When Vicki Keffer recently signed on for her new position at Sunflower Diversified Services, she knew she had found “a career rather than a job.”
Keffer is the new director of Human Resources at the non-profit agency that serves infants, toddlers and adults with developmental disabilities and delays throughout central Kansas.
“I am an advocate for all employees in any realm of their jobs,” Keffer said. “I also am an advocate for all Sunflower clients. We want to help each person reach the highest level of independence possible.
“As we encourage people to spread their wings, they are empowered to accomplish great things,” she added.
The Human Resources director’s duties include: helping recruit staff; managing employee benefits; and ensuring Sunflower complies with a myriad of state and federal regulations.
“Even though I have been here a short time, this new position has already been an adventure,” Keffer commented. “We just had new-employee training and the annual benefits meeting.
“I survived those major events,” she laughed. “Now I am settling in and learning all the many aspects of this great agency.”
When Sunflower interviews prospective employees, it looks for professionalism and an ability to build a rapport with clients. “Their hearts must be in the right place,” Keffer commented. “You can’t focus on yourself. Our clients are at the forefront of everything we do.
“This is absolutely a team environment,” she added. “Each department fully supports the others with the best interest of our clients in mind. They are why we are here.”
In-house training includes topics such as ethics; abuse, neglect and exploitation prevention; privacy; and safety rules.
“But we take training many steps further,” Keffer noted. “It includes intensive and ongoing individual training specific to the needs of the individuals we serve.”
Keffer noted that Sunflower offers a “great” starting wage, along with health, dental and vision insurance. A retirement plan is part of the package, and new employees are eligible for a $200 training bonus and a $100 sign-on bonus after 90 days.
Equally important, Keffer noted, is the rewarding experience of the job itself. “We get extra bonuses from the relationships we develop with the people we serve,” she explained. “We watch people grow and achieve the goals they set.”
Keffer was born and raised in Barton County. She earned an associate’s degree in business/accounting at Barton Community College. While attending BCC, Keffer was a member of Business Professionals of America; she served as state president and national vice president.
She also worked at BCC in areas including evening education, the president’s office and nursing education. Keffer worked at CPI (now CUNA Mutual) for 15 years. Her positions included: leader of the Internal Sales & Marketing team; manager of the Education & Enrollment Services team, which she created; senior manager of the Sales & Marketing team; and senior manager of the national Educational Institutions team.
Keffer was then sales manager at The Omni Group, a New York firm.
Keffer and her husband, Bill, have two children - Dr. Dustin Keffer of Kansas City, Mo., and Erica Keffer of Great Bend - and one grandchild, Will.
Ladeska “Decky” Makings, chief operating officer, said Keffer has a good rapport with people and gives attention to details. “Vicki fits in well with our management team and meets the needs of our staff,” Makings said. “She works very closely with department heads, as well as insurance companies and other outside entities. She excels in this area.
“Vicki came to us during open insurance enrollments, one of the busiest Human Resources’ times of the year. She amazed us by managing one of the most successful enrollments in our history. I am confident we made a great choice; Human Resources is in very good hands.”
Sunflower serves people in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. It is in its 51styear.