WHO WE ARE
Design Thinking for Your Success
PLX CORP was founded in 2020 when David Oliver introduced Gary Abram to the idea of joining him in creating a new type of think tank: one that would leverage their complimentary skills and experiences to benefit the various boards in the Kansas City region. David brings an unparalleled career in leading and advising non-profits and Gary offers his entrepreneurial and consulting expertise. Each has been deeply engaged in non-profit and for profit organizations.
A breadth of experience and expertise
Offering innovation and tools to improve governance, recruitment, accountability, process, visioning, internal controls, risk management, leadership development, and analytics. Plan. Lead. Execute.
The KC Star described Gary as a "serial entrepreneur," having started at least five businesses and helped many others launch. Obsessed with discovering why some teams do better than others, Gary sits on boards whose missions are higher ed, healthcare, careers for disabled and social justice.
David practices law with Berkowitz Oliver LLP but his passion is working with boards with particular interest in issues of diversity, belonging, inclusion and equity for the betterment of the region. His board commitments are too numerous for this short bio but include: AlignED; MRIGlobal; Wm Jewell College; DeLaSalle Charter H.S.; Tesseract Ventures; UMKC Trustees; Teach for America-KC; Spencer Art Museum; ArtsKC; Nonprofit Connect; Startland; The Francis Family Foundation; The Cross Foundation; Murphy Charitable Fund; Children's Mercy Hospitals; and The Civic Council of GKC.
Maureen has spent her career improving the lives of our neighbors in metropolitan Kansas City. As a former lawyer and prosecutor, the majority of her practice was spent working in child welfare. She was Chief of Staff the past eight and a half years to Mayors Mark Holland and David Alvey for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas. She has served on multiple community boards and is a current member of The University of Kansas Hospital Authority Board, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation Board, Lead Bank Board, Tesseract Advisory Board, as well as Donnelly College and several others.
VINCENT “ACE” WAGNER
Vincent “Ace” WAGNER is a consummate entrepreneur, has been engaged as an investor and mentor coach to several late-stage start-up businesses. Ace is also engaged with companies emerging on the Kansas City business scene with tremendous prospects for employment and revenue growth through the deployment of their emerging technologies. Ace plays a role guiding capital formation and supporting these client companies through direct coaching and investing. As President & CEO of Wagner Distribution, Ace oversaw the rapid sales growth of both a family business enterprise in the early days to a sizable corporate business. Ace served for 7 years on the Board of Directors of an affiliated, diversified investment group with revenues of well over $200 MM annually. Ace also acts as an advisor to several early-stage companies in the US and was instrumental in the formation of a not-for-profit enterprise that provided US AID scholarships to economically underprivileged students from rural Central America attending US community colleges.
Lee A. Norman, MD, brings his four careers in leadership: medicine, military, state government, and business consulting. He is a family physician who additionally has served for 26 years as senior physician executive at two large health systems, including the University of Kansas. He is a colonel in the United States Army with significant experience in domestic and deployed environments. Prior, he was an aerospace medicine-trained USAF flight surgeon and combat medicine instructor. As the State of Kansas Secretary of Health and Environment on the Governor’s cabinet, he led the state pandemic response for the first two years. Finally, as Lee Norman Consulting, he did operational improvement and financial turnaround work with struggling hospitals and health systems nationwide. His approach to leadership and plan execution is pragmatic and shaped by the lessons learned through these diverse careers.
Brad is a former CEO and a licensed attorney with a unique blend of both non-profit and corporate executive leadership experience, including public affairs, government relations, business development, community relations and communications. He began his career in Washington, D.C., and held roles as a lobbyist with deep expertise in federal appropriations, a U.S. Senate staffer on Capitol Hill, and Director of the State of Missouri Office for the Governor of Missouri. He also worked for the White House at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as Deputy Administrator of Congressional and Legislative Affairs, eventually overseeing two-thirds of the agency’s operations. As Midwest Regional Administrator for the White House Office of Small Business Advocacy, he was asked to oversee the SBA’s regional offices in four states. He lead Public Affairs in the corporate sector at Cerner Corporation in Kansas City, and eventually moved to the non-profit sector as head of Business Development for the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. Brad was selected as the President and CEO of the trade association supporting over 180 credit unions across Kansas and Missouri, for more than six years. He has served and Chaired numerous boards, including Director and Chairman of Community/America Credit Union in Kansas City and Chairman of ArtsKC, Kansas City’s Regional Arts Council.
Mary Birch is the former President of the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce. During her tenure she helped thousands of companies locate to the fast growing suburb. She then worked as the Government Relations Director of Lathrop GPM, LLP. She has 45 years of experience in helping startups, non profits and companies succeed. She is proficient in government relations strategy at all levels of government, leadership development, political intelligence, organizational and community visioning and strategic planning.
For over 45 years, Ron has worked in leadership position in universities including a large state flagship university, two Jesuit universities, and for the past 16 years as President of Avila University, a Sisters of St. Joseph university in Kansas City. He has also served on institutional and state boards for higher education, secondary institutions, and the community as well on accrediting bodies for those organizations. His expertise is in personal development, emotional intelligence, organizational and community development and capacity building. He works to align mission, people, and organizations to being responsive to the fast-changing business, community, and societal issues we face. Helping organizations and individuals discover and leverage their capacities to anticipate, respond, and innovate for change are the key outcomes. This occurs through helping teams plan, prioritize, analyze, and execute through the engagement, talents, and investment of its people.
Fr. JUSTIN MATHEWS
816-931-4751 x 204
Fr. Justin Mathews is a Kansas City native with 25 years experience in developing and executing successful strategies for mission-driven for-profit and nonprofit organizations. With a contagious enthusiasm for social innovation, he is a serial social entrepreneur, retreat leader, keynote speaker, e-course author, mastermind facilitator for social entrepreneurs, and leadership coach.
For 9 years he has been the Executive Director of Reconciliation Services [RS] (www.RS3101.org) a quickly growing social venture located at 31st and Troost, the historic racial and economic dividing line of Kansas City, MO. As Executive Director, RS has grown from $650,000 organization with 4 employees to over $5-Million annually with 30 employees.
Published author and the creator of The Social Leader Essentials E-Course (www.thesocialleader.org), a transformative leadership development course designed to teach CEOs and senior leaders how to lead with greater social impact to transform their company and community.
Named a NextGen Leader by the Kansas City Business Journal in 2022, and co-founded the Social Venture Studio (www.socialventurestudio.com) in 2021 with the KC EDC's Launch KC initiative, Keystone Innovation District and the Downtown Council.
Received the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s “ACE Award” for his work in Diversity and Inclusion in 2020, and “2020 Excellence in Impact” Award from Nonprofit Connect. Mayor Quinton Lucas appointed him to the Heart of the City (Troost) TIF Commission and currently serves as the Vice Chair.
In 2018, he graduated from the Centurions Leadership Program of the Greater KC Chamber of Commerce where he was the Co-Chair of the “Diversity & Inclusion Committee", served on the Steering Committee, and led the RS team in the launch of Thelma's Kitchen (www.ThelmasKitchen.org), a 5-Star Yelp rated, social venture “donate-what-you-can” box lunch catering company in Kansas City.
He graduated Cum Laude from Belmont University with a BA in Business with an emphasis in audio engineering, earned his Master in Divinity from St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in 2007, and was ordained to the Priesthood in 2006.
Dan has over 30 years of senior executive experience as a business leader and general manager with Coca-Cola and Hallmark. He currently spends his time helping organizations develop and operationalize their strategic plans, as well as executive coaching.
Dan teaches leadership, innovation, and strategy courses in the Executive MBA program and Executive Development programs for The Bloch School at UMKC and is Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors for Outreach International, a non-profit dedicated to eradicating poverty globally.
Elizabeth has over 20 years of leadership and consulting experience in operational excellence, and process improvement across multiple industries. Her passion for mission-driven organizations was ignited by her work to enable Bethany Christian Services’ provision of healthcare services and essential aid to Kosovo war refugees in Albania. She currently shares her expertise with the Samuel Rodgers Health Center, which serves as the local health intake facility for refugees, as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors (https://samrodgers.org). She facilitated the start-up of Kansas City Mothers In Charge (https://www.kcmothersincharge.org), and has served for 7 years on their Board of Directors as the Chair/Vice-Chair. Under her leadership the organization has tripled in size and impact.
Elizabeth currently provides consulting services to purpose-driven organizations striving to create the culture, employee capabilities and systems needed to continuously improve and achieve their objectives, goals and aspirations. In today's environment understanding the current state of operations, how a process works, how to improve it, and most importantly, how to engage the hearts and minds of those responsible for it, differentiates those organizations that succeed and those who do not. Elizabeth's expertise in this area is unsurpassed.
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