Junior Achievement Honors Four Business Laureates at 2019 Topeka Business Hall of Fame
Topeka, KS – The 2019 Topeka Business Hall of Fame, an annual fundraiser for Junior Achievement (JA) of Kansas, was held Thursday, February 28, at the Ramada Downtown Topeka.
The evening kicked off with a performance by the Topeka West Drumline, providing entertainment for nearly 450 attendees. Ten past laureates were introduced, as well as the Class of 2019: Beth Anne Branden with BA Designs; Rob Briman, Briman's Leading Jewelers; Patrick Gideon, Silver Lake Bank; and Mike Wilson, Architect One.
The evening's featured speaker was Dr. Scott McWilliams, Superintendent of Auburn-Washburn, USD 437. Dr. McWilliams, provided a visual for the audience, bringing up first grader Isaiah Wilson and a "future Isaiah" as he would be represented as a senior in high school in 2031. Dr. McWilliams emphasized the importance of ‘this space' – the space between first grade and senior year – being the space where the most impact can be made. He reflected that in ‘this space' children can learn three gifts to face challenges in their life, those three gifts being confidence, resiliency and the ability to make choices. He remarked that JA's three pillars of financial literacy, workforce readiness and entrepreneurship is a natural fit to allow students to exceed in ‘this space.' The elder Isaiah was played by Washburn Rural High School senior Alex Woods.
The main event of the evening was honoring of the Class of 2019. All four laureates were introduced by the evening's emcees: Matt Miller & Brooke Lennington of KSNT, as well as featured students speakers: Abby Fleischer, Noah LaRosh, Jada Lee-McDonald and Isaiah Wilson. Each laureate was featured in a tribute video and given a time to offer remarks to the crowd.
Branden thanked her "personal Board of Directors," which included former employers, mentors and family. Most significantly she noted her "Chief Inspirational Officer," her father, and aspires to walk in his footsteps. She thanked her husband, family and children as well as her work family, noting that she will "love you long time," a long-standing sentiment felt within the 24 year history of BA Designs.
Briman took the audience down memory lane, recalling businesses of downtown Topeka's past, including the Dickinson Theater, Jupiter and Crosby's. In one way or another, Briman's Leading Jewelers has been in downtown Topeka for its full 70+ years. He gave the audience and future leaders three pieces of advice: Step out of your comfort zone, Get involved, and Let your voice be heard.
Gideon, holding three-week-old grandson Banks, reminisced on the "on the job" training received in his over 50 years of banking, all with Silver Lake Bank (SLB). He shared that sticking with the pillars of SLB's business model: Appreciation, Community, Family, Service and Trust, has enabled the bank to succeed through troublesome times.
Wilson, wrapping up the evening, shared that persistence has led him to his success. Knowing he wanted to be an architect since his ninth grade drafting class kept him striving and driving forward, through years that were both easy and "not so easy." He noted that his firm prides themselves on giving their time, treasure and talents back to Topeka, and they aim to give back to the community.
This is the 17th year for the Topeka Business Hall of Fame, these four laureates marking laureates #75-#78. A full list and videos of Past Laureates can be found at www.kansasja.org or at the permanent exhibit in the Washburn University School of Business' Henderson Hall.
"Junior Achievement has given me a sense of what adults go through with budget issues."
"Junior Achievement reinforced concepts for me to remember later in life."
"I thought the experience was amazing. The presentation was unlike anything I've seen."
"I liked how the Junior Achievement volunteer explained his job to us."