Hosted by the CEO of Lillian James Creative, Aaron Fulk, The Cocktail Hour Podcast inspires and highlights women in business that are doing things that benefit society and go against the status quo. This program touches on topics that women in business battle with or are afraid to talk about. Each episode's guest shares ideas and concepts that are designed to motivate, inspire and challenge today’s businesswoman.
Ann Gaffigan has over 15 years of experience in business, non-profits, sports and technology. She started her first company shortly after graduating from the University of Nebraska in 2004 with her degree in computer science. Gazelle Inc provided affordable and reliable custom solutions in order to streamline and modernize the operations of non-profit organizations and businesses. A decade later, she became Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and part owner of Land Pros Realty, a real estate brokerage specializing in Midwest land. A few years later, Land Pros merged with National Land Realty, a nationwide land real estate company, and Gaffigan became CTO and part owner. In late 2019, she embarked on a new journey to find new career challenges. As a result, she will be starting a new role in March 2020 that will be announced soon. Gaffigan lives in Olathe with her husband Jason High, an MMA fighter and realtor, and their daughter Jaelyn. A former professional athlete, Gaffigan won the 3000m Steeplechase at the 2004 Olympic Trials, setting an American and U.S. All-Comers Record. She believes strongly in equality and in giving back to your community and is a big supporter of WIN for KC, KC Women in Tech, Women Leaders in College Sports and Girls Inc.
Mary Shannon is the founder of Connectus Worldwide, a professional business consulting firm specializing in the delivery of services to Small, Minority, Woman-owned, Veteran, and LGBTQ Business Enterprises, as well as majority organizations seeking to connect and do business with diverse businesses. She is passionate about her work and possesses decades of experience and knowledge that blends corporate strategy and business solutions with entrepreneurial spirit and personalized service.
The services she provides include pre-application for certification, coaching and development, and access to corporate and government contacts for diverse businesses to succeed and accomplish their goals and objectives. Connectus Worldwide offers Supplier Diversity Program development, and Public Participation & Engagement Consulting for corporate and public organizations wanting to become more intertwined in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Prior to starting Connectus Worldwide, Mary managed a supplier diversity program for a Multi-Billion Dollar company for several years. She developed a proactive program for supplier identification, supplier growth and development, strategic planning, and program measurement, which resulted in increased and effective utilization of diverse suppliers throughout the corporation. In her role, Mary collaborated with internal executives, business partners, and stakeholders, as well as external colleagues across the country for the betterment of her program.
Mary served two consecutive terms as co-chair of the National Minority Supplier Development Council’s (NMSDC) “The Working Group.” The group is comprised of 25 product and consumer companies such as: ADM, Cargill, Colgate-Palmolive, Disney, Johnson & Johnson, MillerCoors, Medtronic, Monsanto, Pfizer, and P&G.
Mary is on the Leadership Council for the National Small Business Association in Washington D.C. She is a graduate of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Globe Program (Global Leadership Opportunities for Business Executives). She is a Black Achiever in Business and Industry, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater KC and the Black Achievers Society. She is honored to have a published piece on Supplier Diversity and Certification, in the 2018/2019 Thinking Bigger Business Media Entrepreneurs Guide.
Erica Brune is President of Lever1, a Kansas City-based professional employer organization (PEO) providing human resources, payroll and employee benefit solutions. Within five years of launching Lever1, Erica helped drive the company to become Missouri’s Fastest Growing Company of 2017—ranked No. 44 in the nation by Inc. Magazine and Women Presidents' Organization recently named Erica No. 4 in The 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies 2018. With Erica’s guidance, Lever1 has secured an industry-wide reputation of excellence, operational reliability and thought leadership.
Erica Brune holds a dual role as CAO of an Inc. 500/5000 Fastest Growing Company, Blue Chair Holdings – which includes subsidiary Gragg Advertising. Honored among Kansas City Business Journal’s 2016 Women Who Mean Business, 2019 Fast 50 and the Leadership Trust, Lever1 has also been recognized as 2017’s Top 25 KC Companies by Thinking Bigger Business and recognition as 2017 and 2018 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist.
Erica currently serves as President for the Kansas City chapter of NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) as well as other Boards both regionally and nationally.
Erica is also seen regularly speaking across the nation as an expert in human capital management and business growth strategies with topics such as pay equity, HR for your small business and recruiting top talent to grow your business. Erica's expertise has been shared in renowned publications including Kansas City Business Journal, National Apartment Association and Thinking Bigger Business.
Jessica is a Motivational Speaker, the Founder and President of Giving Hope & Help Inc., “Voice of the voiceless”, survivor and advocate for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, education and cancer support advocate, philanthropist, humanitarian, and radio/internet talk show host of PURPOSE, PASSION & POWER With Jessica Lynn on KUAW.org (Kansas City’s Global Community Radio Station). Jessica has received several awards including the 2019 - I Change Nations Community Ambassador Award. She was honored as the 1st Kansas City Mom of the Year 2019, by Magic 107.3 Radio Station. She’s also a 2019 Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. - Women of Courage Award Recipient, a 2018 Women of Distinction of Jackson County Honoree and a 2017 LIFT HER UP Honoree, based on her philanthropic work, humanitarianism and leadership with Giving Hope & Help Inc. She will accept the Nefertiti Award from the Greater Kansas City Chapter of Societas Docta, Inc. March 28, 2020.
She is a 1st generation graduate from Southern University and A&M College – Baton Rouge, LA, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Marketing. She also holds a Master’s of Science in Business Management (MSM) from Baker University – Baldwin City, KS. She is the 2014 Grand Prize Winner of the Be Your Possible Essay Contest sponsored by Barclaycard MasterCard. Jessica holds over twenty years of sales and management experience including ten years of pharmaceutical and medical sales experience. She is an Independent Corporate Trainer/Facilitator; an active member of the Kansas City Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Central Exchange, Polka Dot Powerhouse – Kansas City, KS Chapter, Sister’s Circle-GKC, Southern University And A&M College Alumni Federation, an INROADS Kansas City Inc. Alumna and a faithful member of City Center Church.
Polly began her career as a physical therapist, studying at the University of Missouri, where she also met her husband Eric. While she maintained a passion for healthcare, she quickly learned that direct healthcare delivery was not where she wanted to focus her career. She joined Harcourt Health Sciences as a medical sales representative in 1999 and realized she had a passion for sales. In 2001 she joined Cerner Corporation in the healthcare consulting practice. Polly spent nine years working at Cerner Corporation, utilizing her clinic experience to help optimize clinical process utilizing technology and implementing Cerner’s onsite health center for employees. In Cerner’s executive development program Polly held a variety of roles including consulting, international assignments and led the organizational change management group of 150 clinicians focusing on changing healthcare delivery in her last position there. Her most proud accomplishment at Cerner was creating and implementing their onsite health clinic for employees. Polly joined CBIZ an employee benefits consulting firm, as a benefits consultant in 2009 and has held several positions in the company. In September of 2016, Polly was appointed President of the Kansas City CBIZ Employee Benefits practice, a division of CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services, Inc. During her tenure with CBIZ, Polly created the national onsite clinic consulting practice and assisted many clients with developing comprehensive total reward programs that retain and attract talent. Her current focus as President of the Kansas City Employee Benefits division is organizational culture, growth strategy and client retention.
Polly and Eric have two children, Ella and Owen and recently a puppy named Mae, or Mary Puppins as Ella and Owen like to call her.
Alicia Hooks is the Director of Technology & Workforce Development at the Kansas City Kansas Community College serving the communities of the Greater Kansas City area, Wyandotte and Leavenworth Counties. When originally tasked with creating an Entrepreneurial program/center for area businesses and entrepreneurs, over 300 entrepreneurs were assisted in the first 3 years. In October of the following year, she was given the additional responsibility of the Workforce and Career Center. Since then she has initiated innovative programs and services with business and industry resulting in being asked to be a contributing author in a revised training text for workforce leaders.
Dr. Hooks additionally is the CEO of BRP Counseling Services, Inc., founded in 1994, the President of BRP Enterprises LLC, and a public speaker who has spoken at regional and national conferences. She has been a faculty member at the University of Phoenix and Ottawa University in the areas of psychology and substance abuse. Dr. Hooks is a published author, has been featured in national magazines, on at least two cable television shows, and is a contributing writer to an international blog for women of color. Previously she worked in the capacity of Executive Director, Operations Manager, Clinical Director, Intervention Specialist, Instructor, Trainer, and Counselor at various facilities. She has personally assisted numerous for profit and not-for-profit businesses in organizational start-up and growth; and has conducted workshops/seminars on a variety of topics.
Dr. Hooks’ governmental experience includes having served as the Senior Constituent Services Aide to Congressman Dennis Moore and Legislative Aide to State Senator David Haley supporting her knowledge base for helping contractors obtain state and federal contracts.
Jy’Juan Maze (better known as Jy) is the President of Maze Freight Solutions. She has been in transportation and supply chain management for over 10 years. Her sales success with large and small companies, along with the lack of diversity in the industry, led to the founding of Maze Freight Solutions in 2017. The company, which emphasizes integrity, quality, and superior customer service, has experienced phenomenal growth since its inception.Prior to founding Maze Freight Solutions, Jy worked as a Freight Broker for Freightquote.com, an award-winning software-based freight solutions company. For half of her almost decade long career there, she led the sales team and still holds the record for highest full truckload freight sales. Her resiliency and keen ability to connect with, and solve the problems of her customers continues to contribute to her success.
Jy Maze LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jy-maze-0a23a8156/
A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Joni and her indisputable southern accent arrived in Kansas City almost 10 years ago after leading initiatives within state and federal government as well as advocacy organizations. In her eight years with the mayor’s office—the majority of them spent as Chief of Staff—Joni has proven herself as an accomplished political strategist, communications expert, and organizational leader. She directed public policy initiatives, communications tactics, and administrative decision-making during her tenure, all while promoting women’s leadership and empowerment issues. An artful negotiator, Joni helped steer Sly’s major development projects in Kansas City while raising the city’s profile at the national and international levels. Her front-row seat at city hall shed light on how local government is still very much a man’s world, and this motivated her to create a first-of-its-kind women’s empowerment initiative, which has been implemented in several major cities.
Prior to her time at city hall, Joni worked with the American Federation of Teachers, the Missouri Department of Transportation, and in the office of Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. While a student at Meredith College, where Joni received her Bachelor of Arts in political studies, she studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia. An accomplished alumnus of University of Missouri where she earned her Masters of Arts in political science, Joni was the recipient of the 2019 University of Missouri Truman School of Public Affairs Mel Carnahan Public Service Award.
Joni has authored a LinkedIn series addressing the unique workplace challenges women face surrounding conflict.
Born and raised in the greater Kansas City area, Hailee Bland-Walsh, returned to the Midwest in large part to contribute to a community that welcomes entrepreneurs to pursue their passions. Hailee spent eight years in the San Francisco area honing her fitness and business acumen and then upon her return to Kansas City took her passion, drive, and expertise to the next level with the opening of City Gym KC in 2011.
Over the course of eight plus years, membership has grown 50% each year, with over 2,000 members to date. City Gym—Waldo, underwent a $250,000 expansion in January 2014 and currently has 11,600 square feet of space.
City Gym KC employs 60 full and part time employees, as well, as 15 personal trainers including Hailee herself. City Gym KC has been named “Waldo’s Best” twice by the Waldo Business Association, “Best Studio” by KC Fitness Magazine and was awarded, “25 Under 25” by Thinking Bigger Business. Personal accomplishments include, Hailee being named, “Best Female Trainer in KC” by KC Fitness Magazine and “Best Trainer" by KC Magazine, twice. Hailee was named to the 2017 class of, “Women Who Mean Business.”
In addition to her work with City Gym, Hailee is an entrepreneurial consultant working with individuals and companies looking to grow themselves and their businesses. Hailee is also an engaging speaker on topics ranging from fitness to company culture.
Hailee was a Division I student-athlete at the University of Minnesota in soccer. After time in the professional ranks, Hailee turned her attention to her true calling – connecting people to their best selves through healthy lifestyles.
Hailee drives to break barriers as one of only a handful of female gym owners in the nation. The creation of City Gym KC has been one of Hailee’s greatest accomplishments so far, yet her work is not done.
Meredith Suarez is a dedicated nonprofit leader with over 10 years of experience in the sector. For the past six years, Meredith has been part of the growing team at Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City, joining the organization in 2013 as a Development Officer and promoted to her current role as Director of Development & Marketing in 2016. She currently serves as on the senior leadership team at Junior Achievement and has raised over $5M in revenue during her tenure to advance the future of KC kids. With her roots in the performing arts, Meredith holds a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance from Northern Illinois University, a Master of Arts Management in Nonprofit Management from Columbia College Chicago, and is a 2017 graduate of the Central Exchange Emerging Leaders Program. In addition to her professional experience, Meredith enjoys reading, nerding out on NPR, and attending family-friendly events with her husband Alberto and dynamic 7-year old son.
Gloria Squitiro is the birth mother of Tara and Andrew, and the cosmic mother of Alex, Nick, Pipo and Anna.
Squitiro has an INFJ personality (introverted, intuitive, feeling, judging). She is an advocate and a dreamer who takes concrete steps to realize her goals and make a lasting, positive impact. Helping others is her purpose, but not through charity. Her passion is to get to the heart of issues so people need not be rescued at all.
Gloria has been married to her husband (Funk) for over 40 years. She became his campaign manager by default, and has the rare distinction of being the only First Lady in America that was legally banned from the City Hall office where her husband, the mayor, worked.
Squitiro has a bachelor's in psychology and is published in Harper’s Magazine. Her memoir, May Cause Drowsiness and Blurred Vision: The Side Effects of Bravery, is the first in her three-book C’mon Funk series. She lives in Washington, DC, surrounded by some of her flock
It’s her calling to make every husband on earth feel grateful they’re not married to her.
Michelle P. Wimes serves as the Chief Diversity and Professional Development Officer at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., one of the nation’s largest labor and employment law firms. In her role, Michelle leads the firm’s efforts to attract, develop, retain, promote and advance a diverse group of attorneys across the firm’s national platform of 53 offices in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Additionally, Michelle leads the firm’s attorney training and professional development efforts. She is based in Ogletree Deakins’ Kansas City office.
Jeannette Cox is Vice President Oddo Development overseeing development and operations for residential, multi-family and commercial real estate. Ms. Cox has over 15 years of successful experience in development and property management with particular strengths in leadership, owner/manager communications and company strategies. Ms. Cox is serves on the board for the National Apartment Association. Ms. Cox earned a bachelor degree in Business Administration, holds her CAPS certification and graduate of NAA Lyceum. Ms. Cox is a strong advocate for continual learning and education and is a national speaker specializing in new development, operations and bridging generational gaps in the workplace. Ms. Cox is a proud mother and enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and giving back to communities in which she lives and works.
Jessica returned to the Kansas City Sports Commission in September of 2018 as the Director of the Women’s Intersport Network for Kansas City after 11 years, having started her career with WIN in 2003 as an intern and then the Program and Media Relations Coordinator.
Jessica has spent 15 years in the non-profit sector, specifically in events and marketing. After four years at the KC Sports Commission, she moved on to the Women’s Sports Foundation in New York and then, Atlanta. In her time there, Jessica had the opportunity to work with sports greats like Billie Jean King, Michelle Kwan, Aimee Mullins, Julie Foudy and Jessica Mendoza, managing the organization’s major fundraisers and community events.
She then took a role at Teach For America where she led the national events marketing team that served as the internal events agency to the organization’s 54 regional offices and five national departments. While there, she was tapped to lead the event marketing and experiential components for TFA’s 25th Anniversary Summit. She later joined staff at Visit KC allowing her to focus her time and efforts back in the Kansas City community as the Director of Partnerships & Events.
Jessica grew up in Manhattan, KS, played softball for two years at Johnson County Community College and then graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Communications. She is currently working on her Master’s in Organizational Development & Leadership at Rockhurst University. She lives in downtown KCMO with her wife, Julie, and two dogs.
As Vice President of Business Development for the Kansas City Market, Lynn leads business development efforts for the Kansas City region for McCownGordon Construction.
Lynn has over 20 years of broad-based experience in non-profit leadership, private industry, regional economic development, and local government management. Previous to her role with McCownGordon, Lynn served as President & CEO of the American Royal Association. Lynn has also served in leadership roles in sales & marketing and corporate communications for Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc and worked six years as Vice President of Bioscience Development for the Kansas City Area Development Council where she directed a team in the creation, launch, and successful execution of the KC Animal Health Corridor brand. Parman also held vice president roles in economic development and business development at Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce respectively.
Parman holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Administration from Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute.
Dr. Allison Edwards aims to change the manner in which healthcare is delivered, putting the emphasis on keeping people well rather than solely stepping in and treating the sick. Her professional interests and areas of expertise include public health, women’s health, preventive medicine, and emergency medicine. Originally from Lawrence, Dr. Edwards spent her undergraduate years at Drake University in Des Moines, IA before returning to Kansas City for medical school at the University of Kansas. From there, she completed her residency and served as Chief Resident at the University of Colorado in Denver, CO and is currently board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. In addition to providing care at KCDPC, she volunteers at the JayDoc Free Clinic and serves as a Volunteer Clinical Assistant Professor for the University of Kansas and a Volunteer Clinical Instructor for the University of Colorado, allowing her to continue to educate the next generation of healers. In her free time, she loves spending time with family and pursuing hobbies including photography, travel, gardening, cooking, being outdoors, and reading the newspaper over a cup of coffee.
Dr. Pam Shaw is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Kansas Medical Center. For the university, she is the Assistant Dean for Clinical Sciences and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Services. She has served as president of the Kansas Chapter of the AAP and recently completed 6 years as the District Chair and board member for District VI for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
She has been involved in training for the chapter to help private practice physicians offer evidence based and quality care to children including developmental screening, mental health screening, detection and treatment of obesity and oral health services and immunizations. Part of her new job is providing student services to students from the medical school, nursing school and health professions.
Her undergraduate degree was in Human Biology at the University of Kansas. She attended medical school and did her pediatric residency at the University of Kansas. After experiencing private practice, Dr. Shaw returned to the University of Kansas in 1990 where she has been involved in the teaching and practice of general pediatrics since then. She is married and has three sons and one daughter in law. She loves to read and travel and watch sporting events, especially KU basketball.
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 operational functions of a complex organization, but also her responsibilities to manage the sales and marketing activities contributed to her thorough grasp of how all departments impact the brand and bottom line of a company.
Courtney currently is the volunteer chairperson for the KC Golf Classic where she oversees 500 volunteers for Kansas City’s largest golf event in Kansas City. She was the former lead organizer at 1 Million Cups, a Kauffman entrepreneurship organization that allows entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase their business and collaborate with other entrepreneurs and business leaders in the community.
Courtnay is the Founder and Chief Purpose Officer at Trilogie. One of her main goals is to have fun and enjoy each and every client and project. She has nearly 25 years of sales and client relationship management experience and has been in the commercial interiors and contract furniture industry for 15 years. In 2009 she started Trilogie with the sole purpose of creating kick ass workspaces that help organizations thrive.
Jolie Justus is the Director of Pro Bono Services for Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P., where she is a champion for Kansas City’s most vulnerable citizens, helping juveniles and foster children get better representation.
Prior to serving on the City Council, Jolie represented the Kansas City area in the Missouri State Senate. There, she earned a reputation for getting things done and working across party lines to find areas of common ground. One of her most significant accomplishments was an overhaul of the state’s criminal justice code that brought out-of-date policies from the 1970s into the 21st Century. The badly needed criminal justice reform was lauded by prosecutors, law enforcement, defense lawyers and victims’ advocates for creating a system that was more just, more fair, and more effective.
While in Jefferson City, she served as the Senate Democratic Leader and was the chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Progress and Development and ranking member of both the Judiciary Committee and the Senate’s Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government.
Colonel (Ret) Suzanne Wheeler is a lifetime Kansas resident who commissioned from the Jawhawk R.O.T. C. Battalion and has a bachelors degrees in Psychology and Special Education from Emporia State University. She earned her Masters of Arts in International Policy and Strategic Studies at the United States Army War College. She held commands at the Company, Battalion, and Brigade levels and is a combat veteran. Wheeler was the most senior out transgender active duty military member at the time of her retirement. She played a significant role in the lifting of the transgender ban and the development of policies to integrate transgender military members.
Suzanne currently serves as a Senior Program Coordinator at the Collaborative to Advance Health Services at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, School of Nursing and Health Sciences. In her role with the Collaborative, she facilitates numerous projects focused on training the U.S. HIV workforce, reproductive health providers, and substance abuse prevention professionals. Many of these projects are focused on improving cultural competence and service delivery to the LGBTQ+ community.
She is a well-known and published policy advocate who assisted numerous governmental, for-profit, and non-profit organizations, businesses, with improving their outcomes by cultivating their inclusion of transgender and veteran employees, patients, and customers. She has testified multiple times in front of the Senate and House Armed services committees. Her most recent testimony concerned the reinstatement of the ban on transgender military members. Suzanne is involved with advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQIA and Veterans communities by serving on several committees and boards at the local, state, and national level.
Suzanne lives in Mission Kansas with her fiancé and partner Marsha. She is the parent of four children. In her spare time, she enjoys crafting, bike riding, attending theater productions, the symphony, and traveling.
Karen Crnkovich, a life-long, natural-born, sales person, has spent her entire life ‘selling’. She has diverse experience in both roles and industries. From administrative assistant to Director of Sales & Marketing in the hospitality, web-development, commercial printing, real estate and HVAC/plumbing fields; she has a track record of success in both long and short cycle situations. In short, Karen can sell anything to anyone. During her time in the hotel industry, she won numerous national awards, including Sales Executive of the Year, Director of Sales & Marketing of the Year and twice as the “Pit-Bull” Sales Person of the Year.
Her involvement with DMC Service dates back to the early days. Karen went from being the ‘ride-along/flash-light’ holder, to taking over all accounting, HR and marketing functions in 2010. That same year Karen started classes to learn the industry.
In 2012, Karen officially bought into DMC as 51% owner. In 2014, DMC was certified by the State of KS as a DBE/WBE company. This same year, Karen began overseeing all business operations of the company – including project management, dispatching and scheduling technicians in the field. When, in 2015, the founder decided he had other dreams to pursue, he sold the remaining 49% shares to Karen.
Since then DMC Service has doubled in revenues and is projecting to continue on growth trajectory.
Karen is an active community volunteer, currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Junior League of Kansas City, MO and as PTO President at her youngest daughter’s school. She is a proud step parent to three great kids and two 4.5lb fur babies.
Crystal Rose is a performing singer songwriter based in Kansas City. She’s opened for artists such as Alice Merton, Trombone Shorty and Flint Eastwood, among others. She’s earned slots on some of KC’s biggest lineups like Boulevardia, and Middle of The Map Fest. Crystal Rose was also seen on Season 16 of NBC’s “The Voice”. Catch her upcoming performance at Boulevardia Fest, June 15th at 8pm.
Michelle Gines, Founder of Purpose Publishing, is a 20 year digital & print media executive with extensive sales and marketing experience in books, consumer and B2B markets. Her background includes new media product development, sales management of domestic and international operations teams, brand-building, event management, marketing and public relations. She also consults with several small-medium sized businesses and is considered one of the foremost authorities on media and marketing.
Prior to founding Purpose Publishing, Mrs. Gines held management positions at Hallmark Cards, RH Donnelly, Dax Media along with marketing credits in nonprofit work with Urban League, Samuel Rodgers Health Center and New Life in Christ International Ministries.
She has also consulted with publishing industry professionals worldwide, and has worked with media conglomerates in China, Singapore, Indonesia and Europe, including some of the largest publishers in Asia and South America. Domestically, she has worked with Today's Purpose Woman Magazine, Pneuma Magazine, 7000 More Covenant Magazine, In His Will publications & Morris Visitor Publications, amongst others.
Mrs. Gines has also worked with hundreds of authors in helping them make their author vision, visible. Mrs. Gines has a unique ability to cross-reference from her diverse media career to bring a fresh and relevant 360 degree perspective to every client she encounters.
Kori Carew is an attorney and community builder who generates awareness and understanding of critical human issues by creating the space and climate for open dialogue that is meaningful, enables people to expand their perspective and drive positive change.
With grace and truth, she is a disruptor, womanist and social justice advocate. With a multi-national, multi-religious, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual family background, she brings a keen sensitivity to belonging and inclusion across differences and creating space for the under-represented. Kori questions barriers that divide communities and hold back individual potential, and at the center of her perspectives and passion is her faith. Kori was born in Canada, is from Sierra Leone and was raised in Nigeria pushing against paradigms that attempt to dictate the direction of individual choices and -isms that divide communities.
Kori most recently served as the Director of Strategic Diversity Initiatives of an AmLaw 100 law firm, leading all efforts related to the firm’s primary diversity and inclusion drivers of excellence, education and equity across 12 offices. Liaising with key stakeholders to recruit, develop, engage, and advance attorneys from diverse backgrounds, the firm won over 40 awards recognizing its leadership in diversity and inclusion under her leadership. She took an innovative and proactive approach to tackling diversity and inclusion by embracing talent management, inclusive leadership development and assessing and interrupting systems.
Using advocacy and organizational strategy to address structural barriers to diversity in the workplace, she brings an incisive voice, unapologetic questioning of the status quo, and a lifelong fascination of human potential to empowering women and marginalized people and improving inclusion. She is a nationally sought-after speaker on diversity, inclusion and belonging, inclusive leadership, talent engagement and development topics.
Kori's drive toward redefining the circle of belonging and restoring authenticity fuels her work in the marketplace as well as in her community. She is wife to Gary and mother to Riley and Samarah.
In her role as Market President and Publisher, Stacie Prosser leads the KCBJ team to execute the mission of helping local executives and entrepreneurs grow their businesses, advance their careers and simplify their professional lives. She has been with the KCBJ for more than 20 years and served in both sales and management roles prior to being named to her current position in 2014. Prosser currently serves on several civic and philanthropic boards including: The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, KCADC, KU Advancement Board, JDRF of Kansas City and the Ronald McDonald House of Kansas City. She and her husband live in Shawnee and have 3 children.
BINDU LOKRE, CO-FOUNDER / MANAGING PARTNER
From MTV Networks to MAC Cosmetics, to Blowpro Haircare to Satya Jewelry, Bindu has dedicated her career to building strategic marketing partnerships and creating innovative ways to service consumers worldwide. She brings an array of expertise in global marketing and ecommerce and she aspires to deliver the best multi-channel experience for consumers.
After graduating from The George Washington University, She moved to New York City to develop multi-million dollar, integrated marketing and sponsorship programs across MTV Networks programming and events. Her love for travel and new cultural experiences lead her to her next role at MAC Cosmetics to institute a global marketing strategy across twenty countries to create brand awareness and widen product distribution through online and mobile channels. Since then, she has provided lifestyle brands with a focused branding and marketing foundation to reach their goals across various channels.
Most recently, Bindu has been building out Consciously Unbiased which is an organization committed to generating and supporting the best ideas and action on implicit bias and creating inclusive and equitable communities for ALL. We aspire to spotlight the need for inclusivity across all biases and provide experiences that will encourage habit-changing behavior, resulting in a more equitable existence.
Bindu resides in Hoboken with her husband and two young children.
Follow Consciously Unbiased on their Instagram: @consciouslyunbiased_
Andrea joined VaynerMedia as its first ever Chief Marketing Officer, overseeing the business and the brand. VaynerMedia is a full-service marketing agency built for the now. Founded by entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, VaynerMedia celebrates his “hustle” and vision for seeking underpriced attention, connecting to culture and telling stories that connect with empathy. Celebrating its 10 year anniversary, the agency is growing its 600+ employees currently in New York, Los Angeles, Chattanooga and London to Singapore and beyond in 2019.
Andrea was with Omnicom and Interbrand for 16 years, most recently as their global Chief Marketing Officer. Personally committed to establishing gender equality, Andrea is a board member of the United Nations Association of New York, helping to stake a stand on issues including human trafficking. She is also a board member of the Ad Council, the Miami Ad School, WE.org, and is a professor in the Masters in Branding program at the School of Visual Arts.
Andrea is a feminist, activist, triathlete, enthusiastic dancer, wife and mother.
As founder and CEO of Veracity, Angela Hurt oversees the strategic direction of the Kansas City-based company, a tech consulting team of problem-solvers and truth-tellers who deliver customized IT solutions for its customers in the commercial and government sectors. The company seeks to bridge the gap between business and technology while always staying transparent and authentic.
Under Angela’s leadership, the company also places a high value on giving back to the community and intentionally fosters a culture of giving. Leading by example, Angela has implemented a profit-sharing program that connects employee contributions to the growth of the company, while externally she invests a portion of profits each year to community programs.
She is a passionate advocate for women, especially in the areas of unemployment and underemployment, and works to help girls and women gain confidence and leadership skills through her ongoing work with the Women’s Intersport Network for Kansas City (WIN for KC). She is the Board President for Women’s Employment Network, a Board member for the Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation and also serves on the Board for Executive Center of Johnson County (ECJC). She is an active fundraiser and has been the co-chair for the 2016 Go Red for Women luncheon, the 2017 Women’s Employment Network luncheon, the 2018 ArtsKC Breakfast, and most recently the 2019 WIN for KC Awards Luncheon.
Angela also participates in various STEM, entrepreneurial and mentoring initiatives, and advocates for organizations. In addition to nonprofit boards, she’s a mentor in the Helzberg Entrepreneur Mentoring Program and the Steve Metzler Mentoring Program through the Mid-America Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
She has been recognized as a Kansas City Business Journal Women Who Mean Business, a Kansas City Rising Star, one of KC’s Most Influential Women and a STEMMY award for Enterprising Innovator by the Central Exchange. Veracity was honored as the Woman-Owned Business of the Year for Professional Services by the State of Kansas in 2013, a Top 10 Small Business of the Year in 2016 and 2018, as the Diverse Small Business of the Year by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce in 2018 and a Champions of Business recipient in 2016 and 2018 by the Kansas City Business Journal.
Nicole Jacobs-Silvey is a community-minded connector who strives to empower others to live their best lives. With 20+ years in the not-for-profit sector, she is both mission-driven and passionate about Kansas City, the community she calls home.
Nicole is the Founder and President of Connection Coach KC, where she focuses on connecting people to their purpose and passion so they can reach their potential. Nicole helps clients connect with others in authentic ways through intentional networking mapping and relationship building. In addition, Connection Coach KC consults with not-for-profit organizations to increase board diversity through a training series called At the Table. This training series coaches boards in the recruitment and retention of diverse board members by exploring implicit bias and helping to create a pipeline of candidates.
Nicole is the Co-Founder of the Sisters’ Circle GKC, a giving circle for African American women, and the Rise Tribe, a group of African American women who host a podcast addressing the unique complexities of life for people of color.
Laura Lee Jones, CEO & President, founded LionShare® in 1995. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has dedicated most of her career to healthcare analytics and marketing. Together with her "Best Places to Work" award-winning team, LionShare® has achieved national recognition as a leading healthcare firm. LionShare® has guided hundreds of hospitals in their quest to link data analytics to decision insights, better outcomes and marketing execution with the use of DIATA- their Business Intelligence and CRM platform. When not in work mode, Laura Lee enjoys watching her daughter play soccer, working out, or training Dobermans.
Sylvia Hall is the cofounder of LIFTED and is the creator of multiple probiotics designed to decrease anxiety and enhance mood. She lives in Kansas City with her family of 2 kids, 2 dogs, and one husband (her fellow cofounder). Sylvia is wildly optimistic about our capacity to feel better.
Lesley brings a dynamic mix of events and catering experience, sales and marketing acumen, and operational insights to her role as Resident District Manager for Bon Appétit at LinkedIn. She started her career in a high-tech startup, ventured out to work internationally, and then transitioned into leading hotel groups such as Kimpton and Viceroy. As a whole, Lesley is dedicated to delivering impactful and memorable experiences to both clients and employees alike. She believes her corporate background, coupled with her passion for hospitality and people have resulted in a perfect match with Bon Appétit.
In her down time, Lesley enjoys traveling with her husband Justin, and her two children Jordan and Chloë . She also loves listening to books on Audible, so if you have any great titles, feel free to share them with her!
Dr. Linda L. Moore is a licensed psychologist practicing in Kansas City, Missouri. She is President of Linda L. Moore and Associates, which offers individual and group therapy, executive coaching, management consulting, and presentations for organizations and associations around the country.
Dr. Moore has worked extensively throughout the United State as well as abroad. She is known for her work with women, leadership training, addictions, stress management, and human relations. Dr. Moore writes and publishes on women and power, leadership, and stress management.
Kimberly Yates is a strategic executive, brand builder, and inspiration leader. Most recently, she has served as the VP of Marketing for Lee Jeans. Kim joined the VF Corporation and Lee Jeans in July 2015 with the intent of retelling the story of the 130-year-old authentic, American Lee brand. She created a new brand positioning, campaign, and architecture for the iconic brand. She transformed the look and feel of the brand, including the launch of three high end collections that have placed the brand in Free People, ShopBop, and on the runways of New York Fashion Week. Kim led a team of marketers, PR & digital strategists, creative design, and e-commerce leaders. She also served on the lead team to reinvent the Lee organization and to create the 5-year strategic business plan. Prior to joining Lee, Kim grew her career via both sales and marketing at Procter & Gamble. From 2012-2015 Kim served as the VP of Marketing for the P&G luxury beauty business in New York City. She led a team of marketing, internal sales, and design, across a portfolio of brands, including: Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, SK-II, Lacoste, Hugo Boss, and The Art of Shaving. Prior to that, while working at P&G’s Global Headquarters in Cincinnati, Kim held global and North America marketing roles for Pampers – P&G’s largest brand, Secret Deodorant, and Old Spice. Kim began her career with Procter & Gamble in her home town of Kansas City, where she sold nearly all P&G’s brands to grocery stores throughout southwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas. While working for P&G in Chicago, Kim obtained her MBA from Northwestern University, the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, with degrees in Marketing and Finance. Kim completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri where she earned her BSBA in Marketing and Minored in Spanish.
Kim and her family reside in Overland Park, KS. Her husband, Chris, her two children, Megan & Zachary, and her dog, Leroy, are all thrilled to be back in Kansas City surrounded by family and friends. Kim and her husband spend most of their free time cheering on youth sports of all sorts – football, soccer, basketball, baseball and track, listening to piano practice, and reviewing high school homework. Kim dabbles in photography, practices yoga, loves musical theater, and enjoys running.
Yasmine Simmons is a 10+ year dynamic certified nurse practitioner with many resources and tools to help anyone reach their health goals. Health goals that can change lives, save lives and transform society.
Founder of The Healthiest You, Yasmine Simmons delivers powerful messages to raise awareness of suicide, childhood obesity, prediabetes, and depression; that are sure to empower, educate and inspire audiences to want to get to the root of what motivates them.
Yasmine started the Healthy Mom’s Rock Club where faith, health, and life are embodied. This powerful group is standing against the war on obesity, diabetes, and lifestyle-induced chronic diseases. Through partnerships, heart-filled connections and transparency they are together breaking generational health curses among families.
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Chandra Clark is the Manager of External Partnerships and Post Secondary Programming for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City. Her previous professional experience includes serving as the Career and Alumni Coordinator for Kauffman Scholars, Community Relations Director for Newhouse Shelter and Founder and President of M.O.D.E. L. Chandra earned a Master's degree in Educational Studies from Rockhurst University in 2011. She has been fortunate to have received numerous awards and recognitions including the Faber Young Alumni Award (Rockhurst University), Young Athena Professional Leadership Award (Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce) and Most Influential Women in Kansas City Business Honoree (Kansas City Business Journal).
Chandra is committed to advocating for youth facing adverse circumstances and adults abused as children. She is most passionate about empowering others, education and enriching the community of Kansas City. Her former board and volunteer service roles include the Nelson Atkin’s Young Friends of Art, University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Arts & Sciences Alumni Board and the Central Exchange. She currently serves as a member of The Nelle, the Junior League of Greater Kansas City, Executive Women’s Leadership Council and Teach for America’s Champions Board.
In her spare time, Chandra enjoys modeling, traveling and blogging. Her proudest accomplishment is raising her 17-year old daughter Jada.
As co-founder and managing partner, Stephenie is Sophic's lead authority on executive project management, organizational structure & design, and operations improvement. She has led a number of efforts to align not-for-profit policy with community investments, with a special emphasis on large-scale transformation.
Additionally, she serves as Chief Strategy Officer with NourishKC, an organization committed to ending hunger in greater Kansas City and beyond. Stephenie is engaged in the revitalization of the community by fostering strategic partnerships and leading program innovations.
In her previous role as Executive Director of the Linwood Y, Stephenie's efforts, along with a team of volunteers and staff, resulted in the successful completion of a $12 million capital campaign. Above all, her work is shaped by a holistic approach to well-being and the belief that equity matters.
With over 20 years of experience, Stephenie’s work has focused on the effects of poverty and oppression. In doing so, community revitalization, change management and diversity, equity & inclusion have taken center stage. These involvements have led to her serving on a number of local boards and national committees. Stephenie is a graduate of Fisk University and the University of Tennessee College of Social Work.
Shanna Adamic is a Senior Operations Manager for First Hand, Cerner Corporation’s corporate philanthropy dedicated to improving the health of children, families, and communities around the globe. She fundraises alongside Cerner associates, Cerner business partners and key members of the Kansas City community in order to create a healthy tomorrow around the world. Recently, Shanna helped raise over $1.8M for First Hand through sponsorships and special events and in 2017 was selected as a “Cerner Masters” award recipient because of the world-class experiences she creates within the foundation.
Through her sixteen years with First Hand, Shanna has remained devoted to her other interests including cheering for the Kansas City Chiefs for 8 years while she traveled the world entertaining U.S. troops, where she was also selected as the 2007 Pro Bowl Cheerleader.
Shanna and her loving husband are raising two beautiful, crazy toddlers (Ava 4, Jonah 3) and this past year Shanna was diagnosed with a rare benign brain tumor called an Acoustic Neuroma. The tumor was golf ball-sized and life-threatening as it was pressing into her brainstem. Shanna and her support system were determined to find the right care plan and that is exactly what they did. After a nearly 12-hour surgery, her surgical team removed 98% of the tumor and Shanna was determined not to let that moment define the rest of her life. She was committed to come back stronger than before, and that is exactly what she did.
Kelly Hancox has worked for Garmin Ltd. for nearly eight years, cultivating partnerships to bring new features to the Olathe, Kansas-based company’s multitude of devices. As director of business development and strategic partnerships, Hancox works closely with Garmin engineers to find out what they need, ranging from new Bluetooth stack software to brand partnerships.
Kelly is a passionate, highly driven, strategic business leader with global comprehensive experience. Her team works to license or secure developing partnerships for Garmin’s five segments: aviation, marine, outdoor, fitness and automotive. Kelly has made a name for herself in Kansas City business by being named one of Kansas City Business Journal’s rising stars in 2014 and becoming a 2016 Next Gen Leader Honoree.
Elizabeth Glynn, CEO, leads the Travois staff of 50 who work in the areas of affordable housing development, design and construction services, asset management and compliance, economic development, and environmental services. Elizabeth started as a project coordinator at Travois in 2005, and later became a director, vice president, COO, and finally CEO in 2016. She succeeded David W. Bland, her father, who founded Travois in 1995 and led the company for 20 years, helping clients to develop more than $1 billion in housing and economic development projects in 20 states.
Elizabeth graduated from Wake Forest University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and from Washington University in St. Louis with an executive MBA degree. She is a strong advocate for policy changes that benefit housing and economic development in Indian Country. In Kansas City, where Travois is headquartered, Elizabeth has volunteered since 2008 with Amethyst Place, a transitional home for women who are recovering from addictions and their families.
She was named Kansas City Business Journal’s 2014 class of NextGen Leaders, and was honored as part of its class of 2015 of Women Who Mean Business. And is the 2018 recipient of the When Work Works Award.
Kristen Christian is co-founder of Bee Organized and the Chief Marketing Officer of Bee Organized Enterprises. Bee Organized focuses on helping their clients find the joy in their stuff by assisting with organization and efficiency. It has been built on the solid foundation that you treat everyone with compassion, non-judgment and patience. Kristen runs the Client Relations side of Bee Organized, and has loved building Bee Organized from the ground up.
Kristen attended the University of Kansas with a degree in Journalism and has business experience in sales, marketing, entrepreneurship, and business development. Kristen has a broad range of experience from the large corporate setting to locally owned small businesses.
As a salesperson, Kristen loves the rush of closing a sale, but truly relishes in the unique relationships that are established by servicing clients and going the extra mile in meeting their needs. Kristen is fascinated by organization and people’s relationship with their STUFF. She continues to daily hone her organizational skills and takes joy in always finding a place for everything while raising her four children with her husband, Matthew.
Marquita Miller owns and operates Five Star Tax and Business Solutions from her headquarters in Kansas City, MO. Her full service accounting & business consulting firm focuses on a diverse menu of business solutions, including tax planning and preparation, accounting and payroll, business startup planning, and revenue generation. From the business’ inception as a part-time hobby in 2009 to its current position as a local marketplace leader, Miller has sought to focus her services on small- and medium sized businesses. Miller fosters entrepreneurship in others, and her business places special emphasis on services for startups. Miller’s business senses, commitment to her faith and values have catapulted her to the forefront of Kansas City’s business scene, and the community has taken notice.
After working for Fortune 500 companies as an accountant for years, Miller knew her time to shine had arrived. The decision proved to be golden: Miller resigned from the corporate ladder and branched off into the world of small business ownership. During those first years, Miller relied on her faith to help her survive the trials and tribulations of beginning a small business. She shaped herself into more than just an entrepreneur—she became a Faithpreneur, a person who follows the path to entrepreneurship by first following the path to God. In 2009 Five Star was nominated for Small Business of the Year in the metro and has been certified as a woman-owned and minority-owned business. A Kansas City native, Miller has accomplished her dreams and beyond while also serving as a mother, daughter, mentor, woman of faith, educator, international speaker and board member in multiple organizations. Miller has managed to stretch the limits of time to also author four books, co-author another book (which is now an Amazon best seller), produce two CDs and take her annual “No More Excuses, Only Results” conference nationwide in 2016. Miller unfortunately became a widow May 2017 after being married for 23 years. Miller not only talks it but she walks the No More Excuses Only Results Lifestyle.
Samantha Green is the President and National Organizer of Crawl for Cancer. What was a small event that started in Westport, Kansas City, MO in 2001, has grown to 28 cities across the country, supporting over 50 charities and raising over $2.6 million dollars.
Samantha also led Crawl for Cancer to a Guinness World Record in 2013 for Most People on a Bar Crawl. The record still stands today. Samantha is a mother of four girls, and her husband DJ does all of the IT programming for Crawl for Cancer.
E. LaVerne Manos, DNP, RN-BC, is Program Director of Interprofessional programs in Health and serves as Director and graduate informatics. She holds expertise in human factors engineering in informatics and simulation and in implementation science
Prior to her academic role, Dr. Manos worked in the industry over many years in health informatics in the United States and globally.
Dr. Manos’ vision is to involve the patient/family/caregiver in the health record at more than a “patient-centric” level of care, but at a patient participatory level where the patient/family/caregiver is part of the interprofessional care team.
Angie Gensler is the founder of AngieGensler.com, a social media and digital marketing blog. She teaches busy entrepreneurs how to market and grow an online business without the hustle or tech confusion.
Angie worked as a corporate marketer for over 10 years. After receiving her MBA in 2010, she quickly worked up the ranks until she was head of marketing for a $150 million dollar business.
Despite her perceived success, she was miserable and felt called to do more. She started AngieGensler.com in 2016 and quickly grew it using social media. In 2018, she was able to quit her six-figure job and build a business and life she loves.
If you have a burning desire to turn your passion into a profitable business, visit AngieGensler.com for access to valuable tools, actionable tips, and helpful resources to grow your business without the confusion and overwhelm.
Visit Angie on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/angiegensler/
Dr. Andrea Henricks is a resident of Kansas City. She earned degrees in Human Development Psychology and Mass Communications and a Master’s of Science in Consulting Psychology from Kansas State. She then went on to earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology and Policy Analysis from Missouri University.
For the past 25 years, her work has included collaborating with leaders in education, diversity, and organizational development.
During her career, she has presented at workshops, diversity seminars, and leadership development forums, including the FBI Diversity Conference, Friends of the Urban League Advisory Board, and the Diversity Business Council of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. She is a member of the Central Exchange, Black Achievers of Kansas City, the United Way Women’s Leadership Council, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and many more.
In 2003, she received the Greater Kansas City Mayors Citizen of the Month award. In 2008, she was inducted into the Black Achievers Society of Kansas City, and in 2013 received the NAACP of Kansas City community leader award.
The Account Director at Geometry Global is not only a special guest because she is a woman in business shaking shit up, but also because she is co-parenting with podcast host Aaron Fulk's daughter, Lillianna.
Ryan Robertson is a native to the Kansas area growing up and splitting her time between the suburbs of Lenexa and a farm outside of Lawrence. Between four parents (two moms and two dads), four siblings and participating in lots of activities growing up, Ryan quickly thrived in a role she affectionately deemed “chaos coordinator"; which has translated into her marketing career in Account Service. With over 10 years of experience, Ryan works to match her passion, enthusiasm and innate ability of organization with her rich knowledge and deep expertise in traditional, digital and experiential marketing. She prides herself on the ability to assemble and lead teams as well as earning the trust of her clients through the spirit of partnership, strategic approach, and an efficient nature.
Tiffany has spent the last 20 years sharing her artistic view with the world. As CEO and founder of Smash Glam which is based in Kansas City, the Smash Glam Squad has become nationally commissioned and recognized for its expertise in the field of cosmetology and photography.
Whether she’s capturing the innate beauty of models of color, producing video content for small businesses, or curating individualized SmashGlammed shoots, the result is truly authentic, just like her clients.
When she's not behind a camera, you will find her having coffee with fellow entrepreneurs, spending time with her husband, being entertained by her adventurous kids, and traveling the world with her girlfriends.
This week we are talking about what it means to be a “lifer” which is someone that has been at one company for the duration of their career. COO of VPR Companies, Rachel Sexton talks about her journey and how she managed to maintain her enthusiasm while working at same company for over 20 years.
As a graduate of the University of Missouri’s Journalism program, Rachel Sexton spent the first part of her career developing marketing campaigns for pharmaceutical clients as the Creative Director of VPR Creative Group. After more than a decade designing product launches for blockbuster drugs, Rachel reinvented VPR’s business to focus on what was most important to pharmaceutical clients – the patient. Sexton co-founded VPR Patient Outreach Program (VPR POP) in 2010, using a peer-to-peer model to educate and offer hope to people living with diabetes.
VPR POP quickly become the home for additional patient programs in multiple sclerosis, rare diseases, oncology and transplant. Today, a staff of 22 manages 300 patients who deliver more than 4,000 programs each year. Rachel has been recognized as one of Kansas City Business Magazine’s Most Influential Women in 2011, Ingram’s Magazine 40 Under Forty in 2012, a Kansas City Business Magazine Rising Star in 2013, a member of both the Women Who Mean Business and the NextGen Leaders for the Kansas City Business Journal in 2013, and one of PharmaVoice magazine’s top 100 in 2014.
Rhiannon Ally is a mother, wife, daughter, news anchor, and author. Rhiannon is currently an Emmy Award-winning evening news anchor at KSHB-TV, the NBC affiliate in Kansas City, Missouri. Prior to joining KSHB-TV, Rhiannon was co-anchor of “CBS4 This Morning” and “CBS4 News at Noon” at WFOR-TV in Miami, Florida. She began her on-air career in Topeka, Kansas, as a morning anchor at WIBW-TV, where she won a Kansas Association of Broadcasters Award for best Morning Show and was voted one of Topeka's favorite television personalities. Rhiannon is married to her co-anchor Mike Marusarz, making them the first husband and wife anchor team in the history of local news in Kansas City. They have two wonderful children and a daughter on-the-way.
Chef Renee Kelly is a small-town girl that loves all things authentic. The former Top Chef contestant believes that life is best lived authentically and has every intention of doing so. Her passion lies in creating genuine connections with everything she touches, and she wants to share it throughout the world like wildfire. With her unrelenting pursuit of joy and her fun-focused attitude, she hopes to convey her passion for the world of culinary arts, food culture, and women’s empowerment.
Entrepreneur Maria Flynn is the president and CEO of Orbis Biosciences, a company that revolutionizes the delivery, efficacy, and safety of pharmaceuticals. Orbis provides cutting-edge and innovative technology to companies looking to integrate Orbis controlled-release delivery into their products. Under her leadership, Orbis was awarded the 2017 Excellence in Formulation Award by the Convention on Pharmaceutical Ingredients (CPhI) and was named the 2018 International Small Business of the Year by the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
April Kramer is the Founder and CEO of Apple Pie Painting. She was born and raised in Kansas City, and has been an artist since she was just a small kid. She has won national awards in various art competitions, and recently had her work displayed at the Atomic Design Studio during First Fridays in the KC Crossroads. She studied business briefly through an online university, although she credits most of her skills and knowledge to good old fashioned experience, and YouTube. She also worked in small business management positions for nearly 12 years before stepping out of the business world, and exploring options in a more fulfilling role. She is passionate about bringing friends and families together to enjoy quality time through art She hopes one day to bring that joy to people worldwide. In her free time, April loves to spend quality time with her 2 step-children and husband having family game and movie nights.
Courtney is a native of North Carolina and holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Bryan School of Business and Economics at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In September of 2002, Courtney moved to the Kansas City community and began her journey as an executive leader. Following a successful eight-year career at WaysideWaifs, where she expanded the financial position and mission impact with innovation and strategy, Courtney led the merger of two Kansas nonprofits to form Great Plains SPCA in 2011 where she served as President & CEO for over six years. After growing the mission impact by 350% during her tenure, Courtney took the helm at Central Exchange in February of 2017 to enhance and execute a new strategic plan to advance the organization through 2020.
Sarrah Chapman experienced the divorce of her parents as a child, and always played the role of peacekeeper at the expense of her own feelings. This led her to suicidal thoughts and depression that followed her for years. Over time she found herself settling for a normal life, a corporate job and a social life, but it just wasn’t enough. Sarrah eventually listened to the voice of her soul and decided to be true to herself. She now specializes in helping entrepreneurs find their gifts, their purpose, and recognize what makes them unique. She uses her Secret Advantage System to assist her clients in learning to apply their distinctive gifts in business, and move beyond all that's blocking them from creating the fullest expression of themselves. Sarrah received a bachelor's degree in Business Management and worked in corporate sales and marketing before leaving to start her own business and follow her lifelong passions of energy work, natural therapies, and spiritual practice.
Dr. Robin, among many things, is a holistic healer and founder of Your Wellness Connection, one of the nation’s most successful integrative healing centers that focuses on disciplines such as chiropractic, Chinese medicine, energy medicine, naturopathic medicine, functional medicine, massage therapy, counseling, nutritional and wellness coaching, and movement arts. She is passionate about helping people make small changes to create big shifts in their lives. She is also an international speaker, best-selling author, podcast host and practicing chiropractor.
Maki's passion is helping people discover what they are tolerating in order to break through to a life defined by their desires rather than societal or familial constructs of success. Too many put up with a life spent surviving rather than thriving. She believes that we are here, on earth, to experience joy.
Her life experiences, background in science and counseling, as well as her time spent in corporate America have uniquely positioned her to coach others around self-awareness and provide a process around making incremental life changes in a guided way. This guidance can limit the wheel-spinning that occurs before one realizes that they are living a limited life based on someone else's definition of success.
From the very start of her corporate career, Joelsette has had an entrepreneurial focus. She built a career managing IT and engineering projects, portfolios, and teams for a diverse set of companies, from IBM and Cerner to Waddell & Reed, Sprint, and American Century Investments. She has led more than 10 engineering teams nationwide and is known for her unique ability to both execute on details and drive multimillion dollar strategic projects to successful completion. This is all while keeping her teams motivated, inspired and engaged. She is a rare talent in her execution, drive and commitment.