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2015 Young Professionals of Wichita Distinguished Professional Award Finalists

July 21, 2015

2015 Distinguished YP Award Finalists


Meg Foreman - YPW Program & Marketing Manager

Congratulations to our Distinguished Young Professional Award finalists! They include: Ellen K. Decker, Allen, Gibbs & Houlik; David Hoffenberg, Wesley Medical Center; Portia Portugal, Dress for Success Wichita; and Jaimie Zellner, Wichita Downtown Development Corporation. The Distinguished YP Award is presented to two YPW members who have reached personal and/or professional achievements in their career, has positively impacted our community, and shows promise for continued success. Learn a little more about our finalists below:

   young professionals of wichita awards 2015 - ellen decker
Ellen K. Decker, Tax Supervisor at Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, L.C.

What has been your favorite YPW experience?
My favorite YPW experience was a Lunch & Learn that I attended at the Kansas Aviation Museum in 2013. The museum is a very unique venue that provides visitors a glimpse into Wichita’s rich aviation heritage.

What was your first job as a kid?
My first job was picking crab apples by the bucket for my father when I was in grade school. He paid $.25 a bucket, which in hindsight was an incredibly unfair wage.

What advice do you wish you would have known in college?
I wish someone would have encouraged me to take summer classes and push myself to graduate and start my career early.

What is your favorite app and why?
My favorite app is Trivia Crack. It comprises of challenging, fun, and competitive trivia challenges. It is truly addicting.

Who is the person you would most like to go to lunch with and why?
I would go to lunch with Stephen Colbert. He is intelligent, sarcastic, and controversial; three qualities that I believe make for good conversation.


young professionals of wichita awards 2015 - david hoffenberg
David Hoffenberg, Associate Administrator at Wesley Medical Center/HCA

What was your first job as a kid?
My first job was working at players bench, a hockey shop in Denver selling ice hockey equipment and sharpening skates.

What was your favorite college memory?
Playing college rugby and serving as team president for the University of Oregon was absolutely the best experience I had. It taught me leadership, comradery, and teamwork.

Who is the person you would most like to go to lunch with and why?
Neil deGrasse Tyson. I am a closet space junkie and I feel like I could talk to him for hours and laugh or think for every second of it.

Where would you like to go on a dream vacation?
Traveling to New Zealand and Australia would be my dream vacation.

What is your number one restaurant recommendation in Wichita?
Sabor. Being Hispanic and loving good wine it is always a great stop.


young professionals of wichita awards 2015 - portia portugal
Portia Portugal, Executive Director at Dress for Success Wichita

What is your favorite app and why?
SnapChat. It’s a silly app but it’s actually grown to be an interesting source of entertainment. I remember when it first came out I thought “this is so pointless” but then I began sending and receiving photos and videos to my family and friends back home as part of our conversations so it helps me feel like I’m still connected. They’ve recently started incorporating stories and photos from National Geographic, Cosmo, Comedy Central, and more. They’ve also got Snap Stories from events around the world and it lets me feel like I’m actually there. For example, they featured Diwali in India and that’s the type of cultural event I may never get to experience firsthand.

What was your favorite college memory?
Being able to intern in Peru was probably the biggest highlight. Although it wasn’t directly at my school, I could have never had the opportunity if it weren’t for school. It was an eye-opening experience and something I’d always wanted to do. I’d never wanted to do something so badly with so little resources so that spurred my drive to fundraise to cover the entire cost of the trip. I love exploring and getting to meet people from different cultures so that was an opportunity unique unto itself. I made friends and learned valuable skills there that will stay with me for a lifetime. That was also the deciding factor on making a career out of serving and empowering women.

Where would you like to go on a dream vacation?
I’ve been interested in checking out Bora Bora. Mostly I want to be able to get one of those secluded huts that are on stilts in the middle of the ocean. That seems so relaxing. I would just sit on the beach all day drinking pina coladas and soaking up the sun, maybe go for a dip and snorkel every once in a while.

What is the best event/show you’ve seen in Wichita?
Last summer my husband and I attended a Jazz show that The Kansas African American Museum was hosting and it was such a neat environment. The food was delicious BBQ and the Jazz singer and band were very talented. It benefitted the organization as well as provided a nice date night. They were creative when they thought of that one. I would definitely attend that event again.

What is your number one restaurant recommendation in Wichita?
The Anchor, hands down. That was one of the first places that someone recommended to me when I moved here. I love food and this place is absolutely my number one choice. They’ve got great drinks and the atmosphere is pretty cool. The burn baby burn gets me every time.


young professionals of wichita awards 2015 - jaimie zellner
Jaimie Zellner, Vice President of Communications at Wichita Downtown Development Corporation

What has been your favorite YPW experience?
Hands down, my time as the Pulse Action Team Chair. The position allowed me to get to know a multitude of YPs on a personal level and gave me the opportunity to make a difference in YPW programming.

What was your first job as a kid?
Working with my Dad on the farm.

What is your favorite app and why?
Instagram. It’s an easy way for anyone to express creativity.

What was your favorite college memory?
Attending the AIGA Design Conference in New York

If someone were to ride in your car, what would they hear?
Pat Benatar, Fleetwood Mac & Reba

Learn more about our finalists in their video profiles:

Find out what two young professionals will win the Distinguished YP Award at Founders’ Day on July 31 at Venue 332 at the Wichita Scottish Rite. Make sure to buy your tickets by noon on July 24! Buy tickets by clicking here.

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