Note: At its Dec. 6 Women in Business Breakfast, the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce named twelve Women of Distinction for 2020. In recognition of their achievements, the Morning Sun will be publishing profiles of each Woman of Distinction.

Brittan Brenner is originally from Wichita, but moved to Pittsburg in 2015 to attend Pittsburg State University, where she graduated in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. Now, at 22 years old, she is Pittsburg’s assistant city planner.

“Sometimes it’s kind of an elephant in the room how young I am, and in some cases that can be a big detriment to you,” Brenner said. “As a young person, you know, it can make you feel insecure about things and it can make you feel like you’re not good enough or you don’t know enough, and something that has really set this community apart is that that’s never really been an issue here. The people in the community — business owners, my coworkers, people at the university — have never really taken my age and used it against me, they’ve always seen it as an advantage, and so that’s one thing that I really enjoy about this community is they care about your work ethic and they care about the fact that you care about the community.”

While at PSU, Brenner got involved with the Student Government Association, “and through that I was on a committee called the Joint City-University Advisory Board and I met — at the time — the director of community development, Becky Gray, and the deputy city manager, Jay Byers, through that board and I got an internship here at the city, and it just worked out,” she said. “It just kind of parlayed into a part-time job after my internship, to a full-time job, and then upon my graduation I took a salaried position with the city.”

As assistant city planner, Brenner has been closely involved with the Imagine Pittsburg 2030 plan.

“I think for IP2030, being able to have this organization whose sole goal is to progress this grassroots plan for the community through 2030 is just really cool, and so I get to do a lot of the marketing for that and planning events and things like that with [Public Information Manager] Sarah [Runyon] here at the city, and we just really work to make those events something that people want to attend and make sure the information that they take from those events is beneficial and keeps them coming back because we know that we can’t do this alone to get Pittsburg where we want it to be in 2030, and so we have to engage the community, we have to create projects and things like that for everyone to get involved with.”

Last fall, along with her business partner Kailey Pearson, Brenner opened Sonder & Co., a boutique-style storefront in Block22 in downtown Pittsburg showcasing and selling products made by area artisans.

“Opening Sonder was a challenge but something that was really exciting. We did pop-up shops and kind of built a brand over the course of a year and a half, and so opening our doors on Oct. 1 was something that we were really excited for, a little bit nervous for, but really just anxious to get going,” Brenner said. So far, business has been going well.

“You know you always think like something that you have and things that you create are cool but to have that validated by people coming in and telling you that that’s true is just, it’s hard to explain, it’s very humbling, it’s very exciting,” Brenner said. “And we’re really excited to experience that ourselves but also for all the artisans that we work with.”

Hearing she was a candidate as a 2020 Woman of Distinction came as a surprise to Brenner.

“I was really overwhelmed and humbled by hearing that I had been even nominated, let alone selected this year,” she said. “It really made me feel validated in my work and made me want to continue to do the things that I do because sometimes you wonder if it makes a difference or if it really matters that much and something like this makes you realize that it does.”

She said she wanted to thank her supervisor at the city, Director of Community Development and Housing Quentin Holmes.

“I’m really grateful for his trust in my work,” Brenner said. She also said she wanted to thank Sydney Anselmi, owner of Audacious Boutique in Pittsburg, who helped Brenner and Pearson open Sonder & Co.

“She’s just like a fairy godmother to all our dreams,” Brenner said.