Chamber receives award for Diversity & Inclusion work

In 2017, Diversity and Inclusion became one of the Chamber’s Strategic Priorities. Since then, the organization’s volunteer and staff leadership has led the way in championing the competitive advantage of having a diverse and inclusive business climate.

This work was recently recognized by the Wichita Business Journal, when Chamber President & CEO Gary Plummer was named a 2018 Leader in Diversity. He was presented with the award at a luncheon event on Sept. 17.

When asked what advice he would give an individual or an organization that seeks to be more supportive of diversity, he said, “Be intentional about discussing inclusion and working to make sure your organization reflects your community.”

“Failing to embrace diversity and inclusion limits the breadth of perspectives that are considered and ultimately limits the organization’s impact,” Gary said.

Read more of Gary’s thoughts on the importance of diversity and inclusion in this profile by the Wichita Business Journal.

Chamber President and CEO Gary Plummer (center) was named a 2018 Leader in Diversity by the Wichita Business Journal. He accepted the award with others who have been instrumental in the Chamber’s Diversity and Inclusion work. From left to right: Junetta Everett, Delta Dental of Kansas; Gary Plummer; Suzy Finn, USD 259; and Jonathan Long, Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Gaulding Promoted to Accountant

Peter Gaulding has been promoted to Accountant.

The Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce has promoted Peter Gaulding to Accountant effective June 1. Peter joined the Chamber two years ago in a part-time accounting clerk role to perform billing duties. He moved to a full-time position earlier this year and his additional duties as an Accountant will include monthly reconciliations, report creation and preparation of tax returns. He is a recent graduate of Wichita State University with an Accounting degree.

Chamber President and CEO Gary Plummer said Peter earned his promotion through dedication and hard work. “During his tenure with the Chamber, Peter has assumed increasing levels of responsibility and the successful completion of his accounting education will allow him to perform professional-level accounting work. His assistance with a planned move to advanced technology tools will be critical to the success of the project.”

In his off hours, Peter is a drummer in a local alternative rock band called Letters from Rome. You can catch him at Riverfest on Thursday, June 7, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Food Court Stage.

Congratulations on your promotion, Peter, and on the great band gig at Wichita’s biggest party! We’ll be there rocking with you.

Peter is also a drummer in a local band called Letters from Rome.

Internships Make an Impact

By Emma Meyer, Chamber Intern

Emma Meyer is a senior at Valley Center High School and plans to attend KSU in the fall to pursue a marketing degree. Follow @vchsinterns on Twitter to see posts about Emma’s experience and the work of other Valley Center High students.

Many people probably do not expect to see a high school intern in a professional business setting, but here I am at the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce. I began my internship with the Marketing & Communications Department in January and will complete it this week.

I’m a senior at Valley Center High School and am involved in activities ranging from volleyball and softball to National Honors Society and Student Council. Additionally, I am in the Internship Program that is coordinated by Mrs. Cody Lee. The program is for seniors, and this year there are 25 participants. Each student is released from class to go to their internship every day, and our internship experiences help us determine what we would like to pursue as a career. It helped me tremendously because I had no idea what I wanted to do until recently.

My first semester, I interned at Wesley Medical Center and Newton Medical Center. I saw some really cool things like a hysterectomy and open heart surgery… and no I did not pass out in the operating room. I found these things to be fascinating but ultimately decided the medical field is not for me. I wondered if I would enjoy something in the business field, so here I am.

I have loved every second that I have spent at the Chamber. Everyone is so nice and welcoming, and I am able to contribute to the team every day. Some of my projects  included posting ribbon-cutting photos on social media and writing captions for Chamber event pictures that are published in the Wichita Eagle. My biggest assignment dealt with the #ILoveWichita Campaign. I found pictures on Instagram that have used #ILoveWichita and selected a few each week that were later displayed on billboards throughout Wichita.

This fall, I plan to attend Kansas State University with a major in Marketing. My time at the Chamber has helped make this decision easier. I am very thankful for the things my internship has taught me and how it has allowed me to meet many amazing people and businesses in the Wichita area.


Experiences like the one Emma described above are key to retaining talent for Wichita. The Youth Employment Project (YEP), led by the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, 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’s goal is to combat the exodus of our talent is by forging a deeper and earlier connection with our local talent pool.

How can you get involved?

  • HIRE
    interns (age 14-21) for a six- to 10-week paid work experience opportunity.
  • SPONSOR
    a paid intern 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

Follow this link to see a 2017 video produced by the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas regarding the Youth Employment Project from the perspective of employers.

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

Follow this link to see a 2017 video produced by the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas regarding the Youth Employment Project from the perspective of employers.

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.