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United Way drive co-chairs named
new deh united way 2016 Co-Chairs pictures
Pictured are United Way of Central Kansas 2016 campaign co-chairs Marvin and Karen Sessler of Ellinwood, Brian and Tanya Staats of Great Bend, and Kyle and Tamara Beckwith of Larned. - photo by PHOTO COURTESY PORTRAITS BY SHANE

 The United Way of Central Kansas announced this week the co-chairs for the 2016 Campaign, UWCK Executive Director Julie Bugner Smith said.

“The Co-Chairs are carefully chosen each year to assist with the campaign and be the voice of UWCK in their respective communities,” she said. “These individuals embody the mindset and goals of United Way to give, advocate, and volunteer.” 

Representing Ellinwood this year are Marvin and Karen Sessler. Marvin and Karen Sessler have been married since 1973 after meeting at K-State. They reside on and operate the family farm south of Ellinwood and plan to remain quite involved with their local church and several service organizations. 

They have close ties to ElderCare and CASA, and have networked with other United Way non-profits. “United Way agencies merit our support as they impact so many lives, day in and day out, one action and one person at a time,” Karen said. 

Great Bend will be represented by Brian and Tanya Staats. This couple is new to the community, but already incredibly involved in local non-profits. Brian and Tanya Staats relocated to Great Bend in 2013 from Colby. 

Brian is the managing partner for Adams, Brown, Beran and Ball, over-seeing all 13 of their offices in Kansas. Tanya has always worked with children while previously working as the Activities Secretary at Colby High School. She now advocates for children as being a CASA volunteer.

Both Tanya and Brian have experience volunteering for civic organizations in the past. They believe that we all have the responsibility of giving to our communities and that as a whole we can accomplish great things. Tanya and Brian have four adult children Charell, Cierra, Chanelle and Collin.

From Larned, Kyle and Tamara Beckwith will be the local representatives. Kyle and Tamara have been around the Pawnee County and Larned area all their lives. Both of them were born and raised in Larned. 

They have been a part of the Beckwith Mortuary for over 30 years. Beckwith Mortuary is a five- generation funeral home that has been a long-standing business in Larned.

They enjoy helping and serving in their communities and have two adult children.

“This year we are also introducing a new set of co-chairs for ‘Young Leaders,’” Smith said. These two individuals will be heading up our new childhood literacy program and helping to connect United Way and its agencies, with more young professionals in our communities. Our very first Young Leaders Co-Chairs will be Cole Reif and Regan Ochs. 

Reif is employed by Eagle Communications and is the sports director for Great Bend’s Eagle Radio. Reif announces basketball games for Barton Community College and calls football games for Hoisington High School. He is also a board member on the Cougar Booster Club at Barton and is a member of the PR Team for Barton County Young Professionals. 

Originally from Great Bend, Reif graduated from Fort Hays State University with a bachelor of science in information networking and telecommunications. He worked at Eagle Communications in Hays after graduation and spent time in North Carolina before returning to Great Bend in September 2013.

Ochs serves as the executive administrator and marketing specialist at Adams, Brown, Beran and Ball Chtd. In this role, she manages all university recruitment efforts and coordinates the TALENT internship program for the firm. 

In addition, Ochs is responsible for all internal and external marketing efforts. She supports the firm’s Managing Partner and the Board of Directors by assisting with strategic objectives and special projects. 

Ochs is a 2013 summa cum laude graduate of Fort Hays State University where she received her bachelor of science in organizational leadership. She is active in the community serving as an ambassador of the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce; as a Prairie Godmother member and volunteer; and as the vice chair and leadership committee chair of the Barton County Young Professionals. Ochs, originally from Hoxie, moved to Great Bend in May 2013. 

Ochs and Reif are busy preparing for their December 2015 wedding.

“We are looking forward to all that these co-chairs bringing their special talents helping United Way of Central Kansas and the agencies and the programs they will serve,” Smith said. “They are the real Hero’s giving their time and talent to their communities to make it a better place to work and live.”

In addition to the co-chairs, Smith said Mark MIngenback will be taking over as the 2016 Pacesetter Chair, replacing Rick Chochon. “We are thrilled to have Mark help with the Pacesetters and his knowledge of United Way and it’s mission is crucial to the Pacesetters campaign.”