Rhonda Mason, a district court judge in Johnson County, participates in numerous speaking engagements around the city and absolutely loves to encourage youth to go after their dreams. She was the keynote speaker at this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, and she currently serves on the Kansas Bar Foundation board of trustees as well as the Autism Society at Heartland.
The woman that she looks up to most is her mother. While she was not a businesswoman, she was smart, compassionate and made sure her kids had whatever they needed to be successful.
“Sometimes the leaders are not those in the forefront, but those in the background making things happen. My mother taught me to put God first, be humble, compassionate and not to be afraid of going after my dreams.”
Sunayana Dumala’s life was turned upside down last year when she lost her husband, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, to a hate crime shooting at Austins Bar and Grill. Since then, she has been sharing her story and advocating to spread a positive message of unity and love.
In partnership with her employer, Intouch Solutions, they have launched a Facebook initiative called Forever Welcome. By sharing stories from the immigrant community, Forever Welcome raises awareness of immigrants’ contributions to our society. It emphasizes that there is no “you” or “me” when it comes to living in the U.S. We are all welcome and belong regardless of where we were born.
“Before February 22, I was a different person just leading a normal life. Don’t wait for a tragedy to strike your family. Start working on understanding and embracing different cultures and people.”
The Health Care Manager: Sunflower Bank
By nature, Cindy Bobbit is quiet and reserved, but early in her career, she realized that to be successful, she had to discover her more assertive self to overcome her fears and get involved. She was drawn toward commercial banking at a time when there were few women doing it. She had to work to break down barriers and prove her value in the business and found her niche in health care banking. Additionally, she became actively involved in several medical organizations, including the Medical Group Management Association and as a board member for Susan G. Komen. She gets her inspiration from her faith, friends and family, and surrounds herself with people who desire—and are not afraid—to help others succeed in life.
“When others tell you or make you feel that you are not worthy, remind them that God says that you are worthy.”
Mona Enna, originally from Kokkola, Finland, met her husband, Jeremiah, a Kansas City native, while on a dance trip to Israel. They are the founders of The Culture House, an arts organization, and Störling Dance Theater, a professional dance company.
One of her most rewarding experiences has been through a dance production they created called “Underground.” As a co-choreographer with Tobin James, they crafted a story together in dance about the Underground Railroad which is performed at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. This production has developed their audience to be one of the most diverse in Kansas City.
Mona is inspired by people who do courageous and good things.
“In the Underground Railroad, God is at the core of what drives the abolition movement. God inspires me to value every life as beautiful and having eternal significance.”
Bukeka Blakemore is a woman who values love, family and relationship. Her life is rich in all these. Music is the central focus of what she does, and her lyrics lean toward well-being or themes focusing on good outcomes. SafeHome is an organization she has supported and worked with, helping kids in building self-esteem, and she has donated concert proceeds to Operation Breakthrough.
The woman who inspires her the most is her mother who used her incredible vocal talent to protest the denial of civil rights for African-Americans and used her persuasiveness to create shelters for battered women.
“I believe in growing and expanding, and I try to a little every day. I’ve also learned to be gentle with myself.”