Who We Are
A Collective Consensus
KC Rising provides a Shared Vision that connects strategy of various groups together. It is business-led, metrics driven and long-term focused. KC Rising is a venue where ideas can come to plan and develop a common future. KC Rising is a voice to amplify community effort around the Pillars of Prosperity.
KC Rising is a regional economic development initiative to grow an inclusive economy, including members of the public square (business, education, government, and human services)
Formed in 2015 to help KC grow faster and more intentionally. We support and amplify complementary initiatives and serve with community-wide impact.
KC Rising exists to achieve a regional vision of prosperity for all by aligning and accelerating community effort for greatest impact. KC Rising measures progress against 10 benchmark metros that we typically compete against.
The goal is for KC to rise in rank among these metro regions on two measures: grow the economy and include everyone.
To accomplish this, KC Rising relies on a distributed implementation model, allowing for a multitude of leaders and teams to work toward a shared vision of regional prosperity. Guided by a steering committee composed of business and education leaders, as well as regional elected officials, KC Rising concentrates its efforts on seven pillars of prosperity: enterprise, industry, inclusion, connectivity, culture, neighborhoods and education. As we pursue systemic progress in the seven areas, we realize our full potential with transparency, accountability, and collaboration.
Sheri Gonzales joined the Civic Council as Vice President in January 2019, and as the Director of KC Rising, to achieve a shared vision of regional prosperity for all. Sheri works with businesses, organizations and leaders to promote system alignment, identify gaps, and monitor the region’s outcomes in key economic indicators. Her career has focused on economic and community development in local, state, and international contexts.
Prior to the position at the Civic Council, she served as Community, Economic and Workforce Development Director at the Mid-America Regional Council. With early career experiences in public broadcasting, international relief, and community development, she also served on the staff of two healthcare foundations in Virginia. She holds a BA in Communications and Journalism from the University of New Mexico and a Master’s of Public Administration from the University of Kansas.
C.J. Charbonneau supports KC Rising as the Program Coordinator. Before joining the KC Rising team, C.J. served in a variety of roles in the Kansas City arts and nonprofit communities, as an arts writer, curator, administrator, organizer, and advocate, with a focus on issues affecting women and folks with disabilities.
C.J. holds a BSBA in Organizational Development from Southeast Missouri State University, and an MA in Art History from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Alex Villagran provides support for KC Rising as the KC Rising Project Coordinator. Previously Alex worked for the Mid-America Regional Council as a bilingual college success navigator. Alex has also worked for the Kauffman Foundation as an Education Research intern where he focused on research and planning for education programming.
A native of Garden City, Kansas, Alex is currently conducting independent research on Latino voter barriers in his hometown. Alex received his BA in Political Science and is finishing his Masters in Public Administration from the University of Kansas.
Meryl Dillman supports the KC Rising initiative as the KC Rising Project Manager. Prior to joining the Civic Council in 2020, she worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City, where she developed, served on the leadership team and continued to expand the ACES program, an innovative program focused on promoting higher education opportunities, and career success and development for high school and college students across the Kansas City area.
Meryl has also worked for two daily newspapers – one in South Carolina and one in Guam – and worked at Big Brothers Big Sisters in St. Louis. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism.
The KC Rising Steering Committee is the governing body for the KC Rising initiative and is composed of business and community volunteers from across the metropolitan area who are committed to regional collaboration.
People Driving Committee
The People Driving Committee exists to ensure the Kansas City metro region can develop, attract and retain the diverse talent necessary to grow the region’s economic competitiveness.
IDEAS Driving Committee
The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Driving Committee exists to build innovation capacity in the Kansas City metro region to increase the region’s prosperity.
Data & Analysis Resource Team
The Data & Analysis Resource Team exists to support KC Rising in creating and maintaining a metrics framework to measure progress toward goals, enable community action and provide data for decision-making.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Committee
Initiated in 2018, the KC Rising Steering Committee created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee to ensure that KC Rising is inclusive of diverse backgrounds and community stakeholders, in both its volunteer participation and public outreach and strategies.
Place Advisory Committee
The Place Advisory Committee (PLAC) exists to advance the shared vision of regional prosperity in relation to the Connectivity and Neighborhoods Pillars. The PLAC will focus on attainable housing and effective, accessible transportation and internet options to allow people to build better futures and open doors to economic mobility
Capital Access Taskforce
The KC Rising IDEAS Committee small business Capital Access Taskforce was created in 2020 to advance the priority of increasing capital access for small (less than 20 employees) businesses with an emphasis on women- and minority-owned businesses.
Supplier Diversity Taskforce
Launched in 2020, the KC Rising IDEAS Committee Supplier Diversity Taskforce was launched to advance the priority of increasing supply chain diversity.
Economic Modeling Team
Formed at the onset of COVID -19, in April 2020, the KC Rising Economic Modeling Team was created to set boundaries on economic uncertainties and create models to predict changes and aid in economic recovery efforts in the KC region.
In 2021, the Traded Sectors Driving Committee recommended biologics as our regions next traded sector. A Biologics Taskforce has been convened to develop a strategic plan and associated goals, pursuing the promise of building the sector with a clear vision and strategy in place.
About Our Pillars
KC’s businesses are positioned to lead this charge by nurturing partnerships and cultivating innovation.
We’ve developed 7 Pillars to both unify and depict our Shared Vision of Regional Prosperity.