Ten Minutes With … David Decker, Envision Inc. – Wichita Business Journal – The Business Journals

David Decker is glad to be back home in the Wichita and Newton area, and he says landing at Envision, Inc., a month ago fits his values of wanting to give back.
Decker is the nonprofit’s executive director of development, returning to a fundraising profession he was in starting out of college about 20 years ago.
Away from the office, Decker is a huge Lego enthusiast with a wide, ever-growing collection. He’s held onto the Lego collection from his childhood and has expanded it greatly over the years, with and without his children. He’s even given seminars tying Legos into problem-solving.
Decker sat with the WBJ to talk about returning to south-central Kansas, recognizing the area’s new vibe, and what he likes about the Envision mission.
Your early professional years were in fundraising roles at Emporia State and the University of Kansas. What did you like about university fundraising? The best thing I enjoyed about it was that it was providing opportunity. It opened doors for folks that maybe wouldn’t have had opportunities available to them. So providing access, providing the means by which they could live their social and their economic status by the merits of their hard work to get their education. That’s what really was a driver for me, to see that transformation. That, on top of being part of the growth of those institutions. Both of those institutions are drivable from Wichita and just to see the programs that they’ve been able to add and the growth on their campuses alone and how that’s really impacted the communities and the state of Kansas was really a driver for me because I like being part of an organization that gives back.
What was appealing about coming home to work for the Newton school district in your hometown? Definitely what was most appealing was this is where my family’s from. My family, my wife’s family and our extended families are all from the Wichita-Newton area, and so as we’re getting older in our careers, or more seasoned in our careers, one thing that we wanted to do is that we wanted to be able to be there more for family and be involved in things. We found ourselves, especially when our kids become college age and moved out of the house, coming back to Newton or Wichita once or twice a month anyway, and at some point we said, “Hey, it looks like an exciting place, we’re there a lot, let’s go ahead and make that transition,” and we’re glad we did because, I think that while both the Emporia and Lawrence communities are great, it’s nothing like the growth and vibe you get in Wichita. Really the community-centered approach that we’ve been so happy to be part of moving back.
You were the director of business services for the Newton school district before coming to Envision. What was it about fundraising and Envision that made you want to get back into fundraising? Hands down, the Newton school district is a great school district, but like all school districts across the state with the onset of Covid, there were certainly some new obstacles put in place for schools, and especially school funding, where most public schools rely on the enrollment count to dictate what their budgets are going to be. So really I felt that once we got through the hardest part of Covid, I felt that was a good time to start looking at what I really enjoyed, which was being able to be part of a positive solution, whereas in the world of education finance at the moment, it’s mostly about how to restrict, how to do more with less, how to consolidate, and I was really more of the mindset of how to grow.
What connections do you have to blind and low-vision people? Within my family, there are definitely folks that have various disabilities, whether physical or other, and so there’s a broad stroke of folks out there that I’m used to interacting with and I’m used to having this part of my family, and know that they’re loved and valued. That includes an uncle that was blind as well, and just seeing what struggles that folks with disabilities deal with on a daily basis, not necessarily to achieve greatness, but just to operate and be functional as a normal person in society. You can imagine the value that even just being able to have a job, what that would do for your self-esteem or being able to have a routine in which you can pretty much help yourself and not rely on others. I’ve seen where that is extremely important and where it can also hurt folks that have those experiences, because it’s a little dehumanizing.
Coming back to Wichita after spending years away, what differences have you noticed about the city compared to when you were a kid? The revitalization, hands down, this is an easy one for me to answer because when I was here as a kid growing up, we didn’t have things like the Wichita flag, we didn’t have points of pride that are obvious now that rival any community out there. So just that introspection to say Wichita is a great place, a place that’s growing, a place that you want to be, is really something again that was somewhat surprising when we were looking and a major reason of why we came back. So you can’t discount those small things where there’s just more sense of pride. There’s definitely a bigger sense of growth and opportunity now than what I had seen growing up.
Title: Executive Director of Development, Envision Inc.
Age: 46
Experience: Assistant director of development, Emporia State University, 1999-2005; director/senior director of annual giving, KU Endowment, 2005-2020; director of business services, Newton Public Schools, 2020-22.
Education: Bachelor’s in Business Administration, Emporia State University, 1999; Master’s in Business Administration, ESU, 2002; Doctorate in Education, University of Kansas, 2019.
Family: Wife, Veronica; children, Isabella, Alexandra, Gabriel.
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