Who is Wichita?

A Call to Action for Intentional Inclusion
By Courtney Hough


Young Professionals of Wichita members Courtney Hough, Ellen Decker and Ebony Clemons on the 2016 City-to-City trip.

I moved to Wichita from Detroit fifteen months ago and in that short period of time, I have learned about Wichita’s culture and the passion that people have for the Emerald City/Air Capital. I’ve made it a point to get to know my community by being a part of it. But when I boarded the plane for my first City-to-City Leadership visit, I did not know what to expect. I knew only a handful of people and questioned if I could relate to our group and if I added any value to the experience. Let’s just say that by the end of trip, I was sharing work and family stories and I had a voice! This experience allowed me to be the change that is being demanded from our community.

Wichita’s population is extremely diverse since there are many Hispanic, Asian, African American, Native American, African, and LGBTQ communities within the city. The diversity of our population is not always reflected in our businesses and the identity of Wichita. I think this City- to-City Leadership Visit opened our eyes to ways we can rebrand and develop a “Wichita for Everyone.”

Our biggest “ah-ha” moment was learning ways to engage and mentor young professionals. There is usually a negative perception of who millennials are and the tone is sometimes dismissive. The idea presented was to target 21 to 40-year-old professionals to mentor and mold them and to enhance their leadership and professional development skills. This will stabilize Wichita’s development, retain talent and increase opportunities. The reality is that in twenty years, many of our current community leaders and CEOs will be retired or will no longer be in a leadership capacity, so we are the future of Wichita! Opportunities for professional development and community outreach must be abundant to retain young talent.

My challenge to every Wichitan is to invest: invest in our businesses, invest in our children and young people, invest in our disenfranchised communities, and invest in our infrastructure. We must invest in order to recreate and grow!

Courtney is the Strategic Engagement Specialist at United Way of the Plains, as well as a YPW Access Team member and volunteer. She participated in the Chamber’s 2016 City-to-City Leadership Visit to Nashville in September. 

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 csendall@wichitachamber.org.

Stefanie Flores: Community Advancement & YPW Program Coordinator

Stefanie FloresStefanie Flores has joined our staff as the Community Advancement & Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW ) Program Coordinator, working with Director of Community Advancement Suzy Finn. Stefanie moved to Wichita earlier this year from Denver after previously living in Santa Barbara and Chicago.

“Stefanie wasted no time in diving into the Wichita community,” said Finn. “One of the first things she did upon arriving in Wichita was join YPW, and she has been actively involved during her six months here. We believe her variety of experiences have more than prepared her for working with our teams of volunteers and coordinating the many programs involved with YPW and Community Advancement.”

Stefanie 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. This is a new position at the Chamber, created to support the Chamber’s mission to drive community advancement in the Wichita region.

5 Reasons YPW is Wichitawesome

YPW Staffers Suzy Finn & Meg Foreman

YPW Staffers Suzy Finn & Meg Foreman

We could not be more proud to congratulate Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) as they celebrate their 10th anniversary this week. As Wichita Eagle reporter Bryan Horwarth put it in a recent article on the organization, “Back in 2005, when the Young Professionals of Wichita organization was born, a tweet was still a sound made by a bird.” So much has changed in the decade since YPW was organized, but their mission has remained the same: to attract and retain young talent for our city. And if their membership and engagement numbers are any indication (recently surpassing 2,600 individuals), they are succeeding.

To mark the anniversary, YPW is celebrating with a week of events, called YP Week. It kicked off with a breakfast this morning with Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell and a YP “organization fair” at the Farm & Art Market Square in Old Town this evening. There will be events each day this week to celebrate the young professionals working and making a difference in Wichita, concluding with a 10th anniversary gala and YPW awards event Friday at the Wichita Scottish Rite Center (see videos about the awards finalists below). For more information on all things YP Week, visit www.ypwichita.org.

We have also compiled five reasons that make YPW one of Wichita’s crown jewels:

  1. #2600Members
  2. #200KInvestedinICT
  3. #CountlessVolunteerHours
  4. #SuzyandMegRock
  5. #WichitasFuture

In case you missed it, Chamber Board Chair Jon Rosell submitted a letter to the editor of both the Wichita Business Journal and the Wichita Eagle. Check them both out and be sure to thank one of the YPs in your life for choosing to make Wichita the best it can be.

YPW: Finding more ways to Enhance Wichita

It is no secret that retaining and attracting the best of millennial workers (those born between 1980 and 2000) is critical to Wichita’s future success. We are fortunate to have strong and well-organized groups of young professionals in our community, including Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW). They are celebrating their tenth anniversary in 2015 and the organization has never been stronger, reporting both record membership and engagement levels.

Last Saturday, YPW completed their annual Enhance project, during which 115 volunteers completed projects (everything from painting to deck construction) on several homes in District 6 near Evergreen Park. Not only did the group paint homes, they also completed an art mural on a wall near the pool at the park, all with the goal of improving the community we call home. A big thank you to the Wagonmasters for cooking up burgers for the volunteers to enjoy. You can watch the story that aired on KWCH here.


YPW Executive Director Suzy Finn and volunteers Laura Bernstorf and Sam Foreman were also the featured guests on 99.7 Lite FM’s weekly Lite is Local program to talk about the organization’s 10th anniversary. They answered questions like:

  • How do you define a “young professional?”
  • What is the best way for young professionals to get involved in YPW?
  • How has the organization changed and evolved over the last decade?
  • To what do you credit the organization’s record numbers of members and event attendance?

YPW RadioThey were excited to share information about YPW’s inaugural YP Week to mark their decade milestone. The week of July 27-31 will be packed with events that celebrate the young professionals in our community. For example, YPs can have breakfast with the Mayor or attend a program fair highlighting the many ways to engage with YPW and other community YP groups. The week will conclude with the 10th Anniversary Founders’ Day Gala and YPW Awards on Friday, July 31 at Venue 332 at the Wichita Scottish Rite. Find these and all of the YP Week events on the YPW website.

If you missed the original airing of the YPW Lite is Local program, you can hear it on the station’s website.

YPW is the key ingredient in the Chamber’s strategic priority to “strengthen the region’s ability to attract, engage and retain young and diverse talent.” They are actively connecting YPs to the community, working to create a more inclusive definition of a YP, and providing opportunities for YPs to grow and lead. We encourage everyone to find a way to celebrate the young professionals in our community, and to help them find more reasons to love and to choose Wichita.

Young Professionals of Wichita Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Formed in 2005, Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) is celebrating their tenth year of providing innovative ways for young professionals in the Wichita area to socialize, expand their professional horizons, and immerse themselves in the Wichita community. A vital part of attracting and retaining young intellectual capital for Wichita, YPW has grown their membership to a new all-time high of 2,500 individuals. “Record-breaking attendance at events during the first quarter of the year has been a great way to kick off our ten-year celebration,” said YPW Executive Director Suzy Finn.

Earlier this year the YPW Board approved a high-level priority for each of the Board’s four organizational goals. You can read more about their 2015 plans by following this link to the blog posting titled Starting on the next 10 years.

You can help YPW celebrate their accomplishments over the last decade by attending or sponsoring their annual Founders’ Day event at Venue 332 at Wichita Scottish Rite Center on July 31. Contact Meg at 268-1171 for sponsorship and ticket information.

YPW members at the 2014 Founders' Day celebration

                             YPW members at the 2014 Founders’ Day celebration

25 graduate from YPW’s Leadership Academy

We are pleased to congratulate the 25 young professionals who graduated from Young Professionals of Wichita’s Leadership Academy yesterday evening. Over the course of six weeks, they participated in interactive exercises, issue exploration, self-assessments and in-depth conversations with Wichita’s top community and business leaders.

Because millennials will comprise 50% of the American workforce by the year 2020, we believe programs like this are crucial to the betterment of our community. It is quite possible that the young professionals listed below could soon be leading our companies and our city. Please join us in congratulating this year’s Leadership Academy class!

Ambur Alfaro, Delta Dental of Kansas
Amanda Brown, Cargill
Chris Clark, Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture
Mary Clavo, Bombardier Learjet Inc.
Charlsey Czernicki, Exploration Place
Thomas Dalton, Textron Aviation
Chandler Dopps, Bank of the West
Hilary Erbert, Sullivan, Higdon & Sink
Craig Goodloe, Airbus Americas Engineering
Chelsea Granheim, Hearing Lab Technology, LLC
Drew Hays, Go Wichita
Lyndsey Hogg, Via Christi Health
Danielle Johnson, Wichita State
Courtney Looney, Wichita Community Foundation
Jade Martin, Klenda Austerman
Joe McDowell, Friends University
Deeanna Nelson, Cox Communications
Thea Pajunen, Apples & Arrows
Portia Portugal, Dress for Success Wichita
Mollie Smith, INTRUST Bank
Chris Smythe, Ronald McDonald House Charities
Rachel Steiner, Friends University
Jason Villanueva, Aviator Church
Tyler York, US Senate
Lindsay Zimmerman, Youth Entrepreneurs


For more information about Young Professionals of Wichita, visit ypwichita.org.

Are more organizations supporting the proposed sales tax?

The Chamber’s Board of Directors recently announced their support of the 1 percent sales tax referendum. Wichitans will vote on this issue on November 4. During the next few months Chamber members will utilize the blog to provide commentary and answer questions about the sales tax. Today’s question is answered by Richard Taylor, a member of the Chamber’s Leadership Council.

Yes. The leadership of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, Local 441, is now supporting the 1 percent sales tax referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot. The Union joins the Young Professionals of Wichita, Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, Go Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce in supporting the sales tax.

Richard Taylor is a member of the Chamber's Leadership Council and the Business Manager for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, Local 441.

Richard Taylor is a member of the Chamber’s Leadership Council and the Business Manager for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, Local 441.

Richard Taylor is a member of the Chamber’s Leadership Council and serves as the Business Manager for the organization. Taylor says the union believes every aspect of the initiative is important to Wichita. “We back these efforts to bring jobs to this community and create employment opportunities for the building trades. We’ve reviewed the jobs plan and we are very supportive of the workforce training component. The Wichita economy benefits from a skilled and experienced workforce. We also believe that stable and predictable water rates, improved bus service, and road maintenance are solid investments in our community’s growth.”

Please visit the City of Wichita website for more specific information about the sales tax referendum.

Do the young professionals in Wichita support the sales tax initiative?

The Chamber’s Board of Directors recently announced their support of the 1 percent sales tax referendum. Wichitans will vote on this issue on November 4. During the next few months Chamber members will utilize the blog to provide commentary and answer questions about the sales tax. Today’s question is answered by Suzy Finn, the Executive Director of the Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW). 

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

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

Yes. The Young Professionals of Wichita Board of Trustees voted this week to support the proposed 1 percent sales tax referendum that City of Wichita residents will vote on during the November 4 general election.

The Board supports this referendum because it believes this sales tax will be a tool to help the organization accomplish its mission to attract, engage, and retain diverse young talent to effect positive change for a brighter future. In particular, the needs for more, diverse job options and a strong public transit system have previously been identified as keys to accomplishing the YPW mission.

“Our Board feels that maintaining the status quo in Wichita is not enough to encourage economic growth and attract the Millennial generation,” said YPW Executive Director Suzy Finn. “Wichita continues to lose young professionals while other vibrant cities in the region are gaining them. The first step in changing that trend is to ensure that we have plentiful and diverse jobs available for a highly educated workforce. A yes vote on this referendum represents a plan to kick-start growth in that area.”

Prior to voting, YPW hosted a Pro/Con Forum about the sales tax referendum that featured speakers from the supporting and opposing sides of the issue to inform the general membership and allow all Board members the opportunity to become educated about the issues prior to taking a vote.

“This is the first time our organization has taken an official position on an issue before the community for a vote,” said Finn. “It was reiterated during our city-to-city trip to Austin that you have to have a strong economic base to fund quality of life issues. We believe that if we support development of the basics needed for economic growth now, continued improvements in the quality of life areas that are important to young professionals will follow.”

Prior to voting on the issue, the YPW Board hosted a Pro/Con Forum about the sales tax referendum that featured speakers from the supporting and opposing sides of the issue.  A recording from this event is available on the YPW website at this link.

YPW sales tax forum

The Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) are hosting a Sales Tax Forum with representatives from both sides of the issue. The Forum will be held Tuesday, September 9, from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the Wichita Marriott (9100 E. Corporate Hills Drive).
Schedule of Events
5:30 p.m. – Networking
6:00 p.m. – Remarks from Jennifer Baysinger, Coalition for a Better Wichita
6:15 p.m. – Remarks from Moji Fanimokun and Jon Rolph, Yes Wichita!
6:30 p.m. – Q&A from the audience
Please register at ypwichita.org. This forum is free and open to the public.

“We believe that it is important for young professionals to express their personal point of view about how to best help Wichita prosper,” said Suzy Finn, Executive Director of YPW. “This event is designed to educate our members, and anyone in the community who cares, so that they can make an informed decision prior to voting in November.”

Housed and staffed by the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, YPW’s mission is to attract, engage and retain diverse young talent to effect positive change for a brighter future. With a membership of more than 2,200, YPW’s number one aspiration is brain gain for Wichita by facilitating professional and social connections, encouraging leadership development and building community pride.