Meet our 2021 Honorees Carol Brooks Torch Award Recipient
Janice Kreamer is the chairman of the Kauffman Foundation Board of Trustees. She joined the board in December of 2006. She is the retired president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation and Affiliated Trusts.
Kreamer is known nationally for her leadership of community foundations, and especially for her pioneering work focused on donor intent. Under her leadership, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation's asset base grew from $14 million to $1 billion. Today, it is among the leaders in assets, gifts received, and grants made among the more than 650 community foundations across the country.
She has received numerous honors, including the Entrepreneurial American Leadership Award for her pioneering efforts to redefine the leadership role community foundations play in creating regional cooperation across the United States. In 2012, she was the recipient of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce's ATHENA Award for achieving professional excellence, devoting time and energy to the community, and opening the doors of leadership to women.
Everyday Hero Award Recipient
Johnny Waller Jr.
Johnny Waller Jr. is currently the Founder & Executive Director of Second Chance Organized People Empowered and Owner of the JLW Group L.L.C. Johnny has worked in the community for a decade helping ex-offenders successfully reenter society and more recently aiding in the efforts to reduce violence in Kansas City. He has also worked to pass local and state legislation along with members of the community in an effort to build a united, more equitable Kansas City. He is a former business owner, non-profit business executive, and mentor to a great number of adults and youth in the Greater Kansas City area. In 2019 Johnny was renamed “Mr. Kindness” by Our Heal Matters Magazine for his treatment of colleges, friends, and everyday citizens of Kansas City.
In 2011, Johnny graduated with honors from Johnson County Community College with an associate degree in Business Administration. He went on to attend Rockhurst University on an academic scholarship where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Management. In 2016 he returned to Rockhurst University to pursue a Master's degree in Organizational Leadership and Development which he completed in December of 2018. Johnny was honored once again for academic excellence for maintaining a 3.98 G.P.A and was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma fraternity for academic excellence in business studies.
Today he dedicates his free time working in the community to help other ex-offenders successfully reenter society. Having lived a life of crime and success, he has a unique understanding of what it takes to overcome the many barriers ex-offenders face and how to help change their lives for the better. He collaborates with non-profits, colleges, and other organizations sharing his story and experiences in an effort to help find solutions to issues that continue to plague our community. He believes that through mutual understanding and hope that we all can make a profound positive impact in our community.
Shield Award Recipient
Judge Ardie A. Bland
Ardie A. Bland is a Municipal Court Judge for the 16th Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri – Kansas City Municipal Division. Judge Bland is a native of Kansas City, Missouri, and graduated from Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in 1988. Bland attended and graduated from Truman State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics. After graduation, he attended Drake University Law School in Des Moines, IA, where he worked in the law clinic for the indigent and the Trial Advocacy Team. In 1995, he returned home to Kansas City, MO to practice law and serve as the law clerk for the Honorable Thomas H. Newton. Bland soon later served as a decision writer for the Office of Hearings and Appeals for the Social Security Administration. While working at the Social Security Administration, he became extremely passionate and knowledgeable of the physical and mental health diagnoses and their impacts on an individual’s ability to function in society. The years of working for the Social Security Administration would later serve as the foundation of his overall impact on the community and their needs, but also developed his desire to return to representing clients and seeking justice, therefore, he
opened the Law Offices of Ardie A. Bland, LLC. Clients were represented in the areas of Criminal, Family, Landlord Tenant, and Municipal law.
After representing clients for a number of years in his law firm, Ardie Bland wanted to have a bigger impact on his community, and he sought the position of Judge to try to make a difference from the bench. In 2008, Judge Ardie A. Bland was appointed by Mayor Mark Funkhouser and the Kansas City Council, Division 205, for the 16th Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri. In 2009, Judge Bland presided over the first Veteran’s Treatment Court in the State of Missouri which has worked in conjunction with the Veterans Administration to help hundreds of veterans in the greater Kanas City metropolitan area to deal with issues of substance abuse, homelessness, unemployment and mental health issues such as PTSD.
He also continues to serve his community through service, education, leadership, and mentorship within various organizations, such as Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. (Past President 2014-2016), past Board Member for Niles Home, (2017-2018) Missouri Municipal and Associate Circuit Judge’s Association (Secretary 2018-2020) and as a member of the Board of Governors of the American Judge’s Association (currently). Judge Bland currently serves to improve the state of the judiciary by his Supreme Court committee appointments to the Municipal Judge Education and to the Committee on Practice and Procedures in Municipal Divisions which in turn helps to improve the treatment of individuals that enter our courts. In addition to his accomplishments and accolades, he is most proud of his two adult sons, Anton Bland (24) and Marshall Bland (22) who are both currently attending college.