Renee Duxler graduated from Newman University in 2004 with a master’s in social work, which has led her through a variety of career opportunities.
While working as a social worker, Duxler said she has had many opportunities to expand her career, including working in the HIV/AIDS field for a number of years as well as in early childhood education of art. She also provided mental health and behavior services in homes and has been an executive director for multiple nonprofits such as Positive Directions and Alzheimer’s Association.
“I have been able to do such a diverse range of things with my master’s in social work here in Wichita,” Duxler said.
After performing years of social work, Duxler felt that it was time to bring out her other talents to become an entrepreneur. For a number of years now, Duxler has owned a business in the Douglas Design District as a designer selling resale clothing. She most recently earned the new role as executive director of that same district.
“I’m most excited because I have been a part of this community for so many years and was also a small business owner myself,” Duxler said. She loves building the community and neighborhood, making it vibrant and vital.
“There is this sort of colorfulness and creativity and vibrancy to it and camaraderie amongst not only our business owners but our residents. And so that’s really community building is what it is.
“And that’s what I’ve spent my entire life doing in some shape or form throughout. So now, to be in a position to do it this way is really exciting,” Duxler added.
The SHEro award seeks to recognize unsung women who are demonstrating excellence in their chosen fields and or communities, and who are not only of good character but also demonstrate compassion, vision and a desire to improve the quality of life for others.
While the Newman community was celebrating Duxler with the Alumni SHEro award, Duxler was remembering her own SHEro, Dr. Donna Sweet.
“She is who pretty much gave me one of my first jobs right out of college and she really helped me. She is the doctor that I worked with for many years doing HIV/AIDS case management and care. She’s one of the only HIV/AIDS doctors in the state of Kansas.
“We traveled all over Kansas providing care and I learned so much from her about what it takes to be both compassionate and strong and that has served me throughout my life. I definitely credit her for that,” Duxler said.
Duxler said looking back, her experience and time at Newman University had been the most rewarding thing she has brought with her.
“The relationships that I made with fellow students here was huge — not only through the school process and learning from them in the classroom, but then also carrying those relationships out into the real world. We all have kept in touch pretty closely. We use each other as resources, as mentors
Duxler is often invited back to campus as a guest lecturer in the classroom. “I enjoy that teaching experience and I enjoy being able to give back as a teacher.”