Alumni Spotlight: Steve Fleischaker '94
Steve Fleischaker comes from a family of University of Missouri graduates. Growing up, he thought he would be a tiger, but halfway through his senior year of high school, Steve decided to become a panther.
Steve wanted to attend a small school outside of his hometown of Joplin, Missouri. After talking to his aunt, a Drury graduate, Steve discovered Drury University. He liked Drury’s intimate environment, and Springfield was just the right distance from home. Drury also gave Steve an opportunity to continue playing golf.
In 1994, Steve graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. He now lives in Overland Park, Kansas. He is the Senior Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Bank of Blue Valley.
“One of my favorite things about Drury was that if you wanted to be involved, anybody could be involved. There were so many good programs and diverse opportunities. I really enjoyed that about the school.”
Steve took advantage of the opportunities he found on campus. He was a part of the men’s golf team and the student senate. He was also a member of Kappa Alpha Order, which he became the president of his senior year.
Learning From Others
Drury students come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Each student brings a unique set of experiences to campus. Steve says, “Life is too short to not embrace not only the things you have in common with your fellow students but the differences you have and learn from them.”
At Drury, Steve developed strong interpersonal communication skills that have helped him succeed in his career. “I think the stuff you learn in textbooks is valuable but more so as you’re making those transitions into young adulthood is learning how to deal with people. My people skills have probably gotten me further in life.”
The Banking Profession
Until his junior year of college, Steve thought he wanted to be an attorney. When faced with the concept of several more years in school, Steve decided to go into banking instead. After applying for several jobs in the field and not receiving any of them, Steve decided to apply for entry-level positions. Once again, Steve was passed on, this time not because he did not have any experience in banking, but because he was considered over-qualified for bank teller positions.
Luckily, Great Southern Bank gave Steve a shot by hiring him as a teller. Working his way up, Steve became the branch manager at a Great Southern Bank in Springfield.
In February of 2001, Steve and his wife, Ashley, moved to Kansas City, Kansas. At the time, Great Southern was not in Kansas City. Steve accepted an offer from the company he has been with ever since, Bank of Blue Valley. As the Senior VP of Sales and Business Development, Steve oversees all sales activity within the various revenue lines of the company. He also develops strategies for attracting and obtaining new clients for the bank.
Steve was recognized for his hard work and achievements by the Kansas City Business Journal. In 2014, they named him a member of Next Gen Leaders, which is an award given to those who are considered to be the city’s future business leaders.
Natalie’s A.R.T. Foundation
In May of 2013, Steve and Ashley lost their 8-year-old daughter, Natalie, to a rare form of brain cancer. To honor Natalie’s compassion and creativity, they founded a nonprofit. Natalie’s A.R.T. Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness about Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. In three and a half years, Natalie’s A.R.T. Foundation has raised almost a quarter of a million dollars for childhood brain cancer research.
The foundation celebrates Natalie’s spirit each year with Natalie’s Kindness Day. On July 22, the foundation invites people to perform random acts of kindness. Those in the Kansas City area can stop by Twisters Frozen Custard, a favorite of Natalie’s, where a portion of the sales support the foundation’s goals. Natalie’s A.R.T. Foundation also hosts annual events, such as Natalie’s A.R.T. Run.
An advocate for Drury, Steve is the Alumni Association’s regional representative for the Kansas City, Kansas area. He says, “It’s good to be connecting with other Drury alumni and to potentially recruit students who come out of here.” Steve donates his time by speaking with high school students about the university. “The one thing you can always give,” Steve says, “is your time.”