By Mark Thomas
Ivan Fenwick is originally from Baltimore, Maryland. He arrived in Kansas City in 1998 from Dallas.
“I love the Midwest,” he said. “Every five years, I was pretty much moving. Here you can breathe. The Midwest people are friendly. It was very obvious that Kansas City is a place to raise your children. You can slow down, and you can make a contribution.”
A mathematics and engineering graduate of Coppin State University in Baltimore, Fenwick began his professional life at Honeywell in Phoenix, working in avionics. As the economic climate changed, so did his career focus.
In Dallas, Fenwick worked for Nortel, a telecommunications firm. Eventually, he was hired by Sprint and made the move to Kansas City.
While in Dallas, Fenwick was active in the LGBT community. He had a strong connection to the Cathedral of Hope, a Metropolitan Community Churches congregation, and then with Leadership Lambda, whose mission was “to identify, train, support, and honor passionate thinkers, advocates, and leaders to expand the legacy of strong community organizations. ... Leadership Lambda helps to develop leaders in the North Texas GLBT community."
Fenwick continued his education at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, graduating in 2008 with a master’s degree in business administration. He has been active on the Alumni Advisory Council, serving as a member and an officer. In 2012, he delivered the commencement address.
During his 18 years at Sprint, he was a global network manager. One of his areas of expertise was connecting company business services in Japan to the rest of the world. Fenwick holds several patents related to the communication industry.
Recently, Fenwick has started a new journey: working for himself. He is a representative for Primerica, a leading insurance and financial services company.
“Once you put your financial foundation in place, life becomes easier,” he said. “The company has been around for 40 years. Our products are life insurance and financial services – only term insurance.”
Fenwick works with clients in their homes or in his office at 75th and Troost. “We teach you financial concepts. Primerica works with individuals, as well as not-for-profits, churches, and other organizations.”
Fenwick is a strong advocate for youth in the metro. He notes, “Like any city, we have challenges. What I’d like to see, as a business person, is programming designed to create summer jobs.”
Fenwick, an Eagle Scout, says, “I landed that job with the telephone company because I was on the honor roll in a similar program in Baltimore. It could make a huge difference. Let’s put in a blue chip program.”
He appreciates the value in belonging to the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, particularly the Master Minds monthly brainstorming sessions and the conversations about diversity.
“I’ve always been active in corporate diversity issues,” he said. “While I’ve just started [his new venture], it’s getting out there and meeting people, that’s building my business – one-to-one marketing.”
During his leisure time, he loves dancing, movies and reading. With a smile, he says, “To be successful, you have to keep feeding the mind.” and adds: “It’s uplifting to be around positive people.”