YPW announces 2017 Leadership Academy class

YPW_leadership_finalPlease join us in congratulating the 25 area young professionals who have been selected to participate in the 2017 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.

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

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

“YPW’s unique leadership program is designed by YPs for YPs,” said YPW Executive Director Suzy Finn. “Our hope is that this class will learn as much from each other as they will from the experts they’ll hear from. We believe the broad range of industries, sectors, years of experience, roles, and backgrounds represented will be key to making that possible. Wichita’s future is bright with individuals like these excited to learn more about their role in leadership.”

2017 Leadership Academy Participants:

  • Alyssa Peppiatt, BKD, LLP
  • Ann Marie Siegwarth, Envision, Inc.
  • Ashley Lunkenheimer, Wesley Medical Center
  • Branden McLaughlin, CrossFirst Bank
  • Chloe Stevenson, Apples & Arrows
  • Cyle Barnwell, BELT Leasing
  • Destiny Pello, Emprise Bank
  • James Holland, Westar Energy
  • James Nixon, Airbus Americas Engineering, Inc.
  • Jenna Reid (Kramer), Sullivan Higdon & Sink
  • Jennifer McDonald, CCH, A Wolters Kluwer Business
  • Jessica Long, Delta Dental of Kansas, Inc.
  • Jessie Rainey, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
  • Kristen Zemanick, Koch Industries, Inc.
  • Kyle Womacks, Emprise Bank
  • Lauren Clary, Professional Engineering Consultants, P.A.
  • Mary Hetherington, Wichita Community Foundation
  • Matt Spahn, Martin Pringle Oliver Wallace & Bauer, L.L.P.
  • Megan Lovely, City of Wichita
  • Mike Heldstab, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran
  • Rachel Sweet, Via Christi Health
  • Ravon Kirkendoll, BG Products, Inc.
  • Shannon Vande Brake, Textron Aviation Inc.
  • Steven Suellentrop, Legacy Bank
  • Teddy Farias, Wichita Area Technical College

Entrepreneurship changes lives

"Team Wichita" prepares to hit the stage for the evenings event.

“Team Wichita” prepares to take to the stage for the evening’s event. From left to right: Scott Schwindaman, Christina Long, Barry Schwan, Gary Plummer, Angie Elliott, Rachel Douglass, Trevor Crotts and Miguel Johns.

Enthusiastic entrepreneurs from as far away as Joplin, MO, attended the Chamber’s  Annual Meeting last night to hear our keynote speaker and entrepreneurial expert, Daymond John. We’ve heard many favorable comments about his inspirational message, the inclusiveness of the event, and the showcasing of so many talented young entrepreneurs during the networking portion of the evening and on stage.

Our thanks to our dedicated sponsors who recognize the value of expanding and promoting Wichita’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. And our special thanks to all who attended and demonstrated to local entrepreneurs that Wichita wants to provide more opportunities for local innovators.

Some of our favorite tweets from the event are shared below and you’ll also find links to the videos that were shown last night, the Wichita Eagle’s coverage by Dan Voorhis and images from the evening.

VideosSponsors, Wichita Chamber:  Activation, Incubation & Acceleration,
Wichita Eagle storyWichitans have no problem swimming in the ‘Shark Tank’
Facebook Album2016 Annual Meeting with Daymond John




Wichita is UnpredICTably Amazing

Chamber Board members Dr. Norreen Carrocci from Newman University and Dr. Cindy Claycomb from Wichita State University stopped to take a closer look at the infographic local young creatives developed. The Chamber turned the infographic into a banner that was displayed at the November meeting of the Board of Directors.

Chamber Board members Dr. Noreen Carrocci from Newman University and Dr. Cindy Claycomb from Wichita State University stopped to take a closer look at the infographic local young creatives developed to promote Wichita. The infographic was turned into a banner that was displayed at the November meeting of the Board of Directors.

We’ve had a great response to the infographic that was published in the Wichita Eagle last week as part of our monthly update. Mary Eves of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices contacted us to let us know that she thought it was a valuable tool for realtors. Eves said, “I loved the concept and the proactive way it reaches millennials, and even those of us who aren’t millennials.”

We’re sharing that monthly update again on our blog just in case you missed it. You’ll also find instructions for downloading the UnpredICTably Amazing infographic to incorporate in your own recruitment packages.

At the Chamber we’ve turned the infographic into a banner that we’ve been displaying in our Board Room and we’ve added a digital version of it to our website.

11 reasons why millennials are proud to call Wichita home

Wichitans have been sharing all the unique things they love about their city through a Chamber-led #ILoveWichita social media campaign since early 2015. With nearly 5,000 posts on Instagram and almost 2,000 posts on Twitter, people from across the community have created an authentic and constantly-updated digital brochure with images showing the best places to eat, drink, shop, work and experience cultural events in Wichita.

A group of young professionals took that campaign a step further last month by creating an infographic titled UnpredICTably Amazing. Five creative teammates at Sullivan Higdon & Sink (SHS) turned their favorite aspects about living and working in the community into a visually appealing format that can be shared with their peers around the nation.

One of the creatives on the SHS team, Jamil Malone is also a member of the Chamber’s Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW). Malone said, “We decided that Wichita deserves to be highlighted as the unpredictably amazing community that we experience every day. We wanted to help promote our community and accelerate the #ILoveWichita conversation.”

Our thanks to Jason Comerford, Austin Hillard, Jamil Malone, Mike McCoy and Meg Stessman for clearly demonstrating that the single best thing about Wichita is the passion, generosity and creativity of the people who live and work here.

Visit ilovewichita.org
Love this infographic? Want to post it on your own website? Turn it into a recruitment poster for your company? Use it to launch a conversation in your organization about what makes Wichita so special? Share it on social media? Visit ilovewichita.org for several different formats that you can download and use for free. And be sure to give those incredible creatives on the SHS team a shout out for giving us all another great way to promote Wichita.

Addition of Young Leader Award to Honors Night Lineup

By Rachel Douglass
Business Services Manager

Wichita has many outstanding people and organizations, and the Chamber’s Honors Night event recognizes some of our community’s finest, following a tradition started more than 50 years ago.

Honors Night, scheduled for April 11, 2017, celebrates an outstanding individual, exemplary corporate citizens, exceptional commitment to the community, and a striking architectural achievement. These recognitions have special meaning because each award recipient contributes to the greater well-being of our community; each another stitch in the historic fabric of the Wichita area.

With the Chamber’s centennial celebration in 2017, the Chamber Executive Committee has approved the addition of a young professional award to the program’s honors. Introducing the award next year will be a nice tie to the centennial celebration as we pay homage to our history, but look forward on how best to engage the next generation.

The new award provides premiere recognition of extraordinary young talent through service to the community and noteworthy accomplishments. Candidates for the award shall be between 21-40 years old and have demonstrated leadership within their job and philanthropic involvement. This award is presented as an encouragement for exceptional performance by young men and women.

Young professionals do matter to our community, as does every generation in our workforce. Understanding how to attract, retain and acknowledge their accomplishments is of vital interest to regional businesses that require their unique talents to thrive.

Interested in nominating an exemplary young professional for consideration? Please do so here.


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. 

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 ILoveWichita.org 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 blog.wichitachamber.org 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 csendall@wichitachamber.org.