The streets of Kansas City’s most popular shopping district, the Country Club Plaza, are buzzing with holiday cheer.
The city commissioned local artist and University of Kansas alumnus John Keeling, f’83, to create artwork depicting a winter night at the Plaza. Keeling’s watercolor banners now line the streets in front of the storefronts. His work also appeared on a billboard to promote the KCP&L Plaza Lighting Ceremony, a Kansas City tradition with 88 years of history that seems to grow in spectacle each year.
“(I wanted to invoke) the feelings of joy and wonder that the Plaza Lights experience gives Kansas City and its visitors each year,” Keeling said. “As a watercolorist, I wanted to bring something more emotional to the banner artwork. Of course it has to be about the lights first, but my depiction of them in watercolor hopefully captures the feeling more than a graphic design would.”
After a 25-year career with Hallmark, Keeling is now self-employed and offers commissioned works from his website. Transitioning to being his own boss has allowed Keeling to learn more about the Kansas City art culture— and himself.
“I’ve been reinventing myself as a painter for the past four years,” Keeling said. “As an art director and creative director at Hallmark, I wasn’t painting for work. I also didn’t get to know the art community outside of the workplace. There are multiple arts organizations, including ArtsKC and the InterUrban ArtHouse, that I’m now involved with and meeting more and more of the community.”
As Kansas City shoppers hurry to buy their last-minute gifts, the lights will shine on the Plaza and Keeling’s artwork until January 14.
Kansas City-area alumni and current KU students gathered Oct. 18 at the WeWork shared-office space in downtown Kansas City for a networking event and panel discussion with three of the city’s top entrepreneurs.
The panelists included Chase McAnulty, assoc., founder and CEO of vintage T-shirt company Charlie Hustle; Paul Francis, a’80, founder and CEO of OYO Fitness; and Hillary Philgreen, g’97, chief operating officer of Hantover Inc. and ARY Brands Inc and founder and creator of StinkBOSS. The discussion was moderated by Tyler Enders, b’11, owner of Made in KC and partner in five other retail concepts in the Kansas City area.
“These sorts of panel discussions and industry connections are a big focus for the Alumni Association right now,” Peterson said, explaining that the Association plans to launch a new career initiative, the Jayhawk Career Network, in 2018. “Programs like this in major metro markets across the country are part of that plan.”
What worked and what didn’t
Throughout the evening, the panelists answered a series of questions from Enders, as well as from several participants in the crowd, about their processes for product development and marketing, including how they secured funding, who they enlisted for help, how their prototypes were built and, ultimately, what worked for them and what didn’t.
Philgreen, a mother of two teenage boys who inspired the creation of StinkBOSS, a machine designed to dry, sanitize and deodorize shoes and athletic gear, relied on her extensive business background and made connections with other industry professionals, which proved invaluable to launching her product. She reminded participants that Kansas City offers a wealth of resources and networking opportunities for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
“You need help, there are people in this city that will help you,” she said. “You just need the concept and you just need to step forward and try.”
“Reverse engineer” what’s already been done
Francis and McAnulty used the popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to help fund their concepts, and they stressed the importance of having a captivating, informative video for product campaigns. Both entrepreneurs recruited local business-savvy professionals to help create their videos.
“You don’t have to do anything new,” said Francis, who patented SpiraFlex, the exercise technology that powered strength-training equipment for NASA, and also developed the Bowflex Revolution. He watched several other campaign videos before creating one for his latest product, the DoubleFlex portable gym. “You just have to reverse engineer what’s already been done, then just improve upon it.”
McAnulty, whose passion for vintage tees and textile design inspired him to launch Charlie Hustle in 2012, reminded participants that the most important lesson in starting a new business or launching a new product is to keep trying. His brand’s most popular tee and signature piece, the KC Heart design, wasn’t even on the initial roster of T-shirts when Charlie Hustle first launched.
“You learn from everything,” he said. “You learn from your mistakes, you learn from your little successes. Try to expand and grow on those. We failed on a lot of different products. Just keep going, do it.”
Watch our video below to hear from the panelists. Pictures from the event are available on our Flickr page and may be downloaded for personal use.
The award honors emerging leaders who demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business; contribute time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community; and serve as role models for young women personally and professionally.
“Jessica has set the bar high for young professionals in Kansas City,” said Kelsey Hill, assistant director of Kansas City alumni programs. “She is engaged in a way that inspires alumni to be present and proud of their University. We could not be more proud of Jessica and are honored that she is serving as president of the Kansas City board.”
As managing director of the Kansas City Area Development Council, Palm manages the organization’s talent recruitment initiative, TeamKC: Life+Talent. The nationally-recognized program strengthens the region’s competitive advantages through programs such as InternKC by engaging interns to encourage setting in the KC region. She’s also publisher of KC Options magazine, which answers the question “Why KC?” to candidates, new hires and interns from around the world.
“Supporting young professional women in the Kansas City business community is a great way to engage and leave a lasting legacy no matter what your age,” Palm said. “The camaraderie of women leaders in Kansas City is powerful, and as a young professional in our community having access to these individuals for collaboration and mentorship has propelled my personal and professional aspirations greatly. It is truly an honor to be recognized among such successful and incredible women in our region as an ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award honoree.”
Ashlyn Driskill, a current graduate student in the KU School of Business’ MBA program and a member of KU Volleyball’s 2015 Final Four team, made her television debut Saturday night when House Hunters documented her and her husband’s search for a Kansas City home. She sat down with us in February for a Q&A about the experience, but after the episode premiered we asked a couple more questions about the show and got an update on the house (pictures included!).
Did they let you see the final version before it premiered?
No, they did not let us see even a scene from the episode before it aired! That’s why we were so nervous to announce the air date, we had no clue what it was going to look like.
What did you think of the final cut of the episode?
I think the final cut was great! They did a really good job of making everything look smooth and natural because it definitely did not feel like that during the filming process. They did cut clips that I was hoping would make the episode. We filmed for six full days and it’s crazy to think they were able to cut it down to 30 minutes. We would retry a scene four to five times because the crew thought it would be great, but we never got to see it!
What did your friends and family say?
All our friends and family loved the episode! Our realtor had a watch party the night it was aired and invited many of his clients. Everyone thought we were going to pick house #3, which was actually our least favorite, so I guess you could say our acting skills aren’t too bad!
How is the MBA going?
My MBA is going great. I decided to choose a focus in Management and will be graduating in December.
How did the remodeling turn out?
The remodel turned out great! It took a little longer than we initially planned and still have plenty of more things to do. Right when we closed on the house we did a whole kitchen remodel and had a full remodel of the downstairs bathroom. We did the exterior work all ourselves! It was a blast to do it, but took a lot of manual labor. We painted, made shutters, put up the privacy fence and did all new landscaping.
Knowing all that you do now, would you do it again? Is a career in TV in your future?
I think it would be fun to do it again since I know how the process goes, but I definitely don’t have a future career in TV. I’m not a fan of a camera being six inches from my face all day and I do not have the personality for it. My realtor, Brett Budke, who is also a KU alumnus, would be perfect in a career in TV!
In case you missed it, search for “Young Couple Seeks Kansas City Starter Home” on your cable provider or on demand.
Jessica Nelson, managing director of TeamKC: Life+Talent, helps tell the Kansas City story to young professionals in an effort to recruit them to the area. Nelson, j’11, is executive vice president of the Greater Kansas City Area alumni network. Read full article.
Sara Shepherd, the LJWorld’s education reporter, shares a number of tidbits from the Hill in her column, including some honors and awards. Four KU graduate students recently completed international research in their respective fields; a research project manager received the KGS Outstanding Support Staff Recognition Award; and KU received a $100,000 grant to help students pursue fieldwork in places like Wyoming and Turkey. Read full article.
Adrienne Rosel Bulinski, a motivational speaker and entertainer, will be the emcee for the 2017 Pancake Day Talent Show Feb. 25. Bulinski, j’05, is a Liberal native and former Miss Liberal, Miss Kansas. She currently lives in Denver. Read full article.
Jacob Burmood, a sculptor and 2013 University graduate in ceramics, recently received agrant from ArtsKC, a fund which makes grants to artists, arts organizations, and arts programs throughout the KC region, for his work with casting draped cloth into bronze. The grant gives him access to more of that bronze, a material that does not come cheap for most sculptors. Read full article.
Beginning this semester, the KU School of Business and the Business Analytics Club will present a monthly symposium on topics surrounding data analytics. The second symposium in the series will feature Ruben Sigala, b’97, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Caesars Entertainment Corp. Read full article.
Leawood-based Blooom raised $9.15 million in Series B financing, giving it the resources necessary to boost its marketing to reach more of its target audience of middle-class workers and grow even faster. Blooom CEO Chris Costello, b’95, told the Kansas City Business Journal that the $9.15 million gives the company plenty of time to prove that it has a business model that can grow. Read full article.
Students can now quickly and easily keep up with the actions of President Donald Trump, thanks in part to the work of a student here at the University. Peter Federman, who is working toward his Ph.D. in public administration, helped develop Track Trump, which is downloadable on smartphones and has a desktop version. Read full article.
Sixteen students, faculty and staff have been selected as University of Kansas Men of Merit, recognized for positively defining masculinity through challenging cultural norms, taking action and leading by example while making contributions to the university and/or the community. Read full article.
Two recent KU graduates, Austin Barone, b’16, and Lei Shi, e’05, PhD’17, were selected as part of Pipeline’s 2017 entrepreneurial fellowship class, announced at the Innovator of the Year event Jan. 26 in Kansas City. Both graduates’ startups were launched through The Catalyst, KU’s student business accelerator. Read full article.
The partners at McDowell Rice Smith & Buchanan PC elected Kristie Remster Orme as the first woman president in the firm’s history. Orme is a 19-year veteran of the firm, a member of its Litigation & Dispute Resolution and Banking & Financial Services groups. She earned a degree from the KU School of Law in 1997. Read full article.
Hissan Anis and Kate O’Hara Gasper were promoted to partner status at Lathrop & Gage, effective Jan. 1, 2017. Anis earned a degree from the KU School of Law in 2009; Gasper graduated in 2008. Read full article
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Art has been central to Stacey Lamb’s identity since she was a child, and she went on to earn a degree in fine arts from KU and worked as a greeting card illustrator for thirty years. After a close friend was diagnosed with leukemia, she turned to art to deal with her emotions and help her friend. Read full article.
Former Topekan Walt Riker spent much of his career traveling the world, first as press secretary for Sen. Bob Dole and then guiding McDonald’s Corp. as its vice president of corporate communications. Riker, c’70, j’78, also served on the KU Alumni Association’s national board of directors. Read full article.
Amanda Angell, a 2015 graduate of the KU School of Law, recently joined Koley Jessen, a full-service business law firm based in Omaha. Angell was previously a compliance consultant for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. Read full article.
Donald J. Hall Jr. was awarded the Kansas City area’s highest honor for civic leadership at the 129th annual dinner of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Hall, g’83, is the fourth member of the Hall family to receive the honor. Read full article.
KU Law School graduates Luke Hangge and Kyle Kitson have joined Littler Mendelson PC as associates in its employment and labor law practice. Hangge, l’16, served as a judicial intern for the U.S. District Court in Kansas City this past year. Kitson, l’13, was previously an attorney with two other firms in the Kansas City area. Read full article.
The Kansan got a chance to have a conversation with Hank Driskill, c’88, a technical supervisor for the film. Read as he discusses his Kansas beginnings, his work at Disney and “Moana.” Read full article.
Richard Rogers was a decorated war veteran, mayor of Manhattan, and member of both chambers of the Kansas Legislature. He graduated from the KU School of Law in 1947 and entered private practice. Read full article.
Una Nowling, e’93, g’93, was the keynote speaker for Trans Awareness Week, which was hosted by the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity. She shared her experiences of her transition both in and out of her workplace in the STEM field with the audience. Read full article.
Damon Mitchell, a Kansas City native and 2000 graduate of the KU School of Law, was named chief deputy district attorney for Wyandotte County by the newly elected district attorney Mark Dupree. Read full article.
Have you seen a story featuring a Jayhawk? Send it our way so we can include it in a future post! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The KU men’s basketball team will play in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic at the Sprint Center in Kansas City Nov. 21 and 22.
KU alumni, fans and friends are invited to pregame festivities hosted by the KU Alumni Association and Williams Education Fund.
Monday, Nov. 21
Monday’s pregame party starts at 5:30 p.m., and the game against UAB tips off at 8:30 p.m. The pregame event takes place at McFadden’s, 1330 Grand Boulevard in the KC Live! block, across the street from the arena.
Tuesday, Nov. 22
On Tuesday, the pregame events runs from 4-6:30 p.m. at No Other Pub, also in the KC Live! block. The time and opponent for the second game will be determined after Monday’s game.
For tickets to the games, contact Kansas Athletics at 800.34.HAWKS.
The Greater Kansas City Network has elected its officers and six new board members for the 2016 to ’17 term. Kansas City is the nation’s largest community of Jayhawks with more than 94,000 alumni. Lindsay Hare, c’02, l’05, lives in Leawood and will lead the board as president. She is an attorney and partner at Norton Hare.
Jessica Nelson, j’11, managing director of TeamKC, Kansas City Area Development Council, lives in Olathe and is executive vice president. Another Olathe resident, Sheri Hart, f’93, who manages compliance at Adknowledge, is secretary.
Executive committee members include Jace McClasky and Andrew Wank. McClasky, c’95, l’01, lives in Prairie Village and is principal attorney at Burke McClasky Stevens. Wank, b’09, enterprise relationship manager at blooom, lives in Leawood.
Six alumni who join the existing board members are:
Sasha Flores Boulware, Fairway, c’98, g’00, owner of Esbee;
Bobby Burch, Kansas City, j’11, editor in chief of Startland News;
Kimberly Hobbs, Kansas City, j’94, vice president of partnerships and premium sales at AEG Worldwide/Sprint Center;
Billy Marshall, Prairie Village, c’00, territory sales manager at Straumann, USA;
Todd Moore, Kansas City, c’96, project director at KU Medical Center; and
Melissa Thomson, Overland Park, j’01, business development manager at TREKK Design Group.
“We have six exceptional new additions to our board membership that will, without a doubt, be incredible assets to the network,” says Hare. “We cannot wait to get to work and further develop our local alumni programs and outreach to the Kansas City community over the next year.”
Hare succeeds Matthew Taylor, a senior wealth adviser at Frontier Wealth Management, who served as executive vice president from 2014 to ’15 before becoming president last year. He also led the membership committee for two years and will now serve as ex-officio president.
Taylor, b’98, g’03, has hosted and helped organize several Kansas City area alumni events, including the Jayhawk Career Networking Series, and he has served on the committee for the Rock Chalk Ball, the Alumni Association’s largest fundraiser. For his commitment and service to the Kansas City Network, Taylor received the 2016 Dick Wintermote Volunteer of the Year Award.
Nine additional board members will continue their service on various committees, including membership, community awareness, student recruitment and the Rock Chalk Ball. They are:
Jake Ballard, Leawood, b’01, senior vice president and unit manager of Lockton Companies;
Jason Booker, Olathe, b’99, senior director of corporate sponsorship and broadcast sales for the Kansas City Royals;
Scott Fiss, Leawood, b’87, principal at Johnston Fiss Insurance Agency;
Mallory Hammersmith Hannah, Kansas City, j’08, strategic marketing consultant at Mallory Hannah Inc.;
Christina Stephenson Hopkins, c’10, clinical research coordinator at the University of Kansas Cancer Center;
Grant Kollman, Prairie Village, c’10, associate director of Berkadia;
Susan Anderson Leonard, Fairway, d’96, g’07, associate principal at Shawnee Mission East High School;
Joe Mulvihill, Overland Park, b’06, director of inbound marketing at Keypath Education; and
Mark Van Blaricum, Lee’s Summit, b’99, l’02, m’08, owner/operator of Pita For Good food truck.
“The growth in the quality of programming offered in Kansas City, in addition to volunteer opportunities, student recruitment, legacy relations and the impact KU makes in community, is directly tied to the strength in leadership on our Kansas City Network board,” says Betsy Winetroub, c’05, director of Kansas City programs. “Each year our leadership gets stronger, and I couldn’t be more excited to work with Lindsay and the rest of our new officer team.”
The threat of stormy weather didn’t deter nearly 4,000 Jayhawks from packing Corinth Square in Prairie Village Aug. 26 for the 11th-annual KU Kickoff, hosted by the Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics. The evening began with DJ Carl spinning tunes while the crowd enjoyed food and drink tents, a fun zone for children, a sesquicentennial display by KU Libraries, Jayhawk merchandise giveaways, and Big Jay and Baby Jay, who kept the atmosphere lively with the help of the KU spirit squad and marching band.
Jayhawk Radio Network broadcaster David Lawrence, d’83, introduced Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, president of the Alumni Association, who thanked Kansas City area alumni and volunteers for their support and detailed several of the University’s recent accomplishments, including the Far Above campaign, which raised more than $1.6 billion for KU. “I don’t know about you,” he said, “but I’m fired up to be a Jayhawk right now.”
Sheahon Zenger, PhD’96, KU athletics director, spoke of the new construction on campus, including McCarthy Hall, the DeBruce Center and Capitol Federal Hall, and encouraged alumni to visit KU’s ever-changing landscape. After giving a shout-out to the No. 5-ranked KU women’s volleyball team, which opened the season with a win against Mississippi State that evening, Zenger turned his attention to head football coach David Beaty and said, “If there’s anything fun at KU right now, it’s being around coach Beaty and his team.”
Joined by football players LaQuvionte Gonzalez, Dorance Armstrong Jr., Daylon Charlot and Fish Smithson, Beaty summoned fans to fill the Hill and Memorial Stadium Sept. 3 for the opening game against Rhode Island. “It’s going to take a great fan base like all of you Jayhawks to get it done,” he said. “We thank you for your unwavering support and staying with us through all the rough times. You’ll have something to be proud of real soon.”
Watch the slideshow below to see pictures from KU Kickoff, or click here to view the photos on Flickr. Photos are available to be downloaded for personal use. All photos by Dan Storey.
Kansas City alumni and fans of KU will gather again at the KU Kickoff at Corinth Square this Friday, August 26, from 6-9 p.m.
The KU Alumni Association, in partnership with Kansas Athletics, will welcome our largest annual gathering of alumni in Kansas City. Jayhawks will hear from David Beaty, head football coach; Heath Peterson, president of the KU Alumni Association; and other KU speakers who will provide updates and pep talks to get the crowd pumped for another great year at KU. Like last year, there will be inflatable games for the kids, food, drinks, KU giveaways and entertainment from the KU Band, Spirit Squad and Big Jay and Baby Jay. Association members are encouraged to stop by the KU Alumni Association table to receive a free member appreciation gift (so don’t forget your membership card!). The KU Kickoff is sponsored by Shawnee Mission Health. Learn more here.
Speaking of pep talks
We’ve found a sure-fire way to get you fired up for fall. Coach Bill Self was a special guest at KU Football Training Camp this week where he addressed the team. Coach Self’s talk will get you ready to head to Memorial Stadium to support the Jayhawks this fall. It might even make you want to suit up and hit the field! See what we mean in the video below, shared on Twitter by our friends at Time Warner Cable Sports Channel in Kansas City, @TWCsportsKC.