September 4, 2014

Wichita networking group for minority professionals launches

Wichita Urban Professionals aims to provide networking and career development for young minorities.

Jonathan Long told his audience: You can complain about Wichita, or you can make it – and yourself – better.

Long spoke Thursday evening at the Kansas Leadership Center, 325 E. Douglas, at the launch of a new group, Wichita Urban Professionals, that aims to link local minority professionals and give them opportunities to grow. Long is the group’s president.

This is a group founded on ambition and enthusiasm – and it’s also a group that generally feels it hasn’t found much of a footing in the Wichita business community, judging by a recent survey, Long said.

That’s exactly why such a network is needed, Long said, to provide opportunities for its members to advance in leadership within their companies and within the community, and to find reasons to stay in Wichita.

“We believe in Wichita’s charms and its promises and its luxuries, but we can’t get these by just waking up” every day, he said.

The group aims to provide a place where ambitious minorities, professional or not, can meet their peers as well as business and community leaders, and find professional development and mentors. The group aims to collect members who have been fragmented, even isolated, and give them cohesion.

The group was formed under the auspices of the Urban League of Kansas and is working to land sponsorships from Wichita’s business community.

It has a series of upcoming events:

Oct. 3, the evening launch of the group’s magazine, Urban Magnate.

Oct. 30, a lunch in which Assistant County Manager Ron Holt will speak about leadership.

Nov. 11, a meeting at the Urban League.

More about the group can be found at www.ictup.org.

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer spoke at the launch and applauded the group’s formation. Wichita has lost many talented young men and women, who grew frustrated and left for other places.

“The brain drain has to stop – today,” he said.

Brewer liked the fact that the group was so young and energetic.

“The leadership here, we’re getting older,” Brewer said as he called out to several long-time leaders in the black community and then turned toward the many young faces. “You are the future. As Wichita makes decisions about what it wants to be, this is the prime time to step up and make your voices heard.”

Sharon Moose came to the launch, she said, because she was curious, and she found something she was yearning for.

“I wanted a way to become more engaged in the city that I live in,” she said.

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or dvoorhis@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danvoorhis.

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