & Garreston, LLC

Ryan Bond
Director, Brand and People Experience
Sasnak Management Corporation

Dennis Clary
Senior Manager, Public Affairs
Cox Communications

John DeCesaro
Vice President and Marketing Manager
Fidelity Bank

Claudio Ferraro
Sr. Administrator and Chief of Staff
Via Christi Health

Bobby Gandu
Director of Admissions
Wichita State University

Katie Grover
Senior Vice President and Marketing Director
Fidelity Bank

Christina House
Project Operations Lead & Risk Officer
Airbus Americas Engineering

Chris Howell
President, Western Kansas Region
UMB Bank, N.A.

Wendy Johnson
Division Director, Marketing and Communications
Wichita Public Schools

Mark Manning
Budget and Research Director
City of Wichita

Gabe Schlickau
State Farm Agency – Schlickau

Don Sherman
VP, Community Relations & Strategic Partnerships
Westar Energy

Leadership Wichita nominations are due June 10, and should be submitted electronically at Nominees will then be forwarded an application to complete and submit by June 22.

Denise Sherman on the value of investing and participating in Leadership Wichita

Denise Sherman- MSOD, PHR is the  Director of Organizational Partnerships with  Southwestern College and a 2003 Leadership Wichita graduate

Denise Sherman- MSOD, PHR is the
Director of Organizational Partnerships with
Southwestern College and a 2003 Leadership Wichita graduate

Nominations for the Chamber’s 2016 Leadership Wichita class are underway. This is the second post in a three-part series about the program. See yesterday’s blog for answers to questions 1-3 by 1999 Leadership Wichita graduate Tammy Allen. Questions 4-6 below are answered by 2003 Leadership Wichita graduate Denise Sherman.

  1. How can I make the Leadership Wichita experience happen for someone I know? Consider nominating someone from your business circle who has the potential for expanding current leadership roles. Or consider a leader within your area of influence who has demonstrated their commitment to our community through their awareness about issues facing Wichita and the surrounding area. What makes the Leadership Wichita program most impactful is the different perspectives represented by a diverse class of participants. Nominations are due June 10, and should be submitted electronically at Nominees will then be forwarded an application to complete and submit by June 22.
  1. How many are accepted into each class and what’s the cost to participate? Placement in this leadership program is highly coveted and I’m sure many past participants will agree that the experience exceeded their expectations! We receive 50 to 80 applications every year, with a maximum of 30 achievers selected for the class. I didn’t make the class with my first application, but was selected my second time around. It was well worth the effort of reapplying, as my experience provided many opportunities to connect and serve in leadership capacities. In my opinion, the $750 tuition is a small investment in your leadership development. Don’t let the fee hold you back. Limited financial assistance is available!
  1. Are there age or regional limitations for applicants? In order to engage in a meaningful experience and ensure a diverse class, there aren’t any age limits. In addition, Leadership Wichita is inclusive of our surrounding area, so applications outside of the immediate metro area are also welcomed. One must be a Kansas resident, but consideration is given to eliminate duplication of industries and/or companies within the each selected class.

Watch for the final blog post in our three-part series that publishes tomorrow.
May 18Tyler Heffron, a 2008 Leadership Wichita graduate, covers session topics and the selection process for the 2016 Leadership Wichita class.

Leadership Wichita nominations are due June 10, and should be submitted electronically. Nominees will then be forwarded an application to complete and submit by June 22.

Tammy Allen on what differentiates Leadership Wichita from other programs

Nominations for the Chamber’s 2016 Leadership Wichita class opened today. Three Leadership Wichita graduates are answering questions about the program this week on the Chamber’s blog. Tammy Allen, a 1999 Leadership Wichita graduate, is our first guest blogger.

  1. Tammy Allen V.P. of Marketing & Communications Allen, Gibbs & Houlik 1999 Leadership Wichita graduate

    Tammy Allen is the 
    V.P. of Marketing & Communications for 
    Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, LC
    and a 1999 Leadership Wichita graduate.

    Who is the ideal nominee for Leadership Wichita? Anyone who wants a broader AND deeper view of and role in our community would be a great fit for Leadership Wichita. It’s like getting the inside view of what makes our region work. Think about people you know who have a true passion for Wichita and who want to learn and get insight directly from business and government leaders about the community’s success. Think about people who have already stepped into community volunteer or leadership roles. Are they willing to focus their energy and talents to help push our community to grow and improve? If so, we need them in the next Leadership Wichita class. Nominate them by June 10 and urge them to complete the application form by June 22.

  1. Why should I nominate someone for the 2016 Leadership Wichita class? Two reasons: The community wins and the Leadership Wichita class members win. Leadership Wichita is one of the ways we grow future community leaders and help ensure our community’s success. Connecting energetic and committed leaders to others who share their passion and to more experienced regional leaders paves the way to helping people understand how economic growth and community advancement happens. We need to constantly grow the network of experienced leaders who understand how to collaborate to resolve issues and make change and growth possible. In return for their role in Leadership Wichita, class members grow their network, learn new skills, and deepen their understanding of Wichita’s challenges as well as the initiatives to solve them. They’ll graduate with a clearer focus on how and where their volunteer efforts can contribute to Wichita’s success.
  1. How does Leadership Wichita differ from other leadership programs?Interactivity – In Leadership Wichita, it’s not just a classroom lecture. Great speakers and interactive and engaging role-playing help class members learn skills ranging from how to handle a media interview to how to help resolve conflict. For me and for many graduates, the highlight and most eye-opening experience is riding an evening shift with a police officer, sheriff’s officer or firefighter to learn what it’s really like to be the first person on the scene in an urgent situation — both the rewards and the challenges of leading during an emergency.
    Involvement – Class members get an up close and personal perspective from leaders in enforcement agencies, government, not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions and businesses who are committed to exchanging ideas and information with our classes. These leaders are personally involved and dedicate time to this program because they enjoy the idea and information exchange.
    Network – More than 750 business, community, government, education and military leaders have graduated from the program. Leadership Wichita alumni form a large network of area leaders who are committed to improving their region and being a resource for each other. Many of them are now leading Wichita organizations and initiatives.
    Experience – Leadership Wichita was founded more than 30 years ago; the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce has been training key community and business leaders since 1983.

Watch for more Q&A with Leadership Wichita grads in two more blog posts this week.
May 17Denise Sherman, a 2003 Leadership Wichita graduate, provides information about the cost and value of the program.
May 18Tyler Heffron, a graduate of the 2008 Leadership Wichita class, covers session topics and the  selection process for the 2016 class.

Leadership Wichita nominations are due June 10, and should be submitted electronically. Nominees will then be forwarded an application to complete and submit by June 22.

Join the #ILoveWichita Movement

Promoting the community is one of the Chamber’s four focus areas, directly aligning with the #ILoveWichita movement. The campaign was inspired by our Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) leadership and has been gaining momentum over the last fifteen months (there are more than 1,550 posts on Instagram alone using the hashtag!).

Now, #ILoveWichita decals are popping up on storefronts across the city as the business community works together to build community pride. Visit us on Instagram to see videos of the Chamber members listed below sharing why they love Wichita.

ILoveWichita Decal_Chamber

  • Abode Venue
  • Auto Craft Collision Repair
  • Carlos O’Kelly’s
  • Cassandra Bryan Design
  • City of Wichita
  • Cowley College
  • Doo-Dah Diner
  • ICT S.O.S.
  • INTRUST Bank Arena
  • Justin McClure Creative
  • Legacy Bank
  • Midwest Single Source
  • MODE Wichita
  • RSM Marketing
  • Scholfield Buick-GMC
  • Spangler and Reimers Roofing
  • The Orpheum
  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Tru-Building, Inc.
  • Wichita Community Foundation

Search #ILoveWichita on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to see photos, videos and testimonials that provide an authentic view of our city: the new airport, sports teams, cultural events, volunteer projects, beautiful sunsets, what’s cooking on the grill, original artwork, and more. Then post your own to add your voice to the #ILoveWichita movement.

If you would like to display a #ILoveWichita decal on the front door of your business, contact Courtney Sendall at