Diversity & Inclusion Celebrated at KC Chamber’s POWER of Diversity Breakfast

Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) took center stage at the KC Chamber’s annual POWER of Diversity Breakfast Wednesday, with four African-American women and a prominent Kansas City law firm honored for their efforts in D&I. 
ACE Awards are presented annually to diverse mid- to senior-level managers who are achieving excellence and having an impact that expectations for their employer. The 2018 ACE Award winners are:
Carla Gibson, Senior Program Manager, REACH Healthcare Foundation. Thanks to Carla’s work, the REACH Foundation adopted a Diversity and Inclusion Policy and expanded the Anti-Discrimination Policy regarding employment and provision of services to community members to make sure policies were reflected in the organizations receiving foundation support. Carla says her approach to her work, both inside and outside of her workplace, is to be a servant leader.
Vanessa Sims, Senior Vice President, Executive Director Diversity & Inclusion, UMB. UMB’s D&I Roadmap has a three-prong strategy – workforce diversity, workplace inclusion, and marketplace (both community and customer.) Bringing in diverse talent, Sims says, must be coupled with creating an inclusive environment. She’s sought to give associates a voice through focus groups, visibility to leadership, and development of leadership skills. She says, “My philosophy is that life is too precious and time is too short not to enjoy what you do.
Dr. Susan B. Wilson, Vice Chancellor, Diversity and Inclusion, University of Missouri – Kansas City. Dr. Wilson has developed a number of new diversity initiatives at UMKC that have driven cultural change. She’s spearheaded development of Diversity Advocates (a campus-wide D&I learning community for staff and faculty, and a Diversity Ambassador program training students in how to conduct peer-led diversity training and dialogue sessions. She says she became fascinated by D&I very early in life born into a multicultural family – her father was African American, her mother was Italian.
The Supplier Diversity Award recognizes an individual who has made a durable commitment to embracing diversity in their workplace and community, with a special emphasis on increasing their organization’s supplier diversity partnerships. This year’s award goes to:
Christine Kelly, Program Coordinator Supplier Diversity, Metropolitan Community College. With more than 20 years of experience in supplier diversity, Christine understands the barriers to business ownership like the lack of networks that encourage joint ventures, partnerships, mentoring programs, and business-to-business opportunities. She’s fostered relationships with a network of partners to extend MCC’s reach to support diverse business owners in every aspect of their operations. “My love for assisting entrepreneurs,” Christine says, “started at Marion Laboratories under the mentorship of Ewing Marion Kauffman.”
The Champion of Diversity Award recognizes a regional business that has made a durable commitment to embracing diversity in their workplace and community. This year’s award goes to:
Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP.  A key part of the mission of this prominent Kansas City law firm is “to cultivate inclusive behavior where everyone is respected, rewarded, equipped and invested in because of their differences.” Their “It’s All About Inclusion” campaign emphasizes inclusion as a core competency and instills understanding of how diversity and inclusion relate to engagement, productivity, results, and the bottom line. Shook Chair Madeleine McDonough says, “Our clients expect us to come forward with creative approaches to solving their problems, and you dan’t do that if everyone has the same background.”