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Stories of
Innovation

How I Found Belonging in Wichita: Ashley’s Story

Written by and photos courtesy of Ashley Bandasack

I started at Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, L.C. (AGH) during my senior year at Wichita State University. When I received my bachelor’s degree in finance as a first generation Asian-American college graduate, I explored the different career paths that finance could bring. I decided to stay in Wichita after I was offered a full-time associate position at AGH. I didn’t realize that by pursuing this opportunity, I would grow to love my community, profession and find belonging here in Wichita.

During my first couple of years in accounting, I experienced a tremendous learning curve. I felt over my head and doubted myself plenty. AGH invested in me through training, development opportunities and joining professional development organizations. Because of this confidence fostered by AGH, I’ve helped my clients nationwide navigate complex tax laws and was recently promoted to senior consultant. The success of my clients is representative of my personal success while at AGH.

AGH is a huge supporter of organizations that further the success of Wichita, including W / A Community of Young Professionals. Over the last few years, I’ve been heavily involved with W and the many programs it offers as a way to engage with and better the community. I’ve met so many amazing individuals through my involvement who became long-lasting friends and mentors. I was encouraged to own my accomplishments and gain confidence in my purpose – I felt seen, heard, and received recognition and opportunities that many others who look like me haven’t experienced. I want to be the one to open doors for others just like me that deserve the same experience.

I received an opportunity to build Wichita’s first young professional organization for the Asian-American community from the ground up. A group of 15 Asian-Americans that represented the many countries that make up Asia were ready and excited to transform the idea into reality. We met virtually every week to carefully and consciously bridge the gap for success for young Asian-Americans in Wichita.

In March of 2021, we launched the National Association of Asian-American Professionals - Wichita Chapter (NAAAP Wichita). Our organization’s mission is to strengthen the Greater Wichita area by enriching the Asian communities’ engagement through development, empowerment, and celebration of Asian professionals and our allies. The Wichita community rallied behind NAAAP’s vision and stood next to us in support of our mission. We created a space for the Asian-American community to be successful in Wichita. And guess what? AGH is one of five corporate sponsors of the local NAAAP chapter.

Both NAAAP and AGH have empowered me to be true to myself, own my accomplishments and be proud to be an Asian-American professional thriving in Wichita.

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