Difference Makers celebrated during annual ceremony


The Difference Makers for Wichita awards banquet was held Feb. 23 in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center on the Newman University campus.

The awards honor individuals and organizations making a positive difference and celebrates their contributions, value and influence on improving the greater Wichita community.

Newman University was a title sponsor for the event along with Emprise Bank and The Wichita Eagle/Kansas.com.

J.V. Johnston, vice president for university advancement at Newman University said, “It’s important to be a part of these type of community events. This is a positive event for the community that raises the community up. Anything positive for the community is a good thing.”

He added that the award recipients are all individuals who inspire and make a difference in the world, a value that Newman strongly promotes and upholds through its mission.

Jennifer White, recipient of the Russ Meyer Community Leadership Award and executive director of ICT SOS said, “Being recognized as a difference maker for Wichita is such an important thing to me. I’m a lifelong Wichitan, I love this city and I think it’s worth digging in and making a difference for.”

Sarah Coffman, executive director of the Wichita Animal Action League, which is the recipient of the Sister Tarcisia Roths, ASC, Not-For-Profit Award, said, “I’ve noticed a recurring theme with all of our winners here tonight … they’re all ‘doers.’ They aren’t the kind to sit behind a keyboard and hope somebody else jumps in.

“In a day when it’s really easy to hit ‘share’ or ‘retweet’… it’s really encouraging to see so many people who are still willing to roll up their sleeves and do the dirty work.”

The 2019 Difference Makers for Wichita awards banquet celebrated its third year of recognizing community members who are going above and beyond for others. Johnston said he’s looking forward to many more years.

The following awards were presented at the 2019 banquet:

Jennifer White, executive director of ICT SOS

Russ Meyer Community Leadership Award, presented by JR Custom Metal Products, Inc. and named after longtime aviation advocate, philanthropist and community leader Russ Meyer, is given to an individual making a positive impact in our community through demonstrated excellence in leadership and outstanding initiative to create solutions for critical issues facing the area. The 2019 recipient is Jennifer White of ICT SOS, a grassroots organization that has become an important component in Wichita’s battle against human trafficking.

Elizabeth Meister, recipient of the Brian Bergkamp Student Service Award

Brian Bergkamp Student Service Award is presented by Ascension Via Christi and named for the late seminarian Brian Bergkamp, who died while rescuing a fellow kayaker who had fallen into the Arkansas River. This award is given to a high school student who by example has demonstrated the selfless and giving attitude to positively transform society. Elizabeth Meister, a student at Wichita Collegiate School, took leadership skills learned through the American Heart Association’s Ambassador Program to create her own nonprofit, Heart to Heart, which involves teaching hands-only CPR within all the private and parochial schools in Wichita and other events.

Sarah Coffman, executive director of the Wichita Animal Action League

Sister Tarcisia Roths, ASC, Not-For-Profit Award, presented by Nonprofit Chamber of Service, is named for former Newman University President Tarcisia Roths, ASC, who played a major role in the growth of the university. It is awarded to a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that is creating a significant impact in our community. The 2019 recipient is the Wichita Animal Action League (WAAL), whose executive director is Sarah Coffman. WAAL is dedicated to rescuing animals in crisis that have been abused, neglected and abandoned.

Douglas Lockett, recipient of the Ivonne Goldstein Community Volunteer Award

Ivonne Goldstein Community Volunteer Award is presented by BKD CPAs and Advisors and named for the late Ivonne Goldstein who served on the boards of or raised money for more than 50 Wichita organizations. This award is presented to an individual who through outstanding volunteer community service and commitment is making a measurable difference. Douglas Lockett, the 2019 recipient, is a U.S. Air Force veteran operating The Underground Café, which serves great food and fellowship every Wednesday evening from the basement of a church building.

Sarah Bagby, owner of Watermark Books

Marshall Murdock Award for Business, presented by The Wichita Eagle/Kansas.com, is named for Marshall Murdock, founder of The Wichita Eagle in 1872. The award is given to an area business that is making a positive impact by addressing a major community challenge or by implementing ideas, which enhance opportunities for employees through creativity and innovation. This year’s recipient, Watermark Books, owned by Sarah Bagby, brings individuals in the community together with the hope of elevating quality of life.

The awards banquet also honors five “Everyday Heroes,” presented by Envision. The recipients are individuals who do not seek recognition but rather are committed and inspired to serve others daily in order to make a positive difference.

The recipients were Glen Chambers, Lynn and David Gilkey, Madeline Akers, Cari Schmidt, Ngoc Vuong and Chip Neumann.



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