KC Connector Project: Top Connectors

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The Kansas City Connector Project 2017 Top Connectors in Education & Entrepreneurship


Cities expand and develop with the ebb and flow of population changes and the resources they bring to bear in solving social and economic challenges. And with this organic growth and the challenges that arise, civic opportunities are naturally, if unevenly, distributed. This pilot project identifies resource gaps and suggests how they can be bridged by leveraging the “human connection� that already exists within a community. Project goals are to assess, advance and accelerate where possible educational achievement and entrepreneurial success, two important hallmarks of the greater Kansas City area. 2


ber of the founding Board of Directors and chairman of the Jefferson C-123 Education Foundation.

NATALIE ALLEN KANSAS CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Natalie Allen has been closely tied to education for 10 years. While working as a journalist, she covered educa-


tion in Richmond, Virginia and the surrounding ar-


eas. She then went on to work in communications

varez is passionate about the power of people work-

and outreach in Henrico County Public Schools and

ing together. Laura builds growth in the Hispanic

Baltimore County Public Schools before moving to

Consumer Base for H&R Block, the world’s largest tax

Kansas City. As the newly-appointed Chief Com-

services provider, having prepared more than 650

munications Officer of KCPS, she has worked with

million tax returns since 1955. She previously helped

her team to promote the school system by using a

build an HR Department at Guadalupe Centers, Inc.

grassroots, community-focused approach. Her team

Laura has a Master of Science in organizational lead-

has leveraged social media campaigns, town halls, advisory groups, and business partnerships to foster transparency and stakeholder buy-in.

ership (MSOL) with an emphasis in change management, and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Houston, earning a bachelor’s de-

Natalie’s two greatest passions in her work are equi-

gree in political science.

table education and the storytelling needed to make

As a first-generation graduate in her family, Laura is

it happen. She presented at the National School Public Relations Conference as well as the Summit for Courageous Conversations around equity in school

passionate for all people to be literate and supports a continued fostering of constant learning.

communication and outreach. Natalie also was re-


cently named one of the top 35 Under 35 by the Na-

Deidre Anderson is the Executive Director of United

tional School Public Relations Association.

Inner City Services (UICS) in Kansas City, Missouri.

Natalie holds a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master’s certificate in Equity and Excellence in Education from McDaniel College.

MARILYN ALSTROM 20/20 LEADERSHIP: Master’s in Public Administration and BS in Business and Public Affairs Co-founder of 20/20 Leadership in 1993 and received nonprofit status in 2003. 20/20 Leadership is personal, educational and leadership development for freshmen through seniors in Missouri and Kansas. More than 600 students, representing 17 high schools participated in 2016-2017 Current member of the KCMO Crime Commission committee served as President of the Legends Village West Rotary. Mem-

UICS is a high quality early childhood program that, despite being in one of the poorest zip codes in the city, is having great success. Service, innovation, lifelong learning, being committed to the community you serve, and a recognition that all constituents add value are the tenets from which she leads. Prior to assuming her role at UICS, Ms. Anderson served as the Director of At Risk Programs and Grants for the Hickman Mills School District. Her tireless advocacy for underserved minority and impoverished populations locally, regionally and nationally are grounded in a belief that all families and children deserve access to a high quality education irrespective of their background. Ms. Anderson’s background in public education, community development and child welfare lend a unique perspective to engaging families. 3


keting initiatives for a variety of Fortune 500 com-

3rd generation Kansas Citian. Passionate about the

panies and international non-profits, including:

intersection of leadership and entrepreneurship.

Humana, HDR, YP (formerly the Yellow Pages), Aflac,

Business growth comes when we invest in our teams

Feed the Children, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles,

and establish a viable business model. Everything is

Citigroup, Standard & Poor’s and many more. Before

changing as our economy shifts, and successful com-

her time in branding, Brooke spent years working as

panies will evolve alongside the marketplace. Teams

a food-and-nutrition journalist, contributing to such

are the future of our companies, and until we learn

publications as Nation’s Restaurant News, New York

how to build and grow teams, our companies large

Magazine and Self, and also worked in television pro-

and small will be limited.

duction on the renowned children’s show Reading Rainbow, among others.

ADAM ARREDONDO KANSAS CITY STARTUP FOUNDATION. Adam has been immersed in the Kansas City startup community since 2011 initially as a startup founder and then as co-leader of the Kansas City Startup Village (KCSV).

A passionate community activist and natural connector, Brooke played an integral role in bringing the global lecture series CreativeMornings to Kansas City, is an active board member for the Mesner Puppet Theater, was a member of the KC Streetcar

Currently, Adam is the Executive Director of the

Marketing Committee, and was a founding commit-

Kansas City Startup Foundation (KCSF), a nonprofit

tee member for the Gather & Grow supper series,

on a mission to build the most connect startup eco-

benefitting BoysGrow.

system in the world. KCSF’s programs include Startland News, MECA Challenge, KCSV, Village Square


Coworking Studio, 1Week KC and Startup Crawl KC.

Jim Baxendale has worked for over twenty-one (21)

Through these efforts, Adam has built strong connections in Kansas City’s civic, investment, education and entrepreneur communities. Frequently referring to Kansas City as his current startup, Adam’s vision is to transform Kansas City into a world-class, 21st-century city.

BROOKE BARRIER LABL (LANGUAGE AND BRAND LAB): For the past 13 years, Brooke has translated her fascination with words into a career that’s spanned most corners of the marketing and media worlds. As a brand strategist and creative director, she uses language in inventive ways to develop successful strategies, compelling messaging platforms and comprehensive marketing plans for businesses of all sizes. Prior to starting LABL in 2015, Brooke worked as an Associate Director at Interbrand and Siegel+Gale. While there, she led high-profile rebrands and mar-


years in the field of university technology transfer. He is currently serving as Director of the Whiteboard 2 Boardroom bi-state commercialization program to identify game changing technologies and processes and get them into the hands of established businesses and talented entrepreneurs, resulting in new products and businesses that stay local and grow. In addition, he works to fully integrate university, laboratory and industry research into the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem and manages a central clearinghouse (www.Whiteboard2Boardroom.com) to catalog bi-state innovations and startup company management talent. Previous to that he served as Executive Director of the University of Kansas Center for Technology Commercialization with the responsibility of managing the intellectual property of the four (4) University of Kansas campuses. In that capacity he had oversight

of the commercialization of faculty research and the

rate approached 90 percent, a remarkable achieve-

securing of patents, trademarks and copyrights, ne-

ment for a large, diverse school system. Dr. Bedell led

gotiation of licenses, research agreements, confiden-

changes that halved the rate of student suspensions.

tiality agreements and material transfer agreements.

He also pioneered a countywide effort which more

He also assisted in the formation of spin-off companies based on University of Kansas technologies and facilitated the negotiation of various collaborative agreements with industry and philanthropic partners.

Teams are the future of our companies, and until we learn how to build and grow teams, our companies large and small will be limited.

He has held management positions in hospital labo-

than doubled the percentage of BCPS students who

ratories and private clinical laboratories throughout

take the SAT exam.

the Greater Kansas City Area. He is a frequent lecturer on technology commercialization at conferences, medical centers, hospitals, and universities. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology, a Master of Science degree in Microbiology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and an MBA from the Rockhurst University Executive Fellows Program.

MARK BEDELL KANSAS CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Dr. Mark T. Bedell is one of the top young educational leaders in the United States. His personal, educational and career experiences make him uniquely suited to serve as Superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools in Kansas City, MO. He is a talented, caring teacher and administrator who is doing the hard, systematic work necessary to ensure that every child and every family has an equitable opportunity of making their dreams a reality.

His background, classroom and school experience and singular leadership at BCPS made Dr. Bedell a natural choice for the Superintendent’s post at Kansas City Public Schools in 2016. He came to the school system committed to listening to and learning from students, parents, staff and community members. Dr. Bedell devoted hundreds of hours to public engagement in the first few months of his tenure. With stakeholder guidance, he crafted and enacted a post-entry plan, which made the central office more effective and efficient, improved School Board governance, and increased staff morale. He has forged innovative partnerships on behalf of students and families. These partnerships include: the Sprint 1Million Project, which provides wifi hotspots free of charge to students whose families cannot afford internet access at home; and the Plaza Comunitaria, which links programs and services from the Consul-

Dr. Bedell’s skill at increasing student achievement in

ate of Mexico in Kansas City with Mexican nationals

Houston Independent School District led to his pro-

and other Latino families in KCPS. Dr. Bedell has de-

motion from principal to School Improvement Offi-

veloped a systematic mentorship program which

cer. His success across that school system garnered

will eventually match caring adults with about 8,000

the attention of Baltimore County Public Schools,

deserving students. Most recently, he led the effort

where Dr. Bedell served as Assistant Superinten-

to create a new strategic plan that will help KCPS

dent for High Schools from 2012 to 2016. During his

progress over the next five years. In the short time he

tenure, Dr. Bedell helped create a system to reduce

has led Kansas City Public Schools, Dr. Bedell imple-

student dropouts and increase the graduation rate.

mented a drop-out prevention system, and the dis-

Thanks to Dr. Bedell’s efforts, the BCPS graduation

trict-wide graduation rate has already begun to rise. 5

Dr. Bedell has reignited trust in KCPS, sparked a

Scholars and is on the steering committee for KC

new excitement among families and prompted a

Degrees. Angie is a member of Central Exchange,

much-needed focus on equity in order to guarantee

Lee’s Summit Rotary and the KC Chamber. She lives

that every student has a legitimate shot at success.

in Greenwood and has two daughters in the area.

His personal, educational and professional journey

One daughter is employed by Cerner and the other

prove that this is exactly the type of goal that Dr. Be-

attends high school at Lee’s Summit West.

dell was made to accomplish.


Jeff Blackwood is the Founder and CEO of Pathfinder Health Innovations (formerly ABPathfinder), an au-


tism therapy software company based in Overland

Bennett became the Chief Innovation Officer for the

Park, Kansas. In this role, Jeff is responsible for the

City of Kansas City, Missouri, in January 2016 after a

company strategy, corporate development, market-

25-year career in the US Army. After a couple of de-

ing and financial goals. He serves as the President

cades of artillery operations, seeing the world and

of the Board of Directors, coordinating Pathfinder’s

figuring out how to make things work in austere en-

efforts with the Board. Jeff is also responsible for

vironments, he took the opportunity to nation-build

funding the company, and has raised over $5.8M in

at home when Mayor James offered it. Bob now leads

venture funds to support Pathfinder’s growth.

the Smart City initiatives, a suite of projects including: data analysis, Public Wi-Fi, digital kiosk installation, and smart lighting programs in the city’s downtown core. Kansas City’s initiatives earned an Edison Award (Gold) for “Collective Disruption” and civic innovation in 2017. Bob is currently working on plans to extend Smart City initiatives throughout the 318 miles of KCMO; this may reframe how the city works...

WESTON BERGMANN BETABLOX: Weston Bergmann is the Lead Investor in BetaBlox, a for-equity business

Jeff’s background includes working in sales, sales management and marketing for companies like MCI, VeriSign and Black & Veatch. He has managed business units with $60 million in revenues and nationwide sales teams, and he has started and built new business units from scratch. He was consistently recognized for his leadership and sales efforts. This is Jeff’s second startup, having previously managed GreenTree Technology Partners, a custom bioscience software firm.

incubator designed to increase the likelihood of

In addition to his work with Pathfinder, Jeff has ap-

startup success. Since founding the program in 2012,

peared as a commentator on FOX business, been

BetaBlox has partnered with well over 100 business-

featured in Esquire Magazine, Forbes, CIO Review,

es, and expanded to a second operation in Tulsa, OK.

Thinking Bigger Magazine and various local media. Jeff also was a featured speaker at the 2015 Cleve-

ANGIE BESENDORFER WESTERN GOVERNERS UNIVERSITY MISSOURI: Currently Chancellor for WGU Missouri, Dr. Angie Besendorfer has been in the education field for over 20 years. She has served her students as a teacher, principal and superintendent. She worked in the K-12 realm as a principal in the Independence School District. She served on a committee for KC 6

land Clinic Medical Innovation Summit. Jeff has further been recognized as a 2015 finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year by the SPN Awards, as a Healthcare Transformer by StartUp Health, as a 2011 PIPELINE Member, as the Vice President of the Autism Society-the Heartland for 2013-2015 and served

as the Kansas State Advocacy Representative to the


Autism Society of America in 2014-2015.

a Tulane University graduate, started Brain Develop-

Jeff currently serves on the board of Integrated Behavioral Technologies, an autism therapy center serving children in rural Kansas communities, and volunteers as a mentor to inner-city youth through the Youth Entrepreneurs of Kansas program and to startup business owners through the Enterprise Center of Johnson County.

ment in 2015 after moving back from Miami. In Miami, he worked for a highly recognized real estate development and brokerage company, all the while learning the ins and outs of the development business. He parlayed that experience into starting Brain Development, which specializes in identifying unique and undervalued assets for repositioning and/or redevelopment to achieve greater income and value. As


we have grown over the past several years, our core


second continues to be central in our mission. We

Dr. Jeremy Bonnesen seeks to grow the Kansas City

don’t take front end, back end or asset management

community by helping to provide high-demand,

fees and we always participate in the capital stack.

high-wage professional studies opportunities to high

Our compensation comes from ownership bumps as

school juniors and seniors who seek to fuel their pas-

we hit certain criteria. The same goes for our devel-

sion for their future. Currently, Dr. Bonnesen serves as

opment business, we don’t take developer fees till

the assistant director for Summit Technology Acad-

we get to milestones to ensure our clients will have

emy, an innovative and nationally recognized acad-

a financially stable project. Even when the project is

emy that provides competitive, preparatory college

complete while we hire a property manager, we still

and career experiences for high school juniors and

maintain control over the finances to ensure rigorous

seniors from over 24 high schools in the KC area.

management and prompt reporting. In addition to

philosophy of finding value first and compensation

real estate development, a small, but growing, part


of our business has also been Venture Capital fund management. While none of the funds are organized

HALEY BOWMAN KIPP KC: Haley Bowman, the Direc-

into a formal fund, we are very active in the entre-

tor of Advocacy and Development, oversees all de-

preneur community matching startups with not only

velopment, marketing, and external affairs for KIPP

capital but business development connections and

KC. Haley joined KIPP KC after earning her Juris Doc-

mentors through our network.

tor at the University of Kansas School of Law and is a licensed attorney in the state of Missouri. Haley’s demonstrated history of advocating for Kansas City students and families, legal background, and passion for public education have support KIPP KC’s growth and expansion the past five years. Haley is an avid spots and lover of all things Kansas City. In her free time, she enjoys cheering on the Royals, Chiefs, Jayhawks, New York Rangers, and KIPP Blue Jays!

In addition to starting Brain Development, he started Marvel Properties with two other partners. It is a Kansas City based private multifamily real estate fund. Marvel Properties is similar to Brain Development in that we find undervalued assets but we have a very specific niche, small apartments buildings. We believe that Midtown and Waldo need a higher end and convenient rental product and that shouldn’t be limited to downtown and suburban markets. As we continue to look to ways to offer a better and more convenient 7

rental product, we are proud to announce that we de-

turing innovative ideas and people in business, edu-

veloped Kansas City’s first smart apartment building

cation, government, corporations and social good. In

through a partnership with a local startup.

addition to writing, love telling stories with my camera.

KIRSTEN ALENE BROWN CROSSROADS CHARTER SCHOOLS: Kirsten Brown is passionate about educa-

DEANGELA J. BURNS-WALLACE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS: Dr. DeAngela Burns-Wallace is the Vice Provost for

tion. She has over eight years of experience work-

Undergraduate Studies at University of Kansas (KU).

ing in Kansas City schools. Ms. Brown is committed

Prior to moving to KU, she held the role of Assistant

to equipping students with the educational tools

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies at the Uni-

necessary for them to pursue any path they desire.

versity of Missouri (MU) as well as the Assistant Vice

Ms. Brown graduated from the University of Missou-

Provost for Enrollment Management and Director of

ri-Kansas City’s Institute for Urban Education (IUE),

Access Initiatives. She has also held the position of

where she attended on a full scholarship. Since grad-

Assistant Dean in the Office of Undergraduate Ad-

uating from the IUE, Ms. Brown has taught and led

mission at Stanford University.

teams in Kansas City schools for the past five years. Additionally, Ms. Brown has led professional development sessions across the country for UMKC, Teach for America, Kansas City Teacher Residency Program and the Kauffman Teacher-Leader Fellowship. Ms. Brown completed the Leading Educators Fellowship program and has completed her Master’s in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University

Dr. Burns-Wallace was selected as an American Council on Education Fellow for the 2013-14 academic year. In this capacity she worked directly with presidents and other senior leaders, observing how the institution and its leaders address strategic planning, resource allocation, development, policy, and other issues and challenges.

of Missouri-Columbia. She was also an Educational

Prior to her work in higher education, Dr. Burns-Wal-

Leadership and Policy Analysis Fellow at the Univer-

lace served as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) with

sity of Missouri-Columbia. Additionally, Kirsten was a

the U.S. Department of State, where she worked in

Lean Lab fellow. During her time as a Lean Lab fellow,

Guangzhou and Beijing, China; Pretoria, South Africa;

she developed a comprehensive program for educa-

and in Washington D.C. In her capacity as an FSO, she

tion leaders in Kansas City. The program, which was

held numerous positions including Management Of-

created to provided target professional develop-

ficer, Non-Immigrant Visa Officer, Press Attaché, and

ment and networking, was so successful that it was

Special Assistant on Legislative Affairs. She was also

absorbed by the Lean Lab. Kirsten currently works

trained in French and Mandarin Chinese.

at Crossroads Academy – Central Street as a 6th grade English and social studies teacher. In the fall of 2017, Kirsten will become the founding principal of Crossroads High School. She has run a Leadership Cadre for the past five years in which she works with teachers and community leaders to provide targeted leadership development for students.

BOBBY BURCH STARTLAND NEWS: I lead a publication that reports on the entrepreneurial ecosystem, fea8

Dr. Burns-Wallace holds a dual bachelor’s degree in International Relations and African American studies from Stanford University, a Master in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs at Princeton University, and a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on issues of access and success for students of color and low income students throughout higher education as well as

I loved the work, but had an entrepreneurial streak that left me feeling unsatisfied in my path at that time... A decade later I am running this wonderful group of entrepreneurs, mentors and advocates. equity-minded leadership. Dr. Burns-Wallace holds

opment in the Hickman Mills C-1 School District until

a courtesy associate professor appointment in KU’s

her retirement. She currently serves as an education-

Department of Educational Leadership and Policy

al consultant for the National Alliance of Faith and

Studies in the School of Education, as well as the De-

Justice Pen or Pencil Mentoring Program where she

partment of African and African-American Studies in

received the President’s Award from the Corporation

the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. She is original-

for National and Community Services as the 2013

ly from Kansas City, Missouri.

MLK Drum Major for Service Award which included a recognition letter from President Barack Obama for


her work throughout the community. Dr. Cade is a

educator, a consultant and one of the Managing

Links, Incorporated and the President of the Greater

Partners for Smart Start Solutions, LLC., a profes-

Kansas City Chapter of Societas, Doctas, Inc.

member of the Jackson County (MO) Chapter of the

sional development company. She has dedicated her life to the youth in the Greater Kansas City area


and has been in the field of education for over 40

the communications specialist at SourceLink where

years. Her mission in life has been to mentor and

she creates content surrounding the growth of en-

teach young children, as well as guide and coach

trepreneurial ecosystems and social sharing. In addi-

teachers and principals. Dr. Cade is a native of Kansas

tion to her passion for championing Kansas City’s en-

City, Missouri, a product of the Kansas City, Missouri

trepreneurs, Lauren organizes the Kansas City Dog

School District receiving her doctorate degree from

Club, a social club for dogs and humans, connects

the University of Kansas. She has experienced every

city newcomers to the sights, sounds and tastes of

aspect in education from teacher to Assistant Super-

Kansas City through her Show Me Your KC society

intendent. Dr. Cade’s years in administration earned

and runs with the Mud Babes, a local female-em-

her the privilege of recruiting and training teachers

powered trail running group.

nationally and internationally in countries as far away as Belgium, France and Germany. After retiring


from the KCPS, Dr. Cade continued her involvement in education by becoming the President and CEO of

DONALD CARTER I’m a KC Enthusiactivist. I’m all about

the Professional Development Consortium, and act-

Kansas City becoming really great. I spent a decade

ing as an adjunct professor at UMKC, Rockhurst Uni-

serving the City as a police officer/detective, continue

versity and Ottawa University. She, then, accepted a

to work for innovation in education with initiatives

position as the Coordinator of Research and Devel-

like MECA Challenge, spend countless hours helping 9

build a sense of community in my neighborhood in

After graduating college, she developed children

the urban core. A lot of the great potential is missed

and youth programs for nonprofit organizations

in our City because of a disconnection between the

including El Centro and Wyandotte Mental Health

most marginalized places and people and the com-

Association in Wyandotte County. In 1994, she took

munities where progress and growth have been ex-

a job with the Kansas City Missouri Health Depart-

ponential over the last 10 years. While continuing to

ment as the first minority health outreach coordina-

learn what causes those disconnections between in-

tor. Her duties included educating health providers

dividuals, groups, and organizations and finding ways

on how cultural beliefs and practices impact health

to remedy them, I am also making a concerted effort

behavior. In 1997, she returned to Wyandotte Coun-

to help create economic growth for individuals on the

ty as the Executive Director for Youth Opportunities

Eastside by assisting them in business development,

Unlimited, Inc., an agency devoted to developing

education, and access to relationships and resources.

and maintaining collaborative efforts, advocating, and supporting services to improve the quality of


life for Wyandotte County youth. In 2004, Caudillo

is the Director of Technology for the Independence

joined Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas as the

School District in the Kansas City, MO area. His district

Director of Family Strengthening where she directed

has Chromebooks and iPads and we are sharing at

and managed their social services throughout their

#ISDstrong. Brent has close to 20 years of experience

21 county service area. Caudillo was also Director of

in education ranging from teaching 1st grade read-

Clinic Operations for Swope Health Services where

ing to 8th grade math as well as Principal at 2 differ-

she provided day to day, operational leadership and

ent buildings. He has coached many sports over the

direction to their satellite clinics. Caudillo ensured

years and has always enjoyed working in the educa-

clinic operations meet expected financial and oper-

tional environment! Before becoming the Director of

ational targets and that all clinics were functioning

Technology in Independence School District he was a

in a highly efficient and effective manner. Caudillo is

Technology Integration Specialist working primarily

currently President/Chief Executive Officer for El Cen-

with 1:1 iPad classrooms. He loves his job and getting

tro, the agency she started her nonprofit career with,

to work with fabulous educators day in and day out!

where she will oversee the day to day operations for

Connect with him on Twitter, Google+, Instagram, or

the agency. She oversees fund development, advocacy, outcome based pro-

I have gotten the chance to see economic vibrancy and what wonderful talent can do in Kansas City

gramming and strategic planning for the agency and



Centro serves. Caudillo is a member of numerFacebook. Brent is the proud father of 5 children with

ous community boards including the KCK Public

his wife Josie and is a podcast co-host of @Dadsined!

School Board of Education, KU Advancement Board, CHWC and University of St. Mary. She has received


numerous honors for her work, including named by

bachelor’s degree from the University of Missou-

City Union Mission as one of five women in 2010 as

ri-Columbia and a master’s degree in public admin-

the recipient of Women who Changed the Heart of

istration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

the City award, the NFL’s Hispanic Heritage Leader-


ship Award and Donnelly College’s Delta Award. Irene

gram for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City,

is married and the proud parent of three children.

Community Relations Coordinator for Newhouse Shelter and Founder and President of M.O.D.E. L.

TERRY CHRISTENBERRY CC CAPITAL ADVISOR: Terry Christenberry is a managing director of CC Capital Advisors. Terry has over 30 years of investment banking experience and has served as the principal advisor in well over 100 transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, sales, public and private equity and debt offerings, valuations and reorganizations. Terry was also recently named to the KC Power 100 for the third year by the Kansas City Business Journal.

Chandra earned a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a Master’s degree in Educational Studies from Rockhurst University. She was recently honored as the 2016 Athena Young Professional Leadership Award, Most Wanted Auction Honoree and one of the Most Influential Women in Kansas City Business (2015). Chandra is passionate about youth, education and enriching the community of Kansas City. Her former community

Prior to merging his practice with CC Capital Advi-

and volunteer service includes University of Missou-

sors, Terry co-founded and served for 15 years as

ri-Kansas City’s Arts & Sciences Alumni Board, Truman

President of Christenberry Collet & Co. Inc., a Kansas

Charitable Foundation’s Young Professionals Council,

City, Missouri based independent investment bank-

Athena League and the Central Exchange (CXL). She

ing firm. Past experience includes the corporate fi-

currently serves as a member of the Nelson Atkin’s

nance division of Kemper Finance Services and the

Young Friends of Art, Southwest Family Health Care

consulting division of Ernst & Whinney, now Ernst

Clinic’s Advisory Committee, and the Junior League

& Young. He holds a number of securities licenses

of Kansas City. In addition, she is a fashion model and

and is a certified public accountant. Clients contin-

actress with Voices and Models Talent Agency.

ually benefit from his knowledge of securities legal requirements, financial structuring, capital markets

JONI COBB PIPELINE: I was born and raised in Kansas

and general business planning.

City, graduating high school from North Kansas City.

Christenberry earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Texas Christian University and an MBA from Southern Methodist University. He is past president of the Jackson County Industrial Development Authority, formerly served on the board of two public companies until their sale and currently serves on the board of Wilbert Plastic Services, Wilbert Funeral

After attending college and law school (Mizzou, Wash U), I came home to start my career as an attorney in downtown KC at Watson, Ess, Marshall & Enggas. Later, I served as a Federal Judicial Law Clerk for Joseph Stevens in KC (Western District). I loved the work, but had an entrepreneurial streak that left me feeling unsatisfied in my path at that time.

Services and as a special advisor to the Audit Com-

I decided to leave the law and began my own con-

mittee of the Dairy Farmers of America.

sulting firm centered on strategic communications and public affairs consulting—helping clients such


as the Truman Presidential Library, Union Station,

nal Partnerships for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Great-

stakeholder engagement issues. During this time, I

er Kansas City. Her previous professional experience

did a great deal of work with the tech/entrepreneur-

includes serving as Career and Alumni Coordinator

ial initiatives in the region and was asked by KTEC

for Kauffman Scholars, Director of the Life Coach Pro-

to participate in some strategic discussions as to

KTEC, KansasBio and others who had significant


what more we could be doing to retain our talented

In 2012, Courtney started her own political consult-

founders and innovators. I was then asked to lead

ing business, MO-Political. She has been successful

this “pilot” project that was Pipeline. A decade later

in getting candidates elected on various levels of

I am still running this wonderful group of entrepre-

government, including state senate, state represen-

neurs, mentors and advocates.

tative, county positions, city council and community

Thankfully after five years of operating in Kansas, the

college board of trustees.

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation helped scale our

During her work in politics, Courtney served as Ex-

organization to a regional model. While still based

ecutive Director for the Missouri Democratic Party’s

in Kansas City, we do serve entrepreneurs in three

Senate Project and Executive Director for the Greater

states, and have the benefit of a national network.

Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus.

I am grateful to be considered a connector here in KC

Courtney lives with her husband, Dr. S. Jason Cole

and am happy to help in any way that I can.

and their daughter, Mackenzie, in Excelsior Springs.


JOHN COLER RFP365: As a Greater Kansas City native I have had had the pleasure of coming up through

member of the Excelsior Springs, Missouri commu-

the education systems of Shawnee Mission District

nity. She currently serves as the Executive Director

Public Schools, Johnson County Community College

for the Excelsior Springs Educational Foundation and

and the University of Kansas. After that, and being

Grant Writer for the Excelsior Springs School District.

involved in the educational setting I had to find a

Prior to that, she represented her community as the

community that was central in my interests and that

Chamber Director for the Excelsior Springs Area

ended up being Kansas City’s vibrant and growing

Chamber of Commerce.

entrepreneurship community. Working in the Start-

Courtney is involved in multiple community related committees, including grant writing for the non-profit The Good Samaritan Center, serves as Secretary for the Clay County MU Extension Council, is an active member of the Community for All Ages initiative, leads a local homeless coalition, began a local 4-H Chapter, helped organize a Grandfamilies support group for grandparents raising grandchildren, and volunteers for various community festivals and events.

up Village for SportsPhotos.com, at Pinsight Media in Downtown, and RFP365 in Waldo... I have gotten the chance to see economic vibrancy and what wonderful talent can do in Kansas City. While I am not working, I am on an ever ending quest to meet all of the interesting people in Kansas City and see how I can be of any help. I have helped organize the past 4 Kansas City Startup Weekends, am currently sitting on the Advisory Board of Ink KC, volunteering at TEDxKC events and a handful of other activities in

After working as a teacher in public education for

the community. To be honest, I am just trying to help

seven years, Courtney decided that it was time for

raise up Kansas City up—even higher.

her to run for public office. In 2010, Courtney ran for Missouri State Representative. She was able to raise


over $80,000 with a true grassroots approach from

Corwin is an entrepreneur, educator, economist and

over 700 individuals.

environmental activist. In 2007, following successful careers as an IT engineer and an entrepreneur, Kate founded the nonprofit Green Works in Kansas City to


work with urban high school students through en-

Ms. Curls is very active in the civic community. Mon-

vironmental education and workforce development.

ica is currently a member of the Junior League of

Kate is an active community member, serving by mayoral appointment on commissions and committees dealing with zoning, historic preservation and climate sustainability. She served as chair of the Southmoreland Neighborhood Association, and then as chair of the 43rd and Main TIF Advisory Board, managing $3M in housing investments. Kate currently serves on the board of MainCor. Kate was named an American Graduate Champion by KCPT, is a recipient of an Environmental Excellence Award from Bridging the Gap and was named Eco Activist of the Year by The Pitch. She has worked on campaigns to limit bottled water at City Hall, increase recycling at events in city parks, and discourage the planting of ornamental pear trees. Kate is a member of Kansas City Tomorrow, International Women’s Forum and is a graduate of Kauffman FastTrac. Kate holds undergraduate degrees in Information Technology and Finance and an MA in Economics.

Kansas City and recently served as the Chair of the Board for Niles Home for Children. She has previously served on the boards of SCLC of Greater Kansas City, Central Exchange, Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus, University of Missouri Extension and Outreach Council, International Relations Council of Greater Kansas City, and the Human Rights Commission for the City of Kansas City, Missouri. Monica is also passionate about political engagement. Coming from a political family, she has been involved in politics from a very early age, and continues to advocate for women in politics and in other leadership positions. Some of the highlights of her political involvement include being an Obama delegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, act as the campaign manager for Melba Curls (her mother) as she successfully won two terms as City Councilwoman for the City of Kansas City, and most recently helping Alissia Canady win her race for City Council in 2015.


Monica earned a Bachelors of Science in Foreign

ca Curls is the Manager of Government Compliance

Service from Georgetown University, and Masters’

for Terracon, an engineering company based out

Degrees in Organizational Development Psychology

of Olathe, Kansas. Prior to joining Terracon, Ms. Curls worked for Black & Veatch for almost four years, where she served in procurement, compliance and project controls

The best part of my day is when I can help someone find a resource that helps solve a problem

on several large, international projects, including two field assignments in Afghanistan. Ms. Curls also

and Management with an emphasis in Project Man-

served as the Director of the Kansas City Branch Of-

agement, both from Avila University.

fice of the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office and as an International Consultant with BearingPoint, Inc’s


Emerging Markets division.

Dain has lived in the Kansas City area for over two decades with her husband and is raising 3 children 13

who attend Olathe Public Schools. She is currently

MICHAEL DAYTON KIPP KC: Michael Dayton was born

the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning

and raised in Kansas City, Missouri – a graduate from

for Olathe Public Schools and has served in admin-

Rockhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in

istrative leadership positions in the De Soto School

Accounting. Michael has a lovely wife (Robin) of 29

District and Blue Valley School District. Current

years, with three beautiful daughters. He is the Direc-

service to the Kansas City area community include:

tor of Finance Operations and Director of Communi-

2017 Leadership Olathe Cohort, Olathe Chamber of

ty Projects at KIPP KC Endeavor Academy. President/

Commerce; Kansas Ed Redesign Committee Mem-

CEO of Graham, Brice & Associates, which provides

ber; Kansas Commissioner’s Curriculum Leaders

CFO and Accounting Services, Coaching, Strategic

Advisory Council; Grant Review Team, Olathe Public

Planning and R/E Development Financing Services.

Schools Foundation; and Field Experience Supervi-

He previously was at the Ewing Marion Kauffman

sor and Instructor for Baker University.

Foundation where he co-authored curriculum and


implemented an intrusive entrepreneurship development (Coaching) program (UEP), where he was

engineer, community activist, and mother. I grew up

promoted to Deputy Director for the Gulf Coast UEP.

at the Lake of the Ozarks, went to Mizzou for college,

He was Senior Coordinator, Full Employment Coun-

and moved to KC in 2006 after college for work.

cil – Disaster Recovery Program, contractor for the

I began working at Burns & McDonnell as a structural

US Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, serv-

engineer in the Energy division in 2006 after graduating from Mizzou with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. I obtained my Master’s in Civil Engineering in 2012 by taking classes in the evening at University of Kansas – Edwards campus. I specialize in steel and concrete design for coal, natural gas, and nuclear power generating facilities including dynamic machine foundations.

ing in the capacity of Coordinator – Partnership and Data Services for the Kansas City Region, and a certified Economic Development Finance Professional for the National Development Counsel. He is currently the City of Kansas City Missouri, Fairness in City Contracting, Commissioner.


I am a director and founding board member of the

founder and managing director of KC Digital Drive, a

Friends of Hale Cook since 2011, a 501c3 supporting

nonprofit civic organization with a mission to make

Hale Cook Elementary (closed in 2009 and re-opened

Kansas City a digital leader. He works with mayors,

in 2013) in the Kansas City Public School district. I

entrepreneurs and civic leaders in Kansas City and

served on the Kansas City Public Schools South Mid-

around the world to help build ecosystems that con-

dle School Steering Committee in 2017. I served as a

nect infrastructure, emerging technology and social

member of the first ever Mayor’s Challenge Cabinet

impact. He combines a high-level strategic approach

for Kansas City, MO in 2013.

with boots-on-the-ground project implementation

My husband and I have been in our home in Waldo for 10 years now with our three sons (6, 3, and 1 yr old) where we enjoy walking or biking the neighborhood and being active in our neighborhood, school, and church.


and management in smart cities, civic tech, digital inclusion, digital health, and education. He earned a master’s degree in social science from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Dallas.


studies in sociology at the University of Missou-

co-founder and Executive Director of Start at Zero.

ri-Kansas City. Alicia also holds a certificate in Town

Web: startatzero.org

and Gown Relations from the International Town & Gown Association. Currently, Alicia is working on her


M.A. in Management at Rockhurst University.

tor of Secondary Education in the Park Hill School District, Jaime supervises secondary principals, cur-

REBECCA DOVE PENNEZ: Rebecca Dove is the Found-

riculum development and implementation, profes-

er of an educational technology company called

sional development for teachers and principals, new

Pennez. Pennez is an online platform that informs

teacher induction, and aspiring leader development.

educators, parents, and librarians to learn about di-

Outside of work, she and her husband, Mike, have

verse stories and authors. Her company also creates

two children who are active in a variety of sports. She

Artificial Intelligent software to improve the literacy

is currently a volunteer track coach for Pure Talent

rates of children. Rebecca worked as an educator for

Elite Track club.

10 years in the Blue Valley and Kansas City Kansas School District. As an educator, she trained edu-


cators in technology courses and developed after school programs. She supervised pre-service teach-


ers so they could earn their certification. Rebecca’s

las is director of community relations and outreach

teaching experience gave her the ability to seek new

for Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo. She

opportunities with startups and technology.

joined Rockhurst and the Kansas City community in 1999. Alicia also directs the Rockhurst University Community Center, which opened in 2002. She convenes the Rockhurst Neighborhood Council and co-facilitates campus-wide service projects. While representing the university, Alicia volunteers her own time serving as a board member for the Southtown Council, for Show Me KC Schools and for the Kansas City National College Fair (NACAC) planning committee. She is a former board member for Community LINC; a founding member of Tulips on Troost, a grassroots organization bringing together businesses and stakeholders along to Troost Avenue to beautify and reinvest in the corridor while changing its negative perception from being the historic line of segregation to a place of unification. Alicia also is a former advisory board member for the Kansas City, Mo., School District’s Adult Basic Education program. Alicia earned a bachelor of arts in communication and minor in music from Cardinal Stritch Universi-

She turned to an entrepreneur to create change within the education system within her community and society. She received grants and support from IBM to develop Pennez’s AI products. She was awarded the IBM Global Entrepreneur Award and Funding from the Mozilla Gigabit Foundation. Dove is working to find intersections for entrepreneurs and the community where she created programs for discussions on race, wealth, and growth. She serves on the Missouri Health Commission Committee, a Director of Programming for the National Storytelling Network, and was nominated as a Techweek Ambassador.

CHAUSSEE KARA DRUEN MERRIAM PARK ELEMENTARY PRENTISS EARL III ASIAN AMERICANS FOR EQUALITY: An execution-focused leader with an entrepreneurial spirit. Always looking to connect and build with diverse, innovative, execution focused professionals.

ty in Milwaukee, Wis., and has completed graduate 15

While at the Kauffman Foundation (4 years) Pren-


tiss supported and led many of the Foundation’s

1102 GRAND—a Netrality Property in 2008 where he

programs addressing entrepreneurial education,

has been engaged in attracting bootstrapping start-

mentoring, diversity and fostering entrepreneurial

ups to Inc. 500 and Fortune 500 companies from

ecosystems; which included: The Urban Entrepre-

around the region and the world to utilize Kansas

neurship Program in partnership with the White

City’s Carrier Hotel.

House (UEP), The Ice House (Mindset) Entrepreneurship Program, 1Million Cups (Ecosystem), Founders School, CODE2040, Top of Mind, Entrepreneurship.

Greg is active in the regional and national Telecom, IT and Network Communities participating in conferences, tradeshows and networking events. In addition,

Andrea Ellis is on a quest to merge community engagement, story crafting, digital creation... to produce experiences that empower, encourage, and positively impact our world.

Greg is on the Board of Directors with KC Tech Council and C.H.A.S.E. (Community Help for Autism Spectrum Everywhere). Greg is an entrepreneur at heart and has been instrumental in starting, owning

ORG, and more. Prentiss also lead, taught and men-

and operating profitable businesses. In addition to

tored at Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation, a

information technology and telecommunications

community resource for experiential-based entre-

verticals, he also has experience in software sales,

preneurial education.

manufacturing technology, healthcare SaaS plat-

Earl serve/d/s in a variety of board and advisory capacities including: Kansas City Airport Advisory Board, Startland News, Builders Association and the Kansas City Boys and Girls Choir.

forms and VR/AR for marketing and education. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Kansas.


Prentiss has been quoted and published in: Huffing-

Ellis’ KC Connector skills began on the Border Star

ton Post, Opportunist Magazine, Entrepreneurship.

playground years ago. A Kansas City native, she went

org, and more. Prentiss has spoken and participated in

on to graduate from Lincoln College Prep and Rock-

a variety of functions across the country including The

hurst University, before heading to the Big Apple to

Kauffman Foundation, Kauffman Labs for Enterprise

get a masters in Media Ecology from NYU. For more

Creation, The University of Kansas School of Journal-

than 20 years she has created professional opportu-

ism and Business Schools, Blue Valley CAPS, 1 Week

nities that merge her interests in media production

KC, various 1 Million Cups communities, and GEW.

and informal learning. She honed her filmmaking

Prentiss is currently the principal consultant at 1 Hard-

skills as a production assistant for HBO, an assistant

esty, a 700,000sf innovation ecosystem that serves to

editor for American Montage, Inc., and a producer

benefit its tenants and the wider community. It’s 20

and editor for BET.

acres is located in historic Northeast Kansas City.


Andrea was the founding Executive Director of the

and later worked for the City of Chicago Mayor’s Of-

DC Film Alliance (DCFA). DCFA produced the award

fice. Mike then transitioned into the nonprofit sector,

winning DC Shorts Film Festival and supported the

serving as the Executive Director for two nonprofit

development of independent film in the region. She

organizations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

served as the director of the MHz Shortz Student Film Festival and Chaired the annual Kids World Film Festival event for Women in Film & Video, DC. As the training and outreach specialist for Arlington Independent Media, Andrea developed curriculum and trained community members in studio and field production, and post-production. She was also a regular content producer for the station. Currently Andrea manages the Kansas City Digital Media Lab for the Kansas City Public Library. In this role she continues her quest to merge community engagement, story crafting, digital creation, as well as hands-on building and making, to produce experiences that empower, encourage, and positively

Previously, Mike served as the President & CEO of the Missouri Council on Economic Education for over 5 years and worked at the Kauffman Foundation from 2006-2009. Mike lives in Kansas City with his wife Corie, sons Finn and Beckett, and ferocious cat Moo Moo. Web: www.turnthepagekc.org. Twitter: @turnthepagekc @mikeseanenglish


impact our world.

a dashing fella who makes wooden toys for a living.


immersed herself into the startup community first

as the Executive Director of Turn the Page KC, a Kansas City based organization that mobilizes the community to achieve reading proficiency for all Kansas City, MO 3rd graders. As the organization’s first Executive Director, Mike raises awareness for the importance of early literacy and coordinates the organization’s collaborative efforts to help Kansas City MO 3rd children learn to read by the end of 3rd grade.. Mike manages the organization’s growing staff, its group of AmeriCorps VISTA members, its volunteers, and its finances. Mike reports to a committed group of board members led by Mayor Sly James.

After graduating from Rockhurst University, Jordan serving as a TechStars associate for the Sprint Accelerator’s inaugural class, then continued to learn more about this vast ecosystem via the role of Community Connector at Think Big Coworking. In 2016 she then served as the Community Manager at Village Square Coworking and co-coordinated MECA Challenge events (problem solving competition for high school and college students). With experience in painting, digital storytelling, and content creation, Jordan views the tech world through an artistic lens and is now currently pursuing her creative work full time.

Mike earned his undergraduate degree in Philosophy

JOANNA GRACE FARMER BUILDING COMMUNITY CAPACITY, LLC: Joanna Grace Farmer has worked for over 30

with a concentration in Politics and Economics from

years on political engagement strategies; communi-

the University of Notre Dame. He earned his Master’s

ty development initiatives and programs focused on

Degree in Public Policy Studies from the University of

housing and education; integrated social service de-

Chicago, focusing his studies on public finance. While

livery systems; culturally competent mental health

earning his degree he worked as a consultant for the

systems, transformative pedagogy, team building;

Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) 17

and program and organization evaluation. Her work

View Neighborhood Association. She enjoys reading,

experience includes positions as program director,

walking, knitting, gardening and photography.

community activist and organizer, educator, team leader, consultant, and university administrator.


She has launched several initiatives and micro-busi-

founder and Managing Director of Firebrand Ven-

nesses including the Consciously Cultural Calendar,

tures, a venture fund that invests in early stage start-

Rising Sun, Buy Black Empowerment Initiative, Buy

ups in the midwest. Prior to Firebrand John served as

Black Youth Ambassadors, University of Kujichagulia

Managing Director for Techstars, a global startup ac-

(Self-Determination) and Celebrating Kwanzaa. She

celerator and network with over 25 programs around

is currently researching and networking to estab-

the world. While at Techstars he ran three accelerator

lish a solid infrastructure for her primary social en-

programs in Kansas City and invested in 30 startups.

terprise, Building Community Capacity, LLC. BCC’s work is focused on increasing access to information and resources that strengthen children, families and communities. She uses collaborations and partnerships to empower community residents to take advantage of opportunities available to them. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Public Poli-

John was previously a part of five startups, including one he cofounded. He also spent nine years at Unitedhealth Group, managing multi-billion dollar projects and leading a team that built one of the largest mail order pharmacy operations in the world. John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Clark University.

cy Studies and master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Chicago; and master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She has completed doctoral work in Sociology, Social Work and Community Psychology. Her accomplishments include research and publishing for private and public grants; curriculum development and implementation for social studies, reading, college and career readiness, community practitioners and students with disabilities; and re-

LEETTA FELTER OLATHE PUBLIC SCHOOLS CINDY A. FISHER UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI KC, SMALL BUSINESS + TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT CENTER: Cindy Fisher, Ed.D., has been a special educator, staff developer, educational consultant, and assessment specialist for over 35 years in public education and served as an adjunct instructor at UMKC for one summer. Her insights in working with students with

search and writing about intrinsic motivation.

disabilities in the community led her to create the

Her community activities include mentoring and

students increase their independence and support

coaching children in the Hickman Mills School District; participating in the Alliance for Economic Inclusion and Money Smart Kansas City; serving on the economic development, education and communications committees for the South Kansas City Alliance; conducting research on her family history as a member of the Midwest Afro-American Genealogical Interest Coalition; serving as secretary of the Women of Wealth Investment Club; and vice-president of the Avalon


Smart Steps Mobile decision-making app to help resilience at work, at school, and in life. As President and CEO of Smart Steps LLC, she was awarded grants through Digital Sandbox and NIDILRR. She is the recipient of three Friends of Special Education awards, nominated by parents. A lifelong learner, she has a doctorate from UMKC in Educational Administration and values the diverse perspectives gained by attending a metro area school. She immersed herself in the field of entrepreneurship, taking the FastTrac

Tech Venture course through the Kauffman Founda-


tion and the yearlong eScholar course through the

Garman is the Innovation Policy Advisor for the City

Bloch School of Management at UMKC (becoming a

of Kansas City, MO. She is the legal and policy ana-

semi-finalist in the Venture Creation Challenge), as

lyst in the Office of Innovation, drafting ordinances

well as countless area meet ups and workshops. She

and policy recommendations to foster a culture of

participated in and volunteered for Startup Weekend.

innovation in Kansas City. In addition, Kate manages

She presented at 1 Million Cups in Lawrence and pre-

Kansas City’s Innovation Partnership Program, a civic

sented research papers at national conferences. She

entrepreneurship program in which startup compa-

organized meet ups for educators through KCedu,

nies pilot technology solutions at City Hall. She at-

originally at Kauffman Labs and then in partnership

tended the University of Missouri Kansas City School

with Lean Lab at EduHub KC.

of Law, and served as the Student Editor-in-Chief of


The Urban Lawyer, the national ABA publication on state and local governance. Prior to law school, Kate

Amy Gale is a program officer in Education for the

was with the law department of Black & Veatch for

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where she

six years and has a Journalism degree from the Uni-

manages a grant portfolio focused on quality K-12

versity of Kansas.

schools and innovation in education and identifies, researches, and builds relationships around emerging

LAURA GILCHRIST ELEVATEEDU: Laura is an award-win-

education-related projects. Prior to joining the Kauff-

ning educator and a community builder passionate

man Foundation, Amy worked in the Chicago Public

about connecting and rallying Kansas Citians around

Schools for nine years as an educator, district-level

one big thing—our youth! Laura has had the honor

lead arts liaison and served on her school’s Local

of teaching on both sides of the state line, first as a

School Council. Amy is a National Board Certified

science & social studies teacher and now as a teacher

Teacher and is a board member for Camp for All Kids.

coach. She is a champion of teachers and students


because she knows the positive and lifelong impact teachers can have on our kids. But Laura knows the

and Leadership Development Champion with prov-

education system alone cannot prepare our kids

en success creating, customizing, and delivering

to be successful in their futures. To give our youth

partnership efforts and goal targets in organizations.

as many opportunities as possible to experiential-

Passionate communications advocate who encour-

ly learn and create we must connect kids with the

ages and equips leaders for genuine connections

supportive people in the entrepreneurial and busi-

and productive critical conversations with their

ness ecosystems in Kansas City. Laura has co-hosted

teams. Energetic and approachable connector who

KCedu monthly education+city meetups for 3 years,

excels at developing innovative programs as part of

now in collaboration with The Lean Lab, and serves

a high performing team or individual change leader.

on the Startland News Board. She is an active Ed-

Afro-Latina with a broad and diverse network. Re-

camp and Parentcamp organizer and has served on

lationship developer with flexible perspective and

the Kansas State Department of Education Redesign

sincerity. Personal strengths include an outgoing

Team. Laura believes in the power of networking and

personality, sincere, and an empathetic nature that

feedback to inform learner design. Laura is an avid

engenders trust and participation.

birder and naturalist and she loves KC BBQ. She and


her husband have two daughters who are majoring

development efforts—known as GradForce KC. She

in healthcare fields at KU.

also leads MARC’s work on human capital as part of the KC Rising initiative, a business-led economic


development initiative for the Greater Kansas City re-

Kansas City native and works as the Community

gion. Sheri holds a Master’s in Public Administration

Reference Manager at the Kansas City Public Library.

from the University of Kansas.

She has worked in public libraries since 2001, and has experience in both urban and suburban com-


munities. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Internation-

of bitBank data storage with over 20 years of tele-

al Business Management with a concentration in

communication and IT network industry experience.

Human Resources from the University of Kansas, and

For over nine years, DJ has been the President and

a Master’s in Information Science and Library Tech-

Founder of LK Communication, an IT Systems Inte-

nology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

grator and Connectivity Broker representing over

She was elected to the Kansas Library Association

300 carriers worldwide. He consults regularly with

executive committee and served on it from 2012-

executives from a variety of fields to help create IT

2015. Kim was part of the teams that won two Urban

solutions that best fit the needs of his clients. DJ has

Library Council Top Innovator Awards in 2011 and

worked for Birch, Teligent, and MCI/Worldcom sell-

2013 for streamlining materials handling and civic

ing both connectivity and hardware solutions in the

engagement programming, respectively.

B2B market. He has worked with Government/Edu-

In 2016, joined the Consensus Board of Directors

cation and SMB to Fortune 100 companies.

and is now Board President. Consensus a nonprofit

Currently, he is a StartUP Weekend Mentor and sits

consulting firm whose mission is to put the “public”

on the advisory board for LaunchKC, Integrated

in public policy through providing information, pro-

Roadways, TechWeek KC, Big Bang, PAWR and US Ig-

cess, and safe, neutral space where citizens can find

nite’s Kansas City Digital Town Square. He is also in-

common ground. In 2017, she also became a mem-

volved with The Kauffman Foundation, LS Chamber’s

ber of the KC Downtowners.

Market Center of Ideas, the EDC of Greater St. Louis and the EDC of Kansas City on many initiatives. He is

SHERI GONZALES WARREN MID-AMERICA REGIONAL COUNCIL: Sheri Gonzales Warren has been involved in economic development since 2001. She began this work at a large, public university to help develop curriculum in response to workforce needs. She then spent a series of years living and working overseas to create market-driven, community development systems that address basic human needs. She joined Mid-America Regional Council in 2015 to help spur inclusive economic opportunity in the place she calls home—Kansas City.

heavily invested in the Kansas City business community and activities. Mr. Good was recently selected to participate in Digital Sandbox Kansas City, Invest MidWest, Greater KC Chamber’s Access for Entrepreneurs, Eric Ries’s Lean StartUp Machine, ThinkBig’s PitchCamp, Dell’s Founder’s Club and IBM’s Global Innovation Program.

AMANDA GRAOR MID-AMERICA REGIONAL COUNCIL: Amanda has lived in the KC region for a little over a decade, starting in local television and moving to

Sheri Gonzales Warren is MARC’s Program Director

the Mid-America Regional Council in 2008 where she

for its postsecondary attainment and workforce

works on regional environmental and transportation


planning and policy development. Amanda earned

reimagining the educational experience for learners,

her BSE in Earth System Science and Engineering

often providing visioning consultation and person-

from the University of Michigan and her MPA from

alized professional development for school leaders

the University of Kansas. Outside of the office, she

and their instructional teams. As part of several Kan-

has been involved with several civic and non-profit

sas City education innovation initiatives, she works to

initiatives such as the Mayor’s Challenge Cabinet, US

make education a priority, creating opportunities for

Green Building Council Central Plains, Historic Green

transformative collisions among educators and oth-

and BikeMS.

er professionals in the Kansas City landscape. When she’s not providing professional development for


educators locally, she presents all over the country,

Princeston Grayson works as an Advance Academ-

works alongside colleagues in the field to organize

ics Educator for Kansas City Public School District

professional events and advises several educational

in Kansas City, MO. Since joining the KCPS staff in

technology companies. She holds a master’s degree

2012, Princeston has been an active advocate for

in Teaching English as a Second Language and eM-

the district’s students, families, and staff. His passion

INTS (Enhancing Missouri’s Integrated Network of

for equity in education is seen both in and out of

Teaching Strategies) certification.

the classroom. In the classroom, Princeston supports teachers to facilitate rigorous, engaging, and relevant learning experiences for students. Outside the classroom, he serves as Vice Chair of the KCPS Education Foundation; a Trustee for Kansas City Public Schools Retirement System; a board member for

I have the best job in Kansas City because I directly impact the places where people live and work!

The Collective’s National Advisory


Board for Teach For America and an Executive Board

former editor and editorial manager with Hallmark

member for Kansas City Federation of Teachers. Prin-

Cards. He founded and led Hallmark’s Creative

ceston has shown a true commitment to being a life

University program where he was responsible for

long learner. He is a 2016 Leading Educators Alum

training over 1400 talented professionals from a

and a 2015 Fund for Teachers Fellow and has earned

wide range of creative occupations. He also served

his masters in Educational Leadership. He consistent-

as Hallmark’s Government Resource Programs Man-

ly seeks ways to leverage his leadership and diverse

ager where he worked with university programs on

experiences to help expand the opportunities and

grant funded research programs. Ron retired from

outcomes for all students in Kansas City.

Hallmark in August of 2012. Shortly after his retire-

JAMIE GREASON CROSSROADS ACADEMY OF KANSAS CITY: Jamie is a Google Certified Innovator and Blended Learning Coach at Crossroads Charter Schools in Kansas City, Missouri. As a Blended Learning Coach she engages educators throughout Kansas City in

ment he began working as a consultant for Mizzou Advantage’s Media of the Future program. He now serves as the Executive Director of the Digital Storytelling Center of Kansas City. Here he is working to establish programs for digital storytelling that will advance the digital media industry in the Central 21

Midwest, provide training and development for in-


dustry professionals and those desiring a career in

Scott Hall is the Senior Vice President for Civic and

digital storytelling including underprivileged kids in

Community Initiatives at the Greater Kansas City

the urban core. He is working with others to locate

Chamber of Commerce. In his role, Scott is engaged

this center in the Laugh-O-Gram building at 31st &

in day to day work on the KC Chamber’s Big 5 initia-

Forest in Kansas City, where Walt Disney launched

tives—five big ideas to make Greater Kansas City the

his animation business.

best place to live, work, start and grow a business. He


also oversees the work on the KC Chamber’s “Healthy KC” project, an initiative to make Greater Kansas City a destination for healthy living. Ron C. Hamilton

Gubbels is a Business and Program Development

Swiss Re Ken Harrington The Bayberry Group Ken

Specialist at UMKC’s Small Business and Technology

Harrington advises, works with, writes, and speaks

Development Center where she teaches entrepre-

about innovation ecosystems and entrepreneurship.

neurial coursework, consults with business owners,

He works with the Kauffman Foundation to invento-

and manages special projects. Rebecca has expe-

ry and measure the KC ecosystem. For details check

rience as both a banker and as a business owner.

out his publications in the MIT press, Ewing Marion

Rebecca’s finance background includes managing a

Kauffman Foundation, and others the are posted on

Small Business Administration Microloan Program, a

LinkedIn. Louisa Hartigan The Nelson-Atkins Muse-

decade of commercial lending, and financial product

um of Art Louisa is the Educator, School Programs at

development for the small business market. Her en-

the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. She works to con-

trepreneurial experience runs the gamut from pack-

nect K-12 students with the museum through school

aging loans for pizza and beer money in college, to

partnership programs including Thinking Through

building a greeting card company, to now consulting

Art, which brings artwork and museum docents into

with small business owners. Her skills include finan-

classrooms. Through conversations about artworks,

cial analysis, business operations, process improve-

students learn to strengthen their critical thinking

ment, business coaching, and classroom facilitation.

and literacy skills and respect divergent views. Adri-

Rebecca is a Kansas City area native who holds a

enne B. Haynes SEED Law, LLC Adrienne B. Haynes

B.B.A. in Entrepreneurship from Baylor University. Rebecca received the Associated Industries of Missouri Extension Industry Award in 2016. This award recognizes individuals who demonstrate leadership in providing educational programs that support the economic viability of Missouri firms. She has also been named the 2017 Missouri State Star, or the state’s outstanding business counselor, for her con-

is an attorney and business woman who specializes in helping entrepreneurs develop sustainable infrastructure and business practices. She is the managing partner of SEED Law, a business law firm, and owner of SEED Collective, a consultancy. Adrienne uses her business and leadership experience to create legal and strategic planning solutions for her clients and to speak and write on topics relating to law

tributions to local business growth.

and entrepreneurship. She prioritizes community


including the Construction Business Institute, the

service through her leadership of several nonprofits, Multicultural Business Coalition and Black Female Attorneys network. Adrienne is a graduate of Buena


Vista University, where she studied Entrepreneurship

writing self-efficacy, and applying innovative, varied

and Spanish, and of the University of Missouri-Kan-

informal and formative assessments in the classroom.

sas City School of Law with an emphasis in Entrepreneurial Law. For more information on Adrienne,

ALICIA HERALD KIPP KC: Alicia started her career as a

please visit her website at adriennebhaynes.com.

4th grade teacher as a Teach For America corps member in south-central Los Angeles. She later joined TFA


staff as a national recruiter, selector, and later as the founding executive director of the Kansas City re-


gional office. While in that role and completing her

ceived a Bachelor’s in English Literature with a minor

Executive MBA in the Olin School of Business and

in Spanish from Park University. After doing extensive

Washington University in St. Louis, she had the idea

research in Latin America on non-governmental re-

that led to the launch of myEDmatch.

sources available to women in poverty as a graduate student at the University of Kansas, she decided that her focus should remain closer to home in order to address the needs immediately around her, and completed a Master’s degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Nonprofit Management from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Having always sought out opportunities that combine two of the things she cares most about, education and nonprofit work, Helm joined the Literacy KC team in September 2011 as Director of Programs where her work allowed her to combine her interests and be inspired daily by the dedication of students and volunteers, while continually looking for new and better ways to provide

myEDmatch a job-matching site that connects teachers and schools with shared educational beliefs and goals. It is like online dating for teaching jobs aimed at solving a seven billion dollar a year problem, teacher turnover. Having launched in October of 2012, myEDmatch raised $2.89M in angel and Series A investment. In 2015 St. Louis Business Journal named myEDmatch the Most Innovative Company in Education. myEDmatch joined in a merger with Teachers-Teachers in 2016 and was later acquired by Frontline Education in May of 2017. She remains on staff as a Senior Consultant focused on teacher recruitment and selection.

much-needed services. Helm became Literacy KC’s

Alicia remains a passionate educator and spends a

Executive Director in October 2015, and continues to

lot of her free time supporting various education

dedicate her time and talent to the improvement of

efforts. She is currently the chair of the KIPP Kansas

services, the diversification of programming, and to

City School Board and was appointed and Chairs the

meeting the needs of each adult learner who comes

first Missouri Public Charter School Commission.

to Literacy KC in the best way possible.

GAIL HENNESSY PARK UNIVERSITY: Gail Hennessy is an Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Director of the School of Education at Park University. She taught in public education for 30 years prior to working in teacher education. Currently her research interests are in supporting and preparing future teachers to build relationships and effective teaching skills when working with English Language Learners, studying

She earned her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis, holds a master’s degree in elementary education from Loyola Marymount University, and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis’ Olin Business School. Alicia won top education technology pitch in the SXSW Venture 2 Venture competition, was a 2014 Pipeline Fellow and was named Pipeline’s Innovator of the Year and Pitch of the Year. 23

JON HILE BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF GREATER KANSAS CITY: Jon Hile has been with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City since March of 2001. He is responsible for all agency operations and program delivery systems and works closely with the CEO and Executive Committee of the Board to successfully set and implement BBBSKC’s strategic objectives. During his tenure, BBBSKC has been recognized as a top

Year awards and the international board for Young Entrepreneurs Organization. Pursuing her passion for community entrepreneurship, Kate was the original program officer for the KCSourceLink founding grant. She went on to work for KCSourceLink and SourceLink as a consultant and eventually as staff, helping build networks across the

performing ‘Gold Standard’ agency in six of the last eight years and has been a finalist for BBBS Agency of the Year in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2015 (winning the award in 2011, 2013 and 2015). In 2012, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America recognized Hile with the Margaret Slack Award for

My personal mission is to help others be as in love with and excited about Kansas City as I am; There’s no better place to live, work, play, and dream...

professional achievement. Jon has a Bachelor’s Degree from Truman State Uni-

state of Missouri and in select communities nation-

versity and a Masters in Public Administration from

wide. Currently Kate works on special projects for

UMKC. He is a graduate of the Centurions Leadership

KCSourceLink, include the We Create Capital effort,

Program (2012) and was elected to the Kansas City

KCInvestED, Whiteboard2Boardroom and research

Missouri School Board in 2012 and served four years,

into capital access and job creation by early-stage

including two years as the Board President. Cur-


rently, Jon serves as a Board Member for City Year, the Catalyst Fund, and KC Scholars. He also serves in an advisory capacity to several other education improvement efforts related to early learning and school quality. Jon was recognized as one of Ingram’s magazine’s 40 under 40 in 2016.

Kate also chairs the board for NetWork Kansas, a SourceLink affiliate, and serves on their Startup Kansas Loan and Capital Multiplier Venture Fund committees. She has been involved in fundraising for the Kansas City Symphony for more than 30 years as part of the Kansas City Symphony Alliance.

KATE HODEL KCSOURCELINK: Kate has had a front row

Kate spent part of her career heading up marketing

seat for the entrepreneurial revolution, joining the

for Rockhurst University and The Kansas City Sym-

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in 1991 when it

phony, and was executive director of Kansas City’s Ig-

was just beginning its involvement in entrepreneur-

natian Spirituality Center for six years. She continues

ship. She directed the Kauffman Foundation’s efforts

to consult with her family’s business and is involved

to develop a national reputation around entrepre-

in volunteer work.

neurship, working with organizations such as National Public Radio, the national Entrepreneur of the 24



An Army brat who’s moved 20 times to some fantastic places in the U.S. and abroad, Julie Holland is

DARCY HOWE KC RISE FUND: I like to build. Be purpose-

proud to call Kansas City home and the place she’s

ful. Have fun. The KC Rising initiative to accelerate

lived the longest.

economic growth in the region enticed me out of re-

Julie joined the Mayor’s office after a year of adventure in Seoul, South Korea. Previously, she worked at

tirement after a 32 year career building a substantial wealth management practice with my partners.

the Kauffman School, the Kauffman Foundation, the

It was clear that there were two things I could build

Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central New York, and con-

that could help give KC an economic boost: educate,

gressional offices in Oklahoma and Washington, D.C.

connect and grow more early stage investors, and

Even though orange is not her color, Julie received her B.S. from Oklahoma State University and her MPA from Syracuse University. For fashion reasons, she switched to red and attended Northeastern Univer-

fund more KC area high growth potential early stage companies. In 2016, KCInvestED was borne to do the former, KCRise Fund the latter. Definitely working hard and having fun.

sity for her doctorate in law in policy. While advising Mayor James, she has had the pleasure to worked on the following projects: Talk, Read, Play campaign expansion, When Work Works family friendly business award, Student Mobility Summit #DadsTurnThePage social media campaign, Early Learning Commission, HUD Choice grant, KC Teacher Residency start-up, LRNG launch, Hire KC Youth transition and expansion, Suspension Summit, and

SKYLAR HURST SCUOLA VITA NUOVA CHARTER SCHOOL: Skylar Hurst is a tenth year middle school educator at Scuola Vita Nuova Charter School. Along with her work in the classroom, she collaborates with area teachers as a Fund for Teachers fellow, Kansas City Teacher Residency Coach, and participant in the inaugural NAATE cohort.

Urban Leaders Fellowship.


Julie and her husband live, sleep-deprived, with their

trepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, the

two young sons in Waldo. In her spare time, she loves to hike and camp with her family and adorable dog Bo. Yoga and reading are her favorite “me time” activities, but, with two small children at home, she typi-

world’s leading foundation for entrepreneurs. The Foundation supports entrepreneurs starting and building businesses, leaders seeking guidance in the innovation economy, and cities and communities

cally falls asleep or is rudely interrupted doing either.

growing competitive jobs and sustained business


neurs; investing in entrepreneurial programs that

ator, and organizer. He teaches middle-school-aged

politan areas to create vibrant ecosystems that help

English Learners in North Kansas City; volunteers

companies start and grow.

with the Center for Conflict Resolution; and organizes with SURJ-KC (Showing Up for Racial Justice). Chris also enjoys gardening, beekeeping, and running.

creation. This work includes education for entreprecan scale and create impact; and investing in metro-

Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation, Hwang was co-founder and CEO of Liquidity, a Silicon Valley venture-backed nanotech firm that makes filters for


safe drinking water. He led the company through

dation, Larry serves on the Kauffman Foundation’s

first product launch, early revenues, and winning

senior leadership team. Jacob leads all internal and

the TechCrunch Disrupt startup competition. He was

external communications with emphasis on market-

CEO and co-founder of T2 Venture Creation, a ven-

ing activities, institutional branding, media relations,

ture firm that built startup companies and designed

employee communications, and executive support.

the ecosystems that foster entrepreneurial innova-

He also serves as a critical thought partner to the

tion in dozens of countries and cities. In addition,

strategy and partnership development for Kansas

Hwang was executive director of the Global Inno-

City grant making under the Foundation’s KC Civic

vation Summit, a conference focused on building

engagement program.

innovative ecosystems with delegates from over 50 nations. He is past president of Larta Institute, an organization that commercializes technology from key government agencies, such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. He was Chief Strategy Officer of Veatros, a video startup where he led the company’s acquisition by DivX. He practiced corporate and technology law with the firms of Mayer, Brown & Platt and Irell & Manella. Hwang is an alum of the Kauffman Fellows, a leadership society for venture investors. He is co-author of the book The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley, which explains how companies, communities and countries can foster systemic innovation at large scale. The book was awarded Book of the Year, Gold Medal, by ForeWord Reviews. He also wrote the follow-up book, The Rainforest Blueprint, a practical design guide for innovation ecosystems. He has been a contributing columnist to Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and Entrepreneur. National Public Radio named his graduation address to Austin Community College one of the best commencement speeches ever. His opinions have been cited in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times, among others.

SHANNON JAAX KANSAS CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS LARRY D JACOB JR EWING MARION KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION: As vice president of Public Affairs and Communications at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foun-


Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation, Jacob launched the nationally award-winning Dover Strategy Group with offices in Chicago, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and Kansas City. As president and CEO, Jacob led all elements of the strategic communications firm that supported political and multi-million dollar public affairs campaigns from Hawaii to Kansas City to Massachusetts. Jacob was named a NextGen Leader by the Kansas City Business Journal in 2013 and 40 Under Forty by Ingram’s Magazine in 2006. A Boston-area native, Jacob lives in the Kansas City area with his family, received his undergraduate degree from Trinity College in Hartford, CT, and recently completed his Master’s Degree at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University.

DEAN JOHNSON CROSSROADS CHARTER SCHOOLS: Dean Johnson is a Kansas City native and 1993 graduate of Loyola University Chicago. He joined the Jesuit International Volunteers and taught at Xavier High School in the Pacific Island nation of Micronesia. Returning to Chicago, Dean taught and was principal at The San Miguel School. Dean was a humanitarian relief worker in Zimbabwe and Indonesia from 2005-2008 Presently, Dean is Executive Director of Crossroads Charter Schools, which he and Tysie McDowell-Ray co-founded in 2011 in Downtown Kansas City. Crossroads is known for its outstanding teachers, unique community partnerships and outstanding academic

program. Crossroads completed an $8 million expan-

and innovations in learning. The Innovation Center

sion of its original school on Central Street in March

is a regional hub for human capital development in

2016, and opened its second elementary school in

smart, digital cities, and Kari leads a passionate team

the Quality Hill neighborhood in August 2016. Cross-

to leverage technology to design and develop inno-

roads High School will open in August 2017.

vative human-centered, high quality, inclusive, and accessible education and workforce programming in


the Kansas City region.

has taught middle school in Chicago and internationally. Originally from Southern California, Tricia earned


her master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia

munity and Programs at the Sprint Accelerator, Ari

University, and worked in Indonesia in support of

cultivates collaborative relationships and develops

post-tsunami development before moving to Kansas

innovative programs with positive impact within the

City in 2009. In seeking a school for their two children,

Sprint Accelerator and across the Kansas City start-

Tricia realized that many KC parents were struggling

up ecosystem. Ari creates and advances programs,

to find answers to their school-related questions and ended up moving from the city. Tricia founded Show Me KC Schools to help parents find the right information and the right

Tracey Kracht is a big believer in the power of informal learning through personal learning networks.

school for their child, right




startup founders, community partners and corporate innovators. Some of these programs include Coworking Wednesdays, Intentional Collisions, The Mentor Network, Show

here in Kansas City. When not reading school hand-

Your Work and the newly formed Culture & Leader-

books, Tricia enjoys jogs on the Trolley Trail, rousing

ship program for Founders.

games of UNO with her children, and discovering Kansas City’s many great neighborhoods.

COLLEEN JONES LIBERTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Currently Director of College/Career Readiness and Community Partnerships for Liberty Public Schools. Formerly Assistant Superintendent for Academic Services, President-Missouri Staff Development Council, President-Professional Development Network of Greater KC, Chairman-Liberty Area Chamber of Commerce

Ari served as Senior Regional Manager with UP Global; advising and connecting startup ecosystem champions at the city-level across over 21 states. Ari effectively leads and communicates change, specifically demonstrated over 6 years, while with United States Gypsum Corporation. With passion and experience within systemic change and organizational behavior, Ari brings many of these concepts to life through the programs developed. Ari serves on the Board of Athena League. Often a


champion for a cause, Ari is a leader within cross-functional teams, with the ability to identify and develop


others’ strengths, while aligning to organizational

is the co-founder and Executive Director of the KC

goals. Ari has a BS in Business – Organizational Lead-

Social Innovation Center focusing on the social im-

ership from Miami University.

pact from technology, future workforce initiatives, 27


ture for startups, universities, museums, large corpo-

brel is currently the Executive Director of Quality

rations and government agencies. Ben also serves as

and Evaluation for the Park Hill School District. He

an advisor to a number of Kansas City startups and

has been in education for 19 years as a mathematics

small businesses.

teacher, researcher, principal, and administrator in middle, high school, and higher education settings.


In addition to teaching and administrative roles, he

classroom and online high school business teacher,

is a senior Baldrige examiner and team leader for

Tracey also served as a K-12 Instructional Technolo-

the Midwest Excellence Institute along with con-

gy Coordinator where she helped design and imple-

sultative service to many digital applications and

ment Liberty Public School’s digital transformation

platforms for assessment/analysis. Other service in-

program serving all students with 1:1 take-home

cludes Northland leadership 2018, member of Platte

devices. Tracey continues to help lead educational

County/Parkville YMCA board, and participant in

technology planning and professional learning to

Lighthouse Leadership group 2017-18. Mike earned

leverage student access for transforming education

his B.S.E. and M.A. from the University of Kansas and

and currently supports adult learning as an Innova-

Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska.

tion and Learning Coach.

CHARLES KING KANSAS CITY TEACHER RESIDENCY SHAWN KINKADE ASPIRE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: Shawn Kinkade is a full-time Certified Professional Business Coach, Strategic Advisor and the President of Aspire, a business strategy, consulting and coaching company founded in Leawood Kansas in 2007. Shawn works with Entrepreneurs, Business Owners, and Professionals who are looking for traction and momentum in their business and are ready to take things to the next level.

Being a Lead Learner passionate about innovating education, Tracey holds two undergraduate degrees, a Masters of Business Administration as well as an Education Specialist in Secondary Administration. Tracey is a big believer in the power of informal learning through personal learning networks. Becoming a connected educator via Twitter and other social media platforms keeps Tracey fresh with perspective and ideas that positively impact learners. Web: traceykracht.wordpress.com; Twitter: @TraceyKracht


Shawn’s past experience has been a mix of Manage-

Polsinelli’s Technology Transactions & Data Priva-

ment Consulting (Accenture and as an independent)

cy practice group and is a recognized leader in the

and as a Corporate Executive (at Sprint PCS), both

health care technology and information security

roles required extensive work on developing and

industries. In addition, Greg acts as outside general

fixing business models, making people productive,

counsel to many of the region’s new and emerging

instilling leadership and coaching success with a

technology companies.

dedicated focus on solving business problems.

BEN KITTRELL DOODLEKIT: Ben is the Co-Founder of


lions of people all over the world. For two decades

NATHAN KURTZ EWING MARION KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION: Nathan Kurtz is a senior program officer in

he has worked in software engineering and architec-

Entrepreneurship for the Ewing Marion Kauffman

Doodlekit, a website builder that’s been used by mil-


Foundation, where he focuses on Kansas City entre-

Lane’s past leadership positions have spanned the

preneurship, promoting the Kauffman Foundation’s

realm of education, and include serving as Assis-

programs to startups, entrepreneurs, and business

tant Superintendent of Business and Instructional

and civic leaders in the community. Prior to joining

Support Services, Director of Special Education,

Kauffman, Kurtz worked in numerous entrepre-

principal, Director of the Parent and Professional

neurial capacities. He was the president and chief

Partnership Advocacy Coalition, and teacher. In ad-

operating officer at KR Legal Management, where

dition, she has served as an adjunct professor for the

he was instrumental in helping the company grow

University of Kansas School of Education/Special Ed-

and scale. He also was the co-founder and chief

ucation, as well as served as a guest lecturer for many

operating officer at Legal Sonar/National Lawyer

local colleges and universities.

Review, a privately held and angel-funded legal resources and marketing company. Earlier, he was the general manager and chief operating officer at The Roasterie, Inc., where he worked in several different positions helping to grow the regional coffee roaster into a Kansas City entrepreneurial success story.

THAD LANGFORD FLYOVER CAPITAL CHRISTOPHER LAUBENTHAL LOCKTON BENEFITS COMPANY: Christopher Laubenthal is an experienced data analyst and data visualization developer who explores

Kurtz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics

topics around education, equity, and human capital.

from Claremont McKenna College. He was named to

Christopher is the creator of EdWise, a tool that

the 2009 class of Ingram’s magazine Twenty in their Twenties. He served for two years as president of KC Roundtable and is a volunteer alumni interviewer for Claremont McKenna College.

CYNTHIA LANE KANSAS CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Dr. Cynthia Lane is highly recognized for her leadership in the field of education. She has more than 34 years of professional experience, including 28 years in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. Dr. Lane continues the history of strong leadership, serving as the fourteenth superintendent of the district since its

makes publicly-available education data more readily accessible through a series of interactive visualizations. EdWise is critically acclaimed by the Data Quality Campaign and Tableau. State and Local education leaders have utilized EdWise for school board reporting, to help parents make decisions about educational options, and for policy discussions. Additionally, Christopher provided data and analysis support to a number of government entities, local non-profits, as well as Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation projects and programs. During his time

formation in 1844.

at Kauffman, he spent a school year at the Ewing

Lane considers it a privilege to serve the community

sessment coordinator, and his assessment modeling

as superintendent. She has received numerous recognitions and awards, which are testaments to her belief in empowering others through education. She models the attributes of a servant leader, cultivating partnerships and actively engaging community, business and civic leaders in the work of the district. Her attitude is that all things are possible when we come together to improve our futures.

Marion Kauffman School as its interim data and asis still in use at the school. Prior to working at the Kauffman Foundation, he was employed at two other educational institutions: the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). Christopher worked on innovative datasets in medical education evaluation at UMKC and education policy landscape


analysis at ODE. Some of the documents and pro-

behind academically, she also brings firsthand ex-

cesses he created are still in use at both institutions.

perience in building a student-centered network to

Christopher obtained his Masters of Public Adminis-

support his education and mental wellness. Add to

tration from Ohio State University and a Bachelor of

all that, Natalie currently serves as an elected board

Arts in political science from College of Wooster in

member for Kansas City Public Schools District and

Wooster, Ohio.

KC STEM Alliance. It is these experiences that feed her passion and commitment to fight for a public


education system where ALL means ALL.

Rhea grew up in the Kansas City area, but moved returned to Kansas City through Teach for America

HANNAH L LOFTHUS EWING MARION KAUFFMAN SCHOOL: Hannah Lofthus is the founder and Chief

to teach High School English at East High School in

Executive Officer of The Ewing Marion Kauffman

KCPS. Rhea spent four wonderful years at East, two

School (EMKS) in Kansas City, MO which has a mis-

as a teacher and two as an Instructional Coach. She

sion of creating college graduates. Growing up in

then worked for Kansas City Teacher Residency on

Kansas City and attending local public schools, Ms.

the Founding Team as a Clinical Instructional Coach

Lofthus is committed to offering students and fami-

and Program Lead. Currently, Rhea is the Managing

lies in her community an excellent education on par

Director of Teacher Leadership Development with

with the best schools nationwide. EMKS transforms

Teach for America, Kansas City. Rhea is passionate

the academic trajectory of low income and minority

about educational equity, the pursuit of justice and

students from the city’s least served neighborhoods.

being a good mom to her incredible daughter.

In just four years with Ms. Lofthus, EMKS students

away for Undergrad and Grad School. Rhea then

outpace peers in the district, state, nation.

NATALIE D LEWIS POWERHOUSE THINKING LLC: Natalie Lewis is on this planet to impact the education and safety of children, this she is certain of. Though her career pathway to becoming an educator was nontraditional, it now serves her well as she navigates the world of education reform. As an MIT-trained Chemical Engineer and University of Texas MBA graduate, her knowledge and experience as a system-level thinker helps her to synthesize large amounts of information and understand the roles of the various stakeholders. Natalie has over 12 years of experience in the Kansas City education sector. She served as a certified school teacher in both a district and a charter school before joining Kauffman Scholars in 2008. Her seven plus years at Kauffman gave

The founding class of 5th graders at EMKS, now in 9th grade, continually demonstrates the positive impact of attending EMKS. Before enrolling in EMKS, as 4th grade students, less than a third of the founding class scored Proficient or Advanced on the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests in ELA and Math. In 2015, as 8th graders, the founding class performed first among their Kansas City district and charter peers in math, second in science, and third in English Language Arts (ELA). The same students that entered at 32% Proficient or Advanced exceeded the district, state, and suburban neighbors on the Common Core Smarter Balanced assessment at 81% on Math, 80% on ELA, and 76% on Science.

her first-hand knowledge of the challenges teachers

Kauffman prioritizes the social, emotional, and char-

and administrators face preparing first-generation

acter growth of students and is committed to daily

college goers for post-secondary success. As a foster

mindfulness, collaborative problem solving, and

parent for a 15-year old male that was significantly

restorative behavioral systems. We know the impact


of providing our students with the experiences that

and a Senior Fellow with the Regnier Institute for

allow them to deepen their world view. Students are

Entrepreneurship & Innovation at UMKC. In February

empowered to participate in paid internships at local

of 2017, Prof. Luppino was named the recipient of

organizations, summer study abroad, and on campus

the University of Missouri System’s inaugural Entre-

pre-college programs during their time at EMKS.

preneurship Educator of the Year Award. He teaches business, tax, and entrepreneurship courses, and co-

STUART LUDLOW RFP365: Stuart Ludlow is currently a

leads several interdisciplinary and inter-institutional

founder and lead software architect for RFP365. Stu-

courses and initiatives in entrepreneurship in various

art began his entrepreneurial career in 2004 found-

forms, including for profit, social and civic entrepre-

ing a software consulting company and working

neurship, and intersections of law, technology and

with prominent clients including Motorola, Barclays

public policy. His scholarship focuses primarily on

English Premiere League, BMC Software, UL, and

legal and policy issues significantly affecting en-

Hitachi. Stuart also founded, grew, and exited from

trepreneurs, and on entrepreneurship education.

IFTA Plus, an online fuel tax preparation software

Luppino was the principal organizer of Law & En-

company, working with over 10,000 small to mid-

trepreneurship Special Interest Group of the United

sized trucking companies and managing approx-

States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE). He

The most inspirational thing I have ever seen is a woman wearing a white suit eating a meatball sandwich while walking and reading a law brief in downtown Philly.

has also served for several years as lead editor of the Entrepreneurship


website powered by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and is a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops on subjects at intersections

imately 3 billion miles. Stuart earned a Bachelor of

of law and entrepreneurship. Prof. Luppino earned

Science in Civil Engineering University of Missouri.

his Bachelor’s Degree at Dartmouth College, his J.D.

After school, Stuart switched his engineering focus

from Stanford Law School, and an LL.M. in Taxation

to software and worked for Andersen Consulting,

from the Boston University School of Law.

now Accenture, and VML. Stuart has continued his program and the Kauffman TechVenture course.


Stuart has traveled extensively around the world for

I have been a restaurateur, teacher, acting vice-prin-

school, work and play and he currently lives in Prairie

cipal, mayoral treasurer, grassroots organizer, and

Village with his wife, two children, and two big dogs.

community board member for several organizations.

education completing both the UMKC eScholars

I enjoy helping people and working for the greater


good. Where the people are disenfranchised and in

and the Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at

es. As Kansas City progresses, I long to improve the

need of assistance, I offer my multitude of experienc-

the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, 31

economic and real estate development for Black and

at the KCEB works hard (and smart) to make sure

urban communities.

Kansas City voters have such a system.



MATTHEW W. MARCUS KANSAS CITY STARTUP FOUNDATION: Computer programming for the better part of 20 years, Matthew decided in 2010 that it was time to move onto new pastures. Venturing into the startup world was his first step. His previously co-founded startups include KULA Causes, Hoopla.io and Local Ruckus. His current side hustle is 1 Minute Candidate. As part of his community building efforts, he is Director of Operations for Kansas City Startup Foundation (KCSF), as well as, an active co-leader of the Kansas

the Kansas City education world for the last 11 years, the previous 10 years at the Kansas City, Kansas Public School District. Starting out as a Special Education teacher at Fairfax Alternative Program, she learned that personalized learning is for all students and that there are always multiple solutions to any given problem. Upon the closing of the program, Audrey accepted a position as a 21st Century Instructional Coach, spending her time coaching teachers and leaders across the district to not only integrate technology but shift their thinking and practices to better align with the needs

City Startup Village (KCSV) (visit: kcstartupfounda-

of today’s learners and the society we live in.

tion.org and kcstartupvillage.org to learn more).

Audrey is an active member of the Kansas City Dig-

Matthew’s goals in life include becoming a startup

ital Drive Education team working to help Kansas

advisor, entrepreneurial mentor, angel investor, and ultimately a professional philanthropist. His mission in life: help make the world a better place before his

City Metro area becoming one of the most innovative Smart Cities in the world and is involved in many of the educational organizations leading innovation

days are done.

in Kansas City. Her role at Lumen Touch, beginning


sional Development solution, Bright Path; support

(6), Peter (4) and I live in the Countryside neighborhood near UMKC. We’re committed to quality public education for all of Kansas City’s children, beautiful safe neighborhoods (Katy serves on our HOA board) and ever-expanding career opportunities. My law practice at Husch Blackwell is focused on general corporate/startup work, mergers and acquisitions, real estate and governmental relations. Outside of work I am also the Chairman of the Kansas City Election Board (KCEB), which administers all elections in Kansas City within Jackson County. Without diminishing the importance of education and entrepreneurship, elections and the electoral process are my passion. Our democracy cannot survive without a stable, secure, fair and accessible electoral system—our team


June of 2016, has been to develop a new ProfesBright Success, a student ePortfolio solution; and Bright Learning, a Learning Management System that is built for Modern Learning practices. Audrey keeps Lumen Touch connected to the public via social media, newsletters and events and loves to share the latest educational shifts and how Lumen Touch is actively supporting all learners in Kansas City and the world through technology and leadership.

WADANDRA LEE MCBRIDE HOGAN PREPARATORY ACADEMY : Wadandra McBride, Family Outreach Coordinator considers it a unique privilege to have the opportunity to serve Hogan Preparatory Academy families. She cherishes the opportunity to partner in meeting the needs of the parents and students. Also, very happy to join hands with parents in creating a

school year filled with happy learning and growing

souri School District and then on to Gordon Parks

experiences for their children.

Charter School. Tysie was instrumental in developing

Wadandra has been married 25 years to a very supportive husband, named Waymon. She is a devoted, loving wife and mother to Aliyah and Ashley, making certain all the family needs are met.


curriculum as the school expanded to fifth grade and developed a program where each fifth grade student was paired with a mentor from the Kansas City community. While working at Gordon Parks, Tysie attended Baker University and earned her Master’s Degree in School Administration.

serves as the Executive Director for the Kansas City

In 2005 Tysie launched Nia Educational Consulting

STEM Alliance managing relationships with pK – 12

which provides professional development services

schools, post-secondary institutions, STEM organi-

for parochial, public, and charter schools in Missou-

zations and industry partners working on strategic

ri, Kansas, and Nebraska. In addition to consulting,

education initiatives, community partnerships and

Tysie served as an adjunct instructor at the Univer-

workforce needs locally, regionally and nationally.

sity of Missouri Kansas City in the Institute for Urban

Martha serves as the project lead for Kansas City’s

Education program.

STEM Learning Ecosystem, ecosySTEM KC, by engaging multiple partners to create a more STEM literate community. She also coordinates outreach and advocacy efforts serving as a liaison to the national Project Lead the Way and FIRST robotics organizations.

TYSIE MCDOWELL-RAY CROSSROADS CHARTER SCHOOLS: Tysie McDowell-Ray was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. In 1997, she graduated from the University of Iowa with a major in Elementary Education and a minor in African World Studies. Upon graduation she took a teaching job at Edmunds Academy of Fine Arts located in Des Moines, Iowa. Edmunds staff worked closely with the Oakridge Neigh-

After consulting for three years, Tysie was asked to take on the principal position at Gordon Parks School.. Under Tysie’s leadership the percentage of students reading on-grade level as measured by the Columbia University Reading Assessment increased from 29% to 80%, and the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced on the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) in Communication Arts and in Math tripled during her two years as principal. In July 2011, Tysie teamed up with Dean Johnson to found Crossroads Academy of Kansas City, Inc. In 2015 Crossroads School was ranked highest performing charter school in the state of Missouri.

borhood, the largest public housing facility in the

Tysie serves on the board of directors for To the World,

state of Iowa consisting of over 1,000 residents living

Inc, a non-profit that raises funds and awareness and

in the 300 housing units, to assist in programming

cares for at-risk children here and abroad and serves

designed to break the cycle of poverty and give the

on the advisory board of GAME (Global Association

working poor families a chance at sustained self-suf-

for Multicultural Education). Tysie is a member of

ficiency and self-reliance. Tysie led many programs

the Midwest Adoption and Foster Care Association,

at Edmunds including parenting classes, resume

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, and the National Association

writing workshops, and child development seminars.

for Multicultural Education. Tysie has three teenage

Three years later, Tysie moved to Kansas City to teach

children and a wonderful husband, Albert Ray.

at James Elementary School in the Kansas City Mis-



teacher and led her students to 1.85 years of reading

Pinsight Media. He has over 25 years of experience

growth. While pursuing her Educational Specialist’s

with various stages of new and emerging businesses

degree in Elementary Administration, she became

in the global communications industry. Prior to his

Vice Principal at Academia de Ni̱os where she

Corey Mohn is passionate about helping people make connections that allow them to live their dreams.

led initiatives to dramatically



attendance and develop sustainable systems for the growing school. She joined the founding team

current role, Kevin led the product platforms and

of the Kansas City Teacher Residency as a Clinical

services organization at Sprint and prior to that held

Instructional Coach where she began building sys-

a leadership position with Sprint’s cable joint ven-

tems for tracking and analyzing data. This year she is

ture, Pivot. He has a range of leadership experience

transitioning into the Director of Accountability and

across sales, marketing and operations.

Operations with KCTR.

Kevin is a community leader, listed in the Kansas


City Business Journal’s Power 100 for both 2015 and 2016. Kevin was driving force behind the creation of the Sprint Accelerator in 2013 and has been a champion for corporate engagement with the entrepreneurial community since its inception. He is currently the chairman of the board of the KC Tech Council, serving over 140+ technology companies in the greater Kansas City region. He also serves on the Deans Advisory Board at the University of Kansas Business School and serves on advisory boards for both KC Sourcelink and Digital Sandbox KC.

BETH MCMILLAN KANSAS CITY TEACHER RESIDENCY: Beth began her career in education as a Teach for America corps member in Kansas City. She taught math and science in Spanish to second, third, and fourth-grade students at Carver Dual Language for four years. During this time, she was a member of the Building Leadership Team as well as the Professional Learning Community lead for the math team. While at Carver, Beth earned her Master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and was a Fellow in Leading Educators. Beth then moved to Academia de Niños as a second-grade 34

I have served as the Teen Services Coordinating Librarian for the Johnson County Library. I am passionate about connecting teens with educational experiences and community resources which help them become creative learners and engaged community members. I have been honored to help organize author visits, fashion shows, student film festivals, digital storytelling workshops and library services and programs in detention centers. I am also the managing editor of our literary arts magazine, elementia, which has published over 650 teens in 14 issues.

MICHAEL MCSHANE SHOW-ME INSTITUTE: Michael Q. McShane is Director of Education Policy at the ShowMe Institute and an adjunct fellow in education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the editor of New and Better Schools (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015), the author of Education and Opportunity (AEI Press, 2014), and coeditor of Educational Entrepreneurship Today (Harvard Education Press, 2016),Teacher Quality 2.0 (Harvard Education Press, 2014) and Common Core Meets Education Reform (Teachers College Press, 2013). His analyses and commentary have been published widely in the

media, including in the Huffington Post, National

Blake joined Think Big in 2009 as the Director of the

Affairs, USA Today, and The Washington Post. He has

Accelerator, managing the accelerator program port-

also been featured in education-specific outlets such

folio and internal technology operations for Think

as Teachers College Commentary, Education Week,

Big. At Think Big, Blake has championed several new

Phi Delta Kappan, and Education Next. In addition

initiatives that grew out of Think Big including; the

to authoring numerous white papers, McShane has

Kansas City Smart Initiative which won a 2017 Edison

had academic work published in Education Finance

Innovation Award and Homebase.AI a joint venture

and Policy and the Journal of School Choice. A former

partnership between Think Big and Sunflower De-

high school teacher, he earned a Ph.D. in education

velopment group.

policy from the University of Arkansas, an M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame, and a B.A. in English from St. Louis University.


Blake has been recognized as a Next Gen Leader by the Kansas City Business Journal, top 20 in their 20’s by Ingram Magazine, and a top young entrepreneur to watch by under30ceo. Blake serves as a board member, advisor and mentor to several startups and is a member of YEC, an invite only entrepreneur network.

neurship and the power it has to do good for local

In addition to Blake’s entrepreneur endevours, Blake

economies, communities and individuals. Through

enjoys living a healthy active lifestyle, getting civicly

her work, she helps communities build collaborative

involved and competing on the KCBS competitive

entrepreneurial infrastructures that attract startups,

BBQ circuit with his team the Social Smokers.

accelerate business growth and create jobs. From Seattle to San Juan, she’s helped communities build


networks and collaborations to create regional road-

for KCSourceLink, Jenny Miller is responsible for the

maps for entrepreneurial growth. In Kansas City, as ex-

entire KCSourceLink network, from Resource Partner

ecutive director of the University of Missouri—Kansas

relationships to entrepreneurial outreach to special

City Innovation Center, her team supports thousands

event. Jenny talks with entrepreneurs and business

of aspiring and existing entrepreneurs each year

owners to see where they are in their business and

through counseling, training and access to resources.

where they want to go. She then directs them to the

Maria unites academic, government, corporate and

right resource that can help them get there and iden-

nonprofit groups, to create an environment where

tifies gaps in the network that can be filled by collab-

entrepreneurship will thrive, driving to make Kansas

orations. She also promotes KCSourceLink through

City America’s most entrepreneurial City.

community speaking engagements and the oversight of high-profile entrepreneurial events such as Global

ADAM MONTEE MILLER TEACH FOR AMERICA BLAKE MILLER THINK BIG PARTNERS: Blake Miller is a serial entrepreneur with expertise in growth marketing and the Internet of Things. He currently serves as the CEO of Homebase.AI and is a partner at Think Big Partners.

Entrepreneurship Week and Battle of the Brands. Jenny is actively involved in the community as a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, through volunteering with her church and by participating on several boards and nonprofit organizations. she enjoys


spending time at local festivals with her husband and

for K-12 students. Ms Montgomery has given coding

exploring the many Kansas City parks with her dogs.

and computer science lessons in KCPS schools and given presentations on cyberbullying, digital citizen-


ship and IT careers. Ms Montgomery provides train-

ing people make connections that allow them to live

credential in Information Technology.

ing to prepare students and adults to obtain a career

their dreams. Corey learned many lessons first-hand about the power of connectivity when he co-found-

SARAH MOTE KCSOURCELINK: Sarah Mote is first, last

ed Planning Initiatives, LLC—a city planning consult-

and always a storyteller.

ing firm—at the age of 24. Since selling his share of the business, Corey has dedicated his professional life to public service, primarily through providing funding and technical support to the small business community. Corey is the Executive Director of the

For KCSourceLink and SourceLink, Sarah takes the lead on all things marketing, from audience analysis to thumb-stopping social media outreach to fully integrated content marketing and brand strategies.

Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional Stud-

An award-winning copywriter and content strategist,

ies (CAPS), a program that empowers high school

Sarah has worked with SourceLink from the early

students to fast-forward into their future through

days, first as an independent content marketing spe-

hands-on work, real-world business projects, and

cialist and then as its marketing director. Both out-

the development of professional skills. Prior to CAPS,

side and in-house, she has helped guide and launch

Corey served as the Director of Statewide Programs

the social media marketing strategies for numerous

for the Kansas Center for Entrepreneurship (DBA

affiliates and provided content strategy, social media

NetWork Kansas).

marketing and brand development.

In July 2015, CAPS launched the CAPS Network, a

Sarah came to SourceLink with more than 15 years’

consortium of school programs across the United

experience, implementing content strategies for

States committed to this model of profession-based

local and national companies, including UMB Bank,

education. In less than two years, the network has

Sprint, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Kelley

grown to include 28 programs and 57 school dis-

School of Business at Indiana University and the Pres-

tricts across nine states.

idential Youth Fitness Program, among many others.

Corey holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in political sci-

CHRISTINE MURRAY GREATER KC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Christine Murray is the Sr. Director of Policy

ence and economics from Washington University in St. Louis and a Masters in Business Administration from Baker University. Web: www.bvcaps.org Twitter: @coreymohn

INA P. MONTGOMERY URBAN TEC: Ina P Montgomery of Urban TEC has been strategically working to bring 21st century technology training to urban schools and communities. She especially works with Kansas City Public Schools to arrange technology-focused experiential and extending learning opportunities 36

and Programs for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. She manages startup and emerging business initiatives within the Greater Kansas City community reinforcing the Chamber’s Big 5 initiative to make “Kansas City America’s Most Entrepreneurial City.” In addition, Christine is responsible for the Centurions Leadership Program, genKC program and transportation public policy committees. She has been active in various community organizations including Launch

KC, InvestMidwest, Arts KC Fund, CASA, and held

tors by serving on the EdcampKC and EdcampLea-

leadership positions with Hello Art, Athena League,

derMO planning teams, on the steering committee

Debate KC, and The Nelson-Atkins Young Friends of

for GoShare-MO and as a moderator of #moedchat.

Art. Christine has been honored with The American

These teams work together to plan formal and infor-

Chamber of Commerce Executives “40 under 40”

mal experiences to connect educators to transform

award, NextGen Leaders, and the Women’s Founda-

the KC education landscape.

tion of Greater Kansas City Celebration of Women.


in the Kansas City banking community for almost 30

ther of two girls, husband, educator, and teammate.

years, 21 of which have been with Missouri Bank. She

Sean is currently in his fourth year with the North

has been instrumental in helping define both the in-

Kansas City School District where he leads the state’s

ternal culture and unique customer experience for

largest public school online learning program. He

which Mobank is known. In addition, she has earned

first landed in North Kansas City in 2014 as a District

a reputation for providing thoughtful support and

Coordinator of Instruction. Prior to moving to Kansas

wise counsel to scores of small businesses and en-

City, he spent two years as the District Instruction-

trepreneurs, helping them think through the best

al Technology Coordinator in the St. Joseph School

decisions for their business.

District, and leading up to that, was a generalist Instructional Coach in one of the SJSD’s high schools. Sean’s core experiences as an educator came from the many years classroom while teaching Biology and Marine Biology for over 20 years.

Julie has served as a member of Missouri Bank’s senior management team, with responsibilities in commercial banking, marketing and customer experience. She works with a wide array of customers and particularly loves working with owners of creatively


focused businesses.

Michelle Nebel is the Chief Innovations Officer for

Julie shares her expertise with many in the Kansas

the Excelsior Springs School District. In this role,

City community, serving on numerous boards and

she leads and supports the district’s innovative ini-

committees. She is a frequent guest speaker on all

tiatives to transform teaching and learning. With

things entrepreneurial, banking, cultural and finan-

this in mind, she plans professional development

cial. She currently serves as Treasurer for both the

for teachers and administrators and works to chal-

Charlotte Street Foundation Board and the Mayor’s

lenge their thinking about what’s possible in school

Corp of Progress. She is a member of the Arts Indus-

environments. Michelle is passionate about pushing

try Sector Council and recently co-chaired the 2016

boundaries and empowering all learners.

ArtsKC Annual Inspiration Breakfast. Julie was named

Locally, Michelle has partnered with a passionate group of educators and community partners around the region to create ElevateEDU. This group of individuals breaks down the silos of area districts to work together to impact the educational landscape. In addition to ElevateEDU, she plans collaborative learning experiences for teachers and administra-

a Kansas City Urban Hero in 2017. She was named a Woman Who Means Business by the Kansas City Business Journal in 2007 and a Women of Influence by Kansas City Business Magazine in 2008. Julie served as a faculty member of the Graduate School of Banking – Colorado (GSBC) from 2004-2014 and also served as a GSBC Board Trustee during her tenure there.


Originally from a small town in western Kansas, Julie is

Nooks is active in the local community by serving as

a 1988 honors graduate of the University of Kansas and

a Board Member with the Lee’s Summit Chamber of

a 2003 honors graduate GSBC . She is an enthusiastic

Commerce, Saint Luke’s East Hospital, Truman Heart-

traveler, a lover of all things Kansas City, and the proud

land Community Foundation, Civic Roundtable and

mom of adult daughter Katherine and golden retriever

the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council.

Boulder. She and her husband Sam live in Brookside.

He also serves on University of Missouri Kansas City School of Education’s Advisory Board and the Kansas

DR. KIRK A. NOOKS METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY COLLEGE: Dr. Kirk A. Nooks was appointed as the Presi-

City region’s GradForce KC and KC Rising initiatives.

dent of Metropolitan Community College (MCC)

to include the Rotary Club of Lee’s Summit and the

– Longview on July 1, 2013. The over 4,000 student campus is located in Lee’s Summit, MO and was the first two-year institution in the nation to be named College of the Year by TIME magazine. Since arriving at

He holds additional memberships in other groups

Sarah Mote is first, last and always a storyteller.

the college, Nooks has initiated

President’s/Chancellor’s Council with the Missouri Community College Association. On the national level, since 2015, Nooks has been chairing the premier senior executive level professional development program for African-American leaders in the

a strategic visioning process aimed to build upon

community college—The Thomas Lakin Institute for

the legacy of MCC-Longview while responding to

Mentored Leadership.

the nation’s 2025 Completion Agenda. Nooks came to MCC-Longview from Georgia Highlands College (GHC), where he served as both campus dean for the college’s Marietta campus and executive liaison for diversity initiatives, during which time campus enrollment increased by over 35%, academic and student services were expanded and the academic/ office space allocation more than doubled.An engineer by training, Nooks has more than 20 years of experience in education, business and engineering. Throughout his career, he has helped institutions with major initiatives, including establishing and implementing a governance system, organizing and scaling up a national completion initiative, and developing a framework for faculty, staff and students to advance the institution’s learning organization aspirations. He has presented at national conferences on topics ranging from institutional governance models to the college completion agenda.

Nooks holds a doctorate in higher education administration from The George Washington University (Washington, D.C.) and an MBA in marketing and a bachelor of science in industrial management from Mercer University (Macon, Ga.). He is a graduate of the Thomas Lakin Institute for Mentored Leadership and a member of the inaugural cohort of the American Council on Education’s Spectrum Leadership Institute. Nooks and his wife, Alison, reside in Lee’s Summit, MO with their three children.

LUKE D NORRIS PAYIT : Luke is the Head of Local Government Solutions for PayIt, a Kansas City based government technology start up. Prior to joining PayIt, Luke was the Director of Government Relations at Code For America, an organization that helped build open source technology while empowering residents to take an active role in their community to make government services simple, effective, and easy to use. Luke has 12 years of experience in executing growth strategies


for start-ups, including not-for-profit and fortune 500

the KC Startup Village, the Kansas City BBQ Project,

companies. Luke is a committed member of the Kan-

and KC Startup Weekend.

sas City community, honored as the most valuable volunteer by the YMCA’s Civic Engagement Team, a


Distinguished Citizen by the National Conference for

Aaron North is the vice president of Education at the

Community and Justice, named a Rising Star of Philan-

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he serves

thropy, as a federally appointed Commissioner to the

as a member of the Foundation’s senior leadership

Housing Authority of Kansas City. Today Luke serves

team and leads a team of program officers who are

as the founding Board Chair for Citizens of the World

funding or researching programs designed to ensure

Charter School – Kansas City and is a member of the

more Kansas City students have access to high-qual-

advisory boards for KC Digital Drive and Neighborly, an

ity education options and opportunities preparing

SF based public finance startup. He previously served

them for life and education after high school.

on the Women’s Center Board at UMKC, Planned Parenthood and was the founding chairman for Mayor Sly James’ Challenge Cabinet. Luke received a Bachelor of Science and Arts and an MBA from Rockhurst University where he was also recognized as the most outstanding student leader. Luke, his wife Tracey and their daughter Hadley proudly live in the urban core of Kansas City.

TROY J NORRIS REDIVUS HEALTH: Troy’s startup journey began during his service in the Army, where he took part in many economic development initiatives across Northern Iraq. Helping to organize the recreation of banks, schools, media outlets, municipal government infrastructure and services, as well as strategic investment in new business ventures.

Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation, North served as the founding executive director of the Missouri Charter Public School Association (MCPSA). Before leading the startup effort at MCPSA, North worked for the education team at Volunteers of America of Minnesota, as a school resource center director at the University of Minnesota, and in the Minnesota Department of Education’s Office of Choice and Innovation. He taught high school English in rural North Carolina as a Teach For America corps member and worked for Andersen Consulting and Sprint PCS prior to his teaching experience. North has helped create or catalyze several education programs in Kansas City, including the Ewing Marion Kauffman School, Kansas City Scholars, and SchoolSmartKC. He is a Pahara-Aspen Fellow and serves as board chair of

While receiving his MBA from UMKC, Troy was the

both Kauffman Scholars, Inc. and the Ewing Marion

first person admitted into the e-Scholars program.

Kauffman School. North earned a Master of Public

During which he helped cofound Galleon Labs, an

Policy from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs

early digital agency serving the Kansas City Startup

at the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s de-

Community. In the ensuing years he’s consulted,

gree in English from the University of Kansas.

helped, and coded for many KC startups, community organizations, and aspiring entrepreneurs. Currently, Troy serves as a full stack developer for Redivus Health, making mobile medical decision support applications for healthcare professionals. Is an investor in Level One Game Shop. And volunteers as needed with the UMKC e-Scholars, 1 Billion Bits,

CONNOR NOWALK THE LITERACY LAB: Connor Nowalk is the Data and Strategy Manager for The Literacy Lab. While his role primarily focuses on reporting data outcomes, he also assists in recruiting tutors and helping tutor alumni move to other roles in education. He is also the co-founder of the Pell Project,


a scholarship for undocumented students in Kansas

David serves on the boards of the Alliance for Child-

City. He was previously the CEO of Echograde, an ed

hood Education; MRIGlobal; UMKC Trustees; Kansas

tech startup he founded as a 2014 Lean Lab Fellow.

City Repertory Theatre; Teach for America—KC; advi-

After serving as a Teach For America corps member

sory board of the Spencer Art Museum; and advisory

in Washington, DC, he moved to Kansas City to teach

board of the AUP+D Department at UMKC. He is on

at Alta Vista High School.

the board of The Francis Family Foundation, the Cross Foundation, and is a trustee of the Murphy Charita-


ble Fund. He is a former board chair and board mem-

intellectual property, technology and patent attor-

ber of Children’s Mercy Hospital and a former board

ney at Husch Blackwell. He works with entrepreneurs

member and chair of the education committee of

in startup companies and established businesses. In

the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City.

addition to assisting clients with patent, trademark and copyright matters, Nathan also has extensive

NATE OLSON CREMA: I work at Crema—a Kansas City

experience in structuring and negotiating technol-

based technology and innovation agency. My team is

ogy-related transactions, including software devel-

made up of +20 brilliant product designers, develop-

opment, software licensing, SaaS, and joint venture

ers and business strategists building digital products

deals. With a background engineering, his expertise

for startups and large evolving brands. Our iterative

spans a wide range of technologies including soft-

approach and small focused teams work with our cli-

ware, networking and Internet technologies, me-

ents to validate their ideas and launch them to market.

chanical and electrical systems, and other consumer products and technologies. He is a member of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Centurions Leadership Program, Class of 2017.

DAVID FIELD OLIVER BERKOWITZ OLIVER LLP: David is a lawyer with Berkowitz Oliver LLP. He practices primarily in the area of complex business disputes. He also consults with companies—not-for-profit and for-profit—helping them develop and diversify their board of directors; strengthen the relationship between management and the board of directors; and build relationships between those companies and the business, civic, and philanthropic sectors. His consulting work is independent of his legal practice and is based on both his professional experience as a lawyer handling governance disputes within companies and his long-time involvement in the civic and philanthropic sectors of the Kansas City region. He consults on a retainer basis with the duration and amount tailored to the client’s needs. 40

At 22, I co-founded 1 Million Cups at the Kauffman Foundation—a weekly educational program for entrepreneurs now in over +100 cities in the United States. I’m an avid traveler, a musician and a connector. My last adventure took me backpacking through 8 countries in Europe & Africa and included successfully summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro. My latest project is the formation of New Year’s Adventure Club which encourages ordinary people to start their year off in an extraordinary way by traveling to the far ends of the Earth in search of the ultimate adventure. I’m also building several other exciting concepts set to launch later this year. My Mission: To Empower People to Create Change & Shape the World.

GREG OWSLEY ROCKHURST HIGH SCHOOL: Greg serves Rockhurst High School as the STEAM Director as well as teaches calculus. Previously, he was the mathematics department chair. He holds a BA in Mathe-

A strong believer in the power of access and network Edgar Palacios thrives on meeting new people collaboration, and turning big dreams into reality matics and a BA in Religious Studies from the Uni-

2016. Find Kyle on Twitter as @kylepace and his blog,

versity of Rochester; a MAT with an emphasis in Math

“Learning is Leading”, can be found at kylepace.com.

and Science from Webster University and an MS in Educational Leadership from St. Joseph’s University.


Greg also Co-Founded RedwoodPrep, which offers

enjoy getting to know Kansas City entrepreneurs

high-impact education opportunities outside of

and the people who support them. The best part of

school hours. He also proudly juggles for the Kansas

my day is when I can help someone find a resource

City based MoonDrop Circus. Greg lives in Kansas City

that helps them solve a problem.

with his wife Caroline and their newborn son Paul.


EDGAR JOSE PALACIOS BLUE HILLS COMMUNITY CENTER: A strong believer in the power of access and

a former elementary school teacher, an Instructional

network, Edgar thrives on meeting new people, col-

Technology Coach, and is currently the Director of

laboration, and turning big dreams into reality. Prior

Technology for the Grain Valley School District. Kyle

to launching into full time entrepreneurship, Edgar

has worked with K-12 teachers to provide instruc-

served as Senior Director of Resource Development

tional technology professional development since

and Community Engagement at Connections to Suc-

2004 and holds a Master of Arts degree in Education

cess. Before his stint at Connections, Edgar served as

with an emphasis in Educational Technology. Kyle

the Chief Engagement Officer at Central Exchange,

champions to support teaching and learning with

the premier women’s professional development or-

meaningful technology integration using a multi-

ganization in Kansas City.

tude of technologies and best practices.

Edgar attended Rockhurst University, graduating

Kyle is a keynote speaker and presenter at education

with a master in business administration (MBA), with

conferences and individual school districts around

an emphasis in accounting. He completed his under-

North America. Kyle has also been an organizer of

graduate studies at the University of Missouri—Kan-

#edcampKC since 2010 and strives to create relevant,

sas City (UMKC), earning a bachelor of music degree.

engaging professional learning experiences for educators to ultimately impact student learning.

In late 2016, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City chose Edgar as a 2016 Most Wanted honoree.

As part of his ongoing commitment to professional

Kauffman Scholars honored Edgar with the 2015 Vol-

growth, Kyle became a Google for Education Innova-

unteer of the Year Award. In 2014, Guadalupe Centers

tor in 2011. In 2013, Kyle was named as one of Edu-

bestowed Edgar with the 2014 I. Pat Rios Award for

cation Week’s “Leaders to Learn From” and joined the

‘outstanding contribution by an individual to the

other honorees in Washington, D.C. to receive recog-

Latino community of Kansas City’. He was also rec-

nition from the Secretary of Education. Kyle became

ognized as a 2014 Ace Award winner through the KC

a Google for Education Certified Trainer in March

Chamber for ‘achieving excellence’. Edgar was hum41

bled to have been a Man of the Year candidate for the

who inspired Diane because she was always willing

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in early 2012. Most

to give to those who needed more.

recently, Edgar joined the 2017 class of Centurions, the KC Chamber’s leadership development program.

Diane moved to Michigan in 1987 with her family where she started working with in children’s theatre

A bilingual leader, Edgar served as president of the

doing plays based with conflict resolution messages

Young Latino Professionals of Greater Kansas City,

in the Detroit school district. She volunteered with

an organization dedicated to developing leaders

her church, and began her ministry with the home-

through networking, professional development, civ-

less. She later went back to school where she received her degree in Communications

Throughout her work, Amanda prioritizes building connections and engaging youth in compelling experiences that link their lives to the world around them

and did her field study at St. Aloysius homeless shelter. In 2005, Diane moved back to Kansas City to be closer to her family. She got a job at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church as the youth minister. During her time at St. Gabriel’s, Diane

ic engagement, and philanthropic opportunities. Edgar also served as president of the Kansas City chapter of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs in 2013. In 2012, Edgar completed the Latino Leadership Institute, a program designed to train community leaders on nonprofit board governance. He currently serves on the boards of Sunflower House, Kansas City Young Audiences, and UMKC Alumni Association.

MELISSA PATTERSON-HAZLEY HAZLEY & ASSOCIATES LLC MORGAN PERRY MID-CONTINENT PUBLIC LIBRARY TINA PETERSON SPRINT ACCELERATOR DIANE M. PICKERT ST. GABRIEL YOUTH: Diane Marie Pickert was born and raised on Strawberry Hill in Kansas City, KS. She grew up in a very devout Catholic and Croatian family. As a kid, she used to go and visit the elderly during her lunch recess which inspired her to help people. Her mom had a friend

found a numerous amount of service opportunities for the kids to be involved with. Some of the service projects that the youth groups did were, a trip to Detroit Michigan where they worked with the homeless for a week, farming with St Andrew’s Society where the kids were able to learn about gleaning, street ministry, and many other things as well. The gleaming sparked a parish Project creating a garden to feed the homeless and working poor in Kansas City. In the past five years they have donated over 30,000 lbs of food to shelters and food pantries in Kansas City. Some service projects that she has done to bring the community together are the Big Day, Challenge Conference with the EFCA, and the Life Conference with Christian Missionary Alliance where she had to find jobs for 1,000 to 1,500 teens each day. Diane is also a Director of Camp Savio/ Camp Bosco which is a middle school and high school camp that the Kansas City – St. Joseph diocese has been putting on for 7 years. She is the mother of 2 beautiful daughters, and two son-in-laws. She also has two sweet grandsons, and


another grandchild due in October. Diane is driven

areas of human relations & multicultural training,

by the passion for her faith and giving people hope.

non-profits, education.


Rangel lives in Raymore, Missouri, with his wife (De-

years working in education and youth development, including 6 years in the classroom as a middle school math teacher. She is currently the Director of Curriculum Integration and Educational Partnerships at Citizens of the World Charter Schools Kansas City (CWCKC). Throughout her work, Amanda prioritizes

nise) & sons (Juanito & Jake). He has lived in Kansas City most of his life and is a 1985 graduate of Oak Park High School. He earned Bachelor of Science degrees in international business, marketing, and Spanish from Northwest Missouri State in 1991 and earned a master’s degree in urban education from Kansas State University in 2004.

building connections and engaging youth in com-

Rangel currently serves on the Board of the Kansas

pelling experiences that link their lives to the world

City Area Port Authority and the Health Care Founda-

around them. Amanda has implemented a variety

tion, Truman Medical Center, Guadalupe Center, Inc.

of interdisciplinary learning experiences and built

and Homeless Service Coalition. Recently, he has also

strategic school-community partnerships with di-

served on the Board of Regents at Northwest Missou-

verse stakeholders. Amanda has a B.A. from Grinnell

ri State University and the Boards of Directors for the

College and a Masters in Community Development

Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, the Kauff-

from the University of California Davis. She is a proud

man Fund, Synergy, and Children’s Mercy Hospital.

resident of Midtown and loves being engaged in our Kansas City community.

JUAN MANUEL RANGEL JR. DONNELLY COLLEGE-GATEWAY TO COLLEGE: Before joining Donnelly in 2013 he was the director of Community Engagement for Metropolitan Community College/Institute for Workforce Innovation in Kansas City. Rangel also worked for 12 years for the National Conference for Community and Justice, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting bias, bigotry and racism through education, awareness-building and conflict resolution training. Prior to working for NCCJ, he

Rangel credits the encouragement and support of his wife and son(s), his parents, and his mentors for enabling him to remain actively involved in the community and dedicated to his motto: Adelante Con Ganas (Forward with Desire).

EZE REDWOOD RISE FAST & TWENTY30CEO: Eze Redwood is an entrepreneur passionate about innovation and building communities. He is the founder and CEO of Rise Fast, a founding partner of the artisan wings restaurant Wings Cafe, and a United States delegate to both the US-Japan Fellowship and US-It-

worked for the League of United Latin American Citi-

aly Young Leaders Conference.

zens (LULAC) National Education Service Center.

Eze has had a broad career ranging from business

Rangel values and promotes good human relations

development at mid-sized websites to being a youth

among all people regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, economic status, age, or background, and he has twenty-five years of professional experience working with vastly diverse populations in the

leadership development mentor for US Department of State programs and running an internal think tank within a multinational investment bank. Eze has also provided strategic direction as a part of eight non-profit boards of directors over the years. Eze is the founder of Twenty30CEO, is co-launching a mi43

nority young professionals initiative, and advises on

tool for liberation, and in the power of culturally re-

corporate innovation. Eze was recently 1 of 16 Google

sponsive, community-led education that empowers

NTEN Fellows, a Shafik Gabr 2015 Fellow, and a strate-

students and parents as leaders in their educational

gic development adviser for various tech platforms.

experience. Jahna is a Kansas City native and proud

Eze is currently working on initiatives to bring entrepreneurship and economic development to urban areas, increase collaboration and available resources for various communities, and is writing a book to teach students and young professionals the skills needed to take over the world. He is currently creating a new type of entrepreneurship-based professional development education for the evolving workforce through his Rise Fast initiative, and is thankful to be a part of the Alliance for Economic Inclusion, as well as a former invitee of the White House Economic Forum from Kansas City.

PAUL RICHARDSON LOUDER THAN A BOMB KC: Paul Richardson has been an English teacher in Kansas City since 2005. He is an organizer for Louder Than a Bomb KC, a youth slam poetry competition that hosted 25 KC metro area schools in its 4th annual festival season in March 2017. He also collaborates with the Johnson County Library and Race Project KC in exploring the history of racial segregation through an annual guided bus tour. In cooperation with the Greater Kansas City Writing Project and LRNG, Richardson helped launch The KC Storytellers Project, which guides participating students through several storytelling workshops and culminates in a live storytelling event.

JAHNA RILEY THE LITERACY LAB & KANSAS CITY TEACHER RESIDENCY: Jahna Riley is an educator completing her AmeriCorps service year with The Literacy Lab and entering The Kansas City Teacher Residency’s second cohort. Jahna believes that education is a

graduate of Kansas City Public Schools who has experience in advertising and nonprofit fundraising. Jahna is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. – Beta Omega Chapter, and the Ink Magazine’s Advisory Board. Jahna holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Howard University.

ROSEMARY ANN RIORDAN RAYTOWN SCHOOL DISTRICT: I have lived in Kansas City all my life. I have been active with both the Kansas and Missouri Art education association, served as officer in Kansas. I am active in the national art education association also serving as an officer I have been part of the weavers guild and active in Early childhood education and preschool association. My last job was at the Nelson where I started an in school program Thinking Through Art that serves under served populations. I started the Kansas City Metro Arts Collaborative that brings together arts organizations and school districts to make the arts part of the professional development offering. We will be hosting an Arts Integration Symposium in late July at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. I have worked with the Kansas Partnership 2013 with the Kennedy Center and been active in the Kansas side Arts Integration league.

GRAHAM RIPPLE OYO FITNESS: Graham is a serial entrepreneur focusing in the health space. Co-Founder of Life Equals, a one-for-one vitamin company, and PaleoFit, a healthy prepared meals company. Graham is currently serving as the COO of OYO Fitness, and a co-organizer of One Flag—the vision for the

Jen Rivas believes that some of the best connections within the vibrant Kansas City ecosystem can be found through the simple act of volunteering. 44

Kansas City metro to have a unified symbol connect-

preneurship Week Organizing Committee. Melissa is

ing us together across state line & all 14 counties.

passionate about connecting policymakers with the entrepreneurial community and she is a proud Roy-


als season ticket holder.

nancial services project manager with interests that range from urban sketching and reading science


fiction fantasy to planning area events with organi-

Rose is a middle school ELA teacher at Scuola Vita

zations like TEDxYouth@KC. She believes that some

Nuova Charter School in the historic Northeast

of the best connections within the vibrant Kansas

neighborhood in Kansas City. She completed her

City ecosystem can be found through the simple act

residency year at SVN as part of the inaugural cohort

of volunteering. You may run into Jen at Kansas City

of the Kansas City Teacher Residency. She discovered

Startup Weekend, GEWKC, KC Startup Crawl, One

a passion for middle school education when work-

Million Cups, Creative Mornings, or at the park trying

ing with field trip groups at the Arabia Steamboat

to keep up with the kids.

Museum. She also has experience as an instructor of college art history, a summer camp art teacher, and


a substitute teacher.

the CEO and founder of Twentyseven Global, a custom software engineering company. As a software


industry veteran, Steve is passionate about bringing

vid Rucker directs Friends of University Academy, an

an engineering discipline to software development.

education non-profit leading in innovative practices

Steve is an active angel investor, business coach,

supporting the success of public school students and

mentor, and board member of several young compa-

graduates from Kansas City. Rucker holds degrees

nies. Prior to forming Twentyseven Global, Steve was

from Olivet Nazarene University, ASU Mary Lou Fulton

the COO of IntraISP Software Solutions, a telecom

Teachers College, and University of Michigan’s Ross

billing and CRM software provider, and a Managing

School of Business. Rucker draws from his prior expe-

Partner at the global consulting firm Accenture.

rience as an educator to direct programming serving 1500 students and graduates of University Academy

MELISSA ROBERTS ENTERPRISE CENTER OF JOHNSON COUNTY: Melissa Roberts is the Vice President of Communications and Outreach at the Enterprise Center of Johnson County and the President of Free State Strategy Group LLC. She has worked at the nexus of politics, marketing and community organizing for a decade. At the ECJC, Melissa is responsible for the organization’s educational programs, including the MIT-affiliated Growth Mentoring Service, weekly workshops, and the new Investment Bootcamp. Melissa served as a founding member of the Million Cups organizing team, and she serves on the advisory board for Startland News and the KC Global Entre-

(UA), a charter public school in Kansas City, Missouri. By rallying community support, raising funds, and directing effective programming, Friends of University Academy contributes to student success at UA, demonstrated in the following: UA Upper School was the only Missouri high school selected as a Gold Star School, received a #1 rating from SchoolDigger. com out of 397 public high schools, and received a 100% Missouri Department of Education rating. Friends of University Academy also leads its industry in program breadth and outcomes as college success organization. Receiving career, financial, and social support from Friends of University Academy, UA grad45

uates defy statistics in college-going and college-com-


pletion rates. One hundred percent of UA graduates

dent EFL Associates, Angie Salmon has led searches in

receive acceptances to four-year institutions, grad-

a broad array of functional areas (CEO, COO, CFO, HR,

uates of UA average a first- to second-year college

etc.) across a multitude of industries from PE-backed

persistence rate of 80% and a 53% bachelor degree

companies to publicly-traded organizations. In addi-

completion rate. This compares to a national average

tion to her corporate executive search engagements,

of 9% bachelor completion for low-income students.

Salmon co-leads the firm’s Board of Directors Practice

Alumni career achievement includes multiple profes-

and leads the Nonprofit Practice, as well.

sional degrees and outstanding performance with companies including Cerner, Google, and Paychex.

Named to the inaugural class of the Kansas City Business Journal’s NextGen Leaders program, Salm-

Proud of the accomplishments of UA students and

on was instrumental in creating the Ambassador

graduates, Rucker and Friends of UA aim to continue

Program, which focuses on retaining new leadership

expanding student opportunities and programs to

talent in the Kansas City market. She also serves as

support bachelor completion rates competitive with

Secretary for the Board of the Surviving Spouse and

the highest-income students in the country.

Family Endowment (SAFE) and served as a member

TOBY RUSH EYEVERIFY JACQUELINE ERICKSON RUSSELL EWING MARION KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION : Jacqueline Erickson Russell is a program officer in Education for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where she manages a grant portfolio that supports initiatives that recruit, develop, and retain teachers, leaders, and educators. She creates strategic partnerships to improve Kansas City education. Previously, she was a talent recruiter for the Ewing Marion Kauffman School and managed the recruitment efforts through all stages from outreach, marketing, tours, application, phone interview, performance tasks, sample teach, hiring, and training. Her career began as a Teach For America corps member teaching and coaching with KIPP Endeavor Academy. Erickson Russell holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from Yale University and earned a Master of Arts in secondary teaching from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and. She is the co-chair of the Affordable Christmas event and founded a mentoring program that partners Redeemer Fellowship and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City. 46

of the WinWin Connections Committee of the Central Exchange, aimed at increasing gender diversity on corporate boards.

MELISSA SAUBERS COWORK WALDO: Melissa is the Chief Connector and CEO of Cowork Waldo, a neighborhood coworking community in Kansas City, Missouri. In addition to operating Cowork Waldo, she continues to consult other coworking spaces and small businesses in maximizing their marketing efforts online and beyond. Melissa is the President of the Kansas City Coworking Alliance whose mission is to raise the awareness of coworking in the Kansas City region. When Melissa is not coworking she is on the Board of Directors for Sleepyhead Beds, a nonprofit that gets beds to KC kids in need, and she is a charter member and board member of the Waldo Brookside Rotary Club. Melissa also co-owns Brookside Roofing with her husband, Joe.

LIBBY SAUER TEACH FOR AMERICA: Currently, Libby develops coaches and teachers towards Teach For America’s regional goals for growth in critical consciousness and academic achievement in service of supporting students to realize their dreams. This

year, Libby will also work towards building out a

learner. Schmitz is the founding principal of EPiC El-

pilot coaching program for 3rd through 5th year

ementary where Every Person is Inspired to Create

TFA alumni teachers. Originally from Virginia, Libby

a learning environment that is re-designing educa-

moved to Kansas City in 2008 to join Teach For Amer-

tion based on three pillars: Empowering Creativity,

ica’s charter corps in KC. She taught a sheltered En-

Equipping Students and Engaging Communities. In

glish Language Learner kindergarten class and sec-

her 12th year as an administrator and 21st year in

ond grade before joining staff as a Program Director.

education, Dr. Schmitz believes that as we navigate

Libby is currently in her 8th year on staff with TFA-KC.

through the 21st century, there is an incredible sense of urgency to foster a culture of learners who will con-


tinue developing our complex world. She believes it

job in Kansas City because I directly impact the plac-

is our responsibility and obligation to teach the ac-

es where people live and work!

quisition process of redesigning existing ideas and

I work with a talented group of driven, passionate individuals and we find solutions to complicated problems in the built environment. Together, we shape

developing new ideas. Under the leadership of Dr. Schmitz, EPiC Elementary has gained national honors which include: 2015-2017 Apple Distinguished School, Partnership for 21st Edu-

the Kansas City community and create a vision for the city for which we can all be proud. As Vice President of Development and Construction, I am responsible for the vision, execution, delivery and financial performance of our real estate development


cation National Exemplar School

Jahna Riley believes that education is a tool for liberation


and featured as a Blended Learning Universe School by the Christensen Institute. Schmitz is also a 2016 Midwest Education Technology Spotlight Educator and a 2017 Apple Distinguished Educator. During the first two years of existence, EPiC Elementary

currently total $245 million, $140 million of which

had over 2,500 visitors from educators all over the

will be under construction within the next 90 days.

Midwest. Schmitz believes EPiC Elementary fosters

I specialize in collaborative real estate development

an environment where visitors can see, “Together,

and investment projects focused on urban infill and

we can transform education.” Twitter: @mschmitz_1

master planned developments. I complete the necty raises, and incentive negotiations to bring creative

COREY SCHOLES EWING MARION KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION: Corey Scholes is a director of Education for

office, multifamily, mixed-use and industrial projects

the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where she

to life. Additionally, I guide the project vision and

advises the Foundation on strategic program initia-

marketing to ensure a cohesive, collaborative ap-

tives and opportunities related to youth education.

proach with all our project partners.

She also served as the interim CEO of the Ewing Mar-

essary financial analysis, entitlement, debt and equi-

ion Kauffman School. Prior to joining the Kauffman


Foundation, Scholes was a school designer for Expe-

elementary administrator who IS reimagining and

sibilities included teacher education, curriculum

rethinking education to meet the needs of today’s

and leadership development, school sustainability

ditionary Learning in New York, where her respon-


structures, and new school recruitment. She also

Kansas City to support human rights within a fringe

was a consultant for Heart of Change in New York,

economy. She was named Distinguished Executive

giving professional development presentations to

Director by CCO and led one of the largest nonpar-

Melissa Roberts is passionate about connecting policymakers with the entrepreneurial community and she is a proud Royals season ticket holder members of school leadership. Earlier, Scholes was a

tisan, data-driven civic engagement campaigns in

principal for Southeast K-8 and Lincoln College Pre-

metro Kansas City, directly contacting over 130,000

paratory Academy, both in Kansas City, Mo.

voters from 2012 to 2016. Recent awards include the Alumni Achievement of the Year award from Central


College and a Voices of Faith award for her leader-

schulte,* vice president for economic opportunity,

ship in justice and advocacy with faith communities

works to advance the priorities of American Indian,

across the heartland, presented by Congressman

Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities in

Cleaver II, Deacon Gabriel, and Bishop Johnston.

the changing political environment. She leverages

In 2017, eva received the city of Kansas City Health

support from new partners for innovative climate,

Commission’s Agitator award for her leadership in

equity and economic development initiatives. Prior

advancing systemic change to increase life expec-

to Travois, eva built a grassroots community orga-

tancy in high unemployment zip codes.Twitter: @

nization, Communities Creating Opportunity (CCO),


over 12 years and grew it from its presence in one city to becoming a regional hub of opportunity in the heartland. She designed community organizing efforts, securing tens of millions of dollars of investments for housing stabilization, public health demonstration projects, and neighborhood infrastructure improvements. eva graduated with bachelor’s degrees in international studies and Spanish from Central College and a master’s degree in ethics and social theory from the Graduate Theological Union in California. She began her career supporting job training and health with rural farm workers in Iowa and wrote her master’s thesis on women-led economic cooperative models in the Mayan Indigenous communities of the Yucatan, Mexico. Accomplishments include supporting the co-founding of a community-led organization in Rwanda, Africa, and building new models of economic inclusion in 48

*eva decapitalizes her name as part of a ‘de-centered self’ movement inspired by Dr. john a. powell to recognize that leadership comes when we see our interconnectedness, belonging and common human right to exist.

JEFF SHACKELFORD DIGITALSANDBOXKC WENDY SHAULL KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION SARAH SHIPLEY SHIPLEY COMMUNICATIONS: Sarah Shipley is an award-winning consultant with a love for all things civic. She’s collected degrees from Bradley University, the University of Oklahoma and most recently an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. In 2010, she left DC and the K Street life for KC, and she’s stayed...busy.

She founded Shipley Communications, a full-service

gramming. In January of 2009, she began her current

consultancy that focuses on marketing, fundraising,

role as the Managing Director of the Women’s Capital

social innovation and the creation of income streams

Connection, an angel investment group of more than

for nonprofits, small business and startups. She

40 women who invest in women-led companies. Kelly

co-founded Kansas City B-cycle, the country’s first

is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the

private bike sharing system owned and operated by

angel network including managing deal flow, appli-

a nonprofit, BIkeWalkKC. She was on the founding

cation screening and presentations, due diligence,

team of Neighbor.ly, winning the Points of Light Civ-

investment coordination and post-investment man-

ic Accelerator Prize. She leads marketing and social

agement and reporting. In 2010 and 2011, she also

innovation strategies for KC Healthy Kids.

acted as Managing Director of The Show Me Angels,

She likes walking meetings, typography, art and opera. Her heroes include Bea Arthur & Xena. The most inspirational thing she has ever seen is a woman wearing a white suit eating a meatball sandwich while walking AND reading a law brief in downtown Philly.

WHITNEY SHOULTS SAGE CENTER FOR YOGA AND HEALING ARTS: Dr. Whitney Shoults is a chiropractor. Her chiropractic practice resides in Sage Center for Yoga and Healing Arts in the heart of the Crossroads in downtown KCMO. Dr. Shoults is big on educating her

a group of accredited investors that invest in companies in the Eastern Jackson County area of Kansas City. In the past, Kelly has served on the local board of directors for the National Association of Women Business Owners, The Board of Directors of Ten Thousand Villages, was Grants Chairperson of The Pembroke Hill School Arts Council, and was also an executive committee member of the Plaza Merchants Association. Kelly has a BS degree in Communications and Business from Iowa State University. She was awarded the Kansas Women Business Advocate of the Year in 2007 and made the Kansas City Techweek 100 list in 2015 & 2016.

patients about their spinal health along with healthy

Currently, Kelly serves as a network mentor for Pipe-

living habits so people stay healthier, longer. Chi-

line Entrepreneurs, is a certified Kauffman FastTrac

ropractic combined with yoga has allowed her pa-

facilitator, is a St. Louis Prosper Startup Accelerator

tients to achieve better health overall. This includes,

Advisor, and is a mentor for the Sprint Accelerator.

but not limited to, decreased stress, less aches and

She also assists Digital Sandbox in company selec-

pains and better sleep.

tion and advises students involved in the Blue Valley School CAPS program.

KELLY SIEVERS WOMEN’S CAPITAL CONNECTION: Kelly Sievers, Managing Director of the Women’s Capital


Connection, spent 18 years in the trenches of retail entrepreneurship. She has purchased, grown and sold four different retail businesses. She was owner and CEO of Scandia Down on the Country Club Plaza


in Kansas City, a business she sold in 2003.

culture of innovation, Gerald describes his success as

Kelly then spent five years as the Client Services Man-

global brands in marketing and communications. In

ager of the Women’s Business Center, where she consulted with entrepreneurs and helped develop pro-

25 years of “riding the digital wave” while consulting 2014, Gerald launched the progressive coworking brand Plexpod, which provides flexible office space 49

and amenities to entrepreneurs and growth-stage

cator. In just a little over a decade, Shanelle has im-

companies of all sizes. Plexpod is pioneering the

pacted the lives of many youth in Kansas City’s urban

sharing economy where member-companies share

core. Her career has humble beginnings where she

a world headquarters and enjoy access to meeting

started as a youth career counselor with the YO! Cen-

rooms, event space, digital maker space, kitchens,

ter of the Full Enployment Council. After becoming

fitness and gaming, and all within a next generation

an English Language Arts teacher, her work became

collaborative workspace. Plexpod is now expanding

centered around project-based learning. This ap-

to other cities and recently opened phase one of

proach to teaching and learning allowed her to initi-

Plexpod Westport Commons in Kansas City, which is

ate ongoing events such as the Imagine Renaissance

expected to be the world’s largest coworking cam-

Academy Spring Break College Tour, the University

pus at 360,000 square feet once completed.

Academy Annual HBCU panel, the UA Service Learn-

A musician, golfer, sailor and avid photographer, Gerald’s entrepreneurial adventures include riding a Harley Davidson from the tip of South America back to Kansas City as a charitable fundraiser. His travels have taken him to more than 100 countries, including volunteering at many of the global disaster sites over the last three decades. Gerald has served on a multitude of philanthropic boards and committees. He is a lifetime member of the Media Communications Association International and served on the Regional Board of Governors for the American Association of Advertising Agencies. He has enjoyed a variety of acknowledgements for his work including Telly, Addy, Aurora, and BMA awards. Gerald hold’s Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Business and is the recipient of an honorary Doctorate in 2013. He and Dianna have four children and reside near Kansas City.

KYLE J SMITH KCSOURCELINK: I’m Kansas City entrepreneurship’s biggest fan; and you should be too. My personal mission is to help others be as in love with and excited about Kansas City as I am. There’s no better place to live, work, play, and dream in the U.S. And I love that KC’s little bigness requires socially and civically-conscious citizens to thrive. So let’s make it happen.

SHANELLE SMITH UNIVERSITY ACADEMY: Shanelle Smith is a Kansas City native and secondary edu-


ing Club, the UA Sewing Club, and the establishment of a writing-based theater class, Novel Exploration. Shanelle’s commitment to education is echoed by her affiliation with educational and community organizations such as Leading Educators, Kansas City Teacher Residency, AMPLIFY, IAMKING Foundation, R.U.B.I.E.S., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and most recently, Kansas City PLUS. Shanelle currently resides in Kansas City with her husband and 2 young sons where she serves as a middle school English teacher at University Academy.

STEPHENIE K. SMITH YMCA OF GREATER KANSAS CITY – LINWOOD Y & JAMES B NUTTER SR. COMMUNITY CENTER: Stephenie K. Smith, MSW currently serves as Executive Director of the Linwood Y/ James B. Nutter Community Center for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City in Kansas City, Missouri. Stephenie is engaged in the revitalization of her community by leading strategic partnerships and program innovation. Her work is shaped by a holistic wellness approach, which develops relevant community and youth programming, membership engagement, and community building. It has resulted in thriving programs, and a successful $10.5 million capital campaign. That first phase completed February 2017 and the second phase, $5 million clinic, in partnership with Truman Medical Center, began Spring 2017.

In addition to serving on local and national commit-


tees and boards Mrs. Smith has valuable experience providing training and leadership, fund development, diversity and inclusion practices, and developing a cul-


ture of community and upward mobility. Stephenie’s


experiences span from community mobilization, trau-

wyn is the Co-Founder and Chief Innovative Trouble-

ma- informed care, community management practice,

maker at HINGE. . His expertise covers product and

mentoring, family and children services to domestic

brand strategy, design research & industrial design

abuse, family counseling, HIV/AIDS advocacy.

as applied through a human-centered process. Prior

Stephenie is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend who graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Social Work and Fisk University. She enjoys the fellowship and support of a diverse and committed community and believes the YMCA provides an excellent opportunity for servant leaders to thrive.

KRISTIN SMITHSON EWING MARION KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION: Kristin Smithson is a program officer in Kansas

to founding HINGE, Corwyn worked at R&D/Leverage where he pioneered the Leverage division building a team and process that culminated in the structural rebranding of DPSG’s iconic 7-UP CSD bottle. His background as a pioneer in business, products, and process has been leveraged in this new consultancy. He brings a wealth of brand planning, consumer insights, and design strategy expertise. For the past 15 years, he has guided Heinz North

City Civic for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation,

America, Dr.Pepper Snapple Group, Colgate-Pal-

where she is responsible for managing program in-

molive, LandO’ Lakes, TEVA, Sanofi, and AALIFE in

vestments that address various civic and social issues

New Zealand. His passion is applying human-cen-

in the Kansas City area. Previously, she was part of the

tered methodologies to businesses, brands, prod-

team to open the Kauffman Center for the Perform-

ucts and marketing strategies for his clients both

ing Arts and held various roles in fundraising, event

locally and globally.

planning, special projects and public relations.

DREW SOLOMON KANSAS CITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION: Drew Solomon is the Senior Vice President of Business Development for the EDC of

As an expert Design-Thinking educator, facilitator, and trainer, he works with early stage to fortune 100 companies teaching how human-centered design can improve product success by putting the end-user first.

Kansas City, Mo. He has a professional background

For the past three years Corwyn has lectured on

in Investment Fund Management, Economic and

Design-Thinking for the University of Utah Multidis-

Real Estate Development, and Technology. Mr. Solo-

ciplinary Design School and the University of Mis-

mon holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in

souri Kansas City’s Bloch School of Business in the

Economics, Business and Public Administration and

undergraduate, graduate, and Escholoars program.

is a graduate of the University of Missouri System.

At any given time he has 3-5 start-ups he is mentor-

Mr. Solomon also serves as the founder and Compe-

ing. Some of the companies include Wobblers, Keefe

tition Chairman for the LaunchKC Grant Competition

Cravat bow ties, Sandlot Goods, and more. Recently

and Techweek Kansas City.

he has made in roads into University of Central Mis-


souri to help consult and teach on design-thinking and Lego Serious Play methodologies.


He has been a long standing member of the Industri-


al Designers Society of America, holding leadership

Director Dre Taylor of Nile Valley Aquapoincs 100,000

positions, judging student merit competitions, and

Pound food Project has been urban and aquaponic

mentoring students at Kansas University’s industrial

farming for over 10 years in Kansas City, Mo. “Grow-

design program.

ing Your Community Food System” certification from

AWAIS SUFI SCHOOLSMARTKC ILYA TABAKH EDGE UP SPORTS CATINA K. TAYLOR JD DREAMS KC: Catina K. Taylor, a native of Kansas City, began her teaching career in July 2000. She responded to the call to fill the teacher shortage that was occurring in the Kansas City Public Schools. Working in public and private schools for the last 17 years, Catina has a developed a clear lens into education. She has been actively engaged with parents, teachers, civic leaders, politicians and administrators in both suburban and urban educational landscapes. She is also a constant advocate and resource for parents and colleagues. Catina has completed both the Lean Lab Fellowship and is a most recent graduate of the 4.0 Tiny Schools Fellowship where she just completed the initial pilot of DREAMS KC. In June 2017, Catina was selected from among her fellowship cohort to be a part of the Pathways Pilot Program, a partnership between 4.0 Schools and the New Schools Venture Fund. This will allow for a second pilot program where Catina and her team can double the number of students they serve as they prepare for Kindergarten Fall 2017. Catina has several degrees including a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Paralegal Certificate from Avila University. In 1999, she received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Kansas School of Law. Catina also completed several hours at Rockhurst

Growing Power inc. Growing Power is an intensive, hands on, training workshop offering diverse groups the opportunity to learn, plan, develop, operate, and sustain community food projects. Project participants leave the workshop with improved skills that they can take back into their communities and pass on to others. These workshops are for both rural and urban projects. Growing Power inc produces 1 million pounds of food on 3 acres. Dre has received a certification in Workshop in Business Opportunities (WIBO), 16-Week Workshop: How to Build a Growing Profitable Business is for people who are currently running a business or who plan to open a specific business within one year. Dre is the founding member of the mentorship Males to Men. Males to Men was established in 2013. Males to Men Mission is to raise strong, conscious, productive young men and re-establish accountable, responsible leadership in the community. There are more than 30 young men currently in the program, ranging in ages 7-17. Since starting in 2013 Males to Men has created partnerships with the University of Lincoln Missouri, Pinnacle Career Institute and the Black Pilot Association Dre Taylor is also the founder of The KC Urban Farm Coop where they will plant 200 fruit trees this year in the urban core making it one of the biggest fruit orchards in an urban setting in the country.

LEIGH ANNE TAYLOR KNIGHT THE DEBRUCE FOUNDATION: Dr. Leigh Anne Taylor Knight is Founding Direc-

University in the Masters of Education program. She

tor with ThinkShift, an initiative of The DeBruce Foun-

is certified in the State of MO to teach high school

dation located in Kansas City. Leigh Anne engages

Social Studies.

partnerships to redefine the path to preparedness in


the 21st Century and ensure democratized access to

Hogan Prep Academy students yearly achieve near-

upward mobility across the lifespan. Throughout her

ly a 100 percent graduation rate and matriculate to

career, she has been driven to lead the leveraging

colleges; Hogan Prep Academy students annually

of resources across sectors for innovative learning,

received over two million dollars collectively; Hogan

rigorous research and community collaboration in

Prep Academy was 1 of 3 winners in 2010 of the pres-

order to improve economic development and the

tigious College Board’s ‘Inspiration Award’; Hogan

quality of life. A teacher at heart, she has also served

Prep Academy was selected as 2010 Charter School

as a K-12 assistant superintendent, advised learning

of the Year in the state of Missouri; Hogan Prep

institutions across the nation and led a bi-state con-

Academy was rated in the ‘Top 400’ of Newsweek

sortium that provides powerful tools for data-driven

magazine list of ‘Best High Schools’ in the U.S.; Hogan Prep Academy

A musician, golfer, sailor and avid photographer, Gerald Smith's entrepreneurial adventures include riding a Harley Davidson from the tip of South America back to Kansas City as a charitable fundraiser.

is a Bronze level healthy school; All Hogan Prep Academy students are required to serve 25 hours per year of community ser-

educational research to inform practice and policy.

vice and complete 100 hours to graduate; Hogan

In her spare time, Leigh Anne enjoys watching her

Prep was awarded yearly substantial funding from

two sons play college baseball, practicing in her

the State Farm Insurance Company to plant and cul-

own kitchen to be the next Food Network Star and

tivate an organic school/community garden; Hogan

serving on the Mizzou Alumni Association Board of

Prep Academy added a Poetry Club, Science Club, Art

Directors. Dr. Taylor Knight holds graduate and ad-

Club, Chess Club, and Debate team to its extra-cur-

vanced degrees in educational leadership and policy

ricular activities for students; Hogan Prep Academy’s

from the University of Missouri, the University of Mis-

sports teams consistently participate in post-season

souri-Kansas City and the University of Kansas.

play, including a state championship in basketball in 2011; Dr. Tipton was awarded ‘Missouri Charter


School Administrator of the Year’ in 2009; Hogan Prep

2007, Dr. Danny L. Tipton, was selected as Principal of

Academy opened its Middle School in 2011; and its

Hogan Prep Academy High School and in 2012, be-

Elementary School in 2013. The Washington Post has

came Superintendent of Hogan Preparatory Acade-

selected Hogan Preparatory Academy several times

my District. Dr. Tipton earned his Bachelor’s degree

as a top 1000 High School in the United States.

in Education from the University of Central Missouri; he subsequently earned an Ed.S. in Urban Leadership – Administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and his Ed.D. in Education Leadership from St. Louis University. Before his arrival at Hogan Prep, he was a teacher, counselor and vice-principal at several area high schools.

Dr. Tipton was selected by the prestigious philanthropy, “Life-Touch” to join a group of administrative educators to volunteer their expertise to build a K-12 school in a rural portion of the Dominican Republic. Dr. Tipton has spent most of his education career serving students, parents, faculty and staff, in


schools that have made a commitment to advance

ing, community development, mental health, domestic

the educational life of underserved students.

violence, and social justice education and organizing.



John Tramel serves as the Associate Director of

and worked Kansas City all of my life. I choose to in-

Drumm Farm Center for Children. In this role, John

vest my time and talent in this community because

provides direction to all support programs of the

it raised me and I believe in the people that live

organization including Clinical Services, Compass

here. As a product of Kansas City Public Schools and

Independence Living Program, Education Support,

graduate of Paseo High School, I have always been

Food Services, and the Home Program for children in

passionate about the equitable and expansive edu-

foster care. Prior to joining the staff at Drumm Farm,

cation of children who live in my neighborhood. I am

John worked for 6 å_ years with the Independence

driven by the notion that if given enough education,

School District (ISD). John served ISD as the Director

exposure, and opportunity, the children that live in

of Family Services, providing leadership in the areas

this city may well change the world. After graduating

of: social services, McKinney-Vento homeless protec-

from Rockhurst University in 2005, I became a public school teacher and

As a product of Kansas City Public Schools, I have always been passionate about the equitable and expansive education of children who live in my neighborhood. I am driven by the notion that if given enough education, exposure, and opportunity, the children that live in this city may well change the world.

have remained in public education every since. Now that I have completed my Doctorate degree from Saint Louis University, I look forward to using all that I have learned to help support our district’s strategic ini-

tions and services, attendance interventions, caring

tiatives, build partnerships with our community, and

communities, and community development. In his

bring families back to Kansas City Public Schools.

role with ISD, John worked to create, implement, and sustain programs that built strength-based partner-


ships between families, schools, and communities to

experience ranging from corporate management to

ensure the safety, well-being, and educational suc-

business development to entrepreneurship, Sherry

cess of every child, and to improve the quality of life

Turner currently serves the Kansas City area through

in neighborhoods. John is also a founding organizer

her many leadership roles in local ventures. In 2009,

of Showing Up for Racial Justice Kansas City, a net-

she founded OneKC for Women, an umbrella alliance

work of anti-racist organizers seeking to engage and

that brings together the Women’s Employment Net-

mobilize white folks to join the multi-racial move-

work, Women’s Business Center, Women’s Capital

ment for racial justice.

Connection, and the WE-Lend Initiative, nonprofit

John has a master’s degree in social work and over 18 years of experience in the areas of community organiz-


organizations dedicated to providing resources, opportunities, and connections for women

These organizations are powerful advocates for

boards and committees. Her experience in coalition

women and are committed to assisting women on

building, grassroots organizing and facilitation is the

their quest for professional, financial, and personal

driving force in her endeavors in the community

self-sufficiency. By working together as OneKC for Women, the mission alignment of these organiza-


tions creates independence for women through

sistant City Manager for Entrepreneurship & Small

sustained employment, the advancement of women

Business and the City Manager’s liaison to the City

business owners in all stages of their businesses, and

Council’s Small Business, Entrepreneurship & Jobs

access to capital through angel investments and mi-

Committee. I am an Entrepreneur Ecosystem Build-

cro loans. Together, they work to achieve a common

er working with City Departments and our vibrant

goal, which is to empower women to achieve finan-

entrepreneur community partners to establish a

cial independence.

business-friendly customer service culture in City

Ms. Turner has a long history of working on behalf of Kansas City small businesses. She has previously served the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce as both a Business Information Specialist and the Director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, as well as the Kansas City Area Development Council. She

Hall and to make KC America’s Most Entrepreneurial City. In 2009, I led the effort to launch KCBIzCare, the City’s Business Customer Service Center, and the Business Advocates running this office have built the program into a nationally recognized best practice for local government.

believes Kansas City is a great place to grow a business

In March 2010, Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo, Assis-

and is committed to making the region a stronger en-

tant City Manager Kimiko Gilmore and I facilitated

trepreneurial community with a talented workforce.

the public-private GoogleKC Coalition’s response

Ms. Turner was selected as the 2015 Legacy Award recipient by Thinking Bigger Business Media, which honors exceptional leaders in Kansas City’s small business community. Ms. Turner holds a B.S. from Northwest Missouri State University and is a native of Kansas City.


to Google’s Fiber for Communities RFI. I assisted in the City’s negotiations with Google and in May 2011, Kansas City, Missouri joined our sister city, Kansas City, Kansas, as the first Google Fiber Communities. I am now the City’s Single Point of Contact managing the technical committee and participating in collaborative community efforts to ensure the successful deployment, implementation and use of the network. The City’s Smart City initiatives are emerging as the next big thing from these efforts.

able Neighborhoods Taskforce, Unified Government

I represent the City in the Coalition for Digital Inclu-

Kansas City, Kansas (KCK). In this role she is commit-

sion and am working with the Mayor’s Office and

ted to the Neighborhood Groups as they work with

Housing Authority on the implementation of the

the local government, partnering organizations and

White House/HUD ConnectHome initiative. In March

residents. She enjoys sharing the Kansas City, Kan-

2017, I coauthored the City’s Digital Equity Strategic

sas perspective to the coalitions and alliances that

Plan with was then adopted by the City Council.

she is working with and has a passion for improving the quality of life for residents of KCK. She serves on many civic and social service organizations’ advisory

As a Fiber to the Home (FTTH) and SMB class service initiative, we are looking for significant expansion


and success for Small-, Medium-sized Businesses,

Sheryl is licensed in Kansas and Missouri and earned

home-based businesses and work from home op-

her CCIM designation, in 2005. CCIM designees are

portunities for our citizens. We are assisting the effort

recognized as the leading experts in commercial in-

through the City’s permissive zoning regulations and

vestment real estate globally. She is also a member

building codes. These efforts are coming to fruition

of the Kansas City Business Magazine’s Kansas City’s

in the KC Startup Village, LaunchKC, Connecting for

Influential Women, Class of 2011, and was recently

Good and Surplus Exchange.

named as a Power Broker in Retail Leasing for 2012, 2013, and 2014 by the Costar Group. Sheryl is a board


member on the Prospect Business Association and

Managing Director of Mid-America Angels (MAA),

also chairs it’s Economic Development Sub-Commit-

the oldest and largest Kansas City-based angel

tee. Sheryl mentors up-and-coming commercial real

investment network, and is one of its founding or-

estate novices whenever possible.

ganizers. The MAA network began in 2006 and currently has 150+ members. As Managing Director, Rick is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the angel network. Before joining MAA, Rick was a two-time entrepreneur and spent a number of years in the mergers and acquisitions group at Hallmark Cards. Rick holds a BSBA in Economics from Missouri Western State University and an MBA in Finance from Rockhurst University.

She is currently working in collaboration with Clemons Real Estate in the Kansas City urban core to redevelop districts like the Linwood Shopping Center, The Shops on Blue Parkway, Linden Square, One North, and the Troost Corridor while still representing tenants who are looking to expand in the Kansas City and Surrounding markets. Sheryl Is an avid Airstreamer and owns her third Airstream Camper. And likes to hit the road in her “mo-


bile office” whenever possible to look for real estate

the owner of Select Sites Commercial Real Estate,

for her clients!

founded Select Sites LLC in 2005. Sheryl is a 22 year veteran of retail brokerage specializing in tenant


representation and mixed-use shopping center and

ated from Brown University with a dual degree in

entertainment district leasing.

Mathematics and Sanskrit. He then went on to do a

Sheryl has worked with retailers such as: Staples,

Fulbright Scholarship based in Mumbai, India.

Chipolte, First Watch, Primrose Schools, Family Dollar,

Upon finishing his Fulbright year, Aditya moved to

Ruby Jeans Juicery, Kiddie Depot, My Salon Suites,

Kansas City as a Teach for America Corps member

Massage Envy, BreakoutKC, Fat Brain Toys, Qdoba

where he taught at secondary mathematics at East

Mexican Grill, Whiskey Creek Steakhouse, Off Broad-

High School in Kansas City Public Schools. He is cur-

way Shoe Warehouse, Rack Room Shoes, Goodcents

rently working in the Kansas City area as Director of

Subs & Pasta, and Kilwins chocolates.

Community at The Lean Lab, where he supports ed-

Sheryl started her leasing career in the multifamily sector in Dallas, Texas in 1990. She moved into retail shopping center and entertainment district work in 1996, holding brokerage positions at RED Brokerage, Block and Company, Copaken-Brooks and Merrill Companies. 56

ucation entrepreneurs through a strong community and equity focus. He empowers parents, students and teachers to launch new education solutions, and pounds the pavement hunting for the next great education entrepreneurs.

Aditya’s hobbies include reading, hosting dinner

1984-2001; H&R Block Foundation – President 1984-

parties, and hosting dinner parties about reading.

1991; Chair of KC Charter Commission that rewrote the KC Charter; Co-chair LINCWorks – 1992-2015;

JANICE WAIT MOZILLA : Janice Wait is a Portfolio

Chair Missouri Welfare Reform Commission; Chair

Manager for Mozilla, a technology organization that

Missouri Job training Coordinating Council; married

strives to keep the internet open and accessible to all.

to my high school sweetheart, Linda. One son.

In her role, Janice focuses on identifying the opportual reality to create new opportunities for learning


in Kansas City and beyond. Janice previously spent

Space at the Johnson County Library where we help

more than a decade in Washington DC working on

patrons learn to use new equipment and software,

U.S. and global policies to increase access to interna-

troubleshoot technologies, find resources, and help

tional educational opportunities. Whether figuring

to foster the maker movement.

tunity potential for emerging technologies like vir-

out how to translate the latest tech or working to connect people and classrooms—or both—she is always looking to break down barriers to education and open new windows to the world!


I am also co-owner of Maker Village, a community woodworking and metalworking shop in midtown, and teach part-time at the Kansas City Art Institute’s FabLab. I get great satisfaction from empowering people through making, connecting people to the resourc-


es they need, and collaborating with other organiza-

Kansas City, MO native, works as part of the KC-

tions to make our community better.

SourceLink team to help coordinate Kansas City’s signature entrepreneurial events, connect entrepre-

RYAN WEBER KC TECH COUNCIL : Ryan currently serves

neurs to relevant resources, increase visibility of Re-

as President of the KC Tech Council, an industry as-

source Partners and build the KCSourceLink resource

sociation and regional advocate for Kansas City’s

network. She studied accounting and business for

tech industry. He represents KC’s tech industry inter-

her bachelor’s degree and proceeded to earn her

nationally as a board member, and treasurer, of the

master’s degree in business, which is also when she

Technology Councils of North America (TECNA), and

discovered her passion—entrepreneurship.

serves as a member of the Federal Tax Advisory Com-

An entrepreneur in her own right, Leslie understands

mittee for CompTIA.

how important it is to have the right team and re-

In 2013, Ryan was mentioned as a “Rising Star,” by

sources for survival and success.

KC Business Magazine and is a 2015 graduate of the Centurions Leadership Program. Recently, the Kan-


sas City Business Journal listed Ryan in the “Power

School Board member – NKCSD – 1994 to present;

100,” a list of the most influential business leaders in

Park University asst. professor 2010-present; UMKC

the KC region.

– Asst Vice Chancellor Institutional Advancement – 2001-2014; JE Dunn Construction project manager – 2001-2014; H&R Block Assistant to the Chairman –

Ryan is a member of the Summit Technology Academy advisory board and executive mentorship program for the College of Business at Kansas State 57

University, his Alma Mater. He is also involved with

Church Brookside, Sherwood Center, Kansas City

several other non-profit and charitable organiza-

Sports Commission & Marathon Committee, One by

tions in the region.

One Project, Conquer for Good Steering Committee and American Advertising Federation – Kansas City.


I am an avid Trolley Trail runner, triathlete and living

for Personal Power’s program director and founder,

proof that it is possible to be both a Cardinals and

Corinna West, is an Olympic athlete with lived expe-

Royals fan. Most importantly, I currently run two sep-

rience of mental illness recovery. She has a Masters

arate GoFundMe’s to ban onions and anything above

degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. She was a cat-

a no-show sock with shorts in the US.

alyst for the Creating Community Solutions national mental health dialogue project funded by the Greater Kansas City Healthcare Foundation. She was a Cohort VIII fellow of the Kansas Health foundation. She was recipient of the 2013 Judi Chamberlin award for advocate of the year of the Recovery movement or mental health civil rights movment. Corinna is a connector; a person who naturally builds coalitions,

CHRISTI WHITTIER USD #231 INDIA MARIE WILLIAMS KIPP ENDEAVOR ACADEMY : India Williams is a proud Kansas City, Mo native. She is currently the Director of KIPP Through College at KIPP Endeavor Academy. In addition to being the secretary & board member of Jackson County EITAS,

partnerships and collaborations.

and Big Brothers Big Sisters Diversity Task Force; Wil-


show, Generation Rap. Williams is a former Jackson

liams is also a manager & mentor for KPRS’ teen radio County Committeewoman of the 10th Ward, which


is in the south side of KC. As an elected official, she

director of taking people out to lunch/coffee/hap-

was responsible for voter registration, community

py hour, I focus on cultivating current client rela-

forums, and election operations within her Ward.

tionships, and developing new opportunities for

Williams previous professional experience includes

KC-based TV commercial production and post-pro-

recruiting at the largest higher education institution

duction companies Bark Productions and 19 Below.

in the country. In this role, she built relationships with

I have an extensive (ahem…eclectic…) resume of

students from all walks of life which is something she

developing, writing, directing and producing con-

enjoys greatly. She earned her Master Business Ad-

tent for film, television and digital media for compa-

ministration from the University of Phoenix-Kansas

nies like Happy Madison, The Biggest Loser and The

City. Williams has a Bachelor degree in Mass Commu-

Amazing Race. Prior to joining Bark and 19B, I served

nications from Doane College in Crete, Nebraska. Be-

as creative director and senior writer/video producer

fore moving back to Kansas City, MO, she was a tele-

for Cerner and helped to build their internal creative

vision producer at KTKA ABC 49 News in Topeka, KS.

agency. I am the founder of lifestyle blog Fiterature.

Williams has experience in radio, television and print;

com, and freelance slash volunteer often for local

in fact, she is a proud member of the Kansas City As-

companies as a writer and creative director at Me-

sociation for Black Journalists chapter. Williams was

gan White Copy&. I serve as a Jackson County Court

also the face of KC Career Girl, which was a UMKC

Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer, and

sponsored monthly television show. Although she

volunteer often for Kansas City-based organizations

values the world of politics and broadcasting, her

Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Christ Community

true passion is youth development.



grasp of how all departments impact the brand and

Philanthropy as both a fund raiser (in higher educa-

time to the entrepreneurial community as the lead

tion) and as a corporate and private foundation ex-

organizer for 1 Million Cups Kansas City, a member of

bottom line of a company. Courtney volunteers her

the Kansas City Crusaders and Top Gun

I get great satisfaction from empowering people through making, connecting people to the resources they need, and collaborating with other organizations to make our community better.

Kansas City.

MR. MURRAY L WOODARD II EWING MARION KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION: Murray L. Woodard, II is a program officer in Education for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he manages projects around community engagement. He supports education-focused initiatives through program development, project management, building relationships, and conducting research. He contrib-

ecutive, Gene Wilson has devoted his time in retire-

utes to all areas of education programming and

ment as a volunteer for nonprofit organizations that

grantmaking. Earlier, he was an external partnership

are addressing issues about which he is passionate.

coordinator for Kauffman Scholars, Inc., serving as

He has served in leadership roles in his professional

an integral part of the operations team. He was in-

fields, and on numerous national, regional and local

volved in all aspects of developing and maintaining

nonprofit boards. In Kansas City, he has been recog-

external program partnerships, corporate partner-

nized as Volunteer of the Year by Nonprofit Connect,

ships, and postsecondary initiatives.

and the Regional Leadership Award for his volunteering from the MidAmerica Regional Council.

COURTNEY WINDHOLZ PROOF INC: Courtney Windholz is entrusted with the operations at PROOF. PROOF is an insights company that evaluates and measures the emotions, motivations and preferences of customers. Traditionally educated as a molecular biologist, Courtney’s acute attention to detail proved highly valuable as she built a mergers and acquisitions firm from the ground up as the Operations Director. This experience not only gave her a comprehensive understanding of the financial and

ERIK WULSCHLEGER WEWORK KIMBERLY YOUNG KC ANIMAL HEALTH CORRIDOR LANDON YOUNG CREMA: Landon Young is a trans-disciplinary entrepreneur, researcher, and educator focused on high-impact technology innovation. Landon was named one of thirteen Kauffman Foundation Global Scholars in 2013, awarded the National Science Foundation Fellowship in 2011, and is the Founding Curator of the World Economic Forum Global Shaper Hub in Kansas City.

operational functions of a complex organization,

I seek to understand problems using empathy & data

but also her responsibilities to manage the sales and

analysis, create value by connecting people, ideas,

marketing activities contributed to her thorough

and resources, and believe in a higher purpose em-


bedded in the mundane. In my work, I harness my

and Mathematics as well as Assistant Superintendent

competitive and achieving nature to serve others.

of Curriculum and Instruction. Ziegler is a proven educational leader, with demonstrated excellence


in the development, implementation and manage-

reer story is divided into two distinct chapters with

was part of a district team implementing a large 1:1

a common theme, organizational leadership. In the

initiative supporting over 30,000 devices for students

first chapter of his professional life, he served as the

and staff. Recently, she supported one of the largest

leader in research and development in the telecom

implementation projects of the Project Lead the

communications industry. In 2007, he founded and

Way Launch curriculum; a K-5 STEM program made

ment of complex systemic projects. In 2014, Ziegler

I seek to understand problems using empathy & data analysis, create value by connecting people, ideas, and resources, and believe in a higher purpose embedded in the mundane.

possible by development of strategic business and community partnerships. Dr. Ziegler has 20 years of experience working in a leadership capacity in preK-12 education, with responsibilities


served as CEO of a company named Kyland USA an

from curriculum, instruction, and assessment to

industrial Ethernet communication manufacturer.

technology systems management and adult profes-

Pedro has experience in R&D, product development,

sional learning. She holds a B.S. in Molecular Biology,

traditional manufacturing organizations and has in-

M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction, M.S. in Education-

ternational sales and marketing experience from his

al Leadership, and Ph.D. in Special Education.

thirty year professional career. More recently, in his second chapter as an executive, Pedro has dedicated his leadership energies to the non-profit arena, particularly with the Kansas City Latino organizations, like Guadalupe Centers Inc. where he served as Board Chair, Alta Vista Charter School and the Terminal Railroad Guadalupe Credit Union, Olathe Latino Coalition, KCMO Downtown Council and the KC Economic Development Committee. Pedro’s current assignment at HEDC drew upon his former significant roles in both his for- and not-for-profit experiences.

DR. CHRISTY ZIEGLER SHAWNEE MISSION SCHOOL DISTRICT: Dr. Christy Ziegler proudly serves the Shawnee Mission School District as the Assistant Superintendent for Innovation and Performance. During her tenure with the district she has held roles including Director of STEM; Science, Technology, Engineering 60

In addition to serving prek-12 learners, Ziegler has over 10 years of experience as an adjunct faculty member teaching masters and doctoral level courses in educational research, leadership ethics, curriculum and instruction, and technologies to enhance learning.

The KC Connector Project enlists the expertise, and support, of NetForm® International, a data analytics company in social network analysis, learn more about NetForm’s projects and methodologies at: NetFormResources.com. This project is sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation—a private, non-profit foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri. The Kauffman Foundation’s mission focuses on advancing entrepreneurship, and improving the education of children and youth. Learn more about the Kauffman Foundation at: Kauffman.org. Top Connector bios are provided by each connector; digital and future prints copies of this document will continue to be updated. If you are a KC Top Connector, and would like to request additions or changes to your bio, people contact: Jocelyne@sna-connector.com. 61

The KC Connector Project is sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation with the help of NetForm® International, a data analytics company in social network analysis. NetForm® is mapping and measuring the formal and informal connections in the greater Kansas City area. These “social networks” and the connectors within them are the community’s heroes (at times, unsung heroes) that we spotlight in this little booklet. They are changing Kansas City for the better. Learn more at: KC-Connector.Kauffman.org, or contact us at info@sna-connector.com


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