Community & CultureSports Partnerships
Jul 6, 2024
7 Minute Read

2024 Blue KC Gamechanger Honoree Lauren Conaway – month of July

July ‘Gamechanger’ is Big on Innovation

Lauren Conaway is a big fan of the Kansas City Current and all they represent. It turns out, the Current are big fans of Conaway as well.

Conaway was there when the Current opened CPKC Stadium, the first stadium in the world to be constructed specifically for a women’s professional sports team, in mid-March. She helped celebrate a win that ushered in a new era of women’s professional sports. And she’ll be there Saturday, July 6th when she is honored with the July “Blue KC Gamechanger” award.

“Lauren’s incredible work supporting women and gender minorities in the Kansas City area, along with her love for the Current, makes her a perfect recipient for this month’s Blue KC Gamechanger,” said KC Current VP of Community Relations Ben Aken. “InnovateHER KC has created a network of strong female leaders in the community, and we are honored to highlight Lauren’s efforts.”

Launched during the 2024 season, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and the Kansas City Current have teamed up to create this exclusive program highlighting local individuals blazing the trail for all women across the Kansas City area. A Blue KC Gamechanger inspires bold ambition in all his or her work, enriching the community around them, and enacting positive change through intentional action.

“The award means a lot,” she said. “I’ve been watching what’s going on with the KC Current with interest. I love women in sports. One of the most significant moments for women in leadership was that stadium. That is global impact, and I got to be a part of it. I firmly support and love the KC Current. I love what they’re trying to accomplish, not just in the sports space, but within the women’s space as well.”

Conaway is the founder and CEO of InnovateHER KC, a leadership community for women and gender minorities in the Kansas City metro area. The rapidly growing community already has more than 7,400 members.

“We have all kinds of leaders within our community, and we serve them through professional development and social connection events,” Conaway said of InnovateHER KC. “We like to tell the stories of women in Kansas City doing incredible things.”

Conaway has been doing “incredible things” with InnovateHER for almost six years. She got the idea while working in male-dominated industries. She said she had “a lot of really great experiences and met a lot of really great people. But I also had some situations that happened that were not so positive.”

She went to work for an organization called the Kansas City Start Up Foundation (now named “Startland”) where shewas the director of operations. They had a focus on entrepreneurship, which is also a heavily male-dominated industry.

“I was really trying to connect with women within that ecosystem,” she said. “I worked around a bunch of guys and I just wanted to start bringing together women in that space. I wanted to see if we could ‘be girls’ together, if we could get to know each other with no agenda.

“I hadn’t really found a great vehicle to do that, so I started to put together pop-up events. We got mani-pedis on a Friday afternoon. Another time, we went to a Royals game. I started receiving emails and each email started in a similar way. ‘Hi, you don’t know me, but I heard about this thing that you’re doing. Put me on the mailing list.’

The organization has grown organically, still largely dependent on connectivity and community events. Conaway goes to events put on by members so she can take pictures and champion them to the larger community.

“I might have coffee with a potential sponsor or a member who wants to learn more about the work that we do beyond the virtual community,” she said. “You can’t really be an effective community-builder unless you’re out in the community.”

Her work has caught the attention of Blue KC.

“Lauren is a great example of using her passion for empowering others and turning it into a movement that benefits the larger community,” said Blue KC Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Christina Lively. “We are very proud of Lauren and we are excited to recognize her as our July Blue KC Gamechanger!”

For more information about the “Blue KC Gamechanger” program, please click here.

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Blue KC Gamechanger

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