Tension Corporation CEO Bill Berkley Named KC Chamber's 2022 Kansas Citian of the Year

Bill Berkley’s quiet leadership and commitment to urban education, civic issues, and life sciences has earned him the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Kansas Citian of the Year Award.

Photo of Bill Berkley in dark gray striped suit with white shirt and red tie with white polka dots.
2022 Kansas Citian of the Year, Bill Berkely

The award announcement came tonight at the climax of the Chamber’s 135th Annual Dinner, the most prestigious event of the Kansas City business community.

Berkley is President and CEO of the Tension Corporation, a position he has held since 1988. He led the internationally known business through a transformative time in their industry, as they moved from the name of Tension Envelope to Tension Corporation, reflecting the company’s broader growth and diversification over the years. He has often said how lucky he was a child to sit around the dinner table and see business being discussed among his father, Bert, and how he would spend his childhood Saturdays at the Tension Envelope plant, where he saw how much fun business could be.

Bill Berkley, Bert (1971 Kansas Citian of the Year) and family member and former Kansas City Mayor Richard (1994 Kansas Citian of the Year) were inducted into the Junior Achievement of Middle America’s Greater Kansas City Business Hall of Fame in 2016. Bill Berkley also won the 2014 Daniel H. Lipman Member of the Year Award presented by the Envelope Manufacturers Association, recognized for his leadership qualities as an EMA member and as Tension President and CEO.

The Berkley family has played a significant role in the Kansas City business, philanthropic, and civic communities, and Bill Berkley has continued that legacy. Berkley has been involved with and served in leadership roles with the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute and BioNexus KC, PREP-KC, and the Urban Neighborhood Initiative just to name a few.

Past Kansas Citians of the Year include John Sherman, David Warm, Alvin Brooks, Mayors Kay Barnes and Carol Marinovich, Don Hall, Jr., Ewing Kauffman, Lamar Hunt, Anita Gorman, Buck O’Neil, Lucile Bluford, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, and Jim and Virginia Stowers, among others. The Award is given “only to those persons whose civic contributions and achievements have reflected the insight, creativity, and consciousness necessary to build and maintain a quality urban community.” The Kansas Citian of the Year Award is recognized as the most significant honor bestowed upon an individual by any organization in the Greater Kansas City community.

Connected to KC

The theme of the 2022 Annual Dinner was “Connected to KC,” celebrating everything around the globe that is, and will be, connected to this region in the coming months and years. Incoming Chair Mark Garrett of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City spoke of the need to collaborate as we prepare for the spotlight to shine during the NFL Draft, the World Cup, the new single terminal airport, and other exciting developments. “This is a community where businesses, non-profits, and government work together to ensure no one falls between the cracks. Yet we recognize there is more work to be done. I truly believe for us to achieve what we want and what we need as a Greater KC, the business and non-profit worlds must join forces.”

Outgoing Chair Ramin Cherafat of McCownGordon Construction reflected on the Chamber’s role as convener, collaborator, and supporter. “We are uniquely positioned to bring people together and get things done, whether it’s growing small businesses, developing KC’s future leaders, or helping companies navigate the road to growing globally.”

Keynote Speaker was Morgan Cooper, Filmmaker, Executive Producer, Director, and Creator of Bel-Air, the acclaimed dramatic reimagining of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Cooper is a Kansas City native who keeps Hollywood connected to KC by featuring KC artists, designers, makers, and other creators both on-screen and behind-the-scenes for Bel-Air. His headshot is attached. Guests will also enjoy live music from Lost Wax – KC's Original Mashup Party Band.