Entrepreneur of the Year Award recipients

The Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes the achievements of our industry’s self-employed professionals. These individuals inspire us with their entrepreneurial spirit by organizing, managing and assuming the risks of running a business.

2016 Winner
Chad Wagner

Chad Wagner is a seasoned graphic designer and owner of Chad Wagner Design. With more than 17 years of design experience, he specializes in providing engineering and architecture firms powerful marketing essentials that equip them to attract more prospects and effectively connect with customers. Chad has a bachelor’s degree in visual communications and has worked for and with a variety of companies – from small boutique design shops to Fortune 500 companies including Cerner, Terracon, Lockton, Allstate Consultants, Needham DBS, Black & Veatch, The PKD Foundation and John Deere. He is the author of a book released on Amazon, “So Now You’re a Graphic Designer.” The intent of the book is to help the graphically challenged create powerful visual communications for their clients and businesses.


2015 Winner
Paula Murray
For more than 20 years, Paula Murray has gracefully and competently served the health care and nonprofit sectors in the region with expert communication strategy and writing services. She has a distinguished bachelor of arts degree in English literature/letters  from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master’s degree from Washington University. She started her Kansas City career working in health care PR, moved to an agency and launched her own business in 1993. Paula leads the Indy Comm special interest group and is always willing to share her insight and support for fellow practitioners. By example and by leadership in the Indy Comm group, she fosters a sense of camaraderie rather than competition among her peers. This is a critical difference that helps make KC a great place for independent communicators.

2014 Winner
Gary Loftstrom
Gary Lofstrom started his own gig 20 years ago, after stints at Deloitte, Waddell and Reed, Farmland and Commerce. He has served on the IABC board, and he won the Incredible Award a few years ago for reviving the old Freelancers group, which evolved to the Entrepreneurs Special Interest Group and is now the Indy Comm SIG. In his thriving consulting business, he offers an integrated mix of online and traditional marketing communications services so his clients can better achieve their business goals and nurture customer relationships.

2012 Winner
Shelly Kramer
V3 Integrated Marketing
Shelly Kramer is one of Forbes’ Top 30 Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter. Her blog was voted as one of the Top 20 in Marketing and Social Media. She’s a member of KC/IABC and is on the board of the National Association of Women Business Owners. She’s very involved with the Kansas Women’s Business Center, has served as a mentor for some of their clients and also is involved with One KC For Women. She’s the founder and CEO of V3 Integrated Marketing. In the past 17 years, V3’s become a successful full-service integrated marketing, digital communications and social media agency.


Entrepreneur of the Year Award recipients:

  • 2015 – Paula Murray
  • 2014 – Gary Lofstrom
  • 2012 – Shelly Kramer
  • 2011 – Tom Mentzer
  • 2010 – Julie Bartels Smith
  • 2009 – Margaret Blankers
  • 2008 – Keith Philpott
  • 2007 – Megan Neher
  • 2006 – Eric Morgenstern