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Kansas Citian of the Year Award

The Kansas Citian of the Year Award is the highest honor the KC Chamber can bestow.

Presented at the Annual Dinner in November, the award is given “only to those persons whose civic contributions and achievements have reflected the insight, creativity and consciousness necessary to build and maintain a quality urban community.”  The Kansas Citian of the Year Award is now recognized as the most significant honor bestowed upon a single individual by any organization in the metropolitan area.

The announcement of the award is a surprise – and each year presents a different challenge in making sure the unsuspecting award winner is, in fact, in the audience to receive it!

An indication of how times have changed: when the award was first presented in 1960, it was called the “Mr. Kansas City Award.”

Since that time, the list of award winners has grown to include dozens of men and women who have made a lasting and positive impact on their community. 

Past Kansas Citians of the Year

Dr. Roy Jensen2017 Kansas Citian of the Year

“Roy Jensen, through his leadership and collaboration, has brought NCI (National Cancer Institute) designation to our town … and has changed cancer care and the quality of life for everyone in Kansas City,” says 2016 Kansas Citian of the Year Don Hall, Jr., as he honored Dr. Roy Jensen, the driving force behind the KU Cancer Center’s success and the KC Chamber’s 2017 Kansas Citian of the Year.

“Dr. Jensen is passionate in his fight against cancer, and his leadership has brought front line cancer research and treatment to our region,” says Joe Reardon, President & CEO of the KC Chamber. “His work has directly saved lives in Kansas City and is contributing to the betterment of our entire Kansas City region.”
The Kansas Citian of the Year is the highest civic honor in Kansas City, and was presented to Dr. Jensen at the climax of the KC Chamber’s 130th Annual Dinner Tuesday night.
Born in Kansas City, Kansas, Dr. Jensen returned to the area in 2004 to become Director of the University of Kansas Cancer Center. In the eight years that followed, he guided the Cancer Center to become a National Cancer Institute (NCI)- designated cancer center, one of only 69 in the U.S.
Today’s most advanced cancer clinical trials are available only at NCI-designated Cancer Centers. Meanwhile, 26,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year in Kansas and western Missouri. Before NCI-designation, those with the means to do so had to travel to Houston or Minnesota to receive the best treatments available.
Dr. Jensen widened the network of local treatment  options through the creation of the Midwest Cancer Alliance, connecting the KU Cancer Center with “a network of community-based oncologists and cancer care professionals throughout Kansas and western Missouri,” leading to better access to cutting edge clinical trials for those in the region.
This past summer, the Cancer Center’s designation was renewed, and its score upgraded from excellent to outstanding. NCI also announced an 11 percent increase in funding for the center. Though Dr. Jensen and his team had applied for Comprehensive Cancer Center designation, the NCI declined. At the time, Dr. Jensen said he was disappointed but not surprised. “On average,” he explained, “it takes an NCI-designated cancer center 15 years to achieve comprehensive status, and we received our NCI designation just five years ago.”
The next round of applications for Comprehensive Cancer Center status is in 2021. Dr. Jensen’s already working on it.
Watch Dr. Jensen's Introduction Video at