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Wichita Native Returns Home from Hawaii, Launches Successful Women’s Leadership Collective

By: Emily Younger-Barnwell

Audra Dinell, a Wichita native, has traveled far and wide. Most recently, she lived on the enchanting shores of Hawaii for eight years. Surrounded by pristine beaches, lush green landscapes and waves tailor-made for surfing, the mother of two never imagined she and her family would be back in the heart of Kansas. However, sometimes life’s twists lead to unexpected blessings.

“Although my husband and I had no intentions of moving back to Kansas when we left in 2012, we used COVID-19 to reconsider what we wanted for our little family,” said Dinell.

Dinell, her husband, and their two boys, Remi and Merritt, decided to give their hometown of Wichita a second go in March 2020. They quickly discovered a newfound appreciation for the city.

“It was easy to look at Wichita through fresh eyes after being gone and see what a great place it is to raise a family in. We were truly excited to make the move and are so glad to be home,” she expressed.

While being closer to family played a significant role in their decision, Dinell’s return to Wichita was also motivated by her ambitious career goals.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work in different markets across the country and had a life-changing experience with a women’s leadership program in one of the markets I’ve lived in,” Dinell explained. “After doing some research I believed I had found a hole in the Wichita market and went to work on filling it.”


Enter “The Thread,” a women’s leadership collective launched by Dinell in August 2020. The initiative is a six-month program designed to empower high-achieving professional women to develop their power and grow their careers while building an authentic and supportive community.

“We also aim to give employers a way to further support the women that work for them, which can help them retain talent and increase employee satisfaction in a market where more is being demanded of their organization,” Dinell said.

In its three years in business, The Thread has supported more than 150 women in their personal and professional journeys and most recently expanded into the Kansas City market.  

“We’ve watched women become CEOs, grow their confidence, ask for what they want, begin to use their voices, grow their families, start businesses, take calculated risks, grow their teams and so much more,” she emphasized.

While the allure of Hawaii could have offered its own version of success, Dinell said she found a sense of solace and purpose in the Midwest that far surpassed the tropical paradise of the Aloha State.

“Life in Wichita is easy,” Dinell noted. When you’re not worried about the daily demands of life in a bigger city and let’s say your commute, for example, you can use your energy to focus on something else. You can go out and create something - anything!”

In this case – Dinell has woven a thread of empowerment that continues to grow and inspire.

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