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WEN eNewsletter - July 2017

Women Who Mean Business

Congratulations to Sherry Turner, WEN President and OneKC for Women Founder, for being recognized as a 2017 Women Who Mean Business honoree. The Kansas City Business Journal's Women Who Mean Business program has recognized the top-ranking area businesswomen for 18 years.

This year, in addition to leaders in for-profit business, this class includes some top-ranking women at nonprofits that derive the majority of their revenue from business activities or services, or exist to support the business community through resources, funding or economic development. "I am honored to represent the non-profit sector contributions for the first time," Sherry said.

We applaud Sherry for her dedication to assisting women on their quest for professional, financial, and personal self-sufficiency. Look for profiles of this year’s honorees in print and online Aug. 25th. The women will be recognized at a luncheon on August 25th at the Overland Park Convention Center.

Partner Spotlight: Bank of America

Linda Lenza, SVP, Kansas City Market Manager, Bank of America; Sherry Turner, WEN President; and Gary Jankowitz, Kansas City Market President, Bank of America

What does it take to sustain an organization over 31 years?  It takes a deep commitment to the mission, success of the women we serve, incredible leadership and governance, and strong support from the funding community. Support from our community partners like the Bank of America Charitable Foundation make it possible for Women's Employment Network (WEN) to continue help women in our community become stronger individuals and stronger employees.

Women's Employment Network is thrilled to be the recipient of a $20,000 grant from Bank of America, one of 13 grants that totaled nearly $200,000 focusing on increasing the economic mobility of families and individuals by investing in workforce development and education initiatives as well as basic needs. The grants in Kansas City are part of nearly $43 million in grants the Bank of America Charitable Foundation is providing across the country to advance economic mobility through workforce development and basic needs. These grants are part of the company’s commitment to responsible growth as it works to improve the financial lives of individuals and families.

As we know all too well at WEN, finding a well-paying job continues to be a challenge in Kansas City, with many individuals currently unemployed and underemployed and young people finding themselves without the resources to succeed, advance or secure economic freedom. Bank of America recognizes these critical needs and is working to help close the opportunity gap by supporting local organizations like WEN Women's Employment Network in providing basic needs and workforce development programs to the Kansas City community. “WEN is a valuable partner having received Bank of America Charitable Foundation Funding since 2013.  Their holistic approach to helping women from all backgrounds and circumstances prepare for meaningful employment and develop the skills to develop a stronger financial future are in alignment with our commitment to advancing economic mobility and building a thriving Kansas City,” said Gary Jankowitz, Kansas City Market President, Bank of America.

We can't thank Bank of America enough for their ongoing commitment to building a diverse Kansas City workforce and providing skilled workers to organizations while creating economic opportunity.

Alumnae Spotlight: Elena Sheresheva - Class 237 in 2011

Elena, dressed in a fashionable bright pink blouse, thoughtfully sipped her coffee in a cafe on the plaza as she recalled her difficult, yet ultimately successful, career journey. The path, which took a significant leap from travel agent to Middle School Science teacher over the course of nine years, was anything but easy. "Now, I'm looking forward to when everything is going to be boring. I want to be bored!" Elena joked as she recalled the past few years.

Elena achieved a Master's of Education from her native country, Russia. Upon graduation she was unable to find a job in the education field. That is how she ended up with a job as a travel agent. As her career in the travel business developed she visted several countries and concluded that she wanted to live in the U.S. She came here in 2003.

Elena continued working in the travel industry and moved to Liberty, Missouri when her husband was transferred. Elena hit a rough patch during the economic crisis and in February 2009 was laid off. At that point she was in crisis, recently seperated from her husband with a newborn, trying to manage on her own. She was living off of loans and social assistance. Elena was connected to Women's Employment Network through a referral from an emergency shelter for women and children.

Elena described the first week at WEN as a little bit awkward. Her class was such a mixture of different women with different backgrounds. One woman was trying to figure out how best to use her Master's degree and another women was focused on finding a job while on probation. It was quite an experience for her. "It was like a mini America where you learn about different kinds of people and personalities and WEN taught us how to deal with it." She said.

At WEN Elena was able to move away from the travel and tourism field and work towards her goal of becoming an educator. She became employed as a substitute teacher as she began taking courses at University-Missouri Kansas City where she worked towards a teaching certification.

Elena's son, Max, is now eight years old and thriving. He will be going into third grade next school year and trying to learn Russian.

WEN left an excellent impression on Elena. She still looks through her old materials to make sure she is using the information she learned. To others that might be thinking about going to WEN Elena says, "I would recommend WEN if you have a big desire for change. You need to have an open mind."

Elena now holds her Master's in Arts of Teaching English as a Second Language and is teaching Science to English Language Learners at Northeast Middle School. "It feels really, really good to finally reach this goal. I am one of those people that can't settle down, so I will probably find another goal. Right now, I am looking forward to a break."

WEN Welcomes Whitney Justice; Grants & Communications Officer

We are pleased to be able to introduce Whitney Justice, MPA, as our new Grants and Communications Officer. She received her Master of Public Administration from UMKC with a focus in Nonprofit Management and has a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies from Park University. A native Kansas Citian, Whitney has worked in development and fundraising in the nonprofit community for the last three years. In addition to her work at WEN, she fuels her passion to give back to the community by serving as: a Board member and Beneficiary Chair for the Bacchus Foundation, an annual participant in the Alzheimer's Association's Blondes vs. Brunettes RivALZ flag football fundraiser, a member of MOCSA's Young at Art event committee, and an active member of the Junior League of Wyandotte and Johnson Counties. WEN is thrilled to welcome her to the team!

Alumnae Family Day at the Kansas City Zoo

WEN alumnae and their families enjoyed a day at the Kansas City Zoo on June 10th thanks to Greater Kansas City United Way who provided the tickets. The weather was perfect and the animals were out and about on this beautiful day. It was a great event to reconnect and walk the Zoo with alumnae from different classes. All participating alumnae received new WEN Alumnae Association T-shirts made by the company Hope Raiser with #WENSTRONG on the back. 

It was Zootastik Learning Fest to celebrate World Ocean's Day and there were many fun hands on craft activities in the lobby. It was a successful day and we look forward to our next Zoo outing!     

Alumnae Family Cookout

We are expecting a great turnout for our alumnae family cookout on July 22nd! Graduates will gather to enjoy food, friends, and giveaways at Minor Park. Thank you to the following sponsors for making this day possible: Price Chopper, Equity Bank, Street Medicine KC.

WEN Celebrates Nicole Nelson

WEN celebrates former practicum student Nicole Nelson (formerly Williams) as she prepares to start her new job as a social worker with the Shawnee Mission School District. Nicole began at WEN in August 2015 as a MSW practicum student in partnership with the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare. Erin Cole, LMSW, Client Services Manager has had the opportunity to supervise two KU practicum students each academic year (August through April). Nicole proved to be an excellent fit and addition to WEN during her practicum, through her thoughtfulness in supporting clients with resources and referrals to community partners, as well as, providing a listening ear.

WEN had the opportunity to bring Nicole back on board for the summer 2017 as a Client Support Specialist, and has benefited from Nicole's expertise in case management and supportive services. Nicole will be working at Indian Hills Middle School, and will be the first full-time social worker in the school's history. WEN staff as a whole enjoys being able to support women through employment and equally excited when we're able to support one of our own with their career goals. Best of luck Nicole, SMSD is lucky to have you!  

Unveiling of Affirmation Mural

Artists Jackie Warren, Lorrie Eigles, and Ada Koch

Artists Jackie Warren, Lorrie Eigles, and Ada Koch

WEN unveiled our new affirmation mural this week, made possible by the thoughtful support of Victoria Rae and Matthew Swindells from their time in Kansas City. We are grateful artists, Lorrie Eigles, Ada Koch, and Jackie Warren who created the mural to inspire and celebrate our clients and graduates. 

It's Time for your Employees to Shine

It's time to put your name in lights, for a great cause - WEN. KC's Got Talent is an event unlike any other, where a dozen area corporations compete to take home the KC's Got Talent trophy and prizes. Dance, sing or play an instrument? Do stand-up? Join us as local corporations compete for bragging rights at WEN's 7th Annual Kansas City's Got Talent on Thursday, November 9th from 6 to 9 p.m. at Boulevard Brewing Company.

Sign Up Today! 

Becoming Marjorie

Please join us for the book launch of Becoming Marjorie: The Life and Legacy of Marjorie Powell Allen.

2:00 PM on Sunday, September 24th, 2017

at Unity Temple on the Plaza

707 W. 47th Street, Kansas City, MO.

Reserve your Limited Edition book online at Rainy Day Books , call 913-384-3126, or in-store at Rainy Day Books in Fairway Shops.

Great Deals, Great Cause!

What's better than a great deal on Amazon? Amazon's third-annual Prime Day is today and features more than 100,000 deals exclusively for Prime members. If you shop at Amazon TODAY a percentage of your total will be donated to Women's Employment Network!

When you #StartWithaSmile on #PrimeDay, Amazon donates to Women's Employment Network!  

Get Involved: WEN Volunteer Program

Since January community volunteers have donated over 200 hours in mock interview and resume review time to WEN clients. Learn how you can get involved at our next Volunteer Orientation. You will hear more about WEN programs, additional volunteer opportunities and meet program staff. Large groups and individuals are welcome.

Want to volunteer? Start the process today!

Upcoming Volunteer Orientation:

July 20th, 12:30-1:30 PM at WEN's office, 920 Main Street, Suite 100, Kansas City, MO 64105.