Speaker Bios

We are grateful for the following speakers who have generously shared their time for this conference: 

Sarah Smarsh - Keynote Event

Sarah Smarsh is a journalist who has covered socioeconomic class, politics and public policy for The Guardian, The New Yorker, The Columbia Journalism Review and many other publications. Her first book, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the National Book Award. Smarsh was Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 2018 and is a frequent speaker and commentator on economic inequality. Her new book is She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs

Jim McLean - Keynote Event

Jim McLean is an editor and reporter for KCUR 89.3. He is the managing director of KCUR's Kansas News Service, a collaboration between KCUR and other public media stations across Kansas.

Jim is the creator and host of the My Fellow Kansans podcast, heard on KUCR or available where you get your podcasts.  

19th Amendment Panel Discussion

  Joan Wagnon, Moderator

The League of Women Voters of Kansas is a grassroots, volunteer, non-partisan political organization with nine local Leagues across the state. For nearly 100 years, LWVK has encouraged the informed and active participation of citizens in government and has influenced public policy through education and advocacy. The League never endorses candidates or political parties.

Deborah Dandridge, panelist

A native of Topeka, Kansas, Deborah Dandridge attended Washington School, one of the city’s four elementary schools designated for African Americans. She attended Washington School from 1951 through 1957.  After earning a B.A. in History from Washburn University and an M.A. in History from Atlanta University, she served on the U.S. History faculty at Washburn University and, later as instructor in U.S. History and African American History at the University of Kansas where she passed her Ph.D. exams in history.  She has also worked for the Shawnee County Community Action Agency as Equal Employment Opportunity Officer and Public Service Program Director.

Since 1986, she has served as archivist for the African American Collections in Spencer Research Library’s Kansas Collection, University of Kansas Libraries.  For the second edition of Kansas Revisited: Historical Images and Perspective, she and Professor William Tuttle wrote the essay “Against the Odds: A History of African Americans in Kansas.”  She is also researcher and writer of the Brown Foundation’s national traveling exhibit In Pursuit of Freedom and Equality: Kansas and the African American Public School Experience, 1855-1955.

Terri Finneman, panelist

Teri Finneman is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas. She previously worked as a print journalist and multimedia correspondent covering state government, business and enterprise. Her research focuses on news coverage of U.S. first ladies and women politicians, as well as the U.S. suffrage movement. She is the author of Press Portrayals of Women Politicians, 1870s-2000s, which was named a 2016 finalist for the Frank Luther Mott - Kappa Tau Alpha book award for best research-based book about journalism or mass communication. 

She is also a contributing author of Front Pages, Front Lines: Media and the Fight for Women's Suffrage; Cross-Cultural Journalism: Communicating Strategically About Diversity; and the forthcoming Southern First Ladies book.

Afternoon Organizing Session - League of Women in Government | Women Leading Government

Kelly Houghteling, President League of Women in Government

The League is also the primary affiliate group of the International City/County Management Association representing women in local government. The League serves as the umbrella organization to support local and statewide organizations that advance women to local government leadership. The League’s objective is to move the needle forward on the number of women serving at the most senior and executive levels in ALL areas of local government. There are several local and regional local government women’s groups or committees across the country that the League partners with and supports through our national efforts. These organizations include several Women Leading Government chapters, The Legacy Project, the 16/50 Project, the National Forum of Black Public Administrators, the Local Government Hispanic Network, and academic institutions.

Susan Sherman

Assistant City Manager, Olathe Kansas.  Co-chair, Women Leading Government Kansas Chapter

Jamie Robichaud

Deputy City Administrator, Prairie Village, Kansas, Co-chair, Women Leading Government Kansas Chapter


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