Addition of Young Leader Award to Honors Night Lineup

By Rachel Douglass
Business Services Manager

Wichita has many outstanding people and organizations, and the Chamber’s Honors Night event recognizes some of our community’s finest, following a tradition started more than 50 years ago.

Honors Night, scheduled for April 11, 2017, celebrates an outstanding individual, exemplary corporate citizens, exceptional commitment to the community, and a striking architectural achievement. These recognitions have special meaning because each award recipient contributes to the greater well-being of our community; each another stitch in the historic fabric of the Wichita area.

With the Chamber’s centennial celebration in 2017, the Chamber Executive Committee has approved the addition of a young professional award to the program’s honors. Introducing the award next year will be a nice tie to the centennial celebration as we pay homage to our history, but look forward on how best to engage the next generation.

The new award provides premiere recognition of extraordinary young talent through service to the community and noteworthy accomplishments. Candidates for the award shall be between 21-40 years old and have demonstrated leadership within their job and philanthropic involvement. This award is presented as an encouragement for exceptional performance by young men and women.

Young professionals do matter to our community, as does every generation in our workforce. Understanding how to attract, retain and acknowledge their accomplishments is of vital interest to regional businesses that require their unique talents to thrive.

Interested in nominating an exemplary young professional for consideration? Please do so here.

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Who is Wichita?

A Call to Action for Intentional Inclusion
By Courtney Hough

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Young Professionals of Wichita members Courtney Hough, Ellen Decker and Ebony Clemons on the 2016 City-to-City trip.

I moved to Wichita from Detroit fifteen months ago and in that short period of time, I have learned about Wichita’s culture and the passion that people have for the Emerald City/Air Capital. I’ve made it a point to get to know my community by being a part of it. But when I boarded the plane for my first City-to-City Leadership visit, I did not know what to expect. I knew only a handful of people and questioned if I could relate to our group and if I added any value to the experience. Let’s just say that by the end of trip, I was sharing work and family stories and I had a voice! This experience allowed me to be the change that is being demanded from our community.

Wichita’s population is extremely diverse since there are many Hispanic, Asian, African American, Native American, African, and LGBTQ communities within the city. The diversity of our population is not always reflected in our businesses and the identity of Wichita. I think this City- to-City Leadership Visit opened our eyes to ways we can rebrand and develop a “Wichita for Everyone.”

Our biggest “ah-ha” moment was learning ways to engage and mentor young professionals. There is usually a negative perception of who millennials are and the tone is sometimes dismissive. The idea presented was to target 21 to 40-year-old professionals to mentor and mold them and to enhance their leadership and professional development skills. This will stabilize Wichita’s development, retain talent and increase opportunities. The reality is that in twenty years, many of our current community leaders and CEOs will be retired or will no longer be in a leadership capacity, so we are the future of Wichita! Opportunities for professional development and community outreach must be abundant to retain young talent.

My challenge to every Wichitan is to invest: invest in our businesses, invest in our children and young people, invest in our disenfranchised communities, and invest in our infrastructure. We must invest in order to recreate and grow!

Courtney is the Strategic Engagement Specialist at United Way of the Plains, as well as a YPW Access Team member and volunteer. She participated in the Chamber’s 2016 City-to-City Leadership Visit to Nashville in September. 

Stef Flores promoted to Community Advancement Manager

Stef Flores has been promoted to Community Advancement Manager for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. She joined the Chamber staff in November 2015, as the Community Advancement & Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW ) Program Coordinator.

Stefanie Flores“Stef has shown outstanding initiative in her work for both YPW and Community Advancement during her time with our organization,” said Director of Community Advancement Suzy Finn. “In particular, her leadership of the Chamber’s recent City-to-City Leadership Visit resulted in a successful trip for 51 community leaders. To even better accomplish the work of our leadership programs, Stef will now focus all of her time on the Chamber’s Community Advancement programs and initiatives.”

Stef has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature with a minor in French from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a Master’s in Education from University of California-Santa Barbara.

Please join us in congratulating Stef on her well-served promotion!

We are now accepting applications for a full-time YPW Program Coordinator. The job description can be found on LinkedIn.

Recap of Exposure 2016

When the Exposure show floor closed at 5 p.m. on Sept. 29, nearly 1,800 people had visited booths of 200+ Wichita-area companies. Connection were made. Deals were done. Fun was had. Our thanks to everyone who helped make Exposure 2016 a success, especially our presenting sponsor, Cox Business.

If you weren’t able to attend the show, you can check out photos of the event on our Facebook page. Then be sure to save the date of Thursday, September 28 for Exposure 2017. If you would like to receive information about exhibiting in 2017, let us know now and we’ll begin contacting exhibitors in April.

Although many of the exhibits topped our favorites lists, the panel of judges chose the following companies to be recognized. Congrats to all!

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Best Biz Bite | Hooters of America

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Best Branded | Xclusive Events

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Best In Show | Cox Business

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Best Table Top | Workforce Centers of South Central Kansas

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Best Technology | Builders Plus Construction

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Most Spirited | Auto Craft Collision Repair

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People’s Choice | Davis-Moore Auto Group

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Rookie of the Year | Range 54