The conference that delivers

DYNAMIC WORKSHOPS

with lasting impact

2021 KEYNOTE SPEAKER

MICHELLE DE LA ISLA
MAYOR OF TOPEKA
 

About the Keynote Speaker: 

I have served Kansas families in the non-profit, private, and public sectors during my career. However, my journey into public service was not easy. I overcame poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, and cancer as a single mother. These experiences made me a stronger community advocate.
 

 

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After graduating from Wichita State University, I taught financial literacy, built homes with Habitat for Humanity, and participated in the Capital District Group that revitalized downtown Topeka. I served as chief financial officer and executive director of two non-profit organizations, and successfully ran state-wide supplier diversity and diversity and inclusion programs for a Fortune 500 public utility. I was elected to the Topeka City Council in 2013, and Mayor of Topeka in 2017.

 

As mayor, I’ve focused on economic development, equity, and infrastructure improvements. In 2020, I ran for U.S. Congress as the Democratic Candidate in KS-02 while serving on Shawnee County’s Covid-19 emergency management team. I recently accepted a position as Managing Director at the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, a global venture philanthropy firm that supports early-stage, high-impact social enterprises to make a positive impact across the world. My term as mayor will finish at the end of 2021.
 

Program: Your Past does not Define Your Path

Through hardships in her own life, our keynote speaker, Michelle De La Isla has discovered how to thrive through adversity. In this inspiring talk, Ms. De La Isla will help us understand the challenges that enter our lives, the power of vulnerability, and what it means to never give up.

 

2021 CONFERENCE PRESENTERS

KNOW YOUR WORTH: IN THE WORKPLACE

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Cultivating Your Next Opportunity

PRESENTED BY: AUDRA DINELL, FOUNDER OF THREAD: A

WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP COLLECTIVE

Many of us are taking a close look at our work lives right now. We’re reassessing what we want them to look like and more importantly, what we want them to feel like...and some of us are craving a change - be it big or small. Let’s talk through how we can take ownership of our careers by figuring out what we want next and going after it.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER

Audra Dinell is the founder of The Thread: a Women’s Leadership Collective, which aims to create space for ambitious women to become more confident leaders in both their personal & professional lives. She and her family boomeranged back to Wichita in the middle of the pandemic after living first in Colorado & then in Hawaii for a total of eight years. Prior to being a full-time entrepreneur, Audra was the Vice President of Account Services for an ad agency in Honolulu and has a background in marketing, working in both agency & corporate settings. You can usually find her enjoying life in College Hill with her husband and two young sons, drinking coffee anywhere & everywhere around town or on Instagram at @thethreadwlc.

 

KNOW YOUR PERSONAL WORTH

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Recognize our Reality. Reauthor our Story. Reclaim our Tomorrow.

PRESENTED BY: AMBER CARTER, MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST

Covid has caused a tremendous amount of invisible grief that will hold us back until we recognize its lingering effects. In our personal track, Amber will give us tools to reauthor the story we tell ourselves and others about our experiences. It is through this active participation in our story that we can reclaim our expectations for a flourishing tomorrow.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER

Amber Carter is a marriage and family therapist that passionately believes all people’s stories are worth telling and finds hope and meaning in all of life’s challenges. Amber spent the first 15 years of her professional career empowering women and families in poverty through non-profit organizations. She considers it a great privilege to be accepted into the lives of families to provide encouragement and shine a light on their tremendous resilience and offer hope for the future. Through these experiences, Amber realized her heart was being pulled to mental health and changed her focus, but not her passion. Through therapy, Amber offers a collaborative approach to mental health with her non-judgmental acceptance to all clients, offering a welcoming and safe space where people of all backgrounds can feel empowered to achieve their own change. 

Amber was born and raised in Texas and has made her home in Wichita, Kansas since 2008 with her husband and two sons. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Houston and a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from Friends University. Adventuring outdoors is her happy place and silly conversation at the dinner table with her tween boys gives her plenty of relatability.

KNOW YOUR WORTH: IN THE COMMUNITY

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A City Where I Belong

PRESENTED BY:

KATE VAN STEENHUYSE, CO-FOUNDER,

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HARVESTER ARTS

KRISTIN BEAL, CO-FOUNDER,

PROGRAM DIRECTOR, HARVESTER ARTS

Strategies for building a sense of belonging through comfort, connection and contribution. What would our city look like if it was designed for our comfort and fun?  What needs to be here for us to connect with our friends, meet new friends and want to contribute to making this place our home?

ABOUT THE PRESENTERS

Kate Van Steenhuyse

Kate received her MFA (Fine Arts) in 2008 from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, and a BFA (Painting & Women's Studies) in 2001 from Washington University in St. Louis. Kate has exhibited nationally and internationally including exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, London, San Francisco, Wichita, Dallas and more. In 2014 she Co-Founded Harvester Arts, an experimental residency and artist capacity-building program in Wichita, KS which partners nationally-recognized artists with local creatives and offers a variety of artist services. She was featured in New American Painting West Edition in 2011, was a Fellow of The Career Development Program at The Center for Emerging Visual Artists in Philadelphia, PA. She has served as Ulrich Museum of Art Alliance Board President, Mid America Arts Alliance Board Member, Program Manager at Arts Partners Wichita, and graduate faculty at Wichita State University. Kate is currently Executive Director of Harvester Arts and the Chief Programs Officer for the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission.

Kristen Beal

Kristin Beal is an arts advocate and administrator. She currently serves as Wichita State University(WSU) Placemaking and Special Projects Coordinator and WSU ShiftSpace Gallery manager and lecturer of Community & Social Practices for the WSU School of Art, Design & Creative Industries. Beal is a co-founder of Harvester Arts and serves as the program director for the nonprofit organization. She studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, Wichita State University (BFA Drawing and Painting) and Virginia Commonwealth University (MFA Painting and Printmaking). Kristin Beal has worked extensively as a grant facilitator with local artists to realize projects through Harvester Arts and Wichita State University with the Wichita Arts Council, The Knight Foundation, The Kansas Creative Arts and Industries Commission and The NEA. Trained as a studio artist, Kristin has exhibited nationally and internationally. By programming through a socially engaged art practice lens, her current practice focuses on capacity building in the arts through the facilitation of collaborative, community-based art projects.

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MODERATOR:

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CARLA ECKELS: KNOW YOUR WORTH CONFERENCE EMCEE, DIRECTOR OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY FOR NEWS AND ENGAGEMENT, KMUW

Carla Eckels is Director of Cultural Diversity for News and Engagement at KMUW.  She has been an award-winning announcer and news producer for KMUW since 1996. Carla also produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations that airs Sundays at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. She annually emcees Gospelfest at the Wichita River Festival and was voted Best Disc Jockey by subscribers of The Community Voice. Prior to coming to KMUW, Carla was the local host for NPR’s Morning Edition at WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and co-hosted a nationally syndicated gospel radio show in Cincinnati. Carla was also program director for KIBN, the Inspirational Black Network in Wichita, hosted the Joyful Sounds gospel show on Q92-FM and produced the number one gospel radio show on KSJM 107.9 JAMZ from 2004 to 2007. In November 2020, Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame for her work in broadcast/journalism.

Flourishing Through Adversity

Women have born most of the brunt in the pandemic – in job loss, in caregiving, and health, disproportionately hurting women’s standing in the workplace. What can we do to seize new opportunities, nourishing ourselves back to health, and learn to flourish again? In this discussion, our panel of professionals will tell us how they’re rebuilding, and what actions women can take to find our balance.

PANELISTS:

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IDALIA LOYA: ASSOCIATE, KANSAS LEADERSHIP CENTER

Idalia Loya assists with events and programs as a Program Associate for the Kansas Leadership Center (KLC). She is committed to bridging relationships in underrepresented communities with initiatives like Avanzando Juntos and Creating Leadership Together. Alongside her work at KLC, Idalia finds value in volunteering and is an active member in organizations including the Young Latino Professionals of Wichita, W - A Community of Young Professionals, and Kansas Hispanic Education & Development Foundation. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family and exploring all that Wichita has to offer.

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JULIA FABRIS MCBRIDE: VICE PRESIDENT, KANSAS LEADERSHIP CENTER

Julia Fabris McBride is vice president of the Kansas Leadership Center, a certified coach, and co-author, with Chris Green of Teaching Leadership: Case-in-Point, Case Teaching, and Coaching. At KLC, she oversees teacher and coach development and has created three professional programs for leadership developers, including an International Coach Federation (ICF)-approved Leadership Coach training program, and an Advanced Leadership Development Intensive that has drawn people to Wichita from four continents.

Before joining KLC (and while wrapping up a fun and varied career as an actor in Chicago), Julia taught leadership and management at the University of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, University of Massachusetts and the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute. She holds a certificate in leadership from the University of Chicago’s Graham School of General Studies and completed the Art and Practice of Leadership Development (taught by Marty Linsky, Ron Heifetz and Robert Kegan) at Harvard’s Kennedy School. She is certified to facilitate the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) and Immunity to Change processes, and has trained executives and high potentials at organizations such as Microsoft and United Way of America.

Julia has traveled as far afield as Melbourne, Australia, and Yangon, Mynamar, to teach and share the KLC ideas, first among them the principle that leadership is an activity, available to anyone, anytime, anywhere. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Case Western Reserve University and holds a diploma (signed by Sir John Geilgud) from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Julia lives with her husband, sculptor Bill McBride, and teenager Lake McBride in Matfield Green, Kansas, in the heart of the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie. She is a co-founder of the Know Your Worth Women’s Leadership Conference, founding board president of the Pioneer Bluffs Foundation, lifetime member of the Girl Scouts of the Kansas Heartland, president of the board of the Robinson Foundation, and serves on the board of directors of the Adaptive Leadership Network.

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BRANDA BARTON: CO-OWNER, OPTOMETRIC BILLING SOLUTIONS

Branda Barton is co-owner of Optometric Billing Solutions, a nationally recognized medical billing company for optometrists. With a background in healthcare administration and practice management, Branda started OBS with her sister Brooke Armstrong in 2006. Together they have grown the company to become one of the largest in their field, employing over 100 staff members and serving practices in over 40 states.

 

The pandemic has brought unique challenges to every business, and OBS is no exception.  Ninety percent of their workforce is made up of women, the majority of whom are mothers with school-aged children.  Prior to 2020, 100% of their employees worked from the company offices in Maize, KS.  However, at the peak of the pandemic in 2020 as Covid cases rose and schools shut down, Branda was faced with the daunting task of sending her entire staff of 100 home to work. Almost overnight they had to find technology solutions for a remote workforce and develop new policies to help staff who were now homeschooling moms as well as full-time employees--all while continuing to provide their clients with uninterrupted, high-quality service. 

 

In the end, the pandemic’s challenges forced Branda and her managers to explore opportunities they had previously not considered, including allowing interested staff to permanently work off-site and developing a proprietary software that can manage data across multiple applications. Branda credits their amazing staff for helping OBS navigate through an international pandemic and economic crisis.  In the end, she believes that companies with the ability to flex, innovate, and look at problems through new eyes can rise to meet today’s current challenges.

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DR. SHAREIKA FISHER: EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RISE UP FOR YOUTH INC.

Dr. Shareika Fisher is a Kentucky bluegrass-born and raised girl.  She moved to Wichita, Kansas nine years ago upon completing her Masters of Education from the University of Louisville in 2012. Shareika arrived to the city as a Wichita State employee. Within her time at WSU she held three promotional roles and completed her Doctorate of Educational Leadership in 2020. 

Her doctoral research and passion for youth-led her professional journey to explore the Wichita non-profit sector. In June of 2021, she assumed the Executive Director position at Rise Up For Youth Inc. 

Doctor Fisher has served as the international chairperson for Admissions, Orientation, and First-Year Experience through the American College International Association. Her innovative approach in social and academic retention of first-year students has made a regional and national impact on programming efforts for New Student departments across the country.  

In her leisure, she shares her passion for wine as a tasting specialist at Grace Hill Winery. She enjoys spending time with her Golden Doodle Melo and hosting dinner parties for her friends.