Women of Influence

Kansas City is a Midwestern metropolis full of wildly talented female entrepreneurs, visionaries, and creatives who have and continue to singlehandedly propel this city forward. From a technology pioneer to leaders in sports, and musical screenwriting and production, these three Kansas City women inspire us to follow in their footsteps and to continue making history. 

Kathy Nelson

Kathy Nelson is the President and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission and helped bring some of the world’s most prominent sporting events to Kansas City, including the 2023 NFL Draft and the 2026 women’s World Cup. She was named by USA Today as the Missouri Honoree of the year for 2023.

JCL: Tell us about your background and journey to KC Sports Commissioner.
KN: Prior to joining the KC Sports Commission in 2010, I served in senior management roles in marketing, sales and promotions at Time Warner Cable and Metro Sports and held a number of roles at FOX 4/WDAF-TV in Kansas City, including creative services manager, producer, reporter and editor. I also was an active volunteer and member of WIN for KC and the KC Sports Commission for over ten years.  

JCL: What are some of the accomplishments you are most proud of?

KN: Throughout my career path, I was fortunate enough to receive numerous Telly, Emmy and cable television awards for sports production and was the first woman to win a regional Emmy for the production of an NFL game in the early 2000’s.

JCL: What future plans are you most excited about? 

KN: Bringing the World Cup to Kansas City — one of North America's 16 host sites in 2026! 

Casey Welch

Casey Welch spent 35+ years as a Computer Software Architect, Certified Project Manager, and the first woman to work in IT and Sales at IBM. Upon retiring from the corporate world, she earned a graduate degree in Education with an emphasis on teaching English as a Second Language at the age of 65.

JCL: Tell us about your journey into being the female pioneer that you are.

CW: I grew up in a small town and was valedictorian, a cheerleader, and voted ”Most Likely to Succeed.” I knew I would have to earn scholarships to get the education. I would need to succeed in the 1960's, which provoked the need to know how things worked. I was curious and became a problem solver. 

JCL: What inspired the work that you do?  

CW: Lucky accidents; being at the right place and time got me in the door, but it didn’t keep me there. The personal computer was invented, and there weren’t enough qualified professionals, so higher-salary job opportunities were prevalent. My parents taught us to be inquisitive and to become part of the solution rather than the problem. 

JCL: Tell us about the accomplishments you have achieved and how they impacted you. 

CW: Being the first female computer technician IBM hired in KC alongside 60 men. To compliment the dress code of dark suits, white shirts, and ties required for the guys, I wore dresses and heels and an “IBM” logoed lab jacket over them. Likewise, a significant impact on my life was taking up yoga 25+ years ago and earning a teaching certificate, which is a primary reason I have been able to focus on what I want and achieve it. 

JCL: Tell us about your future plans.

CW: I am interested in volunteer work in the not-for-profit world where I can use my educational and project management skills. Oh yes… and traveling.

JCL: Name a few of your favorite things about Kansas City. 

CW: Landmarks! Union Station, WW1 Museum, Nelson Art Gallery. It is friendly with Midwest values and manners. It has great restaurants, and some of my favorites are Aixios, Lidia’s, True Food Kitchen, and both Grand Street Cafes.

Sandra Martin

Sandra Martin is a Screenwriter and Producer who grew up in Kansas City's suburbs. She and her husband have made four movies here and love being able to support local businesses by bringing productions locally. 

JCL: Tell me about your background and journey to Screenwriter/Producer.
SM: Being from the Midwest, the film industry was not something that I had thought about. But my husband had always wanted to make movies since childhood. When we met, we started working together in photography and then slowly moved toward video projects, eventually deciding we wanted to create our own content and have more control over what we were producing. I started writing a decade ago, which led to directing and producing. This is a path I didn’t plan on, but I feel like my past career as a business owner and manager all played a part in what I’m doing now.   

JCL: What inspired the work that you do?  
SM: I create content that you can watch with your family. It’s always family-friendly with positive messaging. As a mom of grown children, I look back and think of what we watched together and enjoyed. I’ve always loved movies, and even as a teenager, I would re-write endings that I didn’t like. So, now I have the opportunity to write stories that I want to tell. 

JCL: Tell us about the accomplishments you have achieved and how that has impacted you both personally and professionally.
SM: I’ve made over a dozen movies and have had the opportunity to see my work on Hallmark, Lifetime, Amazon, and in theaters. I feel very fortunate to do something I enjoy so much and be able to share that with others.

JCL: What future plans are you most excited about?
SM: We had a limited release of a Christmas musical last year, It’s Christmas Again. I’m excited for it to be widely available this Christmas! I’m also looking forward to producing more content for children this year.

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