What makes a person powerful?

435 Magazine Power List 2019
A look behind the scenes with photographer Samantha Levi. She went to 8 different locations to photograph different individuals on our Power List.

What makes a person powerful? That’s a question that people have grappled with forever, without finding an easy answer. Nevertheless, this question was the starting point of this month’s issue, which names the 50 most powerful people in Kansas City right now.

Our list includes men and women spanning some 60 years of age and coming from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some come from vast multigenerational fortunes, others work with immigrants fighting deportation or organize east side renters into a potent political constituency. Several are responsible for funding and directing the city’s cultural institutions. And at least one of them has the ability to make an entire city erupt in joy with a flick of the wrist.

So, what makes a person powerful?

Here’s the definition we settled on: If someone wants to get something big done, do they have the juice to do it? Juice can come in many types, but the big three ingredients are money, connections and charisma.

The people we featured on this list have some combination of those traits — money, connections and charism — and the ability to deploy them to shape our city.

Now, it’s important to note that we’re not making any value judgments about the virtues of any worldview or agenda; power is power, all we’re seeking to do is reflect the reality on the ground, as best we can.

Still, we’re impressed by the accomplishments of some of the people on this list. Even  more, we’re inspired by their vision for what our city can be in the years to come.

Elsewhere in the issue, we’ve got a feature on the disc golf capital of the world, a tiny Kansas town just 90 minutes away. We also dispatched food critic Natalie Gallagher to conduct a taste test of hamburgers at local spots that are at least 50 years old — she found some real treasures hiding out there, beyond the gaze of the trend-obsessed influencer crowd. Lastly, as our nation grapples with the opioid epidemic, we’ve got a must-read interview with a St. Louis author who traveled to China to uncover the shocking truth behind fentanyl.

We hope you enjoy this issue. The busy holiday season is coming up, but be sure to stay tuned next month — we’ve got a big surprise coming for the 15th anniversary of Kansas City’s best and oldest magazine.

Notable Numbers

7 Times Independence, Mo. has been judged to have some of the best tap water in the world.

100x Strength of fentanyl compared to morphine.

3 Number of women Hunt family patriarch H.L. Hunt was simultaneously married to.

1,700 Number of people who travel to Kansas for the world’s largest frisbee golf tournament.

Categories: KC Happenings

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