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Humanities Kansas team


Change the World


We believe that stories carry our culture and ideas change the world

Humanities Kansas is an independent nonprofit leading a movement of ideas. Since 1972, HK’s programming, grants, and partnerships have documented and shared stories to spark conversations and invite new insights. Together with statewide partners and supporters, HK encourages Kansans to draw on diverse histories, literatures, and cultures to create connections with one another and strengthen Kansas communities and our democracy. 


Our stories tell us who we were.

Our conversations inform who we are.

Our actions define who we'll become.


Explore the timeline of Humanities Kansas from 1972 to today. View Timeline

We've impacted 105 communities.

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In 2022, our work reached 1 in 6 Kansans across 105 communities.

  • $386,994 awarded in Culture Preservation, Humanities for All, and Action grants, plus support for Community Resources
  • 430 supported events and grants
  • 173 partnerships with local organizations
  • 1 to 1 match leveraged in community support

We believe that democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens — and that the humanities provide a way to gain both. Our programming, grants and resources are designed to share stories that inspire, spark conversations that inform, and generate insights that strengthen civic engagement.

Download Annual Report

Our Staff

Julie L. Mulvihill main image Julie L. Mulvihill hover image Julie L. Mulvihill Executive Director
Julie L. Mulvihill picture

Julie L. Mulvihill

Executive Director

"I love the humanities because there’s an encouragement, an expectation that we should all see beyond ourselves, and connect our own experiences with those of others."


Years Dedicated to the Humanities: 20 years, 14 as Executive Director of Humanities Kansas 

Hometown: Perry, KS

Education: I have a Masters in Historical Administration and Museum Studies with an emphasis in study in anthropology from the University of Kansas. I also hold a Bachelors of Science in Education, Social Studies and English from the University of Kansas.
Career Highlights:
I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with some of the smartest, most imaginative and civic-minded people in Kansas. I’ve met so many people I admire, won a Kansas Sampler Foundation’s We Kan! award on behalf of our work, and have been humbled with a line in a skit performed for our 40th anniversary by our board members. (In the style of Rock Island from Music Man:  Ever meet that person named Mulvihill? Mulvihill? Mulvihill? Mulvihill? Mulvihill! Mulvihill? Mulvihill!  … She’s a bang beat, bell ringing, big haul, great go, neck or nothing, rip roarin’, every time a bull’s eye person. That’s director Julie Mulvihill.”)

Why do you love the humanities?
I love the humanities because there’s an encouragement, an expectation that we should all see beyond ourselves, and connect our own experiences with those of others. Since I was a little kid, the humanities have inspired me, spurred me into action, and given me reason to pause for some serious thinking. I didn’t recognize my love of reading and history and curiosity about life in general as “the humanities” then, but I remember going to a museum in grade school and learning about the Galapagos Islands and sitting there on my carpet square and thinking, “there is a whole world out there that I know nothing about” and I felt like it was an important responsibility to know more.  It excited me then and it excites me now. That’s the humanities at work.

Why do BIG IDEAS matter to you, and for the future of Kansas?
The foundation of democracy is built on the principles of the humanities and the values that define us. I know that might sound kind of lofty but it’s true. In fact, the legislation that created the National Endowment for the Humanities states that “democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens.” Now there’s an example of a big idea. The humanities help us ask good questions: what do we value, how has that changed over time and across generations, what do we owe to one another, and where do we make adjustments to prepare for the generations to come? We are grounded in this ideal that the human experience is worthy of our attention. Big ideas are the only way to tackle the big topics in front of us and there is never a shortage of big topics to cover in Kansas or anywhere.

Why do you love what you do?
I love the energy that happens when people have a connection with the humanities. We call it the humanities buzz. I’ve seen it happen all over the state and it’s that moment when you feel the hair on the back of your neck tingle as people volley ideas and perspectives back and forth or when a community comes together to participate in something that’s meaningful. I’ve felt the buzz at ribbon cuttings for museum exhibits, during oral histories about segregation, and while watching a locally produced short film in a small town American Legion. I could go on and on. Craig Miner, a stalwart in the Kansas history field, had a better term for it. He called the buzz “soul transformation.” None of this would happen without the boldness and vision of the people leading these movements within their own town, often librarians, museum curators, and others working in the cultural sector.  They make all the difference in our state.

Fun Facts:

  • I’m fascinated by real life stories of art heists and art theft detectives.
  • I’ll read pretty much any piece of fiction with a protagonist who is an archivist, museum curator, professor, historian, archaeologist, anthropologist, park ranger, rare books restorer, librarian. You get the idea. I welcome recommendations.

Favorite Kansan Quote:

  • “All night Kansas/the lungs of the continent/takes a sip of the galaxy.” Poet Wyatt Townley from her poem, “Centering the House.”
  • “Never waste a crisis,” advice given by Sue Sutton former HK board member from Concordia and retired Dean of Humanities at Cloud County Community College.

What's the inside scoop that we should know about Kansas?
I live in rural Jefferson County, not far from the roots of two dreamers — noted regionalist painter John Steuart Curry and Samuel Peppard, who mounted a mast and sail to his farm wagon in 1860 in an attempt to ride the wind to the gold fields of Colorado. He nearly made it. You can see monuments to both Curry and Peppard’s windwagon in Oskaloosa.

Leslie Daugharthy main image Leslie Daugharthy hover image Leslie Daugharthy Director of Finance
Leslie Daugharthy picture

Leslie Daugharthy

Director of Finance

"The humanities allow me to engage with my state, community and past in new and fascinating ways.  "


Years dedicated to the humanities: 2.5 years

Hometown:  I was born in Emporia, but have lived in Topeka the majority of my life (excluding a short stint in Columbia, MO).

Education: B.G.S. in Anthropology with a minor in Sociology and MA in Public Administration, both from KU. ROCK CHALK!

Why do you love the humanities? I am a curious person and the humanities allow me to engage with my state, community and past in new and fascinating ways.  

Why do BIG IDEAS matter to you, and for the future of Kansas? We are living through a divisive time and have difficulty engaging with ideas different than our own. We are siloed in many ways but sharing ideas in a respectful platform can lead to empathy for others and the way they experience the world.

Any fun facts that we should know about you? 

  • I am really good at blowing bubble gum bubbles.
  • I love taking quizzes on Buzzfeed.
  • I am a fan of British TV. My current favorite is 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.

Favorite quote by a Kansan: 

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity” – Amelia Earhart

“The greatest things [about Kansas] are the simplicity of life, watching the thunderheads building on the horizon and running though cornfields.” – Erin Brockovich

Inside scoop or fun fact about Kansas? 

Second only to Texas, there have been more meteorites found in Kansas than in any other state west of the Mississippi River. 

The graham cracker was named after Kansas minister Reverend Sylvester Graham who preferred whole wheat flour crackers. 



Abigail Kaup main image Abigail Kaup hover image Abigail Kaup Program Officer
Abigail Kaup picture

Abigail Kaup

Program Officer

"Big ideas are how we spark conservations and fresh ideas that could transform our lives."


Years dedicated to the humanities: Five years.

Hometown: I’ve lived in Kansas my entire life! I grew up in Plainville, Kansas, which will always be home. For the last ten years, I've lived in Lawrence and also find it a great place to call home.  

Education: I have a BA in Art History from Baker University and a Masters Degree in Art History from the University of Kansas. 

Career highlights: A recent highlight has been working with organizations across Kansas to develop their Museum on Main Street projects and exhibits. Kansas is brimming with interesting stories—some familiar and others waiting to be uncovered. I like supporting communities as they cultivate ideas and see their projects come to fruition. 

Working at Humanities Kansas I’ve also been able to get know my state, its history, and the people who live here better—that’s pretty special.

Why do you love the humanities? The humanities tell stories of our past, help us to understand who we are and what we value, and inspire us to think creatively and thoughtfully. I love the humanities because art, literature, history, philosophy, ethics, religious studies all have a unique ability to help us connect across our differences and bring people together. 

Why do BIG IDEAS matter to you, and for the future of Kansas? Big Ideas matter because that’s when change can happen. When we share big ideas, listen to each other, and engage in thoughtful conversations, we develop as individuals and as a community. Big ideas are how we spark conservations and fresh ideas that could transform our lives. 

Any fun facts that we should know about you? 

  • I love (hot) yoga, hiking, and exploring the outdoors with my family.
  • I love the theatre. I went to college to study theatre before I changed my major to art history and continued to act and work backstage all throughout my undergraduate experience. Those experiences were so fun!

Favorite quote by a Kansan: “The most effective way to do it is to do it.”—Amelia Earhart

Anything else we should know about you? I have a corgi named Larry. He’s the best.


Tracy Quillin main image Tracy Quillin hover image Tracy Quillin Associate Director
Tracy Quillin picture

Tracy Quillin

Associate Director

"We have the opportunity to explore ideas that matter and in a way that can impact our future."


Years Dedicated to the Humanities: 14

I spent my early years in Leawood. My family moved to Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, (just outside Madison) when I was 11 and that’s where my parents still live. I now live in Lawrence and consider it to be my adopted hometown because I’ve lived there longer than I’ve lived anywhere else!

I have a BA in History and a BA in Art History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I have a Masters Degree in Historical Administration and Museum Studies from the University of Kansas.

My background is in museums and I was curator of education at the Johnson County Museum prior to coming to Humanities Kansas.

Career Highlights:
My first full-time museum/humanities job was as site manager for the Lanesfield School Historic Site in Edgerton, Kansas. I dressed as a 1904 schoolteacher and led 4th and 5th graders through an immersive, first-person 1904 school experience. My favorite part of the job – and what’s stuck with me over the years – was how the power of stories and hands-on experience brought history alive for the students. It was amazing to see 21st century students transport themselves back in time over the course of a day. When we put ourselves in other people’s shoes, we build empathy and a better understanding of how we got “here.”

A highlight of my current position has been unlocking the power of storytelling. Whether it’s working with Kansas communities to develop their local stories for Museum on Main Street projects or sharing our stories and the stories of our statewide partners on social media and in publications. Every person and every community has a unique story that no one else can tell. It’s been enlightening and inspiring to bring these stories to light though my work at Humanities Kansas.

Working on the rebranding for Humanities Kansas is another highlight of my work with Humanities Kansas. The transistion to Humanities Kansas is the start of another exciting new chapter in the organization’s rich 45-year history. I am motivated and re-invigorated by the opportunity to connect the work of Humanities Kansas with even more people who live in our state through the movement of ideas.

Why do you love the humanities?
The humanities help us understand the world around us, by providing context, sharing stories and perspectives, and encouraging inquiry and reflection. The humanities show that we are all in this human experience together and, through the humanities, we can come together to engage in civil discourse to have thoughtful, meaningful discussions about our past, present, and future without intolerance and partianship.  

Why do BIG IDEAS matter to you, and for the future of Kansas?
There’s never been a better time for Big Ideas in Kansas. We have the opportunity to explore ideas that matter together and in a way that can impact our future. Now is not the time to shy away. There’s a perception that Kansas is “boring” and behind the times -- that it’s just like the black and white scenes from “The Wizard of Oz.” What the people of Kansas know, and what we need to expand on, is that there are people in our state who are doing big, exciting things. We need to connect those people through the movement of ideas and work together to share and inspire others to join the movement.

Why do you love what you do?
My favorite part of the working at Humanities Kansas is what I refer to as the “humanities buzz” – it’s that feeling you get when the hairs on the back of you neck stand up because something magical is happening: the shared experience of the humanities. It could be the outpouring of local stories at a grassroots history exhibition in Perry or immigrants from Laos sharing traditional dances in Winfield or a room full of awe-inspired silence as the Poet Laureate of Kansas finishes reading a poem. Everyone on staff has countless examples of when they have experienced the “humanities buzz” and the list continues to grow  and inspire us as we encounter people across the state who are sharing ideas and making connections with one another.

Fun Facts:
I am postcard famous. I was once the model for the 1950s All-Electric House at the Johnson County Museum and from time to time I’ll see the postcard in circulation or my photo will appear in a book, newspaper article, or online.

I like to cook and bake In my spare time. In fact, the more stressed I am, the more I like to bake. I’m currently working through recipes in “Dinner: Changing the Game” by Melissa Clark and “Sweet” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. This obsession is especially popular with my husband who is a chef and appreciates it when someone else is doing the cooking.

Also in my spare time, you can find me shopping for antiques, reading, having a dance party with my two sons, doing yoga, trying new restaurants, visiting muesums, or pouring over home décor ideas.

Favorite Kansan Quote: 
“Kansas had better stop raising corn and begin raising hell.” - Mary Elizabeth Lease, 19th Century Kansas Lecturer and Writer 

“Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.” – Amelia Earhart

Inside scoop on Kansas?
One of the perks of working at Humanities Kansas is that you really get to know the state firsthand through all of the travels. Each city and town in Kansas has its own unique qualities, interesting history, and wonderful historic architecture. Everyone should take the time to explore our state! And if someone offers to give you a tour of their town or recommends a place to try, take them up on it. It’s hard to pick just one place to visit, but a particular standout is southwest Kansas. I love going to Garden City for the food (Pho Hoa One for Vietnamese and El Zarape for Mexican). Dodge City is a favorite for the absolutely charming saloon show at the Boot Hill Museum and the Boot Hill Distillery which is housed in an amazing 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival building.

Anything else we should know about you?
My Hogwarts house is Hufflepuff.

Leslie VonHolten main image Leslie VonHolten hover image Leslie VonHolten Director of Grants and Outreach
Leslie VonHolten picture

Leslie VonHolten

Director of Grants and Outreach

"Our world needs vision beyond the immediate tomorrow; big ideas are what will get us there."

Name: Leslie VonHolten    

Years dedicated to the cause (at HK): 6 years


I grew up in a military family, so we moved a lot, but Kansas was always home. Franklin County, specifically. 

Education: Bachelor’s in Art History and English Literature, and a Masters in Public Administration, all from KU.

Career highlights: 

Working with the HK team to build a home for the Poet Laureate of Kansas program in 2013 when it needed a place to thrive. I’ve been a poetry reader since childhood, but when this project landed on my desk, I dove head-first into poetry by Kansas writers. It changed my DNA and forever enriched my connection to home. (I’ll beg the poets to forgive my mixed metaphors.)

Why do you love the humanities? 

Humanities connect people to places, and to each other. My two great loves are land and literature; I turn to books to make sense of the world and my place in it. Now when I travel the state, I think of writers who have stood in the same place before me: Santa Fe Trail diarist Susan Shelby Magoffin when I look at the rolling Flint Hills south of Council Grove. Avant-garde poet Ronald Johnson when I stand, so small, under the dazzling night sky above Ashland. Williana Hickman when I am buffeted by winds on the High Plains near Nicodemus. The stories of the Kiowa reflected through the great N. Scott Momaday when I marvel at big bluestem taller than me. These journeys simply astound me. What a rich and complicated history we have.

Why do BIG IDEAS matter to you, and for the future of Kansas.

Our world needs vision beyond the immediate tomorrow; big ideas are what will get us there. We need to see past ourselves. The humanities reach back, but also move through us and into the future. To make this future just, equitable, and fulfilling, we need big ideas as we build our roadmap together. 

Any fun facts that we should know about you? 

  • I think the Western Vistas Byway from Oakley to Sharon Springs should get more love. Driving it is a soul reset for me: my lungs expand, my mind clears. I love a flat horizon line.
  • I am not allergic to poison ivy. Knock on wood that this doesn’t change.
  • I still send fan letters to authors. (#nerd) I never expect them to reply, but sometimes one does and that’s pretty cool.

Favorite quote by a Kansan: 

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”—Dwight D. Eisenhower. I translate this as “have open eyes, but be adaptable.”

A tweet from Wyatt Townley has also stuck with me: “Poetry is both basement and tornado.” Kansans get her reference.

Anything else we should know about you?

Send me recommendations for hiking trails and good books. On these two topics, I am all ears.

KAITLYN SAVAGE main image KAITLYN SAVAGE hover image KAITLYN SAVAGE Operations Manager


Operations Manager

"I love that the humanities can bring people from different belief systems and walks of life together to find common ground in the things they love"


Years dedicated to the humanities: 1

Hometown: I was born in Merriam, Kansas, but have lived in Topeka most of my life, with the exception of around 5 years in Manhattan. 

Education: I have a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from Kansas State University, a program that is situated in the College of Health and Human Services, focusing on the intersections between design and human well-being.

Career highlights: I have worked with a variety of business-types, including non-profits in my interior design career, and am excited to take my project management and organizational skills into a new capacity with HK!

Why do you love the humanities? I love that the humanities can bring people from different belief systems and walks of life together to find common ground in the things they love, whether that be having similar interests in the history of their city and state, their love of similar literature, or their shared background and heritage. 

Why do BIG IDEAS matter to you, and for the future of Kansas? I think the big ideas help remind us that everyone is human. They help spark much-needed conversations we might otherwise shy away from.


Any fun facts that we should know about you? 

  • Baked goods, ice cream, gummy candy, chocolate, I love it all. But if there is a color or flavor involved, I must sort them, get them into even groupings, and eat them in a pattern. 
  • I am married to my high-school boyfriend. 

Favorite quote by a Kansan:  “Live not for battles won. Live not for The-End-of-the-Song. Live in the along.” Gwendolyn Brooks

Inside scoop or fun fact about Kansas? Tiger Woods’ father, Earl Woods, was born and raised in Manhattan, KS, and is buried there. He attended Kansas State College (now known as Kansas State University) and broke the “color barrier” in baseball for the Big Seven Conference while playing for the college.  

Anything else we should know about you?
I love a good home project and love it even more if we can DIY instead of hiring out! In my spare time, I love to stay in and cozy up with my husband, two daughters, and two dogs. 


Our Board of Directors

Brad Allen, Lawrence

Brad Allen


Brad Allen, Lawrence, has been the Executive Director of the Lawrence Public Library since 2012. He has over 15 years of experience working in public libraries in Kansas and on the West Coast.

Tom Bell, Topeka

Tom Bell


Tom Bell, Topeka, recently retired as President and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association, where he was involved in state, regional and national healthcare initiatives, focusing on the changing rural health delivery system. He currently serves on the United Methodist Health Ministries Fund Board and was appointed in 2020 by Gov. Laura Kelly to the taskforce for distributing CARES Act funds for COVID relief in Kansas. A native Kansan from Holton, Tom graduated from Kansas State University and Washburn University School of Law. He and his wife, Vicki, a registered nurse, are the parents of two grown children.

Kent Blansett, Lawrence

Kent Blansett


Kent Blansett, Lawrence, is a Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Shawnee, and Potawatomi descendant from the Blanket, Panther, and Smith families. He is the Langston Hughes Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies and History at the University of Kansas. Professor Blansett also serves as the founder and executive director for the American Indian Digital History Project.

Conny Bogaard, Garden City

Conny Bogaard

Garden City

Conny Bogaard, Garden City, has served as the Executive Director of the Western Kansas Community Foundation since 2015. Prior to moving to Kansas, Conny worked in the museum field in her native country, The Netherlands, and the Denver metro area. She also taught art history, and arts and cultural management at the college level. She earned an M.A. in art history from the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, and a PhD in aesthetics, art theory and philosophy from the Institute for Doctoral Studies in Portland, ME.

Trent Dansel, Westwood

Trent Dansel


Trent Dansel is the business development leader for Olsson's Kansas City presence. After spending his formative years in Jetmore, Kansas, where he was the backup quarterback for their 2001 1A Division 1 Football championship, he attended Kansas State University. He graduated in 2008 with a BS in Civil Engineering. Trent is a member of the Overland Park Rotary Club and Treasurer of the Club's Foundation. He serves on the Lenexa Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Shawnee EDC Advisory Council, the Bi-State Cultural Commission, and the 10th Judicial District Nominating Commission. He lives in Westwood, KS with his wife Elizabeth and their two sons.

Renee Duxler, Salina

Renee Duxler


Renee Duxler, Salina, serves as the President/CEO for the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce. Renee grew up in both Hays and McPherson, attended Kansas State University, and received her Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) from Newman University in Wichita. She has worked in the fields of HIV/AIDS care, early childhood education, child abuse and neglect, and domestic violence/sexual assault advocacy, with a commitment to supporting women, children, and families. Renee loves being able to call Kansas her home, and is passionate about highlighting the robust arts, culture, and history of the state.

Caryl Hale, Norton

Caryl Hale


Caryl Hale, Norton, is the executive director of the Norton Regional Health Foundation. She is a native of Council Grove, Kansas, and has studied mass communications at Kansas State University and pre-pharmacy at the University of Kansas. She and her family moved to the high plains in 2013. Caryl serves as president of the Norton County Arts Council and has volunteered for several local and regional organizations, including the Kansas Rural Center, Norton Farmers Market, and Norton County Farm Bureau. Caryl's passion for celebrating rural life is woven into her work and volunteer efforts, cultivating art and culture opportunities for her corner of the state.

Kim Goodnight, Maize

Kim Goodnight


Kim Goodnight, Maize, is Regional Manager of Local Government and Community Affairs for ITC Great Plains, a subsidiary of the nation's largest independent electricity transmission company. He is a sixth generation Kansan, past state President of the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, and Ford County Commissioner. Kim is a board member of the Boot Hill Museum and founder of the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame. He is active in the Rotary Club of East Wichita, Dodge City Festivals Inc., Dodge City/Ford County Economic Development, and the Ford County Historical Society. He and his wife, Beth, life in Maize.

James T. Lane, Olathe

James T. Lane


James T. Lane, Olathe, is the Dean of Arts & Design, Humanities & Social Sciences at Johnson County Community College. Originally from Topeka, he has a MFA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, a BA in Theatre from Washburn University and has been at JCCC for 30 years, the first twenty-two with the Theatre Department as Designer / Technical Director in the Carlsen Center. Jim is a recipient of the Kennedy Center Medallion of Excellence for his work with the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. In addition to day interaction with faculty and staff, the highlight from the last few years has been the collaborative programming, design and implementation of the new Fine Arts and Design Studios on JCCC’s campus. Married for over 30 years, he and his wife Julie have five children, one grandchild and more than 125 foster children.

Atim Amy Longa, Garden City

Atim Amy Longa

Garden City

Atim is the Kansas State Refugee Coordinator and the Director of the Kansas Office for Refugees. She has worked in the refugee program field for over twenty years, eight years in Kansas. Atim’s understanding of refugee resettlement, advocacy, and coordination goes beyond the refugee coordinator’s role. She was born in Uganda and lived her whole childhood life as a refugee. Despite her displacement experience, Atim graduated from Law School and worked with the United Nations to advocate for the displaced people’s rights in Uganda. She moved to the United States to join her family and lives in Garden City with her husband and their four children. She holds a Master of International Diplomacy from Norwich University. As a refugee resettlement manager and state coordinator, she served diverse new American populations. She invested her knowledge and expertise in advocating for refugees and assisting newly resettled refugees in integrating into their new community. As a state refugee coordinator, she is responsible for implementing a refugee state plan for resettlement, overseeing grants for refugee services, including relationship building and coordination with national, local, and community partners to maximize resources for the resettlement and successful integration of refugees in Kansas. She has experienced cultural shock first-hand in both Africa and the United States. Through her story, Atim provides a compelling human side of social adjustment and immigration. In addition, her story of living and working in Southwest Kansas offers a unique perspective on what it means to be global when we cross communities for varied reasons, with different privileges, and with different outcomes.

Denise L. McNabb, Waverly

Denise L. McNabb


Denise L. McNabb, Waverly, is an attorney with the firm of Stevens & Brand, LLP, Topeka, who practices in the areas of trust and estate planning, elder law, long-term care planning, and probate. Her practice centers on advising clients based on a person’s or family’s unique priorities and circumstances. Denise resides in Coffey County with her husband and three children on their rural farm.

Shawn Naccarato, Pittsburg

Shawn Naccarato


Shawn Naccarato has served as a member of the senior leadership team at Pittsburg State University since 2011, currently in the role of Chief Strategy Officer In this role, Shawn leads a variety of initiatives centered around economic development, community prosperity, industrially relevant research, and government advocacy on local, state, and national levels. He leads University Strategic Initiatives, which focuses on external stakeholder and community engagement, strategic partnerships, research commercialization, small business support, and entrepreneurship. Shawn holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Pittsburg State University, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri, a master of public administration from Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration from St. Louis University. He’s a proud member of the Pittsburg community where he lives with his wife Chrissy and their two children Jude and Norah.

Jose Enrique Navarro, Wichita

Jose Enrique Navarro


Enrique Navarro, Wichita, is the Associate Dean of the Graduate School and an Associate Professor of Spanish at Wichita State University. He grew up in Spain, earning his BA and Law degree from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, a Masters in Spanish from Texas State University and a Doctorate in Hispanic Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Enrique is a board member of the North End Wichita Historical Society and the Texas Delegation of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language.

Eric Norris, Manhattan

Eric Norris


Eric Norris, Manhattan, is the director of the Manhattan Public Library and a native Kansan who received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, MA from Fort Hays State University, and MLS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Prior to joining the Manhattan Public Library, he served as the 17th State Librarian of Kansas and as the Adult Department Librarian and Director of the Hays Public Library. He also has work experience as a Director of Human Resources and a newspaper reporter. Eric is an active member of the Kansas Library Association, the Mountain Plains Library Association, the Western Council of State Librarians, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, and the American Library Association.

Sheilah Philip, Overland Park (Chair)

Sheilah Philip

Overland Park (Chair)

Sheilah Philip, Overland Park, is Professor Emeritus at Johnson County Community College where she has been teaching theatre and humanities since 1989. She is a stage director and has been very involved in International Education there, having participated in a year-long Japan studies program and chairing a three-year Title VI grant team to infuse Chinese studies on campus. She is on the advisory board of the Greater Kansas City Japan Festival, and is the Volunteer Coordinator for the InterUrban ArtHouse in Overland Park. She received JCCC's International Award in 2012, and the Community Impact Award from the City of Overland Park in 2017.

Pam Saenz, Wichita

Pam Saenz


Pam Saenz, Wichita, is an Associate Attorney at Hite, Fanning & Honeyman LLP. A first-generation Hispanic-American, Pam was born and raised in Wichita. She received a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Spanish from Wichita State University and a Juris Doctor, with honors, from Washburn University School of Law. Pam practices in civil litigation, largely in employment law.

Jim Sands, Junction City

Jim Sands

Junction City

Jim Sands was raised in a small farm community in Cooksville, Maryland, later working at the Howard County Police Department before joining the U.S. Army, where he served for thirty years. Jim and his wife Erin retired in Junction City, KS in 2002 and has worked in several positions, including city commissioner and vice mayor. Currently, Jim is the president of The Black History Trail of Geary County and is passionate about sharing history with more people.

Lisa Sisley, Manhattan

Lisa Sisley


Lisa Sisley, Manhattan, retired co-owner of New Boston Creative Group, LLC, a marketing and communications company, is a proud product of Ingalls, Kan. (pops 275). Lisa has a bachelor's degree in English literature from Kansas State University and has lived in Manhattan since 1981. She is an active volunteer, chairing and serving on the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce Business Advocacy Committee, serving as past present of the Manhattan Konza Rotary Club, as president of the Meadowlark Hills Board of Directors, and as a member of the Flint Hills Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Committee. She is a member the 2018 Leadership Kansas class.

Bill Spiegel, Manhattan

Bill Spiegel


Bill Spiegel lives with his wife, Julie in Manhattan. They are parents to twin teenage sons, Jack and Sam. Bill owns and operates a fourth-generation family farm near Randall in Jewell County. He graduated with a degree in agricultural journalism from Kansas State University in 1993, and began a print journalism career that includes stops at local weekly and daily newspapers and farm magazines including Kansas Farmer, High Plains Journal, Successful Farming and recently, John Deere's The Furrow. He is a frequent guest on agriculture radio stations, and has hosted the Successful Farming TV Show and several podcasts. He is the president elect of the American Agricultural Editors Association and served two terms on the Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, including two years as president. He is a graduate of the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership program Class V and Leadership Sorghum Class 3.

Brandon West, Independence

Brandon West


Brandon West is the Executive Director of Project Q&A Inc, an LGBTQIA+ rural-focused organization. He serves as the Development Coordinator for the Independence Public Library. He has worked at IPL since 2013, bringing numerous humanities-themed programs to his community and developing the library's grant-funded small business center. He is involved with the American Library Association and the Rainbow Round Table division of the organization. In 2018 he received the Rainbow (formerly GLBT) Round Table Award for Political Action. In 2019 he received the Independence Chamber of Commerce's Diversity Task Force Spirit of Unity award, both for the work he does with Project Q&A and the library. In 2021, Brandon received the Kansas Library Association's Presidential Award for New Professionals. Brandon earned a master of library and information science from Emporia State University and a Bachelor's degree in Secondary Education, Speech and Drama, from Kansas State University.

Ginger Williams, Hays

Ginger Williams


Ginger H. Williams, Hays, serves as Dean of Library Services for Forsyth Library at Fort Hays State University. Williams served previously as Associate Dean for Academic Engagement and Public Services at the Wichita State University Libraries. She is a member of the American Library Association, Kansas Library Association, and is chair-elect of the Kansas Council of Academic Library Deans and Directors. She earned a master of library science from Florida State University, a master of higher education leadership from Valdosta State University, and a bachelor of letters from the University of Oklahoma.

Elizabeth Young, Topeka

Elizabeth Young


Elizabeth Young is a Partner and Senior Wealth Advisor at Clayton Wealth Partners. The firm is a fee-only registered investment advisor with offices in Topeka and Lawrence, providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management to its clients. Elizabeth is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and enjoys working directly with clients to help them define and achieve their goals. Elizabeth resides in rural Osage County with her husband and two daughters.

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What are the Humanities?

The humanities help us understand what it means to be human — to seek connections with people and place. As we draw on our diverse histories, literature, ethics and cultures, we see more clearly who we are as people and define ideas that will shape a future worthy of generations to come.

The humanities start with stories — stories that connect us, that tell us who we are and where we’ve come from. They help us draw on insights from history, literature and culture to live richer lives.

The humanities generate ideas — ideas that change lives, that make each of us better citizens, and that strengthen the choices we make every day at home, at work and in our communities.

The humanities inspire action — action that changes lives and strengthens communities and our democracy.


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