In 13 years as director of the University of Kansas Cancer Center, Roy Jensen has helped guide the center to unparalleled success.
Under Jensen’s leadership, the center has become one of 69 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers in the United States.
This past summer, the center improved its score from excellent to outstanding and had its NCI designation was renewed. Funding also increased by 11 percent.
On Tuesday, Jensen was recognized as the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Kansas Citian of the Year KC during the organization’s 130th annual dinner at the Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom.
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The award is the highest honor for civic leadership in the area.
“It is an incredible honor for me to receive this award,” Jensen said.
Donald J. Hall, Jr., CEO of Kansas City-based Hallmark Cards Inc., said Jensen’s leadership has been paramount in the center’s success.
Hall received the award last year.
“Roy Jensen has changed cancer care and the quality of life for everyone in Kansas City,” Hall said.
Jensen, a Kansas City, Kan. native, became director of the cancer center in 2004. He guided the center to NCI status eight years later, meaning the tens of thousands of people who are diagnosed with cancer every year in Kansas and western Missouri no longer have to travel out of state for treatment.
Still, Jensen said, work remains.
“We have a whole lot more work to do and we are proud to lead this effort,” he said.
Joe Reardon, the Chamber’s president and CEO, said Jensen’s work helped bring front line cancer research and treatment to the area.
Jensen created the Midwest Cancer Alliance that connects KU Cancer Center with a network of community-based oncologists and cancer care professionals throughout Kansas and Missouri.
“His work has directly saved lives in Kansas City and is contributing to the betterment of our entire Kansas City region,” Reardon said.
The Chamber also announced a new partnership with Google as part of its new Big 5 goal to develop an integrated transit system.
Kansas City is one of a handful of global cities chosen by Google to pilot an urban mobility program.
The Chamber is already collaborating with strategic partners on the issue. More details will be released in January, said outgoing board chair Karen Daniel.
Daniel added an analysis by Brookings found that only 18 percent of all jobs in the region are reachable by transit.
“That’s not acceptable,” she said.
The transportation goal joins the other current Big 5 initiatives, including:
▪ Making Kansas City America’s most entrepreneurial city.
▪ Revitalizing urban neighborhoods through the Urban Neighborhood Initiative.
▪ Moving UMKC’s arts programs to a new downtown location.
▪ Building Kansas City’s workforce of tomorrow through kindergarten-readiness.
Matt Condon, 42, founder and CEO of two healthcare-related businesses in Kansas City, was introduced as incoming chair, the youngest in Chamber history.