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.


Kansas City REALTORS® Complete UMKC REALTOR® Leadership Academy

The Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City celebrated the 22 Kansas City Regional Association of REALTORS® members who completed the inaugural class of the UMKC REALTOR® Leadership Academy.

The Academy is a 10-month leadership development program designed to support REALTORS® who are committed to advancing their careers through professional education and civic engagement. The Regional Association partnered with Bloch Executive Education and the Lewis White Real Estate Center at the UMKC’s Bloch School of Management for the creation and development of the Academy. UMKC Bloch School Dean Brian Klaas congratulated the students for their dedication to professional development and lifelong learning at the completion ceremony on Jan 10.

“Welcome to the Bloch School Roo family,” Klaas said. “You took the initiative. It will serve you well over time.”

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Bloch MBA Students’ Success Reaches the Global Scale

Shortly after receiving a graduate degree from the Bloch School, Scott Hansen (MBA, Entrepreneurship Scholars ’14) launched what is now ProfessionalChats, a website chat service specialized in high quality, online engagement. Shortly after, he was joined by fellow Bloch alumnus Trevor Flannigan (MBA ’14), who had a passion for growing companies. Three years later, these native Kansas Citians have done just that. ProfessionalChats now has more than 60 employees, serves five different industries and boasts more than 500 clients with up to $50 million in revenue among seven countries.

How did they do it? We set up an interview with them to find out.

What is ProfessionalChats?

Trevor Flannigan (MBA ’14), Chief Operating Officer, ProfessionalChats

Trevor Flannigan: “ProfessionalChats is a Kansas City-based website chat service that specializes in high quality, online engagement. We have multiple brands geared toward serving specific markets: OrthoChats for orthodontists, HomeServiceChats for residential service companies, HearingChats for audiologists, DentistChats for dentists and ChiroChats for chiropractors. Niching out our service lines as specific client-facing brands has helped us gain credibility within each industry better than generic marketed names. Live website chat has quickly gained traction as an essential part of any large business’s communication.”

How did ProfessionalChats start?

Scott Hansen (MBA ’14), Founder and CEO, ProfessionalChats

Scott Hansen: “I was managing my family’s orthodontic practice. We launched online chat on our website for two reasons: we wanted to convert more ‘shoppers’ into new patients, and we wanted to provide unparalleled customer service. It was a huge success.

However, being ultra-responsive with online chat while managing our normal tasks was difficult. So, we looked at outsourcing the service.  All of the services we could find used overseas labor and contracted chat agents to work from home.  Needless to say, the services offered relatively poor quality. So, instead of giving up, I hired a chat specialist, trained him, and started offering a premium chat service specifically for orthodontists, OrthoChats.” Continue reading

Global Value of Investing in Relationships

Newspapers and websites are filled with headlines of immigration bans, reconsideration of trade agreements and stories of global interest in economic and political isolation. Despite this trend, faculty, alumni and students of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management see global partnerships as essential to personal and business growth and success.

The Bloch School is continuing to enhance its curriculum, broaden an already diverse population and develop new opportunities for students to explore studying and working abroad as a way to enhance both business and life experience.

This commitment to interconnectedness and the value of developing and nurturing global relationships not only mirrors Henry Bloch’s personal philosophies of recognizing opportunities and making a personal investment in building relationships, it’s a reflection of the growing significance in the global marketplace.

Below are a few ways the Bloch School enhances students’ global mindsets.

Developing a Global View

“The simple fact the term ‘global marketplace’ is commonly used is a signpost itself,” says Michael Wizniak (MBA ’14), Bloch instructor of international business and management systems. “In a relatively short period of time, due to technological advancements and reduced barriers, the world has integrated to a level that is virtually irreversible.”

The Bloch School, like other business schools nationwide, is expanding its international course base. Classes in international management, international business environment and global management consultancy are a few offerings that give students a taste of the new business community.

Wizniak teaches Global Mindset for Managers, which focuses on a variety of topics that business professionals need in today’s global marketplace.

Laying the Groundwork

Keith Small (MBA ’00), Black & Veatch associate vice president of Sub-Saharan Africa, appreciates that the school has expanded its international curriculum and solidified global partnerships with Asia Pacific organizations and universities. He sees this as a reflection of UMKC’s goal to embrace diversity.

“Participating on the Marketing Advisory Council with other local industry leaders allows me to peek under the hood periodically,” Small notes. “The Bloch School faculty engage various companies in two-way exchanges to ensure curriculum is designed to meet the needs of the business community, while also ensuring students remain current and attractive to recruiters.”

Gathering experience and knowledge and leveraging opportunity while in the Bloch School are a good spring boards for students and professionals who are intrigued by living and working abroad.

Get Up and Go

Beyond the current class offerings, the Bloch School also offers study abroad programs for undergraduate and graduate students. Current study abroad options have included London, Portugal and South Africa.

Wizniak has also taken both undergraduate and graduate students abroad to five different countries in Europe and Asia since last year, and he sees the value in the investment.

“We spend time with local institutions and businesses experientially learning about international business,” he says. “Some of the classes are consulting for companies in foreign markets like South Korea or conducting competitive industry research and forecasting in the EU with the coming Brexit implications.”

But studying abroad often offers more than practical experience and an understanding of other people and cultures.

“When students study abroad I can see them change,” Sidne Ward, chair, Department of Management and director of Bloch Global Management Education Initiatives, says.

“Sometimes I recognize the exact moment when a student opens up to the possibility of living abroad. They begin to see a different possible future.”

Global Views Close to Home

For those students who might not be able to study abroad, the Bloch faculty and staff have structured their programs in Kansas City to help provide that worldview perspective.

Jill C. Anderson (MBA ’12), revenue cycle executive, Cerner Middle East, experienced firsthand the advantages of having a diverse cohort at Bloch.

“We had representation from Cameroon, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, Turkey and Vietnam,” says Anderson. “Many times we would get into in-depth conversations about how economies are run in those countries.”

Wizniak goes on to emphasize the universal appreciation of Henry Bloch’s model in business and in life.

“Being humble goes a long way in building relationships and trust. It would be a fool’s errand to try and find a more humble man than Henry Bloch.”

No one knows this better than Tom Bloch. “It was never about making the most money. He’s always wanted to help people. The most people. He thinks it’s important to make a difference.”

This article is an excerpt from the 2017 Bloch Magazine. To read the full article, click here.

Laura Boswell (B.B.A. ’08, MBA ’13): Experiencing Her Dream

Photo Credit: Brandon Parigo, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

Laura Boswell had a dream to work in the health care field, and by leveraging her Bloch education, she’s now a leader in a budding nonprofit sector.

“I spent several days a week volunteering in hospitals through middle and high school,” she explains. “I have had many experiences that allowed me to explore the health care field, including participating in the Edward A. Smith Urban Leadership internship with the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.”

Doranne Hudson, Associate Teaching Professor in Management and Executive-in-Residence, served as Boswell’s mentor through that program, and her direction was paramount to Boswell’s experience.

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Heart & Soul

Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications

A celebration of unique Kansas City icons

The theme was “Heart & Soul,” and while there was plenty of both to go around, the emphasis at the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards was clearly on Heart. It was a lovefest for two unique Kansas City icons: the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, and entrepreneur-philanthropist Henry W. Bloch.

The 32nd Annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards celebration Dec. 5 was sponsored by the school endowed and inspired by Bloch: the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The ceremony was held at the Kauffman Center; the architect who designed it, Moshe Safdie, was honored as International Entrepreneur of the Year; and the project team that built it was jointly honored with the Marion and John Kreamer Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

Both icons – the man and the structure – came in for high praise throughout the evening for their roles in forever changing Kansas City for the better.

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Chiluba Musonda (B.B.A ’09, M.P.A. ’12): Finding His Place

From health care to finance, civic service to cultural engagement and more, Kansas City’s businesses and nonprofits are flourishing with trailblazers who have been able to make their mark, thanks to their Bloch education.

The 2017 Bloch Magazine highlights how a few Bloch grads, who came to UMKC from different walks of life, took advantage of Bloch’s diverse opportunities and have since been putting their skills to the test to make an impact across the Kansas City metro area

Photo Credit: Brandon Parigo, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

While looking for business schools in the United States, Chiluba Musonda never imagined Kansas City would become his home away from home.

Musonda grew up in Zambia, located in Southern Africa, and confesses that when he was enrolled in the Bloch School’s Bachelor of Business Administration program, he was simply looking to gain acceptance to any business school in the United States.

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Jeff Johnson: Big Data Drives Big Results

In marketing, there are any number of variables, inputs and stimuli that can impact consumer behavior: advertising, discounts, reward programs, expanded business hours and many more. Which ones drive increases or decreases in sales? Maybe you increased your Google ad buy by 15 percent, but is that really what caused the six percent spike in orders the following month? There’s no real way to tell.

Or is there?

Jeff Johnson, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of marketing at Bloch, with expertise in personal selling and sales management, business-to-business marketing and marketing strategy. One of his major research projects involves mining big data to hone in on which customer stimuli really drive changes in customer behavior. Continue reading

Helm Announced EMBA Director

Scott Helm, Ph.D., has been newly appointed the director of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management’s Executive MBA program.

In addition to his roles as director of the Executive Master of Public Administration (E.M.P.A.), associate teaching professor of Public Affairs and associate director of the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership, Helm will oversee Bloch’s Executive MBA initiatives.

Helm received a B.A. in economics from Washington College, an M.P.A. with a concentration in nonprofit management from the Bloch School and an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in public administration and economics from University of Missouri-Kansas City.  In addition to his academic pursuits, Helm has served as a consultant to some of Kansas City’s most impactful organizations in Health, Nonprofit and Business, including the Kauffman Foundation, Samuel U. Rodgers, and most recently the Kansas City Royals (for their Urban Youth Academy).

“We’re excited that Scott will be taking on this leadership role for the EMBA program,” says Bloch School Dean Brian Klaas. “His industry experience, his understanding of how to build and deliver high quality programs for executives, and his talents as an instructor make him the perfect fit to lead this premier program.”

Vreni Fernandez (B.B.A. ’12): Driving Her Success

From health care to finance, civic service to cultural engagement and more, Kansas City’s businesses and nonprofits are flourishing with trailblazers who have been able to make their mark, thanks to their Bloch education.

The 2017 Bloch Magazine highlights how a few Bloch grads, who came to UMKC from different walks of life, took advantage of Bloch’s diverse opportunities and have since been putting their skills to the test to make an impact across the Kansas City metro area.

Photo Credit: Brandon Parigo, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

Searching for a challenge as a student led Vreni Fernandez on a path where she’s in the driver’s seat of her own success.

Fernandez began at UMKC as a pre-physical therapy major with a minor in business administration. But soon, she found herself changing gears.

“By the end of my freshman year, I found I enjoyed my business and marketing classes more than my anatomy classes,” she says. “So I made the switch to become a full-time business major and shortly afterwards, I joined two organizations – Delta Sigma Pi and Enactus – to help me network within the business community.”

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