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Advancement Board

Welcome to the Advancement Board
Class of 2024!

Cathy Baier
US Federal Properties

Cathy Baier is an owner of US Federal Properties (USFP) which develops office buildings and VA medical clinics for the federal government throughout the United Sates. She has led real estate developments and orchestrated over 30 government contract awards for USFP valued at over $950 Million. For the last 18 years Baier has served on the Kansas City board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), where she was President of the local chapter and served on the International Board for four years. She has served on many professional and philanthropic boards over the years and annually supports Children’s Mercy Hospital, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City, Next Step Kansas City, the Kansas City Zoo, Starlight Theater, and Women’s Employment Network. She is very excited to serve on the KU Advancement Board as KU doctors saved her husband’s and mother’s lives in 2023.    

Bryan Dennie
Manulife Investment Management

Bryan K. Dennie has 16 years of experience in financial service, overseeing sales and ensuring a consistent client experience by executing tailored investment strategies and relationship management practices. Before joining Manulife Investments John Hancock, Bryan spent five years at Commerce Trust Company as VP of institutional sales, four years at Waddell Reed / Ivy Funds, and received his start in the financial industry in 2005, working closely with clients at Great Plains Trust/Kornitzer Capital Management (Buffalo Funds), where he created CFO for the PRO, a niche financial service provider for professional athletes. Bryan attended undergraduate school while playing football at the University of Missouri-Lincoln. Bryan was an active board member of the award-winning and nationally ranked Blue Springs School District until his four-year term ended. Bryan has also been a member of various community organizations around the Kansas City metro area.  

Matthew Hufft
Hufft Architecture and Fabrication

The founder of Hufft Architecture and Fabrication, Matthew Hufft is an architect by trade and entrepreneur by nature. He identified strongly with his creative talents at an early age, and even declared on a cassette tape for a second-grade project that his chosen career would be an architect. Matthew holds two degrees in architecture from The University of Kansas and Columbia University. After graduating from Kansas in 2000, he won the prestigious SOM Travelling Fellowship Award. Matthew runs Hufft, a multi-disciplinary firm, compiled of more than 50 creative and talented individuals, based in Kansas City, Missouri, and Bentonville, Arkansas. The firm has completed over 650 projects, spanning from corporate headquarters, mixed-use developments, and various hospitality projects to single-family residences. The firm has won more than 60 AIA awards and has been published in 100+ national and international periodicals. A husband and father of three, Matthew sees the great importance of design’s impact on our built environment. His keen interest in creating joy in the human experience is all the fuel he needs.  

Dr. Aman Kaur
Women in DSO

Dr. Aman Kaur is the Founder and President of Women in DSO, a global organization committed to empowering women leaders in the dental industry. Dr. Kaur is a trained dentist with extensive financial and business experience and has been very involved in the growth of Dental Services Organizations (DSOs) for over a decade. Dr. Kaur primarily works with Private Equity groups as an operating member and consultant for their DSO portfolios. She has worked with multiple DSOs over her career in various executive roles and is very involved with Dental Technology companies, DSOs, notforprofit and state Dental Associations developing strategic business solutions along with helping emerging dental organizations build development and growth strategies. Dr. Kaur is also a General Partner in RISE Health VC, a one-of-a-kind venture capital fund focused on investing in oral health companies focused on female leadership and empowerment. Respected as a credible voice in the dental industry for her leadership, business decision-making, strategic solutions, and ability to build partnerships and alliances, Dr. Kaur is constantly shaping the industry. 

Courtney Kounkel
Monarch Build

Courtney Kounkel is a construction industry executive and entrepreneur having founded, grown and successfully sold several companies. Currently, she is the Founder + Owner of Monarch Build, a commercial construction company in the Greater Kansas City area. Active in the nonprofit community, Courtney currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National World War I Museum and Memorial. Previously she has served in various board and leadership positions for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City, Midwest Innocence Project, The American Institute of Architects Kansas, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 

Melea McRae

Melea is an entrepreneur, marketing strategist, business connector and adjunct professor with 30 years of experience elevating brands, amplifying missions, and fueling business growth for B2B and B2C clients. In 2016, Melea made the entrepreneurial leap and founded Crux KC, a fast-growing WBE headquartered in KC. Known as the “un-agency,” Crux is a full-funnel outsourced marketing solution customized for organizations of all shapes, sizes, and verticals, combining the expertise of fractional CMOs who build the marketing strategy with a deep bench of experts in each marketing discipline to deliver on that strategy. Crux is a two-time Inc. 5000 honoree, an Inc Best Workplaces honoree, a 2023 KC Business Journal Fast 50 company, a two-time KC Business Journal Champion of Business, and a three-time KC Chamber Top 10 Small Business. In 2019, Melea co-founded Crux-Xcelerate, focused on sales coaching and development, aligning sales with marketing to positively impact revenue growth. Melea is a HEMP fellow and a member of the Kansas City Business Journal’s 2021 Women Who Mean Business class, and she serves on multiple boards in the region, including incoming chair of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre board; Arvest Bank’s Kansas City board, Charlie Hustle’s Heart of KC, the Enterprising Center of Johnson County; Circle of Red supporting the American Heart Association; and the Children’s Mercy Research Institute Advisory Council. Melea earned her undergraduate degree from Webster University and an Executive MBA from Rockhurst University’s Helzberg School of Management.  

Danielle Puzio
HNC Living Foundation

Danielle is currently the CEO of HNC Living Foundation, a national foundation that helps low-income cancer patients through their treatment and recovery from head and neck cancer. Danielle brings over two decades of non-profit leadership experience including 20 years in higher education. Before moving to Kansas City, she spent 13 years working with the deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing communities at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. Danielle is fluent in American Sign Language and led numerous teams during her tenure, including development, public relations, national outreach, interpreting, and products and training. When she isn’tUbering” her kids to all of their activities, Danielle enjoys traveling, reading and playing with the dogs. 

Dawn Rattan
Everfit, Inc. & Village West Discount Liquor

After graduating from Florida A&M University with a degree in Chemical Engineering, Dawn worked at Procter & Gamble for 11 years with assignments in Operations and Human Resources. After leaving P&G, she became an entrepreneur with the start-up of two family businessesVillage West Liquors and EverFit Gym. In 2021, she was elected to the Board of Trustees at Johnson County Community College. She is proud to be a public servant at this top educational institution. Dawn is also on the board of the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce, the board of Young Women on the Move, and was the Vice Chair of the Johnson County Charter Commission. She is also a member of Jack & Jill of America, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, and the Links, Inc. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, having parties, and learning to play tennis. Dawn is married to Manu Rattan, an attorney and business owner and they have three children, aged 26, 21 and 16.  

Elizabeth Rowe
Alzheimer’s Association Heart of America

Elizabeth (“Liz”) serves as the Executive Director of the Heart of America Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, with an office in downtown Overland Park. Before joining the Alzheimer’s Association, Liz advised affluent clients as a wealth strategist for a regional wealth management firm. Previously, Liz worked as senior counsel in the private wealth group of a national law firm. Over the last 25 years, she also held senior trust officer and private client advisor positions with regional and national financial institutions. Liz earned her undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University and her juris doctorate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She also holds a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor designation and is pursuing a Doctorate of Longevity Arts & Sciences degree at USC. Liz is a Kansas City area native who enjoys volunteering in her community, most notably with the Kansas City Symphony and the Alzheimer’s Association—until she gave in and finally joined as staff.

Scott Sollars
FCI Advisors

Scott is Senior Vice President and Certified Financial Planner (CFP) at FCI Advisors. Founded in 1966, FCI is a registered investment advisory firm based in Overland Park, Kansas along with their affiliated trust company partner, Midwest Trust. In Scott’s roles with FCI, he serves as fiduciary and trusted guide to families who have entrusted some of their most important goals to him and the firm. Prior to joining FCI Advisors, Scott was a Senior Portfolio Manager at US Bank-Private Client Reserve. He earned his MS in Accounting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, MBA from Northwest Missouri State University, and undergraduate degree from Missouri Western State University. Scott remains active in the community with coaching his son’s CYO basketball team, volunteering with Scouts BSA, and has enjoyed previous board involvement with the Snow Ball Patron Committee for Catholic Charities and Young Professionals Alliance (YPA) with The University of Kansas Health System. Scott is married and has three sons, two of whom are Eagle Scouts, with the third on the path toward Eagle. 

Chris Vaeth
McCown Gordon Construction

Chris serves as Senior Vice President and Regional Leader for the Kansas City office of McCownGordon Construction. He is responsible for the central region encompassing an area ranging from South Dakota to Oklahoma with a heavy focus in and around Kansas City. Chris also serves as a member of the firm’s Leadership Team. Chris has been with McCownGordon for over 20 years working in various roles in and around Kansas City, during this time he has been heavily engaged in both civic and community organizations including chairing the Wyandotte Economic Development Council, Urban Land Institute Board, University Health Foundation Board, and others. Chris and his wife Tracey are avid Kansas Citians and currently live in Hyde Park with their two children Lily and Dylan; they enjoy golfing, just about anything outdoors and travelling together.  

Sunti “Sunny” Wathanacharoen
Alliance Partners KC

Sunti is a seasoned business executive with over 25 years of experience leading multiple advisory practice areas. As the former leader of Slalom Consulting’s Business Advisory Services in the Kansas City market, Sunti spearheaded the growth of the firm’s strategy, transformation, and performance improvement segments. Known for being exceptionally client-centric, Sunti has a proven track record of building, managing, and guiding large teams in both enterprise and mid-market environments. His ability to understand client needs and deliver impactful solutions has made him a trusted advisor to organizations across industries.   

In addition to his advisory work, Sunti is also an accomplished business strategist, thought leader, and product developer. Prior to joining Slalom, he founded Pulmonaer Analytics, an innovative digital health company addressing the needs of patients, providers, and stakeholders in the chronic respiratory disease market. This entrepreneurial experience has further honed Sunti’s skills as an innovation leader and digital health expert. 

Carey Wilkins

As Chief of Staff, Carey Wilkins is part of the executive management team and provides strategic leadership across Concord operations. Concord develops technical solutions that drive business value with capabilities that include data & analytics, digital experience & engineering, and security & managed platform services. Prior to her current role, Carey co-founded Evolytics, a data analytics consultancy. She is a business entrepreneur who has led the growth of Evolytics, a Great Places to Work award-winning organization, through acquisition by Concord Carey is active in her local business community and has been recognized by the Kansas City Business Journal as a Women Who Mean Business honoree. Carey also serves on the Board of Directors for Starlight Theatre, she co-chaired Starlight’s 36th Annual Benefit Gala, and has been an active member of the Starlight Marketing Committee since 2021. 

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