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.

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.

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.

Finn adds Community Advancement to her Chamber work

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

Suzy Finn is expanding her Chamber work to include Community Advancement.

Suzy Finn thrives on connecting people, ideas, and resources. She’s been focusing that passion on the Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) since she returned to Wichita to earn her MBA in 2010. As a YPW member and volunteer, and then later as the organization’s Executive Director, she’s been fully engaged in YPW’s mission to attract, engage and retain the diverse young talent mix that Wichita needs to drive economic growth and community advancement.

Finn understands the allure of leaving Wichita to establish a career in a larger metropolitan area. She’s been there and done that. After completing her Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Studio Art at Marquette, she worked in the Washington, DC area for several years.

She also understands the many benefits of returning to your hometown to advance your career and how critical it is to widen and deepen Wichita’s talent pool. Her experience makes her a great choice to add Community Advancement to her Chamber resume.

Effective September 1, Finn will begin splitting her time between her current YPW work and her new endeavors in the Chamber’s Community Advancement area. A Program Coordinator will be hired to assist her in both areas. A news release was issued earlier today detailing her new Chamber responsibilities.

We’re confident that the Chamber programs in these two areas will be strengthened as a result of Finn’s commitment to the Chamber and we invite you to congratulate and support her in her newest endeavor.

Your 24-year old employees: What skills, abilities and qualities does your business need from them?

The Chamber and the Business and Education Alliance (BEA) are encouraging local business leaders to participate in a communication session about the future of education on Tuesday, June 2 at the Wichita Art Museum (1400 W. Museum Blvd) from 9 to 11 a.m. The session is being led by representatives of the Kansas State Department of Education and participants will be asked to weigh in on the following three questions:

Business leaders are urged to provide input to the Kansas Education Commissioner during a special session on June 2.

Business leaders are urged to provide input to the Kansas Education Commissioner during a special session on June 2.

  • What are the characteristics, qualities, abilities and skills of a successful 24-year old Kansan?
  • What are the needs of business and industry and what skills and abilities are lacking in today’s 24-year old?
  • How can business and industry partner with K-12 and higher education in creating the 24-year old that has those skills and abilities?

BEA member Ray Frederick is the President/Owner of Frederick Plumbing & Heating in Wichita. Frederick plans to participate because, “I believe it’s critical to integrate the 3 R’s of business (respect, responsibility and relationships) with the 3 R’s of education (reading, writing, and arithmetic).”

Information collected during the session will be used to help guide the state’s strategic plan for education. Additional events are being scheduled throughout the state as part of a state-wide initiative to involve the business community in shaping the future of the education of their workforce.

To RSVP for the event, please contact the Chamber’s Manager of Community Advancement, Renee Anderson at 316-268-1141 or randerson@wichitachamber.org. To learn more about the initiative, titled Kansas Children Kansas’s Future, please contact Penny Rice at Kansas State Department of Education, 785-296-3202 or price@ksde.org.