Blasi Completes Advance Kansas

Blake Blasi, private construction manager, Cornejo & Sons, Inc., was one of 44 area business and community leaders who graduated from the tenth Advance Kansas class on Friday, May 4. Advance Kansas is a community initiative that brings together leaders from across the community to create and strengthen relationships and acquire skills for addressing diversity challenges and opportunities in organizations and in the community.

Class members meet over the course of four months to form relationships and develop skills to become better leaders in increasingly diverse organizations and communities. Between class sessions they work in teams to create community-action projects. Each of this year’s projects address what the Chung Report describes as Wichita’s Human Capital Challenge. Members of a CEO Roundtable on Diversity and Inclusion established by the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce identified six priorities the region should pursue to tackle the human capital challenge around diversity and inclusion. These issues became the basis of the projects presented at the culmination.

Blasi’s project team is proposing a partnership with Young Professionals of Wichita to implement the idea that businesses in Wichita, big and small, will be present on college campuses in a more intentional way to focus on building relationships with high-performing students in the hopes that this network of relationships can contribute to retaining talent even before they graduate. They are calling this partnership The Career Courtship Program. Other members of Blasi’s team are: Hayley Hobbs, Butler Community College; Stephen Kamunge, Airbus Americas; Stacey Petrie, Hutton Construction; Alicia Sanchez, Wichita State University; and Tim Smith, IMA Financial Group Inc.

Hosted by Butler Community College with support from Spirit AeroSystems, Westar Energy and Meritrust Credit Union, Advance Kansas is designed to bring together leaders from all demographic groups and across all sectors of society – business, nonprofit, education, religion, government – and to educate them in effective ways to engage pressing diversity issues in their communities. Advance Kansas is facilitated by Juan Johnson, president of Diversity Leadership in Action, of Atlanta.