Growing the Youth Employment Project

By Jonathan Long, Director of Community Advancement for the Chamber

Jonathan Long is the Chamber’s Director of Community Advancement.

How many of you remember your first job? For many of us that experience – great or otherwise – helped set a foundation that we’ve continued to build upon professionally. However, many of today’s youth are waiting later and later to establish this foundation and thus aren’t developing the soft skills and work habits needed to excel in the full-time work world.

The Youth Employment Project (YEP) is helping young adults make progress on this issue. YEP teaches Wichitans, as young as age 16, the skills necessary to become great employees and then connects them with an employer to provide a work experience to practice those skills. The program is a partnership between several community organizations and employers.

In 2017, the project placed 463 individuals with 91 employers. This year we want to increase that number. Spirit AeroSystems provided 20 work experiences in 2017 and they’ve doubled their commitment for 2018. We’d love to see more companies increase their placements as well.

Enhancing our human capital has been a growing issue for Wichita and the South Central Kansas region for quite some time. A way to combat the exodus of our talent is by forging a deeper and earlier connection with our local talent pool. There is no better way to do that than with a youth employment experience.

How can you get involved?

  • HIRE
    interns (age 14-21) for a six- to 10-week paid work experience opportunity.
  • SPONSOR
    an intern’s paid work experience opportunity at another business or organization.
  • SPREAD THE WORD
    about this important program through your own professional and social networks.

For more information contact the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas:
Employers  call 316-771-6622
Intern Applicants – call 316-771-6620

YPW hires Ulises Gonzalez

Ulises Gonzalez has joined YPW as the Program Coordinator.

By Dara Quastad 

Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) is excited to announce Ulises Gonzalez has been hired as the Program Coordinator. Ulises was previously the Director of the Hispanic College Institute and the Student Leader of Inclusion & Diversity Excellence at Fort Hays State University. While at Fort Hayes, he served as the Student Body President from June 2015 to May 2016. He also has held positions at Hays Public School District and at the Broadmoor Hotel.

Ulises is a 2017 graduate of Fort Hays State University with a Bachelor of Science in Tourism & Hospitality Management and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management.

In his new role, Ulises will oversee event and program management for YPW, manage and coach volunteers, and support membership onboarding and engagement. Ulises says that he loves Wichita because the city “embraces an inclusive community that celebrates diversity, supporting people from different backgrounds. It makes people feel like they belong, just like it did with me.”

He officially joined YPW Monday, February 19.

On Valentine’s Day (and every day), we love our interns

Written by Dara Quastad and Emma Meyer

We love our interns: Dara Quastad and Emma Meyer!

Our team has grown by two, as Dara Quastad and Emma Meyer have joined the Chamber as marketing interns.

Dara Quastad is working with Young Professional of Wichita (YPW) as their communications and marketing intern. Born and raised in McPherson, Dara has spent the past four years at Sterling College and will graduate in May with a Bachelors in Public Relations. She is a member of Pi Kappa Delta National Speech and Debate Organization, a published author in the 2017 manuscript of top speeches by the Interstate Oratorical Association, and a representative and member of the Sterling College Forensic and Debate team. After graduation, Dara plans to stay in the Wichita area and pursue a career in public relations. As somewhat of an outsider to Wichita, she will bring a unique perspective that will be helpful when teamed up with individuals from the area. When asked about the her internship, Dara replied, “I am thrilled to join the YPW team and begin working with volunteers, as I share YPW’s passion for Wichita and all this city has to offer.” Dara officially joined YPW on January 30.

Emma Meyer, a senior at Valley Center High School, is contributing to the Chamber’s marketing and communications department. At school, Emma is involved in many different activities including softball, Letter Women’s Club, National Honors Society, Women’s Choir, and many more. Emma is also a part of Valley Center High School’s Internship Program, which brings her to the Chamber. When asked about her internship, Emma replied, “I am excited about my internship at the Wichita Chamber so I can learn more about business and marketing, which will help me decide what I would like to pursue as a career.” Emma joined the Chamber on January 16 and will be here through May. Next year she plans to attend Kansas State University.

Both Dara and Emma are receiving school credit for their time at the Chamber. In Dara’s case, this internship will earn the final credits for her degree. Please join us in welcoming them both to the Chamber!

Envision’s New Workforce Innovation Center Will Accelerate Workforce Diversification

Michael Monteferrante is the President and CEO of Envision.

Where can people with disabilities learn the skills they need to find jobs in new and emerging industries? How can U.S. companies meet the growing demand for more skilled labor? Envision produced an important answer this week with the announcement of a new facility that will provide intensive training for people who are blind or visually impaired and then help place them into skilled positions around the country.

Locally-based Envision has been promoting advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision since 1933. Envision President and CEO Michael Monteferrante announced on Monday that the organization has hired an Executive Director, Mike May, to oversee Envision’s newest initiative, the BVI Workforce Innovation Center.

Jonathan Long is the Chamber’s Director of Community Advancement.

Jonathan Long, the Director of Community Advancement for the Chamber, applauded the new Center and the diversification it will bring to the local, regional and national workforce. Long said, “We’ll all benefit from the dedicated and highly qualified employees who will emerge from this program. They’ll enrich the work environment wherever they go.” Long has several years of employee recruitment experience for area businesses and also directs the Chamber’s diversity and inclusion initiative.

The Chamber commends the leadership demonstrated by this initiative and congratulates all those involved. Follow this link to learn more about the initiative from a recent Wichita Eagle story.

Jonathan Long Hired as Chamber’s Director of Community Advancement

Jonathan Long has been named as the new Director of Community Advancement for the Chamber. His first day will be Jan. 29.

The Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce has named Jonathan Long as the new Director of Community Advancement. The founder of the Wichita Urban Professionals, Long was most recently employed as a Talent Acquisition Recruiter for T-Mobile USA. He has also held positions with the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, Wichita Public Schools and the Wichita Eagle.

Long has been involved in a number of community initiatives related to attracting and retaining talent, fostering community pride, and advancing diversity and inclusion initiatives. His previous Chamber volunteer experience includes:

– 2017 Leadership Wichita Graduate
– 2016 YPW Distinguished Professional Award Recipient
– 2016 Panelist on improving race relations in Wichita
– 2015 City-to-City Young Professionals of Wichita Scholarship Recipient

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, he has also studied at Wichita State University.

In his new role he will oversee the Chamber’s Community Advancement initiatives including diversity and inclusion, City-to-City trips and Leadership Wichita. Chamber President and CEO Gary Plummer said, “Jonathan has the vision, talent and expertise to make a real impact on the region. I have complete confidence in his ability to lead his team, forge new partnerships and inspire our volunteers.”

Long officially joins the Chamber on Monday, January 29. He replaces Suzy Finn who resigned December 22 to join the Wichita Public Schools in a marketing role.

Chamber announces staffing updates in Membership, Accounting departments

Monica Poe is the Chamber’s new Membership Data Manager.

The Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce has recently expanded our staff. Monica Poe has been hired as the Membership Data Manager, and Alison Percy has been hired as the Member Engagement Coordinator. In addition, Peter Gaulding’s role as Accounting Clerk has moved from part-time to full-time.

Monica, a graduate of Wichita State University, previously worked at the Marketing Manager for In the Bag Cleaners. In her new role, she is responsible for maintaining accurate membership records and for managing the organization’s membership database to assist in strategic analyses. Her background in managing data and measuring results will help position the organization for continued success. Her first day at the Chamber was Jan. 2.

Alison Percy has joined the Chamber team as the Member Engagement Coordinator.

Alison, a graduate of Kansas State University, previously worked as the Events Coordinator for JOMA Bowling Company where she oversaw a wide range of events for groups of 15 to 1,000 attendees. In her new role, she provides administrative and project management support for the Membership & Engagement Department, which is responsible for planning and executing the majority of the organization’s 100+ annual events. Her first day at the Chamber was Jan. 2.

Peter joined the Chamber as a part-time Accounting Clerk in April of 2016. During his time with the Chamber, he has demonstrated a team-first work ethic. Due to growth within the organization, the position was moved to a full-time status on Jan. 2. Gaulding will graduate from Wichita State University this May with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Peter Gaulding will graduate from Wichita State University this May with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Chamber President and CEO Gary Plummer said, “The work and volunteer experiences of these individuals make them assets to the Chamber team. I am confident they will continue providing the exceptional service that our members and community partners have come to expect. We’re pleased to have them on board.”

Suzy Finn accepts new role with Wichita Public Schools

Suzy Finn, Director of Community Advancement for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, has resigned her position effective Dec. 22 to accept a new role of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships Supervisor with Wichita Public Schools. Suzy joined our team in 2013 as Executive Director of Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW). Some of Suzy’s most notable accomplishment while at the Chamber include:

  • YPW memberships increased by more than 54%, reaching more than 3,300 members
  • YPW revenue increased by more than 30%
  • YPW Group Mentoring program was created
  • Leadership Wichita saw record numbers of applications in 2016 and 2017
  • Developed and executed on seven tactics related to the Chamber’s Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, including the Inclusive Listening Tour, CEO Roundtable on Diversity and Inclusion and Wichita Connect website
  • Led two successful, sold-out City-to-City Leadership Visits

“Suzy played a pivotal role at the Chamber during her five-year tenure,” said Gary Plummer, Chamber President and CEO. “She not only expanded the impact of programs like Leadership Wichita and YPW, but she also helped build a new initiative focused on diversity and inclusion.”

Please join us in wishing Suzy the best in her new role, working to develop and strengthen the partnerships between the education and business communities.

The Chamber will begin an immediate search to fill the position. For more information, please visit https://wichitachamber.org/your-chamber/staff/available-positions.

Chamber announces two staff promotions

Chamber President Gary Plummer has announced two staff promotions that will be effective Jan. 1, 2018.

  • Alejo Cabral has been promoted to Director of Young Professionals of Wichita.
  • Tram Ngo has been promoted to Manager of Government Relations.

Both Alejo and Tram have been integral members of the Chamber team since the start of their tenures.

In this new position, Alejo will lead Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW), an affiliate of the  Chamber with a mission to attract, engage and retain diverse young talent. “The organization’s volunteers quickly connected to him,” Gary said. “His ability to form relationships in diverse community groups have helped the organization increase its reach in the community.” He originally joined the Chamber in January 2017 as the YPW Coordinator. Prior to his role at the Chamber, Alejo worked at Credit Union of America.

Tram’s promotion comes as a result of her superb work since joining the Chamber in May 2017. “Our Government Relations department is responsible for advocating for business interests at the local, state and federal level, and Tram has earned the respect of our members, business leaders and public officials,” Gary said.

“I appreciate Tram’s commitment to excellence and am thrilled about her expanded role at the Chamber,” said Director of Government Relations Sean Robinson. “Tram is passionate about cultivating the strategic partnerships needed to advance our region’s growth.”

Please join us in congratulating these two deserving members of our team!

Weller Named CFO

Sheryl Weller begins her new role on Monday, December 4.

Sheryl Weller has been named the Chief Financial Officer for both the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Wichita Partnership. Weller begins her new position on December 4 and said, “As I join the Wichita community, I’m very excited to share my expertise with these organizations for the advancement of economic development and quality of life for the entire region.”

Weller majored in Accounting at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. A graduate of the 2013 Class of Leadership Greater Topeka, she has held professional accounting and leadership positions in that community with the State of Kansas, Kansas Highway Patrol and most recently the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.

Jeff Fluhr, President of the Greater Wichita Partnership, and Chamber President and CEO Gary Plummer said that Weller was selected based on her extensive experience and her desire to provide support for a community-focused organization and mission.

Please help us welcome Sheryl to the community.

The mission of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce is to drive economic growth and community advancement in the Wichita region.

The mission of the Greater Wichita Partnership is to align resources and focus the business community on common strategies that fast-forward economic growth in the greater Wichita region.

Sean Robinson named Director of Government Relations

Sean Robinson begins his new duties at the Chamber on October 9.

Sean Robinson will join the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce as Director of Government Relations in early October. He will direct the Chamber’s advocacy efforts at the local, state and federal level in his new role.

 

Robinson has been the Communications Director for the Fourth Congressional District of Kansas since 2016, leading communication initiatives for former Congressman Mike Pompeo and current Congressman Ron Estes. A graduate of Friends University, he holds a B.S. in Business Management with an emphasis in Marketing.

 

Chamber President and CEO Gary Plummer said he is confident that Robinson’s experience and skills will provide long-term benefits for Chamber members. “Sean has the key contacts and expertise required for this vital role of advocating for the best possible business environment. He’s adept at cultivating strategic partnerships and leading high-performance teams.”

 

Robinson’s first day at the Chamber is October 9. Please help us welcome him to the Chamber team.