Our Team 2017-10-04T20:17:18+00:00

Meet Our Team

Courtney Thomas

President & CEO

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A native of North Carolina and a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Bachelor of Science in Accounting), Courtney moved to the Kansas City community in September of 2002. Courtney brings more than fourteen years…

of executive leadership, innovative vision, and strategic alignment to the Central Exchange.

Courtney joined the CX team in February of 2017, and her arrival coincided with the launch of a new strategic plan for the Central Exchange, outlining our path forward from now through 2020. Over the next four years, Courtney’s leadership and vision will shape the execution strategy to deliver on our goals to: Enhance Brand Equity, Grow Membership, Focus and Elevate Programming, Upgrade Technology, and Improve our Financial Strength.

Prior to joining CX, Courtney served as the President and Chief Executive Officer at Great Plains SCPCA, Kansas City’s largest animal welfare organization. Serving in this capacity for over six years, Courtney led a staff of 160 and managed a budget of $7.8M, while growing the organization’s mission impact by over 350% and establishing new facilities on both sides of the state line. As the top executive, she set the vision and strategy for operations, marketing, fundraising and business development, while leading agency culture, human resources, and finance activities. Prior to her most recent role as CEO, Courtney spent ten years in progressively responsible leadership positions in Marketing, Public Relations, and Operations.

KC Magazine named Courtney one of Kansas City’s Top 100 influential people in Kansas City in 2013, and that same year, Courtney received the 2013 Rising Star award from Nonprofit Connect. Courtney was also the Founder and President of the Pet Animal Coalition of Kansas (PACK) and represented the state of Kansas on the Companion Animal Advisory Council for the Humane Society of the United States. She is a Certified Animal Welfare Administrator — a prestigious designation of less than 100 across the country —  acknowledging excellence in leadership, financial and operational acumen, public relations and veterinary medicine. Courtney is also is a member of the Lyric Opera Circle of Kansas City.

Outside of work, Courtney is the mother of three beautiful young children and has been married to her husband Jeff for twelve years. She loves spending time with family, practicing photography, supporting our hometown teams, and participating in civic activities that make Kansas City a better place for all of us to live.

Courtney has a strong desire to get to know our membership on an individual basis and she welcomes the opportunity for members to drop by and say hello whenever onsite for programming.

Kelly Chamberlain

Vice President of Membership and Experience

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Kelly brings over 20 years’ experience in business operations.  She has played a role with several companies building vision, advancing growth, managing teams, refining process, building operational efficiencies and creating exceptional service experiences. 

She has been successful in large part because of the relationships she’s developed with staff, peers, clients and organizational leaders. She firmly believes that by developing high performing teams, who understand how to perform as a team, it only leads to strong and sustainable growth. Others have described her as sincere, honoring servant leadership, having impeccable standards, being strategic-minded and unafraid (and always willing) to tackle what others will not.

At Central Exchange, Kelly is responsible for strategic growth and development in membership and programming and serves as a partner to the CEO in business development.  She is a Kansas City native raising three children, Zack, Jake and Cali with her husband Jason.  She has a passion for rescue animals with four dogs (all named after Kansas City): Kemper, Kauffman, Jackson and Millie as well as a rescued rabbit, named Winnie.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Business from Baker University and is active in many Kansas City organizations.

Brenda Lowe

Director of Programs

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Brenda comes to CX from Big Brothers Big Sisters, where she worked as their administrative assistant for four years. She has worked in both the public and private sectors, including more than 21 years for Sprint in multiple assignments.

Beginning in Human Resources Planning and Development, transferring to State and Federal Regulatory Affairs, and later working as Manager of Public Affairs within Law and External Affairs. She also served on the board of SprintPAC.

Brenda attended Prairie View A&M University and has a certificate in paralegal studies from Rockhurst University. She has served on the board of the Kansas Paralegal Association as Public Policy Chair, and served two terms as President of the National Association of Black Telecommunications Professionals (formerly based in Washington D.C.). Brenda volunteered for more than 15 years with Junior Achievement in various schools in the Kansas City area, and is proud to have been a CPI and individual member of Central Exchange from 1993 to 2014.

In 2015, Brenda served on the Initiating Committee of the Gladstone, Missouri Community Visioning and Strategic Planning process. Currently, she is a third-term Commissioner of the Gladstone, Missouri Housing Commission. She is a member of Toastmasters and also serves as Historian on the Executive Committee of Fishing River Chapter of the Missouri State Association of Parliamentarians.

In her spare time, she writes short stories, travels, and resides in Gladstone, Missouri with her husband and best friend, Thomas.

Peter Beffa

Executive Chef

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Peter Beffa brings more than a decade of experience in the culinary and hospitality industries to Central Exchange. After completing his Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing Management at Missouri State University, Peter followed his true passion by attending the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago.

He began his professional career at Rosebud Steakhouse in Chicago. After starting a family, Peter moved to Kansas City, where he kicked off his career working as a Sous Chef for 40 Sardines. Peter climbed the culinary ladder by helping lead an opening kitchen staff for Makers Mark Bourbon House & Lounge and acted as a culinary liaison for both Vinino and McFadden’s.

Just prior to helming the kitchen at CX, Peter spent several years as a Sous Chef at Bravo Cucina Italiana. Throughout his career, he has always believed in bringing people together through good, honest food.

Outside of the kitchen, Peter rocks it with his three kids and his beautiful wife. He enjoys family time, healthy exercise, and watching his children’s various sporting events.

Kerry Hartnett

Vice President, Events & Engagement Officer

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Kerry brings more than 15 years of event and community engagement experience to her role at Central Exchange. Her past experience includes nine years managing and driving strategy for Kansas City’s largest revenue generating event, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas’ Annual Snow Ball, with annual revenues of more than $2 Million…

and attendance of more than 1,800.

With her personal philosophy based on
listening carefully, identifying common ground, and building a strategy to accomplish the goal, Kerry has the skills to elevate Central Exchange events to the next level. She is a logical and precise thinker, is calm and intentional under pressure, possesses an unwavering commitment to quality experiences and brings an entrepreneurial approach to her work. Kerry became involved with Central Exchange in 2007 as an AHEAD scholarship recipient while she was leading events for Rose Brooks Center. At CX, Kerry is responsible for revenue generating events outside of programming – the Lyceum, STEMMy Awards, Martinis, Women & Shoes and the Leadership Trip. She is also working with Courtney on improving the financial strength of the organization as well as helping to grow the catering and event rental side of the business.A graduate of the University of Kansas, Kerry is a loyal Jayhawk. On Chiefs game days, you’ll find her running her family’s tailgate while sporting a necklace she most likely made for the occasion. A creative spirit at heart, there’s always a project (or three!) on Kerry’s plate.

Kaylah Perry

Communications & Impact Coordinator

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Kaylah started at Central Exchange as an Edward A. Smith Leadership intern from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Upon concluding her internship, she has taken on the title of Communications & Impact Coordinator at CX Downtown.

Prior to her position at CX, Kaylah worked as a cashier at Belfonte’s Car Wash where the customers enjoyed her bright smile and welcoming personality.

This December, Kaylah will graduate from UMKC with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Business Administration. Upon graduation, she aspires to incorporate her writing skills and creativity into a career.

Kaylah resides in Raymore, MO with her fiancé, whom she has been engaged to since December 2016. She enjoys spending time with her family, baking, drawing, and reading mystery novels.

Mallory Montgomery

Manager of Strategic Communications

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Mallory brings nearly 10 years of marketing and graphic design experience to Central Exchange. After graduating from Northwest Missouri State University with a degree in Interactive Digital Media and an emphasis in Visual Imaging, Mallory found her niche in growing brands for nonprofit organizations where she feels a purpose can fuel her passion.

Prior to joining Central Exchange in April 2017, she worked at Great Plains SPCA as the Manager of Creative Communications.

As Manager of Strategic Communications at Central Exchange, Mallory’s main focus is to expand agency awareness and the brand footprint by producing creative pieces across print and digital platforms.

Mallory, her husband Dane, and children Ava and Daniel live in Blue Springs, Missouri. When timing allows, she enjoys going on international volunteer trips to lend a helping hand while experiencing new cultures.

Walter Rogers

Sous Chef

Stevie Kelly

Host & Concierge