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Area professionals join inaugural Kansas Future Fellows cohort to face issues plaguing children, families

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FILE(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 3:52 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - Area professionals are part of the inaugural Kansas Future Fellows cohort and plan to face issues that plague Kansas children and families.

The University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research says it has officially launched Kansas Future Fellows, the first structured statewide network of ambassadors dedicated to the discovery of solutions to problems faced by young children and their families.

KU said the creation of Kansas Future Fellows was a direct response to ever-rising numbers of social, economic, health and political inequalities that affect Kansas’s ability to support children and families.

The University said the program, created in partnership with Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund and experts at Openfields, will lead 2021′s 11 participants in a series of innovation labs.

According to KU, the future thinking labs are designed to create and develop new ideas and prepare Fellows to address challenges that affect Kansas families and children.

“The lives of Kansans are rapidly evolving – economically, socially, technologically, culturally. My educational experience and training in public service did not focus on long-term thinking, designing multiple futures, or anticipatory methods. And, we are in a moment where we’re recognized that our current ways of designing and implementing public services will not get us to the impact we want for Kansans,” said CPPR Director Jackie Counts. “Future Fellows will expose exceptional leaders to resources and techniques to design the futures that they dream about for their communities,” she added.

With the support of national and international experts in the field of futures forecasting and planning, KU said selected Future Fellows will learn analytical frameworks and approaches like foresight methods, experiential futures and complexity and sensemaking techniques.

KU said the group will find out how these themes and trends of futures design translate to their everyday work.

“CPPR and the Kansas Children’s Cabinet are ahead of the curve in terms of preparing public sector leaders to tell a compelling story about what a flourishing future for Kansas children and families could look like, said Grady Powell, CEO of Openfields. “We want to equip them with the tools and mindset to anticipate and prepare Kansans to thrive in this climate of unprecedented change.”

During the program, the University said Fellows will determine how they can best collaborate with others and how their local ideas connect to ignite change at a state level. It said the 9-month experience will end with a Futures Forum to share and join in the advancements achieved and lessons learned.

“We believe social sector work requires, and Kansas families deserve, the best tools and frameworks we can find to successfully adapt and provide the most responsive services possible. The scope of investment in innovation narrows when it comes to the social sector, yet these services and resources are essential contributors to our local and statewide economies. The aim of Future Fellows is to change this for the benefit of children and families in Kansas,” said Melissa Rooker, executive director of the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund.

KU said the inaugural group of Kansas Future Fellows are leaders with established track records and community successes. Starting in September, the cohort embarked on a 9-month process to take local steps in order to spur statewide change in support of children and families. The members of the first-ever cohort are as follows:

  • Dr. Craig Correll, Superintendent - USD 445, Coffeyville Public Schools, Coffeyville
  • Tatiana Darby, Public Health Practice Researcher - University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City
  • Lona DuVall, President and CEO - Finney Co. Economic Development Corporation, Garden City
  • Jason Gant, Lead Pastor - KIDSCOR Children and Family Ministry, Leawood
  • Lynnette Keo, Program Supervisor - Native Connections Program, Horton
  • Jennifer Keomany, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology Dept. Manager - University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, Wichita
  • Britany Lemon, Mental Health and Disabilities Specialist - Child Start, Wichita
  • Marci Penner, Executive Director - Kansas Sampler Foundation, Inman
  • Travis Rickford, Executive Director - Livewell Northwest Kansas, Colby
  • Tabatha Rosproy, Early Childhood Support Teacher - USD 233, Olathe Public Schools, Olathe
  • Johnathan Sublet, Lead Pastor at Fellowship Hi-Crest Church and Chairman for SENT Inc. - Fellowship Hi-Crest Church, Topeka

For more information about Kansas Future Fellows, click HERE.

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