Bill Lacy was appointed Director of the Dole Institute in 2004 and has since established a highly-respected venue for bipartisan, philosophically-balanced political programming. His network of political contacts resulting from his twenty-year career in Washington D.C., as a campaign strategist has served the Dole Institute well. Under Bill’s leadership, the Dole Institute has hosted an extensive cadre of national and international political leaders, practitioners and journalists. Students and community members benefit from the Dole Institute’s ongoing lecture series and nationally-recognized post-election conferences. The student-oriented culture provides many opportunities for the Dole Student Advisory Board that students at other universities don’t receive.
Bill has developed an acclaimed, non-adversarial way of interviewing guests that allows them to tell their story. He has had the honor of interviewing a multitude of leaders including 2016 Nobel Peace Prize winner President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, President George H.W. Bush, Vice President Walter Mondale, former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole, George Mitchell and Howard Baker, Sen. Elizabeth Dole, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, legendary journalists Bob Woodward and David Broder, and many others.
Bill also led the effort to obtain Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s career papers and create a women’s leadership lecture in her honor. He also helmed the creation of the Dole Institute Board of Advisers, which features a group of national political figures, strategists and Dole Institute supporters.
Bill served as President Ronald Reagan’s political director and had major roles in seven presidential campaign, including Dole’s 1988 and 1996 efforts. In August 2007, Bill took a leave of absence from the Dole Institute to manage the presidential campaign of Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.).
Under Bill’s watch, the Dole Institute fundraising team has added millions to the Dole Institute’s endowment. In addition, Dole archivists have completed the processing of the Sen. Bob Dole collection, created research fellowships and run an impressive program schedule based on the collection.
Bill is an avid sports fan and cyclist and spends much of July following the Tour de France. His wife Susie is a loyal Dole Institute supporter and attends many of the institute’s events.
Senior Associate Director
Barbara Ballard joined the Dole Institute in 2004. As senior associate director of outreach, she coordinates the Dole Scholars program, the Youth Civic Leadership Institute (YCLI), Civic Engagement Week, Constitution Day, the Government and History Teachers Conference, Veteran’s Day events, and a Women Running for Office series. Barbara has been with the University of Kansas since August 1980, where she has served as an associate vice provost for student success, associate dean for student life and the director of the Emily Taylor Women’s Resource Center. Barbara, a Ph.D. in counseling and student personnel services, also teaches for the School of Education and Department of Women’s Studies.
Barbara is also a State Representative for the 44th District, first elected to the Kansas House of Representatives on November 3, 1992. Barbara serves on the House Leadership Team as the Democratic Caucus Chair and is the first African American to serve on Leadership. She has previously served as president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.
Associate Director & Director of Museum and Archives
Audrey McKanna Coleman, C.A., is the associate director of the Dole Institute of Politics and the director of museums and archives. She has 15 years of professional experience in museum, archives, library, and visual resources fields, and is a lecturer in the University of Kansas Undergraduate Honors Program. Audrey has served on the Kansas Historical Records Advisory Board since 2013 and is a member of the 2016-2017 Kansas Humanities Council Speakers Bureau and Lawrence Central Rotary Club. Her book chapter, “Legacy, Leadership, & Collections: Programming in a Congressional Archive”, was published in September 2016 by ABC-CLIO in the forthcoming New Directions in Special Collections: An Anthology of Practice, Lynne Thomas and Beth Whittaker, eds.
She has a B.A in Spanish and M.A. in museum studies, both from the University of Kansas.
Public Education Coordinator
A native Kansan, Julie was proud to join the Dole Institute in 2015. As the public education coordinator, she leads K-12 and family education programs, including on-site, outreach, and online initiatives. Julie graduated from the University of Kansas with her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biological research. Most recently, she was an education specialist at the Natural History Museum of Utah and traveled all over the state teaching outreach education programs to thousands of students every year. She is excited to share her passion for effective and innovative education utilizing primary sources from the Dole Archives and Special Collections.
Senior Archivist, Robert and Elizabeth Dole Archive and Special Collections
Sarah D’Antonio Gard, C.A., joined the Dole Institute as the archivist in January 2012. She preserves and provides access to the Dole Archives collections, including working with researchers of all ages and creating unique learning experiences for KU classes. She holds a B.A. in art history from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and an M.S.I.S. with a specialization in archives and records enterprise from the University of Texas at Austin. Sarah is active in the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress and the Congressional Papers Section of the Society of American Archivists.
Sheri joined the Dole Institute as associate development director in June 2015, and was promoted to development director in July 2019. Sheri brings a breadth of experience in leadership, development and fundraising from her 19 years at Kansas Public Radio. A self-described news junkie and community volunteer, Sheri was drawn to the Dole Institute because of its bipartisan mission, focus on public service and commitment to presenting political discussion in a philosophically balanced and civil manner. Her interest in politics began as a teen when she was the recipient of a congressional scholarship that took her to live in walled West Berlin. She lived there a year with the Wall up, experienced its fall first hand and observed the struggles of reunification. She holds degrees from the University of Kansas in political science and German. A lifelong Kansan, Sheri, her husband Alex and two daughters live in Lawrence. In her free time, Sheri enjoys traveling, live music and spending time with friends and family.
Director of Finance and Administration
Amber is the director of finance and administration at the Dole Institute of Politics. Prior to her time here, Amber’s career began at two weeks old when she started at the family’s printing company in midtown Kansas City, Missouri. She continued to work there while attending UMKC until she opened her own retail store, Retroactive in Kansas City’s Union Station. After working at a catalog company in Lenexa as a key accounts purchasing agent, Amber became the director of marketing, events and special Projects for the Franklin County Convention and Visitors Bureau for six years and published a weekly column in the paper for five years. In 2013, she accepted an opportunity at the University of Kansas in Facilities Services before joining the Dole Institute of Politics staff in 2018. Amber lives in Lawrence with her husband and two sons and enjoys a number of hobbies including sewing, woodworking, house restoration, antiquing, music, creative writing, photography, cooking and entertaining.
Digital Initiatives Coordinator
Marla Schleuder, M. Arch., M.S.L.I.S., joined the Dole Institute in 2019 as the digital initiatives coordinator after working for KU Libraries as a library associate in technical services. A Kansas native, her interest in library and archival services began in 2003, when she attended the opening ceremonies of the Dole Institute of Politics and served as an archival volunteer while still in high school. She holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Kansas. In 2017, she completed a Master of Science in library and information science with a certificate of advanced study in data science, both from Syracuse University.
Director of Events and Student Affairs
Sarah has long-standing ties to the Dole Institute. From 2005-2007, she was a student worker and Student Advisory Board member during her undergraduate studies. She returned the Institute as the development specialist in June 2019 and served as interim communications coordinator summer 2021. She was promoted to director of events and student affairs September 2021.
Before returning to the Institute, she worked as a political researcher, served as a consular associate at the U.S. Embassy Angola, and taught English in Saudi Arabia and Germany.
She graduated from the University of Kansas with bachelor’s degrees in political science, Spanish, and international studies, as well as a minor in history. She earned her master’s degree in counter terrorism from IDC Herzilya, Israel.
In her free time, Sarah enjoys traveling, trying foods from around the world, yoga, tennis, listening to podcasts, and being active outdoors.
Michele Vignola-Rogers joined the Dole Institute of Politics in 2017 as an office assistant. Prior to joining the institute, she was the outreach coordinator and administrative assistant at Pinnacle Career Institute. She graduated with honors from Kean College of New Jersey (now known as Kean University) with a Bachelor of Arts in English and education certification (K-12). She moved to Lawrence in 1992 to work for the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (LPDC) as a co-coordinator, paralegal and fundraiser. She participated in the Walk Across America for Mother Earth, toured as a speaker with Lollapalooza Music Festival and the Horde Festival. She has worked with organizations from around the world educating the public about Leonard Peltier’s case. She was co-editor of the Crazy Horse Spirit Newsletter and volunteered with the Center for Constitutional Rights, working with William Kunstler to continue the fight for justice. In 1997, she married a local Lawrence native and had two children. She has been an administrative assistant for the past 24 years, which permitted her to raise her children and find her way to the Dole Institute.
Director of Events and Student Affairs
Angie joined the Dole Institute in 2016 as the events specialist. Prior to joining the institute, she worked at the KU School of Public Affairs and Administration as the public relations coordinator. Angie earned a bachelor of science in journalism at KU in 2012 and is currently in the communication studies master’s program at KU. Outside of work, Angie enjoys going to concerts and spending time with her husband and two dogs.
Leah Hallstrom joined the Dole Institute as the communications coordinator in August 2021. Prior to joining the team at the Institute, Leah worked at the University of Kansas Libraries from 2012-21, where she held positions in the Cataloging and Human Resources departments and in KU Libraries’ Office of Communications and Advancement, implementing communication and marketing strategies and overseeing social media management.
Leah earned bachelor’s degrees from KU in Communication Studies and Psychology. Leah lives outside of Lawrence on a small farm with her partner, their dog Mort, and a pasture full of chickens, goats, and alpacas.
Visitor Services Assistant
Skye, a native Kansan and lifelong Jayhawk, joined the Dole Institute in fall 2020 as the first Visitor Services Assistant. He is additionally working as the Museum Outreach Assistant. Skye has previously volunteered, interned, or worked at a wide variety of institutions including the Independence Historical Museum & Art Center, the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, and the Jayhawk Experience at the Booth Family Hall of Athletics. Graduating in May 2021 from K.U. with an M.A. in Museum Studies and graduate certificates in American Studies and Historic Preservation, Skye successfully defended his Final Product on the exhibition and preservation of the ruins and rubble from the Oklahoma City Bombing. Additionally, he holds a B.A. in History from Pittsburg State University, where he graduated cum laude and with Departmental Academic Honors. An alumnus of the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, Skye continues to remain involved at the local and international levels.
Catherine Magaña, Student Advisory Board Student Coordinator
Allie Haggar, Events Student Assistant
Claudia Garcia, Marketing and Communication Intern
Grace Mechler, Development and Fundraising Intern
William Mechnig, Discussion Groups Student Coordinator
Raina Peter, Discussion Groups Student Coordinator
Angela Davis, Pizza and Politics Student Coordinator
Lia Zink-Duda , Outreach Student Coordinator
Michael Scott, Research Assistant
Emily Depew, Graduate Student Outreach Coordinator
Olivia Korte, Events Student Assistant
Kate Grasse, Collections Student Assistant
Jackson DeAndrea, Student Archives Assistant