UMKC Regnier Venture Creation Challenge Competition Announces New Category

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City Healthcare Innovation Prize supports patient-focused advancements in the healthcare industry

One of the region’s richest entrepreneurship competitions, the Regnier Venture Creation Challenge hosted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City, returns in May – and for the second year in a row, the pot of prize money has grown significantly.

The Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UMKC’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management will host the 7th annual Regnier Venture Creation Challenge Competition May 3-4, 2018. Eligible teams will compete for $75,000 in total awards and seed scholarships, made possible by generous support from the Regnier Family Foundations and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City. Students will compete in the Challenge by creating a business plan and pitching new student ventures. Applications are open to university students in Missouri and Kansas and current Bloch School Entrepreneurship Scholars.

In 2017, the prize for the overall first-place team doubled from $10,000 to $20,000. This year, the Challenge is adding a totally new category with $25,000 in additional awards. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) is sponsoring The Blue KC Healthcare Innovation Prize.

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UMKC Alumni Association Names 2018 Campus-Wide Alumni Awardees

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association and the campus celebrate the outstanding achievements of UMKC graduates through the Alumni Awards Gala. This year’s program honoring the class of 2018 recipients will be held on June 15.  For tickets or to become an event sponsor, click here.

The following Bloch alumni were named as awardees for the class of 2018:

Kay Barnes (M.A. ’71, M.P.A. ’78)

Downtown Kansas City, Missouri’s current prosperity and growth is a result of the blueprint created by former mayor, the Honorable Kay Barnes. The city’s downtown residents surged from 4,000 in 2002 to 26,000 in 2017, just one piece of the transformation at the city’s center. Barnes’ tenacity and leadership as mayor from 1999–2007 inspired a multi-billion dollar campaign for the revitalization of downtown Kansas City — including construction of the Power & Light District and the Sprint Center. In addition to her role as a national political figure and the first (and only) female mayor of Kansas City, Barnes has been a tireless champion for women. She helped establish the Central Exchange, a local organization committed to helping women achieve their greatest potential, as well as the UMKC Women’s Center, providing programming and support for women on campus. In 2015, Barnes was inducted into the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame. She now serves as Senior Academic Liaison and Ambassador for Park University and has been as frequent guest lecturer at UMKC’s Bloch School of Management.

Dr. Fredrick N. Manasseh (Pharm.D. ’07, EMBA ’12)

Fredrick N. Manasseh arrived in Wichita, Kansas, from Nairobi, Kenya, with nothing more than a suitcase of clothes and enough money to pay for two months of room and board. As an undergraduate, he worked three jobs to pay for his education and support his family in Kenya. Despite losing everything he owned in an apartment fire within three months of arriving, Manasseh graduated with honors from Butler Community College and Wichita State University. While earning his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from UMKC (and later, his EMBA), he established a student chapter for the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP). He also went on to earn a Certificate of Health Information and Management Exchange Specialist from Columbia University, a Graduate Certificate of Finance from UMKC and a Strategic Management Certificate from Harvard University. In 2011, Manasseh founded The Monica E. Manasseh Scholarship, named for his mother, at UMKC to aid minority students who encounter financial barriers to higher education. Now, principal and managing consultant at Rx Prowess LLC, he serves as board chair and president for Riverview Health Services, an organization that connects indigent, uninsured and underinsured adults and children with health care services, education and medical supplies in Wyandotte County the Kansas City metropolitan area. He is also an executive board member for Child with No Father, an organization that provides educational support and resources to orphan children raised in developing countries. Additionally, Manasseh is a practicing pharmacist, adjunct professor at the University of North Texas Health Science Center and serves on the board of Community Development Financial Resources, an organization that aims to teach financial literacy and money management in communities that are financially underserved.

The Eisler-Ferguson Family (Patrick Eisler, M.P.A. ’98, Heather R. Beaird-Eisler, B.B.A. ’90, Haley Ferguson-Eisler, B.B.A.)

Within the Eisler-Ferguson family, there are more than a dozen Roos spanning two generations. William O’Neill Eisler graduated from the University of Kansas City (now UMKC) in 1958 and went on to receive his law degree. Bill practiced law for 45 years, with 20 years spent as a partner at the Whipple, Eisler & Kraft Law Firm and another 25 years in independent labor arbitration. Bill’s sons, Patrick and Sean, both attended UMKC and graduated with degrees in History and Mechanical Engineering, respectively. Patrick went on to earn his M.P.A. and worked for Apria Healthcare for 20 years before moving to his current position at Netsmart Technologies. His wife, Heather R. Beaird-Eisler, received her B.B.A. from UMKC. Sean began his career at Henderson Engineers, where his is currently a vice president. Sean often promotes School of Computing and Engineering events within his company and was instrumental in securing a multi-year scholarship from Henderson Engineers for SCE students. Although they attended high school together, Sean met his wife Haley Ferguson-Eisler at UMKC, where she earned her B.B.A. Haley’s parents, Marvin and Sandra Lynn Ferguson, attended the School of Law and have practiced together in North Kansas City for more than 50 years. Haley’s brother, Mark, and his wife, Margaret Costanzo-Ferguson, also both attended the UMKC School of Law. Mark has his own practice and has worked in the same building as his parents for over 25 years.

Frank Wewers (MBA ’69)

Frank Wewers founded Manning Systems, Inc., a leader in the gas detection industry. After selling Manning Systems to Honeywell, Wewers went on to found FLI-TEK Consulting, LLC, which provides strategic and tactical advice in the gas sensing and analyzer industry. In 2010, Wewers joined the UMKC Bloch Advisory Council and in 2013, a $1 million bequest established the Frank J. and Helen L. Wewers Scholarship Fund to provide financial support for Bloch School students. He presently serves on the board of the Kansas City Art Institute and the UMKC Foundation. He and his wife Helen are supporters of arts and public education, including organizations such as the University of Kansas School of Engineering, the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Kansas Families for Education, the Alliance for Epilepsy Research and Children’s Mercy.

The Bloch School extends congratulations to the other campus-wide award winners:

Carla Conway Wilson (B.S. ’88)

UMKC’s Director of Athletics, Carla Conway Wilson has a vision and focus on service to athletics and student-athletes that has put her, and UMKC, in the national spotlight. In 2017, Wilson was elected as the third Vice President of the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association and appointed to the NCAA Division I Council. She was also chosen to serve on the Executive Committee for the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association. The first female and minority leader of athletics at UMKC — and one of only a few female athletic directors among the NCAA’s 351 Division I institutions — Wilson was named Division I Administrator of the Year in 2012 by the Women Leaders in College Sports and one of the “Top 25 Women in Higher Education” in 2015 by Diverse magazine. In 2016-17, Wilson led the Roos to five Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championships, five second place finishes and two third place finishes. UMKC student-athletes also excelled in the classroom, earning a program-record cumulative grade point average of 3.34, with 122 student-athletes earning All-WAC academic honors. Wilson is active on a number of community boards including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City Sports Lab Advisory Board, Women’s Intersport Network for Kansas City (WIN for KC) and the Chancellor’s Advisory Board for the UMKC’s Women’s Center.

Hannah Lofthus (B.A. ’07)

Hannah Lofthus is the founder and chief executive officer of the Ewing Marion Kauffman School and a committed member of the UMKC and Kansas City community. Her service to her alma mater began while she was an undergraduate student and member of the Honors College; she co-founded the service-learning program and founded a partnership with a local charter school to provide opportunities for Honors students to serve their community. This community partnership still exists today at the Kauffman School where 180 UMKC students have volunteered since the program’s inception. In 2010, Lofthus founded the Kauffman School with the mission of “creating college graduates.” The founding class of fifth graders entered the school in the bottom third of the state on fourth grade math and reading state exams. Four years later, their results ranked number one in the state of Missouri. Lofthus led the Kauffman School to state recognition: It was named the 2015 Missouri Charter School of the Year and earned a 100 percent Annual Performance Rating from the state the past two years, as well as national acclaim, achieving the Platinum Rating from the Leverage Leadership Institute and RELAY Graduate School of Education. The school was also named a 2017 “School to Learn From” by Teach for America. Lofthus was inducted into the Mid-America Education Hall of Fame in 2015 and received the Accelerate Institute’s Ryan Award for transformational school leadership in 2016.