JA of Kansas announces 2016 Topeka Business Hall of Fame Laureates
Four Topeka business and community leaders—an insurance executive, an engineering professional, a real estate entrepreneur and an award-winning broadcast journalist—were named the 2016 Topeka Business Hall of Fame Laureates by Junior Achievement of Kansas.
These four individuals are honored not only for their success in business, but for their dedication and commitment to the local community and the state of Kansas. Junior Achievement annually honors businessmen and women to inspire young people to follow in the laureates’ footsteps. A committee selected this year’s laureates based on criteria including their business excellence, entrepreneurial spirit, community impact, leadership style, local influence and enduring legacy.
The Topeka Business Hall of Fame Tribute Dinner honoring the laureates will be held Thursday, March 3, 2016, at the Ramada Topeka Downtown. Contact Junior Achievement of Kansas for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785.235.3700.
Andrew C. Corbin Andrew C. Corbin brings 39 years of experience in health insurance sales and management to the position of president/CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas (BCBSKS), a position he has held since 2007. He is just the seventh top executive in the company's 71-year history. Corbin was promoted to the company's top leadership role after six years as a vice president, leading the company’s marketing, provider relations and reimbursement division as well as leading two of the company's subsidiaries. He joined BCBSKS as director of sales in 1987. Corbin also serves in leadership positions for the company’s subsidiaries, and represents BCBSKS on the boards and committees of several national organizations. Closer to home, Corbin serves on the board of Go Topeka and the Kansas Insurance Education Foundation, and has held leadership roles in many organizations around Topeka. Corbin is a native of Alva, Okla., but has spent the majority of his life in Kansas. He was raised in Liberal and graduated from Wichita State University in 1972 with a bachelor's in education and has received the designation of Certified Health Consultant through Purdue University. Corbin and his wife, Robin, have four children and three grandchildren.
Neil Dobler Neil Dobler is a vice-president and currently manages the public works division for Bartlett & West, Inc. Dobler’s career has included time as a consulting engineer and 12 years of service with the City of Topeka, including several years as public works director. When the form of government changed to a council/manager format in 2005, Dobler served as interim city manager for the first year. Dobler is a licensed professional engineer and has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Kansas State University and a master’s in public administration from the University of Kansas. Dobler has been active in many civic and charitable organizations in Topeka, and currently serves on the boards of St. Francis Health, the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Topeka Airport Authority and the Topeka Civic Theatre & Academy. Neil is a graduate of the 2006 class of Leadership Kansas. Dobler and his wife Beth have five children/stepchildren.
Dick Pratt James Richard (Dick) Pratt has been a business and real estate entrepreneur in Topeka for five decades. Born and raised in Colby, Dick attended the University of Kansas on a U.S. Navy ROTC scholarship. He served in the Navy for three years, and spent time in Korea on a destroyer escort. In 1953, Dick returned to Colby to help run the family hardware store. In 1962, Dick moved to Topeka to own and operate the hardware department in a membership department store, eventually taking over four more areas. He sold those in 1965 and purchased two Parkview drug stores, changing the name to Super D Drugs. Over the years, he opened four more stores, eventually selling the main store. Dick then purchased 503 Kansas Ave., improving the property and leasing it to the state. In 2006, the building was sold to a Texas firm. Dick has been involved with many local business-related organizations including the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Topeka. He has also worked with community organizations including the Kapper Foundation, the YMCA, the Lion’s Club, and as a former Eagle Scout, the Boy Scouts of America Jayhawk Area Council. Dick and his wife, Nancy, have three children and seven grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Eugene Williams Eugene Williams, the executive director and general manager of KTWU, public television in northeast Kansas, has an extensive background in broadcast and film including work with CBS, CNN, CONUS, NBC, The National Science Foundation, numerous local stations, film companies, state associations and independent production companies. Williams has served in leadership roles for a number of industry-related organizations and associations, including the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the Kansas Public Broadcasting Council and the Kansas Public Broadcasting Council’s Digital Television Committee. Williams is a member of the Downtown Topeka Rotary Club and has served as chair of its community service efforts as well as the vice-chair of its foundation. Williams has one three EMMY awards and been nominated eight times. In 2011, Williams served as the emcee for the state of Kansas’ sesquicentennial (150th) celebration. A proud native of Mobile, Ala., Williams moved to Topeka from Chicago in 1998. Williams earned his bachelor’s degree in broadcast and film communications from the University of Alabama. Afterward, he completed an associate’s degree in electronic technology, earning three certificates in electronics and engineering from Southwest State Technical College. Williams then went on to pursue his MBA at the University of Mobile. Williams and his wife, Debra, have been married 26 years.
About Junior Achievement of Kansas Junior Achievement of Kansas is the local branch of the world's largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. Junior Achievement of Kansas trains and places volunteers from local businesses and the community into classrooms across the state, providing relevant, hands-on experiences that give students knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. In the 2015-16 school year, Junior Achievement of Kansas will serve nearly 28,000 children statewide. Visit www.kansasja.org for more information.