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TRAILBLAZING: Central Exchange

The Central Exchange was founded in 1980 by Marjorie Powell Allen and Beth Smith. The 160 founding members included Kay Barnes, Anita Butler, Joan Dillon, Adele Hall, Mamie Hughes, Dorothy Johnson, Linda Moore, Terry Satterlee, Linda Hood Talbott, and Judith Whittaker. Toni Watson was the organization’s first executive director. Ann Hackett is the current leader and is also employed with the Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. As she noted of the Central Exchange, “We are focused on helping each of our members and business partners meet their needs and reach their full potential through development, connection, and inspiration.” The organization provides professional and personal advancement through high quality programming and engagement. The Central Exchange has partnered with the Lean In Network Kansas City to offer Lean In Circles, which are safe spaces where women can share their struggles, get advice, and network. The idea is based on Sheryl Sandburg’s book Lean In, which illustrates the importance of women connecting with other women in order to share experiences and offer support. The organization also offers a year-long program in which participants learn leadership development from Denise Mills and Robin Sterneck. Since 2014, the Central Exchange has presented the STEMMy Awards to recognize the achievements of women in those fields.  

Amanda Hahn at the 2022 Midwest Leadership Summit


Nancy Mellard, Joni Lindquist, and Rita Arens, Linda Moore, founding member; Lori Samazin, Kay Barnes, founding member; Holly Streeter-Schaefer, Ann Hackett, Central Exchange; Anna Randazzo, board chair; and Kelly Byrnes


Panelists at the 2022 STEMMy Awards Benefactors Roundtable Happy Hour: Kisa Caruthers, Cala Poltera, Sonia Hall, and Kara Lowe


Lindsay Roberts at the 2022 Midwest Leadership Summit

Featured in the March 18, 2023 issue of The Independent.
Learn more at CentralExchange.org.


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