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.

Courtney Sendall Promoted to Director of Marketing and Communications

Courtney Sendall has been promoted to Director of Marketing and Communications.

Gary Plummer, Wichita Regional Chamber President & CEO, announced today that Courtney Sendall has been promoted from Manager of Marketing and Communications to Director of Marketing and Communications. She joined the Chamber in February 2013 as a Communications Coordinator. During her career with the Chamber, she has gained both supervisory and project management experience. In her new role, she’ll assume more budgetary duties and provide additional input into overall strategic initiatives for the Chamber.

Plummer said that Sendall is an important asset to the Chamber team. “Courtney’s marketing and communications expertise are well recognized throughout the community. We’re fortunate to have someone of her caliber managing so many vital connection points for our members and volunteers while representing the Chamber throughout the region.”

Sendall is a graduate of Wichita State University and a volunteer for several organizations including the Kansas Humane Society, Make-A-Wish Kansas and Social Media Marketing World (an annual international convention).

Youth Employment Project in action

Xavier Crawford worked at the Chamber during the summer as part of the Youth Employment Program.

My name is Xavier Crawford and I am from Wichita. I have eleven brothers and sisters and recently graduated from Chester Lewis Virtual High School. I was connected with the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce through my experience with the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas’ Summer Youth Employment Program. Through the program I created a resume, searched and interviewed for jobs and was provided education in soft skills and customer service. The program provided me the opportunity to experience a real-life work environment.

My duties at the Chamber included a variety of tasks. I was able to work on everything from mailing out invoices and creating aging reports to putting together orientation packets for new member meetings. It was fun to attend meetings that highlighted changes in our community and how we can continue to improve our city as a whole. In many ways, I feel like Wichita is stepping in the right direction and should keep up the good work.

My favorite part about my internship at the Chamber would be the staff. The accepted me as one of their own. They were warmhearted and caring and were always there for me. Working at the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce has helped show me what every work environment should look and feel like. They’ve taught me how I can not only better myself, but create value for those around me.

While working at the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some important individuals in Wichita that could potentially help point me achieve the career I desire. I’ve recently applied to Wichita Area Technical College and look forward to studying aviation.

Our thanks to Xavier for his contributions to our team this summer and to the Workforce Alliance for leading the Youth Employment Project. 

Xavier reported that some of his favorite assignments involved working with Accounting Clerk Peter Gaulding (pictured right).

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.

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.

Rachel Douglass promoted to Director of Engagement

Rachel Douglass

Gary Plummer, Chamber President & CEO, announced today that Rachel Douglass has been promoted from Manager of Engagement to Director of Engagement effective July 1. She joined the Chamber in September 2015, and her responsibilities include planning and implementation of events and programs which deliver visibility, education and peer connections for Chamber members. She has a comprehensive background in project management, marketing strategy and brand management. Douglass is a graduate of Wichita State University and a volunteer for several organizations including the Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Barton International Group.

Plummer said that Douglass has proven herself to be a valuable part of the Chamber team. “Rachel has shown a great talent for assessing Chamber member needs and connecting them with the most valuable program. Her ability to develop meaningful relationships with our members, vendors and the community at large makes her an important part of the Chamber’s membership engagement efforts. I’m very pleased that Rachel is assuming greater responsibility for the direction of Chamber programming.”

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

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.

Chamber and Plummer recognized for diversity and inclusion

By Suzy Finn
Director of Community Advancement

Chamber President Gary Plummer accepted an award from the Heartland Wichita Black Chamber for efforts to promote the importance of inclusion and diversity in the Wichita business community.

The Heartland Wichita Black Chamber of Commerce held its second annual Black & White Ball on April 22. The Ball is the Chamber’s main fundraising event, as well as an opportunity to honor inductees into the Black Business Hall of Fame.

2017 Hall of Fame inductees included Juanita Hayes-Hill, Ed Givens Sr., and James Arbertha. Wichita Public Schools Superintendent Alicia Morris-Thompson received the new BIG Apple Award, and Cox Business and Walmart were inducted into the Presidents Circle.

At the end of the evening, Heartland Chamber President Bernard Knowles recognized two other individuals in attendance, one of which was Christal E. Watson, President and CEO of the Heartland Chamber, based in Kansas City.  Knowles also recognized Gary Plummer, President and CEO of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, for the Chamber’s efforts to promote inclusion and diversity in the Wichita business community, such as inviting the presidents of the Heartland Wichita Black Chamber, Wichita Hispanic Chamber, and Wichita Black Chamber of Commerce to be part of The Chamber Board of Directors.

Chamber Board Members in attendance included Gene Bowen, Suzy Finn, Junetta Everett, Christina Long, Greg Cole, Gary Plummer and Bernard Knowles.

“We are truly honored by this recognition,” Gary said, “and I accept it on behalf of Junetta Everett, Suzy Finn and many others who are dedicated to this important initiative.”  Junetta, of Delta Dental of Kansas, is the Chamber’s Vice Chair of Inclusion, and Suzy is the Chamber’s Director of Community Advancement and Young Professionals of Wichita.

Inclusion is one of the Wichita Regional Chamber’s four strategic priorities in 2017, with a goal of convening business leaders and partners to enhance Wichita’s image as an inclusive community that values the many aspects of diversity.