TOPEKA -- Kansas Governor Sam Brownback announced Tuesday he has formed the Kansas Humanitarian Commission as a way to highlight the global and local charitable work of Kansans of all ages. He has asked Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. and Ashleigh Black to co-chair the nine-member commission.
Brownback said the commission will assist him in recognizing Kansans as well as Kansas groups and organizations for their global and local efforts through the creation of the annual Kansas Governor’s Humanitarian of the Year awards that will be presented each fall.
“Kansas was born with a concern for our neighbors and service to those less fortunate. Today, a life of service is second nature for thousands of Kansans. Like Dr. Colyer and Mrs. Black, they work tirelessly to advance and mend the lives of others,” Gov. Brownback said. “It is my hope that this commission will encourage more Kansans to serve their neighbors in Kansas and communities worldwide – and bring attention to those Kansans who work and give so graciously.”
As a U.S. Senator, Gov. Brownback worked to bring awareness to humanitarian and human rights needs in countries such as Darfur, Iran, and North Korea.
Dr. Colyer has volunteered for more than twenty years through the International Medical Corps in numerous war-zones, including Iraq, Rwanda, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan, to bring medical care to those in desperate need. In 1999, his work was featured on 60 Minutes, PBS and in People magazine which described him as "from Kansas, driven by conscience.”
“Kansans have a heart for service,” Dr. Colyer said. “Through this effort we hope to highlight and promote service to Kansans and people around the world.”
Ashleigh Black is the Associate Director of the GW Center for Global Health. Formally with the world’s largest humanitarian organization, Black has 15 years of experience working on public policy and development assistance efforts in the U.S., Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.
“I look forward to working with the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor to showcase the inspiring stories of so many Kansans and to identifying new opportunities that foster a greater spirit of service,“ said Black.
Dr. Colyer and Mrs. Black will name the remaining commissioners in the coming months. The commission will announce details about the nominating process for the awards and criteria for the awards in early spring.