PITTSBURG, Kan. — Cassie Bicknell was born and raised in Pittsburg, attending St. Mary’s-Colgan before earning her bachelor’s degree in marketing and master’s of business administration from Pittsburg State University. Today, she works as community impact manager for Mariner Wealth Advisers, where she started this year after several years working for Watco and its All Aboard Foundation in marketing and event planning.
Bicknell helps manage Mariner’s corporate giving initiatives and the Mariner Foundation, which was built on the motto “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
“And so with the foundation we try to carry and live that out,” Bicknell says.
Bicknell loves to find unique ways to help nonprofit organizations, she says, and is personally involved with several nonprofits with a local presence including Fostering Connections, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Communities in Schools, the Salvation Army, the Rita Bicknell Women’s Giving Circle, and the Bicknell Legacy Foundation. Although she has other responsibilities at her job with Mariner, one of her favorite ways to assist nonprofits is by helping them plan events, Bicknell says, which she would probably do full-time if she could.
“I personally really like to support organizations and nonprofits that offer a hand up as opposed to a hand out,” she says. “I think it’s really important for organizations to seek out those individuals that are wanting to break the cycle that they’re currently in and to give them the tools that are necessary to be able to do that.”
Bicknell also says Pittsburg offers unique opportunities because of how well the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, the city government and PSU are able to work together collaboratively.
“I think that’s why we have seen the successes that we have when you look at downtown and Block22 and the university as it continues to grow,” Bicknell says. “I mean that’s why we’re here, when you see that collaboration and partnership between all those entities.”
When she heard she had been selected as a Pittsburg Area Chamber 2021 Woman of Distinction, Bicknell says, it came as a surprise.
“I typically like to help nonprofits kind of behind the scenes and don’t necessarily need a lot of recognition for my involvement, so it was very nice to be recognized, you know, especially when you look at the women that received it this year and all the women that received it in the past,” she says. “And it’s of course just an honor for somebody to take the time to nominate you and to be awarded that by the Chamber, so it’s pretty neat.”
In a recent interview, Bicknell pointed out that “being involved in your community looks a lot different today than it did, you know, even a year ago just because we can’t get together in large groups to be involved in volunteering.”
The COVID-19 pandemic may have made it harder for people to be involved in their communities this year, among many other impacts it has had, but Bicknell also noted that 2020 was a difficult year for her family for other reasons too — namely the passing of Rita Bicknell, who was well-known in the community for her philanthropy.
“This year was probably a special year to receive this award with the passing of Rita earlier this year,” Bicknell says. “She was so involved in the community, I know that this is something she would have been really proud of, just because Gene and Rita have always been such strong supporters of this Pittsburg community and have a really strong desire for the family to continue their philanthropic efforts.”
Cassie is married to Cody Bicknell, grandson of Rita and Gene Bicknell, whose generous contributions to the Pittsburg community include having been the lead donors for the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts at PSU. Cassie and Cody have two children that currently attend George Nettels Elementary, and they share the family’s longstanding commitment to Pittsburg, Cassie says.
“Pittsburg is home for us,” she says. "We love it here, you know. There’s been opportunities where we could have maybe relocated for work and whatnot, but this is such an incredible place to raise to our children. We love that small town atmosphere.”