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.

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.

Leadership Wichita Nominations Increase 68% in 2017

Claudio J. Ferraro is the President of Via Christi Hospital Wichita St. Teresa, Inc. His guest blog post appeared on May 16.

The nominations and completed applications for our 2017 Leadership Wichita class are in. And for the second year in a row we’ve experienced an increase in applicants. From 2011-2015, the Chamber averaged 90 nominations per year. In 2016 we received 120 nominations. This year the number increased to 202.

Nearly 1,000 local business, government and military leaders have completed the immersive leadership experience since it was initiated in 1983. During the last two years the Chamber’s Marketing and Communications team has worked closely with the Community Advancement group to increase the program’s visibility, differentiate it from other local training initiatives and increase the number of qualified nominees.

Suzy Finn, the Director of Community Advancement, attributes increased engagement from the program’s Board of Trustees and the development of a new integrated marketing plan for the recent successes. “During the last two years our Marketing and Communication staff has worked with some of our high profile graduates to develop blog posts about their Leadership Wichita experiences. We shared their posts on the Chamber’s communication channels, including LinkedIn and other social media platforms. The Chamber’s printed monthly Update in the Wichita Eagle was also a great spot to share testimonials from our guest bloggers. Those testimonials were a big differentiator last year. We repeated that proven approach this year and also adjusted the nomination process so that each nominator could submit two names rather than being limited to one.”

Clark Bastian is the Chairman and CEO of Fidelity Bank. He shared a Leadership Wichita blog post on May 17.

The Chamber recently won an Integrated Ad Campaign award for last year’s successful Leadership Wichita nomination marketing and communication plan.

Invested volunteers and trustees make the difference in so many of the Chamber’s programs and initiatives, including Leadership Wichita. Our thanks to our three 2016 guest bloggers, Tammy Allen, Denise Sherman and Tyler Heffron, who helped the Chamber earn a 2017 Silver Award for an Integrated Ad Campaign from the Wichita American Marketing Association for last year’s successful nomination campaign. And to our 2017 guest bloggers, Clark Bastian and Claudio Ferraro, who helped us exceed the 200 nomination mark.

Watch for an announcement about the 2017 class participants in August. The first session in the program takes place on August 24. You can follow this link to learn more about the program on the Chamber’s website. To search for past participants, follow this link to the Leadership Wichita Directory.

Winning with Instagram

Chamber Communications Manager Courtney Sendall will share her social media expertise at a June 30 event.

When Alaska Airlines announced they were starting service in Wichita, we naturally began following their social media accounts. And their accounts are pretty dazzling. Like most airlines, @AlaskaAir fills their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts with breathtaking images of some of the #bucketlist destinations that we’d all like to visit.

But what really sets their accounts apart is the consistent stream of accolades from customers who appreciate the special touches the airline provides. The carrier’s social media team has done an exceptional job of capitalizing on the loyal brand ambassadors they’ve developed by providing stellar customer service.

So we’re eager to hear from Shannon Johnson (@shayboarder), a social media strategist for Alaska Airlines, when she shares her insights about Winning with Instagram in Wichita next week. Johnson is the keynote speaker for a June 30 luncheon event presented by Digital Wichita in celebration of global Social Media Day. The Chamber is one of several local event sponsors.

As an added bonus, six of the local experts who recently made the list of 2017 10 Rockstar Instagrammers in Wichita will also share their best practices. All five of the business accounts on the Rockstar Instagrammers list are Chamber members:  Events and Designs by Ashley, Local Legacy, Reverie Roasters, The Monarch Wichita, and Wichita Real Estate.

User-generated content like this image from Tillie’s Flower Shop make up most of the posts on the @WichitaFlag Instagram account.

We’re very pleased that the Wichita Flag Instagram account also made the top ten list and that Courtney Sendall will represent the Chamber on the panel of local experts. The Chamber secured the @WichitaFlag social media channels on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook several years ago to initiate a grassroots pride-in-place campaign. Wichitans enthusiastically responded to all three accounts and most of the daily posts are user-generated content. Some of the posts are from former Wichitans expressing pride in their city, while others are from Wichitans who take the flag with them when they travel. The Instagram account has more than 4,600 followers and posts that have originated from 29 different states, 17 countries and 4 continents.

Whether you’re an Instagram novice or a seasoned social media expert, we hope you’ll join us next week for some practical takeaways that will strengthen your business and your social media reach. The event is at Abode from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, June 30, and the ticket price is $25.

Links:
Event registration
Video invitation from Shannon Johnson
#SMDayICT

Chamber Celebrates Wichita Flag Day and Abilene Trophy

This morning’s Sunrise Scrambler celebrated the awarding of the Abilene Trophy to the Friends of McConnell as well as the premiere of a new video for the 80th anniversary of the adoption of the city’s official flag.

Elected officials and military leaders helped the Friends of McConnell celebrate winning the Abilene Trophy award.

ABILENE TROPHY
The Friends of McConnell, an affiliate of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, was announced as the recipient of the 2016 Abilene Trophy on April 28. The award was officially presented today by Abilene Trophy representatives, Yvonne Batts and Scott Senter. It’s given annually to the community that demonstrates the most support of its local Air Force Base. Also known as the Air Mobility Command Community Support Award, this is the first time that Wichita has been selected for the award since it was initiated in 1998.

Elected officials and representatives of McConnell Air Force Base were on hand to congratulate the Friends of McConnell on the relationships they have built between the community and the Base. Colonel Al Miller from McConnell Air Force Base remarked during today’s ceremony that no other community that he has been assigned to comes close to the Wichita community in support of Airmen.

Please see our Facebook page and Twitter account for more photos and information.

The 80th anniversary of the Wichita flag was also celebrated today.

WICHITA FLAG DAY
Through the generosity of numerous sponsors and partners, the Chamber kicked off the 80th anniversary of the adoption of the city’s official flag this morning with a new video and free items that Wichitans can download to share their pride.

VIDEO

  • The Chamber partnered with World Studios ICT in downtown Wichita to produce a 3-minute video highlighting the history and symbolism behind the flag. The video, titled Your Wichita Flag, is posted on the Chamber’s Facebook page.
  • The video includes sixteen Wichitans who donated their time and talent to participate – Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell, Jamil Malone, Tammy Allen, Ben Jennings, Madison Harris, Paul Blissett, Angie Elliott, Jonathon Long, Jason Villanueva, Ellen Decker, Courtney Sendall, Royce Stevenson, Jackie Ebert, Jackson Ebert, Cassandra Bryan and Brad Painchaud.

DOWNLOADS

  • A website devoted to the promotion of the #ILoveWichita and @WichitaFlag campaign now has three printables that can be downloaded at ilovewichita.org.
  1. Coloring sheet with flag facts
  2. 11×17 two-sided printed flag with flag information
  3. Copyright information about using the flag
  • Special note:  The coloring sheet was developed as a result of a Chamber brainstorming session with communication students at Wichita State University’s Elliott School of Communication last fall. After learning about the Chamber’s grassroots pride-in-place initiative, the students recommended instilling community pride at an earlier age and focusing on preschool and grade school children.

Special thanks to our Wichita flag partners: World Studios ICT, The Wichita Eagle, VIP Wichita Magazine and Fidelity Bank.

And our sincere gratitude to this month’s Sunrise Scrambler sponsors:  Golden Plains Credit Union, Friends University, Burnell’s Fine Jewelry, Davis-Moore Auto Group and Together Wichita.

Samia Joins Chamber Team

Gabri Samia joined the Chamber’s Community Advancement team this month.

Gabri Samia recently joined the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce as the Manager of Community Advancement. In her new position Samia will plan and execute several of the Chamber’s unique leadership development programs, including:  Leadership Wichita, City-to-City Leadership visits and Wichita Insight.

Samia’s role involves interacting with numerous community leaders and assisting with the Chamber’s inclusion and diversity programming. “Gabri really enjoys working with people and building community,” said Suzy Finn, Community Advancement Director for the Chamber. “She’s enthusiastic about working with others who want to continually improve Wichita and the region.”

A graduate of Wichita State University, Samia earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and minored in English. One of her past experiences includes teaching in South Korea. Her first day with the Chamber was May 9. She replaces Stef Flores who recently relocated to the Denver area.

Please help us welcome Gabri to your Chamber team.

Leadership Wichita Graduates are Community Game Changers

Clark Bastian is the Chairman and CEO of Fidelity Bank.

Nominations for the Chamber’s 2017 Leadership Wichita program are underway. We’ve asked some area decision makers to weigh in on the benefits of the Leadership Wichita program. This blog post is by Clark Bastian, Fidelity Bank Chairman and CEO.

There are a number of ways you can increase your organization’s visibility and viability. One proven method is to provide your best and brightest employees with new learning experiences and opportunities to connect with their peers. Investing in their growth provides your organization with knowledgeable and respected ambassadors. And retaining the most engaged members of our workforce can change the course of a community.

Leadership Wichita is a highly successful Chamber program designed to inform, connect and inspire active community leaders. It’s an immersive experience that identifies 30 local achievers and then provides them with the tools they need to take increasingly significant roles in the community.

Top area leaders present and interact with the class over the course of nine intensive sessions. They willingly invest their time in the program every year because they see the results. Leadership Wichita graduates can be found leading game-changing initiatives for their companies and their communities.

The nomination process is easy.

  • Look for potential nominees in your own company, professional organizations, and places where you volunteer. Target those who want to make more meaningful contributions to the success of their employers, the business community and the region.
  • Spend two minutes on the Chamber’s website nominating them for Leadership Wichita.

We owe it to the future champions of our region, companies and organizations to equip them with the best possible understanding of the progress being made in our community as well as the challenging areas where we need their talent and energy. Mentoring the next generation of leaders is critical. It clearly demonstrates our confidence in their future contributions and our desire to make them an integral part of our community’s advancement.

Leadership Wichita is a program of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce and Wichita Educational Foundation. Nominations are due Friday, June 2.

Leadership Wichita – A Powerful Community Investment

Claudio J. Ferraro is the President of Via Christi Hospital Wichita St. Teresa, Inc.

Nominations for the Chamber’s 2017 Leadership Wichita program are underway. We’ve asked some area decision makers to weigh in on the benefits of the Leadership Wichita program. This blog post is by Claudio Ferraro, President, Via Christi Hospital Wichita St. Teresa, Inc.

Every day we assess the return on investment (ROI) for many aspects of our business, from equipment purchases to employee training. Most employees already have the technical training needed to do their jobs. And many companies offer internal leadership training for those who have demonstrated an aptitude for taking on more responsibility. So why should a local company or organization nominate candidates for Leadership Wichita and invest in that program?

The true value of Leadership Wichita goes beyond refining skills. It’s an opportunity to forge relationships with people across other industries and understand their perspectives. It’s the formation of long-lasting partnerships that strengthen and advance our businesses and organizations. Ultimately, it’s laying an important foundation for the future of our business community and the economic health of our region.

I think it’s quite possible that my own career might have taken a different trajectory if I hadn’t participated in the Leadership Wichita program in 2000. So many of my classmates from that program are now playing important senior leadership roles throughout the community. Michael Grier is the President and CEO at Martin Eby Construction. Debbie Gann is the Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs at Spirit AeroSystems and was part of the leadership team that led them through their transition from a Boeing facility to Spirit AeroSystems. She was also the 2013 Chair of the Chamber. Richard McCafferty is an owner/officer at Key Construction. The list goes on and on. We share a common bond from our Leadership Wichita experience and I still interact with them in my role at Via Christi.

So when I nominate someone for this program, I’m looking for a candidate who is perceptive enough to understand that they will be doing much more than honing their own leadership skills. They will be learning about the dynamics of the region and building interpersonal connections with people who will eventually become key community leaders and contributors.

The nomination process is easy.

  •  Look for potential nominees in your own company, professional organizations, and places where you volunteer. Target those who want to make more meaningful contributions to the success of their employers, the business community and the region.
  • Spend two minutes on the Chamber’s website nominating them for Leadership Wichita.

The earlier we can identify our future decision makers and help them build relationships with each other, the more quickly we can achieve the maximum return on our investment with better results for our organizations, businesses and community.

Leadership Wichita is a program of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce and Wichita Educational Foundation. Nominations are due Friday, June 2.