Laura is an entrepreneur and author, focusing on social responsibility as a lifestyle. She recently served as president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. With more than $1 billion under its umbrella, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation consistently ranks in the top ten among more than 650 community foundations in the country. In March 2012, after a record year at the foundation and six years as president and CEO, Laura left her position to build a business helping companies celebrate doing good at home and in the workplace.
Laura writes frequently on the subject of social responsibility and giving back, especially on topics related to companies doing good. Her editorials on have appeared in publications across the country, including the Downey Patriot, Las Vegas Tribune, Hawaii Reporter, Atlanta Journal Constitution, newsroanoke.com, SunSentinel, Kansas City Star, NJToday.net, Sun Advocate, Island Dispatch, Greater Tulsa Reporter Newspapers, the Wall Street Journal‘s online WSJ MarksetWatch and the Roanoke Star-Sentinel. While serving as president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, Laura published two white papers on companies and giving back: The Case for Corporate Social Responsibility: The Power of the Corporate Philanthropy Platform (2010) and Demystifying Corporate Social Responsibility: Four Steps to Success (2011).
Laura earned a degree in philosophy at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa. She earned a law degree, with honors, from the University of Kansas School of Law, where she served as managing editor of the Kansas Law Review. Prior to joining the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, Laura practiced law at the Kansas City firm of Spencer Fane Britt & Browne, specializing in tax, estate planning and charitable giving.
Laura has been honored to serve on several boards of directors over the course of her career, including the Mattie Rhodes Center, Mid-America Planned Giving Council, Nonprofit Connect, Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute, National Association of Corporate Directors/Heartland Chapter, United Way of Greater Kansas City, American Royal Association, Start Up Weekend and the Children’s Mercy Hospital Foundation. Laura is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization and she is the grateful recipient of honors that include the Kansas City Tomorrow Distinguished Alumni Award.
Laura and her husband have five daughters. They live in Leawood, Kansas, where they celebrate doing good through a range of giving activities, including organizing their family’s charitable donations through a family foundation fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. In her spare time, Laura enjoys pursuing a lifelong hobby of baking and writing, making it fun by adding a little charitable giving to the mix, along with lipstick. Laura is the author of Cereal for Dinner, Cake for Dessert. The book, based on Laura’s daily Diary of a Good Girl blog, is a true story to inspire other women to be themselves, even as they strive to do good for others in as many ways as possible.
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Susan Monslow combines ten years of experience as an entrepreneur and a corporate trainer to help companies build simple but effective frameworks for corporate social responsibility based on best practices in the industry.
Susan built and owned a successful insurance agency with American Family Insurance. She sold her business to pursue an opportunity to help develop a training program at American Family Insurance, as well as to spend more time on community activities and celebrating good at home and in the workplace.
Susan has been actively involved in various aspects of social responsibility and charitable giving in Kansas City since 1989, when she and her family moved to the region. Susan enjoyed serving as a board member for American Family Charities, getting involved in the company’s social responsibility program. Susan is especially interested in giving programs that focus on children and companion animals. She has served on the board at H.O.R.S.E., a therapeutic riding program for individuals with autism. Susan also volunteers and contributes annually to the Johnson County Christmas Bureau and the Salvation Army.
Susan earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Missouri State University and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Emporia State University. Susan values education and finds fulfillment in helping others identify and build on their own personal strengths to reach their highest potential, often using a little verbal “nudging” in the process. Susan is the mother of two college-aged daughters. Susan’s oldest daughter just competed her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and plans to pursue a masters degree in social work. Susan’s youngest daughter is studying at Kansas State University to become an elementary teacher.
Susan is married to Vince Monslow, a practicing attorney and awesome cook. Vince especially enjoys cooking and entertaining for family and friends, with Susan as his sous chef. Vince and Susan live on a small farm in Bucyrus, Kansas, with a menagerie of animals. In her spare time, Susan enjoys slipping away for a horseback ride with friends, enjoying a good glass of wine, jogging on country roads and curling up with a good book.
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Allie is a recent graduate of Kansas State University. She earned a degree in marketing with a minor in leadership studies. Actively involved in her sorority, Pi Beta Phi, Allie loves Manhattan and K-State football and basketball. She attends as many games as she can to cheer on her Cats.
Allie has always enjoyed customer and client service. She worked at Nordstom for many years and built strong ties with her colleagues and customers. Allie was fortunate to have experienced many facets of the company, learning what it means to build a customer-focused culture from inside out. She began her work at Nordstrom in the stock department and advanced from stock to sales and web orders and back to sales. She knew she had a good day when she would leave work smiling because of the customers.
Allie is committed to a socially responsible lifestyle and giving back, in all of its many forms. She especially loves visiting farmers’ markets to shop organic, local and sustainable. Even during college, she made it a priority to frequent a few markets on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings to support local farmers. In her spare time, Allie loves cooking and baking. She loves to travel, especially to New York City. Allie is a huge supporter of arts and culture, and she fully admits that she is obsessed with any and all Broadway shows.
Allie supports a variety of charitable causes, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Allie is a big fan of the idea that all giving is personal. In fact, her interests are very much related to family and people she cares about. Allie’s brothers just became Eagle Scouts, and her cousin battled leukemia when she was younger.
In addition to her role on the Laura Wells McKnight Consulting team, Allie is also an entrepreneur. Allie earned her real estate license in Kansas in 2010 and enjoys working with her father, stepmother and sister at their company in Corporate Woods in Overland Park, Kansas. Allie’s mother also sells real estate, basing her practice in Lenexa, Kansas.
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Melissa Berkley Ungashick works closely with a diverse client base of businesses, designing and implementing the industry’s most innovative, customized corporate social responsibility platforms to improve employee and brand engagement. Melissa joined the Laura Wells McKnight Consulting team after 15 years of professional experience in business development, marketing and account management.
Social responsibility has always been a strong focus of Melissa’s career. Most recently, Melissa worked with Bono and Bobby Shriver to launch (RED), partnering with iconic companies to send a portion of profits from (PRODUCT)RED products directly to the Global Fund, established to fight AIDS in Africa. (RED) partners include American Express in the United Kingdom, Converse, Gap, Emporio Armani, Apple, Hallmark, Dell, Microsoft and Starbucks. Melissa was responsible for creating the partnership between (RED) and Hallmark in 2007, a relationship she managed directly for more than two years. Melissa and her team were honored to lead the effort to built (RED) into the largest social initiative in Hallmark history, expanding the initiative from 3,600 Gold Crown stores to 13,000 Gold Crown and mass channels stores, including Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s, CVS, Kroger and Safeway.
Melissa has always enjoyed working with companies to create and implement unique marketing strategies. At Melissa’s Custom Specialties, Inc., an advertising specialties company featuring logoed apparel and promotional products, and GEAR for Sports, both in Lenexa, Kansas, Melissa developed relationships with global sources to create custom products within strategic budgetary parameters, developing solutions for the clients she recruited, including Cerner, H&R Block, DEMDACO Design for the Home, Commerce Bank and M&I Bank, Disney, Universal Studios, Coca-Cola, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, MGM Mirage, Park Place Entertainment, Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, WHSmith and Delaware North Park Services.
Melissa approaches client experiences with enthusiasm and attention to detail. She is grateful for the skills she developed early in her career during her positions across the country, and around the world, at Vail Resorts in Vail, Colorado, Medical Media Communications and Benchmark Hospitality in Chicago, Illinois, Hotel Crescent Court in Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Cowboys Football Club in Irving, Texas and MTV Europe in London, England.
Melissa is a graduate of Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, where she studied journalism, mass communications, public relations and marketing, and where she also played Division 1 volleyball. Melissa and her husband, Marko, live in Overland Park, Kansas, with their two children. Melissa and her family celebrate doing good, at home and in the community, spending time outdoors, sharing and helping other families in the neighborhood and supporting charitable organizations.
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Anna Finigan brings over 15 years leading business operations for Fortune 500 companies. Her passion has provided her with a diverse background in areas such as customer experience, sales operations and logistics. Anna is skilled at bringing the best practices that perfectly match our client’s business, growth, community and personnel goals.
Often found running towards a challenge, Anna has built a reputation of transforming troubled initiatives into successful, sustainable operations. With her unwavering commitment to excellence, Anna consistently pursues innovative solutions to challenging problems. Whether it is helping a company streamline business processes to be more efficient or helping someone live up to their greatest potential, Anna is motivated to do good.
But having a positive impact does not stop at the office. At home in Brookside, a suburb of Kansas City, Anna and her husband Brian celebrate life’s moments of magic and wonderment with their two little boys. As a family, they are active in their community and school, often volunteering together. Even at their young ages, the boys are eager to get involved and help others in need. When not fixing odd things around the house, Anna enjoys cooking with family and friends, practicing yoga, and refining her photography skills, often to the dismay of her boys.
Anna is a graduate of John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, where she earned dual business degrees in Logistics and Management.
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Jean joined the team with more than 20 years of marketing, brand and strategic planning experience. With emphasis in financial services and nonprofits, she helps clients develop corporate social responsibility platforms that support vision, mission and core values and feed their growth initiatives. She has built a solid track record of managing and motivating high-performing teams and building strong client/vendor relationships.
Most recently, Jean served as the Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications for CommunityAmerica Credit Union, where she developed a long-range marketing plan and brand-building strategy to increase the financial institution’s Kansas City market share from 1.9% to 10% by 2016. In early 2012, after reaching 11% share in half the time, Jean decided to pursue her dream of balancing family, a consulting practice and her love of the outdoors. In addition to her client work, she is also a certified challenge course facilitator at Timber Ridge Adventure Center through Johnson County Parks and Recreation.
One of Jean’s favorite nonprofits is the Friends of Johnson County Developmental Supports, an organization that provides barrier-free housing, assistive technology and emergency assistance for residents with developmental disabilities. She was honored to have chaired its board of directors and remains an active supporter. Jean is also involved with the Central Exchange of Kansas City.
Jean earned her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She also holds certificates in executive leadership training from Cornell, Darden and Wharton Schools of Business through the Credit Union Executive Society. In 2012, Jean completed the Entrepreneur Fastrac Program through Kansas City’s Kauffman Foundation.
Jean and her husband, Mike, live in Overland Park with their son and daughter. They celebrate doing good by volunteering and supporting their favorite causes, coaching and watching lots of youth sports, and finding ways to fill the recycle bin more than the trash bin. In their spare time, they all love spending time in and around Grand Lake, Colorado–skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer.
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From a young age, Jennifer wanted to find a career that would allow her to interact with and help people. In elementary school, she thought she wanted to be a doctor, but in junior high, she changed her mind about her career choice after she learned how long it takes to become a doctor. Instead, Jennifer decided to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and become an attorney. Being such a goal oriented person, or “a woman on a mission” as one person so appropriately described her, each step Jennifer took along the way was calculated to help her achieve her dream. In high school she worked at her grandfather’s law firm to gain a better understanding about how small firms work. During the summers in college she worked at a larger law firm in Wichita. In college, Jennifer interned with a representative from the Kansas Legislature, which gave her an insider’s view of the legislative branch. She also interned with the Lyon County District Court for a semester, working closely with the Clerk of the Court, giving her a unique opportunity to observe the judicial branch first hand. Her hard work and persistence paid off. In 1994 Jennifer graduated, with honors, from Emporia State University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in Public Administration, and in 1997 she graduated, with honors, from Washburn University School of Law. After graduating from Washburn, she went to work for a large Kansas City based law firm for a few years where she practiced real estate law. She left that firm in 2001 to join Stinson Morrison Hecker, where she continued to practice real estate law until February of 2013.
While practicing at Stinson, Jennifer had the pleasure of working with many types of firm clients, including corporations, developers, lenders and borrowers. Of her many projects, however, there are three that she takes pride in the most. The first project was the rehabilitation of an old historic bank building located in central downtown Kansas City, Missouri, which is now home to the Kansas City Public Library. The renovated building, together with the adjacent parking garage with the unique “book ends” facade, brought new life to a part of downtown that was in desperate need of revitalization. The second project involved the preservation and adaptive reuse of the Union Station Power House Building, which is now home to the Kansas City Ballet. The Library Project and the Power House Project each began with the vision of Kansas City Public Library and the Kansas City Ballet, respectively, and materialized because of the collective efforts of the Downtown Council, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, several key business leaders and countless corporate and individual donors. It was a very rewarding experience for Jennifer to be involved, from start to finish, on projects that were largely made possible by generous donations from the philanthropic community, and it gives her great pride knowing that these projects will continue to have a positive impact on the community for many years to come. The most recent project was important to Jennifer because it was all about renewable energy. She had the privilege of representing a company in the development and construction of a large wind farm in central Kansas. Jennifer enjoyed working on this project because it is good for the environment, which in turn is good for all of us!
At home, Jennifer and her family try to incorporate the recycle and reuse philosophy into their daily lives. They throw as much into the recycle bin as possible, and on trash day, the recycle bin typically is twice as full as the trash bin! She also tries to reuse or repurpose items found around the house, like the old KU souvenir cup with a small hole that became a cup holder for the home office, or the old wire hanger that, with the help of a couple paperclips and a few rubber bands, came together to make a great holder for rolls of wrapping paper. Repurposing even happens in the kitchen. Those packages of stale bread and buns in the pantry make great food for the squirrels and birds in the back yard!
Jennifer lives in Lenexa with her husband, Andy Massieon. They have a son and a daughter who attend Holy Trinity Catholic School. Much of Jennifer and Andy’s spare time revolves around the kids, whether it be coaching, driving kids to activities, sitting in bleachers cheering them on in sports, helping with homework or volunteering at the school.
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