Dole Institute announces partnership with Kansas Rural Center

September 26, 2023 - News

LAWRENCE – The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, has named its 2023-2024 Dole Fellow in partnership with the Kansas Rural Center (KRC), a state-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting the long-term health of the land and its people through research, education and advocacy.

As a fellow-in-residence, Karen Willey, a KRC Board Member, will engage with members of the Dole Institute’s Student Advisory Board, led by students Braiden Bangalan and Rachel Creighton, to develop public programming for the Spring 2024 on topics related to sustainability in Kansas.

Karen Willey also serves as the Douglas County, Kansas Commissioner for District 3. Dr. Willey holds a BA in Environmental Studies and a PhD in Geography, both from KU. She works as a nonprofit consultant through Futureful, a local company providing organizational health and fundraising support to health, housing, and human services organizations in urban Kansas City. She leverages this social impact work along with her science and entrepreneurship experience in crafting grounded local policy.

Braiden Bangalan is majoring in Global and International Studies, Political Science, and Data Science. His hometown is Lawrence, Kansas. Rachel Creighton is a Political Science and English double major with a minor in business. Her hometown is Fort Morgan, Colorado.

“We are excited to partner with the Kansas Rural Center to create bipartisan, student-focused programming around critical issues of rural sustainability and their broader implications,” said Dole Institute Director Audrey Coleman.

“The Kansas Rural Center is honored to partner with the Dole Institute, to bring together Kansans to discuss some of the most pressing challenges we face. This partnership is a great way to connect students with the community and issues around them,” stated Tom Buller, Executive Director of the Kansas Rural Center. Since 1979, the Kansas Rural Center (KRC) has worked to strengthen small and family farms and their communities. KRC is led by and for farmers and ranchers who strive to help each other and their communities grow a future of thriving family farms, a clean environment, healthy local and regional food systems, and revitalized economies.

The series of in-person public programs that Dr. Willey will conduct, collectively called Discussion Groups, will be scheduled for the Spring 2024 semester, dates and times TBA.

The Dole Institute was dedicated on July 22, 2003, at the University of Kansas on Senator Bob Dole’s 80th birthday. Home to the personal archives of both Senator Bob and Senator Elizabeth Dole, with a museum facility on par with the U.S. Presidential libraries, the Dole Institute has been a vibrant political forum promoting civil discourse, civic engagement, and idea exchange across the political spectrum for 20 years.

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