Alumni Spotlight: Kenji Takada (B.B.A. ’87)

Kenji Takada (B.B.A. ’87), President and CEO, TBK America

Finding a new home at UMKC

Kenji Takada (B.B.A. ’87) is originally from Japan, but he considers himself an all-American businessman.

“I always tell my kids how lucky they are to be born as Americans and to be able to live here,” Takada says. “I am Japanese by birth, but an American by choice.”

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Bloch School Celebrates New Inductees into Entrepreneur Hall of Fame

Four of Kansas City’s most celebrated innovators make up the 2017 class

The Entrepreneur Hall of Fame at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management welcomes some of Kansas City’s most exemplary entrepreneurs as its second class of honorees.

The hall is a vision and a gift from Joe and Judy Roetheli, founders of the Lil’ Red Foundation. Their vision was to have a permanent, immersive and interactive hall of fame, designed to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. The hall is located on the main level of the Bloch Executive Hall, 5108 Cherry St.

“The goal of the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame is to celebrate the stories of Kansas City’s most iconic entrepreneurs – those who built businesses from the ground up,” said Beverly Stewart, director, Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. “I can’t think of a better representation than these four individuals.”

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Vice Chancellor’s Honor Recipients Are Deeply Rooted in Family, Friends

Two Graduating Bloch Students Honored for Their Leadership and Service

“When I see a tree, I am reminded that the tree must have strong, deep roots to withstand strong winds,” said University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor Leo Morton as he paralleled the foundation and support that family, friends, and UMKC faculty and staff have provided four exceptional graduates.

The four graduates were honored at the fall 2016 Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Honor Recipients Breakfast on Dec. 16.

The Bloch School honorees for fall 2016 included Kathleen Crow, MPA and Xiaomei Grazia Xiong. Osasere Eke, School of Biological Sciences and Kartik Sreepada, School of Medicine, were also honored.

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Jumpstarting Ideas

Four teams receive startup funding in Roo Idea Jump

Four undergraduate teams walked away with investments to their ventures following the Roo Idea Jump Wednesday, Dec. 7.

The Roo Idea Jump is an annual competition open to all for-credit undergraduate and graduate UMKC students. To be eligible, students must present an idea for a new, independent venture currently in the concept or seed stage. Students submit a report covering their venture’s value proposition, customer segments, revenues, costs and partnerships, as well as a business model canvas. From this initial business plan, finalists are selected to pitch their venture to a judge’s panel of local area entrepreneurs.

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Humorous and Humble Entrepreneur

Phuc Hoang Ho (Tin Ho) Selected 2016 Student Entrepreneur of the Year

Funny, motivated, humble and reliable. Those words were used to describe Tin Ho, the 2016 Student Entrepreneur of the Year, whose given name is Phuc Hoang Ho.

“Tin is the childhood nickname that my mom gave me out of her fangirl-ism for the French comic series ‘The Adventures of Tin Tin,’ ” said Ho. “Also, Tin is easier and much safer to pronounce than my Vietnamese name. Trust me.”

A native of Saigon, Vietnam, Ho arrived at the University of Missouri-Kansas City on a full scholarship to the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. His goal: to become a serial entrepreneur.

In the three years since his arrival as an international student, he co-founded AddVenture in the first cohort of the Summer Scholars in 2015; won $1,000 for first place in the Regnier Institute Roo Idea Jump Competition; won first place and received $10,000 proof-of-concept funding from Digital Sandbox KC; founded the Student Entrepreneurs Group Action; and was named Student Entrepreneur of the Year. And there’s more.

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Dynamic Duos #UMKCGoingPlaces

Ben Williams, right, mentors Chad Feather at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Photos by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Ben Williams, right, mentors Chad Feather at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Photos by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Ready for the World


Many successful people give generous credit for their achievements to the guidance of mentors who counseled them as young adults. At the University of Missouri–Kansas City, mentorship is a vital part of the educational experience. One of the common threads in the ongoing Our Students. Our Story. #UMKCGoingPlaces series on the UMKC site and tumblr is how students appreciate the work of their mentors.

To focus even more on those crucial mentorship relationships, we’ve created another regular feature: Dynamic Duos. In interviews and images, we’re giving you an intimate look at faculty/staff-and-student mentorship pairs at UMKC. Read the other Dynamic Duos articles.


Chad Feather started his first business when he was 12, a mere junior high schooler in Kearney, Missouri.


“I did it to fund my hobby: racing cars,” says Feather, now 20 and a Business Administration student, with an emphasis in marketing and entrepreneurship, at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management.

Feather still races cars and runs the business, which buys and then sells overstock merchandise — everything from car parts to women’s clothing.

At Bloch, Feather met a much-needed mentor in Ben Williams, assistant director of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and global entrepreneurship instructor. After graduation in December 2017, he asked Williams when he should:

  1. Pursue his MBA
  2. Go for a law degree
  3. Hit the ground running with a startup

Talk about the perfect person to offer advice. Williams has an MBA, a law degree and is also an entrepreneur. One of his startups included a designated-driving service with a collapsible motorbike.

“Chad is an entrepreneur,” Williams says. “He is ready for the world and the world needs Chad.”


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Alumni Spotlight: Becky Robinson (M.P.A. ’85)


Becky Robinson (M.P.A. ’85), President and founder, Alley Cat Allies

Becky Robinson (M.P.A. ’85), President and founder,
Alley Cat Allies

Graduate’s cat rescue program protects animals around the world

Becky Robinson (M.P.A. ’85) is a true friend to felines. In 1990, she founded Alley Cat Allies, an organization that advocates for the humane treatment of cats. It’s the only one of its kind, nationwide.

Protecting cats is a calling that goes back to Robinson’s childhood, when her family launched the humane society in her hometown of McPherson, Kan.

“My childhood was spent with animals of all kinds,” she says. “I was raised to be deeply concerned with the well-being of companion animals and wildlife.”

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Alumni Spotlight: Heather Brosz White (M.P.A. ’95)


Heather Brosz White (M.P.A. ’95), Director of Government and Foundation Relations, North Carolina Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs

Passion for volunteering leads to career helping kids

Heather Brosz White’s (M.P.A. ’95) commitment to service didn’t begin when she started working with the Boys & Girls Club. She’s been volunteering since she was a child.

“Helping a company make money doesn’t interest me,” she says. “The nonprofit sector offers something that I am motivated by: helping others have a better life and making a difference.”

While at UMKC, White volunteered with the Housing Authority of Kansas City, where she helped develop a mentoring program for girls. She says her time in Kansas City helped shape not just her career, but her life.

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Meeting the Challenge: Doranne Hudson and Preston Coughlin

Photo Credit: Dan Videtich Photography

Photo Credit: Dan Videtich Photography

If Doranne Hudson could impart one piece of advice to her students, it would be to cultivate mentors and to develop those relationships to the fullest extent. After connecting with Hudson, that’s exactly what Preston Coughlin (B.B.A. ’12, J.D./MBA ’15) did.

In his junior year, Coughlin received a coveted spot in the Edward A. Smith Urban Leadership program, a summer internship that combines classroom study, mentoring and a full-time position at an area nonprofit organization. Within minutes of sitting down with Coughlin at their first one-on-one meeting, Hudson was impressed.

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Fearless Creativity

Judy Roetheli and her husband, Dr. Joseph Roetheli, were cited for social entrepreneurship. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

Judy Roetheli and her husband, Dr. Joseph Roetheli, were cited for social entrepreneurship. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

2016 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards celebrate those who care enough to dare

It’s all about the love.

People often talk about entrepreneurship in terms of risk and effort. Those who succeed – and many of those who don’t – extend themselves and their resources beyond normal limits.

But those honored for their entrepreneurial success often talk about something else entirely. They flat-out love what they do, and that, more than fame or money, is what makes the risk and effort worthwhile.

Take Dave Kiersznowski, who founded the firms DEMDACO and Red Rock Traditions with his wife, Demi.

“Do what you love.  An entrepreneur who loves their work creates a really fun work environment, and their excitement is contagious,” he said, as the couple was honored as Kansas City’s International Entrepreneurs of the Year.

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