After five years in banking, Sara Buffington made the leap to run her own business as a financial advisor — and Central Exchange was with her every step of the way. With a strong circle of friends at Central Exchange, Sara is empowered to succeed as an entrepreneur and give back to the community. Meet Sara.

Her path to Central Exchange:

In 2013, while working as a personal banker, one of Sara’s customers encouraged her to check out a Central Exchange open house and look into the new young professionals group. Even after her first event, Sara could tell there was something different about Central Exchange. “Some places you go for networking, it’s easy to tell that no one really wants to be there . . . but not at Central Exchange,” Sara says. “I was just amazed that people wanted to talk with me. It was refreshing to walk into an organization where it feels like you belong right away.” Joining CX was an easy decision after that.

Central Exchange’s impact on her career:

Central Exchange programs impact Sara’s life both professionally and personally. From events featuring CEOs to discussions on emotional intelligence and managing stress, the well-rounded education at CX has inspired and uplifted Sara to push herself to new levels. “I was in a mentoring circle a few years ago when I decided to leave my job in banking and become a financial advisor,” Sara says. “Knowing I had a network when I was starting something new was an encouragement. It wasn’t just me out there trying to figure it out.”

Memorable lesson:

“The biggest thing I learned, over multiple programs, was how to manage people,” Sara shares. “When you get promoted to a manager position, you don’t automatically learn how to lead others and manage difficult situations.” At Central Exchange, Sara gained the ability to manage others with confidence and have the courage for tough conversations.

Favorite Central Exchange program:

For Sara, the Central Exchange Mentoring Circles stand out as a favorite program. “It was so valuable to be able to not just learn from my mentor but from a group of eight women at different stages in their careers in different industries,” Sara says. “I ended up with great friends, and we still meet quarterly.”

Connections across generations:

“I have so many friendships through Central Exchange now that it’s hard to narrow it down!” Sara says. One CX connection that stands out is Judy Gerstner. As a fellow business owner, Sara reached out to Judy to get her advice. “Judy is the sweetest lady,” Sara says, “I love her patience and how warm she is with everyone.”

Her decision to join the CX Board:

As a first-generation college grad, Sara admires the resources Central Exchange provides that help women achieve their potential. “I really believe in empowering women,” she says. “I love that Central Exchange is connecting business women with problems in the community so we can be aware and begin to solve these problems.” Sara enjoys being an active member of Central Exchange and working with the organization to uplift women in the community and make Kansas City a better place for everyone.

Final word:

When most people decide to join a professional organization, they’re in it for one reason, Sara says. But Central Exchange, in contrast, offers unsiloed growth opportunities. “Central Exchange has touched so many areas of my life,” Sara says. “That’s not something you expect from an ordinary organization. It’s so much about the community and what we share with each other.”

Thank you, Sara, for being an engaged member of Central Exchange and a dedicated member of our Board. Connect with women like Sara and find lifelong friendships that elevate your career. You’re invited! Register for one of our many upcoming programs.

Since 1980, women like Sara have come to Central Exchange to empower their career — and their life. Meet more of our unparalleled members.