futureraiser bannerOn Tuesday, August 18, KC Digital Drive is hosting Forward to the Future: A Civic Tech Cocktail Reception and Futureraiser. The event’s purpose is twofold. We are looking back at three years of progress since our city got gigabit fiber and wrote its Digital Playbook. But we are also looking to the future, to the challenges and opportunities facing our city.

To answer these questions, we’ve assembled an amazing panel of 10 of our smartest leaders from the entrepreneurial and tech communities. At the #FutureKC event August 18, each of these folks will give super-fast, Ignite-style talk about their accomplishments, failures, and hopes as the men and women working to make Kansas City a leading digital city.

To preview their talks, we asked each of them three questions about the challenges and opportunities facing KC. Get to know them below, and then get tickets to our Futureraiser on August 18 here.

Get FutureKC Tickets Here

20 Challenges and Opportunities Facing Kansas City

 

Adam Arredondo

Adam Arredondo

Adam Arredondo

What I do: Co-founder, CEED (@CEEDtheFuture) & Co-leader, KCSV (@KCSV)

My favorite thing about being in KC is… 1. Royals. 2. Our growing startup community. 3. Royals. 4. Our rejuvenated downtown. 5. Royals.

From where I sit, our biggest challenge as a community is… changing our collective mindset. If we ever truly want to be a city where innovation thrives, we have to take bigger risks and accept that failure is simply a speed bump on the road to greatness. Our students especially need to adopt a more entrepreneurial mindset.

Our biggest opportunity is… simply to capitalize on momentum we have. Kansas City’s reputation is skyrocketing right now thanks to everything from tech & startups to sports & downtown, but it won’t last forever.


 

Dominique Davison

Dominique Davison

Dominique Davison

What I do: CEO, PlanIT Impact (@PlanITImpact)

My favorite thing about being in KC is… how pioneering it feels — and how our business community is very welcoming, encouraging companies to push forward and break new ground.

From where I sit, our biggest challenge as a community is… following through with the capital to commit to the efforts that we set out for ourselves. There are so many resources available, but we need the financial resources to be able to manifest these big ideas.

Our biggest opportunity is… having the intersection of Google Fiber, Open Data, and Smart City technology —  we can be the leader in how cities think about digital infrastructure and have a major impact to save resources, act with more intelligence and create higher quality outcomes.


 

Joe Fives

Joe Fives

Joe Fives

What I do: Director of Technology & Information Services, Kansas City Kansas Public Schools (@kckschools)

My favorite thing about being in KC is… the sense of community and genuine friendliness of the people. I grew up in Southern California, which in spite of its tremendous diversity, lacks the warmth of the residents of KC.

From where I sit, our biggest challenge as a community is… to provide the best education and career opportunities for all children, including those living in rural areas and the urban core.

Our biggest opportunity is… To fully utilize our most important resource — the people of the Heartland, who possess not only a superb work ethic, but also an unwavering spirit tempered by generations of adversity.


 

Kari Keefe

Kari Keefe

Kari Keefe

What I do: Executive Director, Think Big Foundation (@ThinkBigFdn)

My favorite thing about being in KC is… The endless creativity of its people. From the Nelson to Grinders, Crossroads to Plaza, Sly James to Crosby Kemper, Rabbit Hole KC to Kauffman Performing Arts — we’re oozing with interesting, creative innovation.

From where I sit, our biggest challenge as a community is… Education — high quality and access for our urban schools, and career and college readiness.

Our biggest opportunity is… Education — expanding quality beyond STEM to connect kids to new and unknowable futures.

 

 


 

Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner

Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner

Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner

What I do: Deputy Director Strategic Initiatives, the Kansas City Public Library (@kclibrary)

My favorite thing about being in KC is… It is the best city in terms of getting around — except during the construction of the streetcar.

From where I sit, our biggest challenge as a community is…  the digital divide, but it seems that we do not have awareness of this major issue in our community at the civic level.

Our biggest opportunity is… being the city that leads in creating collaborative models that narrow the divide in our communities.

 


 

 

Michael Liimatta

Michael Liimatta

Michael Liimatta

What I do: CEO & Cofounder, Connecting for Good (@connectingkc)

My favorite thing about being in KC is… I live downtown and enjoy the energy and amenities. It’s fun to be part of an exciting tech and startup scene and to be here at a time when we are getting national recognition for leading the way.

From where I sit, our biggest challenge as a community is… making sure that urban core students and their families are not left behind and unable to benefit from KC’s emergence as a tech hub.

Our biggest opportunity is… Google Fiber, Smart Cities and a vibrant startup infrastructure have positioned Kansas City to be a technology leader.

 

 


 

Jeff Shackelford

Jeff Shackelford

Jeff Shackelford

What I do: Director, Digital Sandbox KC (@TheSandboxKC)

My favorite thing about being in KC is… Everybody is willing to help others.

From where I sit, our biggest challenge as a community is… sustaining the pace of entrepreneurship needed to make KC America’s Most Entrepreneurial City.

Our biggest opportunity is… to develop the technical workforce (particularly coding skills) needed to support the high-growth, high-tech entrepreneurial community

 

 

 


 

 

Drew Solomon

Drew Solomon

Drew Solomon

What I do: Vice President Business Development, EDC of Kansas City, MO (@EDCKC)

My favorite thing about being in KC is… I love the geographical diversity within the city and region. There are opportunities in urban and suburban environments. Kansas city is a great city day and night for entertainment.

From where I sit, our biggest challenge as a community is… being satisfied with our current standing. I have always believed that “good enough” is the enemy of great. Kansas City can be great and that’s the challenge we need to set on all fronts for the city.

Our biggest opportunity is… growing the wealth and education opportunities for all in our city. We have an ability to help advance the wealth creation and career potential for our local citizens, and that opportunity could absolutely make our city grow rapidly in the future.

 


 

Morgan Waller

Morgan Waller

Morgan Waller

What I do: Director of Telemedicine, Children’s Mercy Kansas City (@ChildrensMercy)

My favorite thing about being in KC is… watching the city transform itself from a large country town to a vibrant, intellectual, vanguard place to be!

From where I sit, our biggest challenge as a community is… empowering individuals who lack options  through education, with opportunities for growth and self-value.

Our biggest opportunity is… the energy, goodwill and vision of the people of Kansas City.

 

 

 


 

 

Ryan Weber

Ryan Weber

Ryan Weber

What I do: President, KCnext – The Technology Council of Greater Kansas City (@KCnext)

My favorite thing about being in KC is… I’ve lived in the KC region for most of my life. From that experience, I can confidently say there has never been a more exciting time than right now, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

From where I sit, our biggest challenge as a community is… the ability to recruit, retain and grow the high-skilled workforce needed to support a rapidly growing tech industry.

Our biggest opportunity is… closing the tech skills gap, reducing the “brain drain” and reaching our potential.

 

 

Get FutureKC Tickets Here


 

Your Turn

What do you like best about being in KC? What’s the biggest challenge you see? Biggest opportunity? Tweet us your answers @KCDigitalDrive using the hashtag #FUTUREKC or post them on our Facebook page.

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