Faithful investment is the secret sauce, says new Chamber Chair

Joy Eakins and Chris Wyant Cornerstone Data share their data analytics with a client.

This last month has been a real time of reflection as I prepare to take the reins from Damon Young as the 2023 Wichita Chamber of Commerce Chair. 

I am honored to be selected as your 2023 Chamber Chair – and I’m looking forward to working with Chamber Staff and our dedicated board members to continue the momentum of the Chamber.

We have a lot to look forward to in 2023

  • Strengthening collaboration with our regional partners, affiliates, and the military
  • Piloting a dashboard for measuring our community’s progress toward some big goals,
  • Reviewing and revising our Chamber Strategic Plan to update our roadmap for the next 3 to 5 years, 
  • And advocating locally, statewide, and nationally as the voice of all business – big and small
  • And, of course, we’ll have some great programming with the Chair’s Lunch, Networking & Educational Events, Honor Night, and More, 

As each Chair prepares for their year, he or she tries to build on the work of the previous chairs.  In 2020, when I was asked to take this position, I met with the Chairs and asked them what they were planning to lean into.  As Junetta Everett, Ben Hutton, and Damon described their thoughts on themes and the emphasis they were making, I saw that each one was leaning into their strengths.  And for me, it was clear on that day that I’d be talking about the power and impact of “Faithful Investments.”

When I started my company here in Wichita, Business leaders met with me, built a trusted relationship, and went out of their way to connect me with other leaders in the community. Bill Pickert of Forvis and Ed O’Malley – now of the Kansas Health Foundation – gave me a chance before I’d ever proven myself here.  Many of you sitting here tonight have invested in me at the Chamber – through the small business programs, committees, and the Board.  

And I hear that same story time and time again from others who’ve started a business or moved to the community, or started a new journey. This year, many of you have even taken the challenge to invest in someone different from you by taking “One Small Step.”

And as someone who’s lived in a dozen cities in 4 states – that’s unique.  And I think it’s part of Wichita’s Secret Sauce. 

 Your faithful investments in people speak to your loyalty and conscientiousness.  And you can be trusted because your word is binding – faithful.

Since 2020’s upheaval and the continuing challenges we face, it’s to be expected that our anxiety about the future is increasing, as is our desire to escape the uncomfortableness of it all.  Let’s face it – it’s easier to binge-watch Netflix or doom scroll on social media or place a bet on our favorite team.

In 2023, I want to remind us not to give in to hiding away in a feeble attempt to escape our difficulties – but to get off the couch and do the next right thing – to have grit and determination.  

At the Chair’s Lunch, we’ll connect our members with people from Wichita whose lives were forever altered by the faithful investments made decades ago. Today, those lives are impacting our community for Good – and if the people before us had failed to invest, we’d be the poorer for it.  

We’ll remind ourselves that this work can’t be measured in days or years – but in decades and lifetimes.  And if we measure too soon – and quit because it’s hard– the cost for future Wichitans will be dear.  

So, my goal for 2023 is to remind Wichita that the reason behind why “our people” are so special is this secret sauce – our faithful investment in each other – and encourage us to keep going.

I’m confident in our team and happy to lead with Chair-Elect Jason Cox and each of our affiliates.  In particular, I’m thrilled to work with my new friend and the 2023 W Chair, Alex Hamel, and I know that we will lead toward faithfully investing in the future of our businesses and our community.

Thank you for this opportunity, and I can’t wait to work with each of you.  

Want to start a conversation with Joy or the Cornerstone Data team? Drop us a message.