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.