Stef Flores promoted to Community Advancement Manager

Stef Flores has been promoted to Community Advancement Manager for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. She joined the Chamber staff in November 2015, as the Community Advancement & Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW ) Program Coordinator.

Stefanie Flores“Stef has shown outstanding initiative in her work for both YPW and Community Advancement during her time with our organization,” said Director of Community Advancement Suzy Finn. “In particular, her leadership of the Chamber’s recent City-to-City Leadership Visit resulted in a successful trip for 51 community leaders. To even better accomplish the work of our leadership programs, Stef will now focus all of her time on the Chamber’s Community Advancement programs and initiatives.”

Stef has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature with a minor in French from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a Master’s in Education from University of California-Santa Barbara.

Please join us in congratulating Stef on her well-served promotion!

We are now accepting applications for a full-time YPW Program Coordinator. The job description can be found on LinkedIn.

Taking #ILoveWichita to another ‘level’

By Joshua Wallentine

Feeling inspired by the Post-It Wars on Canal Street, we decided to add some Wichita flare to the idea. Passerbyers can now see a large #ILoveWichita sign in the second-floor windows of the Chamber building. I cannot confirm nor deny that it can be seen from the space station, but you will just have to see it and judge for yourselves.

Staff with Sign

                             Chamber staffers love Wichita!


We encourage not only the people of Wichita to take selfies and photos with our signage, but we encourage our partners and members to do so as well. So when you are at Riverfest this weekend or attending a meeting here, snap a selfie and share it using #ILoveWichita! The sign will be up through July 21, which is Wichita’s 148th birthday.

Born in February 2015, the hashtag was intended to connect the community and to provide a way for people to collectively share what they love about Wichita. Now over a year later, there is an site, and thanks to our sponsors FlipHound and Title Farm, there are 16 billboards across the city displaying images that have been posted on social media using the hashtag. Visit the website to learn how to join the movement.


On June 24, Young Professionals of Wichita will host their #ILoveWichita Final Friday Mingle. It starts at 6 p.m. at The Workroom and is a great opportunity for networking, music and food. At this event, YPW will reveal the winner of the #ILoveWichtia T-shirt Design Contest, which has been long anticipated.

So now that you know about the oversized hashtag in our lobby windows, don’t hesitate to take a photo with it. Everyone is doing it!

Joshua Wallentine is interning with the Communications and Investor Relations Department at the Chamber this summer. Wallentine is a student at Washburn University and will complete his degree in August.

Interns Choose Wichita

by Barry Schwan
Owner, House of Schwan, Inc.
2016 Chairman of the Board for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Barry Schwan 2016 Chamber Chairman

Barry Schwan
2016 Chamber Chairman

Lyndsey Edwards has opted to stay in Wichita after completing her Bachelor of Arts in Communication at Wichita State University this semester. So has Madison Harris, who recently graduated from Valley Center High School. And Wichita will be a much better place because they’ve both decided to pour their considerable energy and talent back into our region.

Both of these high-achieving young women interned with the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce during the spring semester this year. And in doing so, they built stronger connections to the business community and a deeper affection for Wichita.

Madison said it best in a recent blog post she wrote about her internship experience. “Before starting my internship I was a Wichitan because I was born here. But now I am one because I choose to be.” In fact, Madison now describes Wichita as her “forever home.”

It’s clear from her comments that Madison understands that internships are about much more than sharpening your skills and building your resume. They’re also about making professional and personal connections that have the potential to accelerate career options and create a permanent home.

As a former educator and the 2016 Chairman of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, I want to thank every business leader who has committed the resources to creating these meaningful opportunities. Internships are essential for student growth, but they’re also imperative to the vitality of our business community.

That’s why the Chamber is so pleased to promote the Intern Return program developed by our affiliate, the Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW). Every year the YPW staff and volunteers develop activities and opportunities to familiarize interns with all that’s unique about Wichita. Deepening their ties to Wichita and connecting them with colleagues in other industries is another way to ensure that our community retains our brightest and best talent.

Not every intern will commit to staying in Wichita. But many of those who do make that choice will undoubtedly contribute innovative ideas that strengthen our organizations and companies. And those who move to other areas of the country and even the world will be goodwill ambassadors for our community.

The responsibility is on us, the business community, to create these meaningful opportunities. Involving interns in YPW’s Intern Return program is another important way to demonstrate that Wichita is a place they should consider for permanent employment. These investments in our students ultimately benefit all of us.

It’s nothing short of thrilling when high achievers who have the opportunity to contribute their talents anywhere on the globe make the choice to stay here. It means we’ve all done a great job of communicating the distinct advantages Wichita has to offer and strengthening their personal and professional ties to the region.

Congratulations to all of this year’s graduates. And a special note of  thanks to all the employers who gave them an opportunity to apply their classroom lessons in real-life situations.

Check the May 27 entry at to read the entire post by intern Madison Harris. An edited form of today’s blog post was published in today’s Wichita Eagle.

Finding a ‘forever home’ in Wichita

Madison Harris interned in our Communications Department during the spring 2016 semester. She graduated from Valley Center High School last month and plans to attend Butler Community College for Mass Communications in the fall. She will then attend Wichita State University to study Business Communications. The blog entry below demonstrates the value of providing valuable internship experiences for young professionals to build stronger connections to the business community and a deeper affection for Wichita.

Madison HarrisBy Madison Harris

Senior year, for most, is a time when involvement in school clubs, extracurricular activities and sports comes to an end. It is a time to say your final “good-byes” to what you have been accustomed to for the past 12 years. For me, my senior year ended my dancing and competitive public speaking career. While the high school door is closing, a new one is opening: college. As senior year started, I had no idea what career field to venture off into. Would it be education or business? However, during the course of my senior year and internship experiences I realized what I am truly passionate about: serving the community, people and networking, and Wichita. It is through my time interning at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce I found my true calling.

Valley Center High School, where I attended classes, provides an internship program. At the start of my senior year, I interned with the local middle school in English Education. The students offered an array of experiences – teaching, helping, planning, and mentoring students, but I felt disconnected. While I loved getting to leave an impact on the students and the way they thought, I wasn’t happy. I knew that even though I come from a family who values the importance of the school system, this career path wasn’t meant for me. So I reevaluated and at the start of the second semester I found myself with an internship at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce for business marking and communications.

Growing up I always thought I would become a doctor or a lawyer but I never saw myself in business. My teacher once told me, “Find a career not a job,” and after joining the Chamber staff, I can’t see myself inside any other career field. My time at the Chamber has been an experience that I won’t ever forget. The staff welcomed me and always motivated and pushed me to become a better communicator. The skills I have learned will not only carry me through college or my future career but they will help carry me through life. I have learned how to effectively write news releases, hone my skills in Photoshop, InDesign, and Adobe, how to utilize social media for business, and gained exposure to Chamber-led events.

After joining the Chamber team, I discovered how great of a city Wichita is. Before starting my internship, I was a Wichitan because I was born here. But now, I am one because I choose to be. I have been impacted by the way this city functions – the events, the small town vibe that radiates through downtown, the hole-in-the- wall restaurants you can’t find anywhere else, and the Wichita flag have all left an impression on me that is unchangeable.  Wichita is a place of simplicity and I know that it is a “forever home.”

Join the #ILoveWichita Movement

Promoting the community is one of the Chamber’s four focus areas, directly aligning with the #ILoveWichita movement. The campaign was inspired by our Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) leadership and has been gaining momentum over the last fifteen months (there are more than 1,550 posts on Instagram alone using the hashtag!).

Now, #ILoveWichita decals are popping up on storefronts across the city as the business community works together to build community pride. Visit us on Instagram to see videos of the Chamber members listed below sharing why they love Wichita.

ILoveWichita Decal_Chamber

  • Abode Venue
  • Auto Craft Collision Repair
  • Carlos O’Kelly’s
  • Cassandra Bryan Design
  • City of Wichita
  • Cowley College
  • Doo-Dah Diner
  • ICT S.O.S.
  • INTRUST Bank Arena
  • Justin McClure Creative
  • Legacy Bank
  • Midwest Single Source
  • MODE Wichita
  • RSM Marketing
  • Scholfield Buick-GMC
  • Spangler and Reimers Roofing
  • The Orpheum
  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Tru-Building, Inc.
  • Wichita Community Foundation

Search #ILoveWichita on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to see photos, videos and testimonials that provide an authentic view of our city: the new airport, sports teams, cultural events, volunteer projects, beautiful sunsets, what’s cooking on the grill, original artwork, and more. Then post your own to add your voice to the #ILoveWichita movement.

If you would like to display a #ILoveWichita decal on the front door of your business, contact Courtney Sendall at

Kansas YP Summit coming to Wichita

Early-bird registration deadline extended to March 24

What is there to like about the month of April?

  • The blooming trees?
  • Fresh flowers and sunny days?
  • Famous Kansas thunderstorms?

How about it being the month the Kansas YP Summit is held? This is the first year the Young Professionals of Wichita will host the 7th annual event in Wichita, which will take place at the Hyatt Regency on April 22.

YP Summit STD

This year’s theme is “Taking Flight and Changing Tomorrow” and is all about creating something that soars more than you can imagine. The Summit will encourage young professionals to find their passion and determine how to bridge the generational gap in order to create viable steps to revitalize Kansas communities, with the ultimate goal of creating social change across the state.

Keynote_Jon AcuffThe recently announced keynote speaker is Jon Acuff (pictured), who plans to share insight into navigating change and how YPs can approach it as an opportunity rather than a challenge. Acuff is the author of five books and has helped some of the biggest brands (think Home Depot, Bose, Staples and Dave Ramsey) tell their stories. Acuff points out that “change is upon us.” The focus of the Summit is to manifest the positive aspects of change and let it soar through communities, cities and states.

Clemons-Ebony-1_cropWestar Energy is proud to be sending more than ten people to this year’s YPs summit. Ebony Clemons (pictured), Community Relations Manager at Westar Energy, said, “It is our hope that this summit will help fuel our Westar PowerGen team members on their personal and professional development journey. Our high passion, richly cultured, diverse community challenges us to become better problem solvers and better collaborators. I believe the summit will inspire us to discover/rediscover our strengths, find and leverage opportunities, and create/develop transformative ideas and propositions that will help us move Kansas forward, together!”

The early-bird registration fee is $50 and will increase to $60 after March 24. This fee includes the pre-summit social, breakfast and lunch on the day of the summit. Keynote-only tickets are available for $25 and will increase to $30 after March 24. Besides the keynote presentation, breakout sessions covering topics like personal development, bridging the generation gap, capitalizing passions, and the role YPs have on economic growth and development will be offered.

For more information about the 2016 Kansas YP Summit, check out this page in today’s Wichita Eagle and register your YP employees here before the deadline expires.

Interested in getting your message in front of YPs from Wichita and across the state? Sponsorship opportunities are still available. View the sponsorship menu here and contact Meg Foreman for more information (

By Madison Harris and Lyndsey Edwards

Opportunity to Lead

As a young professional myself, I am encouraged about the recent increase in awareness and conversation about the importance of identifying and supporting young leaders in Wichita. If you picked up a copy of Sunday’s Wichita Eagle, you probably noticed an editorial by the Chamber’s director of community advancement, Suzy Finn. Suzy is also the executive director of Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW), a Chamber affiliate that has been identifying and supporting young leaders in our community for 10+ years.

Suzy Finn is the Executive Director of the Young Professionals of Wichita.

Suzy Finn

I would encourage you to read Suzy’s editorial, in which she names several YPs who have filled important leadership roles, and then ask yourself: “What are you doing to mentor, encourage and include the young leaders in Wichita?”

YPW Chair Sam Foreman also shared his thoughts in an inspiring blog post titled “Wichita Rising: The Opportunity Capital.” Sam’s love for our city and commitment to making it a place where opportunity abounds shines through his words, making it easy to see why the post has an organic reach of 4,200 people on Facebook. A snippet from the post is below and I hope you can take a few minutes to read it in its entirety:

Sam Foreman

Sam Foreman

“One hundred years ago, the Legends of Wichita built Cessna and Stearman dreams, rocketing Wichita from cowtown to rivets and steel to world leader in advanced manufacturing. And each major innovation and success along the way has been built by creating opportunities through jobs, products and services created by Wichita dreamers. Community-wide efforts make the distance from Dream to Done shorter every day, but there is still a lot of work left to be done. The Opportunity Capital is rising to the challenge. Will you?”


Barry Schwan

This year, one of the Chamber’s strategic priorities is to “make diversity and inclusion a greater focus for talent retention and attraction” and our 2016 Chairman Barry Schwan has not been shy in stating that is one of his top priorities. You see his thoughts in these editorials in the Wichita Business Journal and the Wichita Eagle.

It’s for these reasons and more that I’m proud to be a part of an organization that places value on young talent and I’m proud to be a YP in Wichita.

Courtney Sendall
Communications Manager, Wichita Metro Chamber

Millennials Matter

The Wichita Community Foundation’s Focus Forward initiative has triggered a number of important discussions about Wichita’s future. The first step in this multi-year project for advancing the region’s economic growth was a community diagnosis by James Chung, a Wichita native with Reach Advisors.

Chris Callen, CEO of Builders Plus Construction, pictured right) answers questions following his presentation about Millennials.

Chris Callen (pictured right) answers questions following his presentation about Millennials.

Chung developed his initial diagnosis last fall and shared it with multiple Wichita audiences. He identified four specific challenges that he believes require the community’s immediate attention:

  • business cycle
  • entrepreneurial
  • human capital
  • perception

Chris Callen, CEO of Builders Plus Construction, was among those Wichitans inspired by Chung’s presentation. Callen decided to dive deeper into these issues and gathered additional research regarding two of those areas: human capital and perception. He shared his findings at the Chamber’s January 13 Sunrise Scrambler with a presentation titled, Who are Millennials and Why Does it Matter?

The research Callen assembled included the results from a 2015 survey conducted by the Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) about how millennials perceive Wichita and the factors that influence their decisions about where to live. Callen drew from Haydn Shaw’s book, Sticking Points: How to get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart, for tips on how to attract and retain millennials.

Callen’s presentation was an important extension of the discussions that have taken place across the city following Chung’s presentations last fall. Chamber Chairman Barry Schwan has made the expansion of these discussions one of his priorities for the 2016 Chairman’s Lunch. On February 11, a panel discussion about the four primary challenges Chung identified will be moderated by Chamber President and CEO Gary Plummer. The panel will include 2016 Chamber Chairman Barry Schwan, Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell, Wichita City Manager Bob Layton, Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Jim Howell and Sedgwick County Manager Michael Scholes.

Millennials do matter to our community, as does every generation in our workforce. Understanding how to attract and retain them is of vital interest to regional businesses that require their unique talents to thrive. The work of transforming Wichita from a ‘spot on the map’ to a ‘destination point’ for the area’s most talented employees is underway. We’re fortunate that  young community leaders like Chris are accelerating the discussions about the importance of Wichita’s next steps.

Special thanks to the January Sunrise Scrambler event sponsors:  Legacy Bank, Venue 332 at Wichita Scottish Rite Center and Davis-Moore.

Important Links
Chris Callen’s presentation – Who are Millennials and Why Does it Matter?
Photos from January Sunrise Scrambler
Registration for February 11 Chairman’s Lunch
Registration for February 17 Sunrise Scrambler

Announcing the 2016 class of YPW’s Leadership Academy

YPW_leadership_finalTwenty-five area young professionals have been selected to participate in the 2016 Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) Leadership Academy, a leadership development program for young professionals who are interested in growing their leadership capabilities. Leadership Academy participants were nominated for the class by members of the community and then completed an application, which was reviewed by a selection committee.

The program educates YPs on their personal styles, values and strengths so they can grow as leaders, motivate others and impact change in their organizations and communities. The program, which will begin in January, includes six weekly sessions that feature interactive exercises, issue exploration, self-assessments, and in-depth conversations with Wichita’s top community and business leaders.

“This will be the sixth year we have conducted the Leadership Academy program, and each year we are impressed by the number of qualified nominations and applications we receive,” said YPW Executive Director Suzy Finn. “This year’s class represents a broad range of nonprofit, for profit, government and higher education organizations; a diverse representation of roles from accounting to construction to healthcare; and a variety of involvement in other areas of the Wichita community. We can’t wait to see what they learn from each other as they develop the skills to lead this community in the future.”

2016 Leadership Academy Participants:

Tracy Anderson, Adams Brown Beran and Ball, Chtd.
Dacia Brown, Koch Industries
Maggie Butler, Via Christi Health
Chris Callen, Builders Plus Construction
Noah Coonce, Emprise Bank
Megan Davis, K Coe Isom, LLP
Daniel De Longe, Graybar Electric Co.
Jessica Dean, Apples & Arrows
Kyle Dresbach, United States Air Force – McConnell Air Force Base
Kate Flavin, Sedgwick County
Grant Good, AGCO Corporation
Kristen Hoffman, Delta Dental of Kansas
Lance Lewis, Spirit AeroSystems
Erin Manning, Riordan Clinic
Stacey Matson, Hutton Construction
Steven Peyton, Kansas Air National Guard
Christine Pileckas, INTRUST Bank Arena
Shawn Schmidt, Central Kansas Clean Cities
Dorian Soto, Westar Energy
Carly Taft, CLC Lodging
Natalie Toney, Wichita State University
Tyler Walden, Allen, Gibbs & Houlik
Randy Ware, Wichita State University
Mavish Wasim, Doctors Express Urgent Care
Abigail Winter, University of Kansas School of Pharmacy

Please join us in congratulating the class of 2016!

Equipping Young Leaders

Each year, the Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) accepts 25 talented and dynamic young professionals into their Leadership Academy class. The participants engage in six weekly sessions with interactive exercises, issue exploration, self-assessment and in-depth conversations with Wichita’s top community and business leaders. The program educates YPs on their personal styles, values and strengths so they can grow as leaders, motivate others and impact change in their organizations and communities.

We encourage you to nominate a YP in your organization or community to be a part of the 2016 Leadership Academy class by October 30. Please submit your nominations by clicking here.


2015 Leadership Academy Class


What’s Leadership Academy like? Check out the experiences from past participants below:

WebPhoto Danielle“I was proud to start my journey with the 2015 Young Professionals of Wichita Leadership Academy program. I was excited to be given the opportunity to hone and gain new leadership skills as well as network with my peers from many different business industries. The Leadership Academy exposed me to industry experts and seasoned business leaders. Each week there was a workshop that unlocked different approaches to leadership. I walked away from each workshop with a pearl of wisdom that I currently utilize in both my personal and professional life. The workshop I most enjoyed was Leadership Basics. Brian Black, Senior Manager of Corporate Public Affairs & Global Diversity at Spirit AeroSystems, shared a concept called P.I.E. (Performance, Image, and Exposure). Understanding the importance of one’s image and how to obtain exposure in your organization or business was really helpful. This is a concept I share all the time with the students I mentor, friends, and family members. Throughout the Academy I was exposed to facilitators who were candid in sharing their experiences and gave real and quality advice. I felt as though each facilitator cared about the message they were giving. This leadership program is truly tailored for the young professional and I look forward to nominating other YPs for the program.”

Danielle Johnson
Program Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion, Wichita State University


LeadershipAcademy2015-6022“It was great to be able to attend the academy with people from different backgrounds, places, and career fields. Attending the Leadership Academy afforded me the opportunity to meet people in our city that I would have probably not met outside of this occasion. Wichita, maybe contrary to popular belief, is full of diversity in people from various backgrounds, places, careers and walks of life. The YPW Leadership Academy brought all of these together in one place.

Likewise, I was able to sit under TED talk-like teachings from speakers, experts, business-owners and entrepreneurs and glean an array of wisdom and insight. I eat this stuff up. I took copious amounts of notes in every session and left wanting to hear more and learn more when the experience came to a close. I was encouraged, built up, educated and inspired to action.

Since the Academy, I have joined the YPW as a young professional. In addition, I signed up the church I pastor – The Source Church Wichita – as a member of the Chamber of Commerce. The YPW Leadership Academy was a springboard into the life and culture of Wichita’s leadership and professional environment. Through the Academy, I’ve gained not only knowledge and an onramp into participation, but also rewarding connections and friendships.

I highly recommend the YPW Leadership Academy to any young professional who has even an inkling of desire for involvement in our city. If I could attend again, I would!”

Jason Villanueva
Pastor, The Source Church Wichita