Melodee Colbert-Kean was first elected in 2006 as a representative of Joplin's Zone 2. A small business owner and community volunteer, Colbert-Kean has made service to her community a priority. Together with her husband William Kean, Jr., she is the owner of MEs Place Soul Food Kitchen.
In 2011, Joplin experienced an EF5 tornado, which claimed the lives of 161 people and devastated homes, businesses and churches in the community. Speaking about the tornado, Colbert-Kean said, "In those hours and days after a disaster you learn exactly what you need to know about the citizens in your community - that everyday people do extraordinary things."
In the wake of the disaster, Colbert-Kean was elected mayor, becoming Missouri's first female African American mayor and the first African American mayor of Joplin. She served as mayor for two years, where she had a central role in helping Joplin's residents to rebuild areas destroyed by the tornado.
A lifelong Joplin resident, Colbert-Kean and her husband have a son in the Marine Corps, two daughters teaching in the Tennessee public school system and a daughter in elementary school. She serves on the Missouri Municipal League's Economic Development & Human Resources Board and is a governor's appointee to the Missouri Women's Council, which is a resource for women interested in starting a business.
Master of Ceremonies
Mr. Brian Crouse is the Vice President of Education for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and oversees the Missouri Chamber's Foundation, where he is responsible for a portfolio of education/workforce development programs- Show-Me Scholars, Leadership In Practice, Leadership Missouri, Dream it. Do it. Missouri and the Missouri Mathematics and Science Coalition. Mr. Crouse is responsible for developing education policy, programs and initiatives that bridge the gap between the business and education communities.
Before taking the position as VP for Education with the Missouri Chamber, Mr. Crouse worked in the small business development arena with the Missouri- Business Development Program where he performed research and program evaluation pertaining to small businesses and entrepreneurship. Mr. Crouse also has an extensive background in P-20 educational policy work with emphasis in the areas of enrollment management, international initiatives, strategic planning and higher education policy development. Having worked at the Missouri Department of Higher Education as a liaison to numerous statewide organizations and agencies, Mr. Crouse understands the importance of systems building and collaboration. Prior to the Department of Higher Education, Mr. Crouse worked for Westminster College in Fulton, MO for 6 years as Regional Director of Enrollment Management where he recruited domestic and international students.
Prior to making a career change to higher education 2002, Mr. Crouse worked for 12 years in retail management for a variety of large, specialty retail stores. During which time, he worked on the front lines of employee training and witnessed firsthand the growing divide of worker preparedness and skill gaps to job profiles. He distinctly understands the needs of today’s employers in an ever changing, fast paced, global economy.
From the St. Louis area, Mr. Crouse holds a bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University and his master’s degree in public policy from the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri. He is involved with a variety of local youth and non-profit organizations serving either as a volunteer or in a board position. He resides in Jefferson City with his wife, Adriane and their two sons Edward and Christian.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.mochamber.com) was founded in 1923 and is the largest business organization in Missouri, representing almost 3,000 employers, providing more than 425,000 jobs for Missourians.
Reginald McGregor is a Manager in the Research & Technology (R&T) Strategy Group at Rolls-Royce Corporation (RRC) in Indianapolis, Indiana. Reginald manages the RRC engineering talent pipeline, overseeing the K12 STEM Initiatives, Collegiate Co-op Program and Early Career Engineering Leadership Development Programs. He is a Mechanical Engineer with an MBA; he has over 15 years’ experience in the aerospace industry.
He serves on several boards including Lawrence Township School Board; Governor’s Region 5 Works Council; Purdue Engineering Education Industrial Advisory Council; Indiana Afterschool Network; American Society Engineering Education (ASEE); and Purdue Bound Advisory Board. In 2006, he received the Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA) Award.
The Value of Afterschool Panelists
Darren Grimshaw is a 29 year law enforcement veteran currently serving as a Major with the Burlington Iowa Police Department. As a Police Officer, Grimshaw worked patrol and served as a Detective before being promoted in 1993. Major Grimshaw has served in many capacities including Patrol Commander, Criminal Investigations Commander and Drug Task Force Commander. During his tenure Major Grimshaw also managed the 911 communications center for Des Moines County and has been the department’s liaison officer to their Crime Stoppers Program, Neighborhood Watch, Reserve Police Officers, Police Explorers and its Citizens Police Academy. Grimshaw also served as the department’s firearms instructor for 14 years. Currently, Major Grimshaw oversees and supervises the department’s School Resource Officer’s, Animal Control, Public Relations, College Internship program and the Department’s Career Development and Recruitment activities.
Major Grimshaw is a 1983 graduate of Burlington Community High School and a 1985 graduate of Southeastern Community College where he received an Associates of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice. He is currently completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services. Major Grimshaw is a graduate of the 186th Session of the FBI National Academy and served as the Iowa FBINA Chapter President from 2005-2007.
Major Grimshaw sits as the Board Chairman of the 21st Century “P.I.E.C.E.S” Afterschool Program for the Burlington Community School District and is also an advisory board member for the Iowa Afterschool Alliance. Major Grimshaw is currently participating in a 10 month policy development fellowship through the Riley Institute at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.
Steve graduated from KSU in Agricultural Economics, then spent 4 years in the US Air Force as a medic. He is the most recent Chairmen and CEO of Irsik Equities L.P. A production agriculture operation with significant operations in Ks. and Neb. This business is heavily concentrated in animal agricultural via Grain production, Native grass ranches, Commercial cow herds, Cattle feeding, Dairy production and associated enterprises. He is a business man. Steve serves on several commercial boards, community boards and is a Board member of the Ks. 4-H foundation.
Joel Wicoff has served as mayor of Iola, Kansas, since 2013. Prior to that, he served as a city council member for two years. During his tenure as mayor, Iola has developed an extensive walking and biking trail system, and reunified the city/county EMS system. Joel recognizes the importance of education, mentoring, and experiences not readily available to children in this rural community, and Joel has worked as a mayor, parent, and compassionate adult to provide more opportunities for children in his community.
Joel was born in Chicago, and spent his childhood in southern Illinois and Minnesota before his family settled in Kansas. Joel graduated from Shawnee Mission Northwest High School and then Kansas State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering. Joel now manages an engineering branch of a liquid and dry-bulk tank manufacturing corporation, Tank Connection, LLC, based in Parsons, KS. Joel holds Professional Engineer licenses in thirty-one states. Like many people of his generation, Joel has embraced telecommuting. Joel works all over the United States, and across the globe from his office in Iola. This allowed Joel, his wife, and children to return to his wife’s hometown in 2005 and enjoy more time with family roaming the family farm, hunting and fishing. In his spare time, Joel enjoys playing guitar with his co-workers and in his church praise band, as well as supporting his children at their many activities.
Joel and his wife, Lisa, met at Kansas State University and have been married for twenty-three years. They have four children between the ages of eleven and eighteen, and are excited to have their oldest starting college at their alma mater in the fall.
Vice Mayor Williams is a long time resident of Northeast Wichita. She attended Heights High School and Emporia State University. Before coming to the Wichita City Council, Lavonta had just retired from Wichita Public Schools as a classroom educator for 28 years and the director of after-school programs for 7 years – serving a total of 35 years of service with youth. She also served as the National Youth Sports Program Coordinator at Wichita State University for 4 years.
She was appointed to the District 1 City Council Member seat in April 2007. She was then elected by the people to serve as the City Council Member in 2009. She is also the first woman elected from her district and the first African American woman serving in the Vice Mayor position.
Cities and Afterschool Panelists
Mayor Peggy Dunn
Peggy J. Dunn is a lifelong resident of the Greater Kansas City area, a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City and has served as Mayor of Leawood, Kansas, since 1997. In addition to Peggy’s role as Mayor, she is currently involved with a number of civic and nonprofit organizations. Some of these include serving as Board Chairman of Truman Medical Centers and on the boards of Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Union Station Kansas City, Hall Family Foundation, Youth Volunteer Corps, St. Luke’s South Hospital, Country Club Bank and as an Advisory Board Member of both the Leawood and the Greater Kansas City Chambers of Commerce. Peggy and her husband, Terry Dunn, have four grown children and thirteen grandchildren.
Mayor Sly James
Mayor Sly James was sworn in as the 56th Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri on March 22, 2011. Since taking office, he has focused his efforts towards making Kansas City best in four key areas: Education, Employment, Efficiency, and Enforcement. This ‘4 E agenda’ is the driving force behind all of Mayor James’ major policy decisions.
Upon entering office in 2011, Mayor Sly James of Kansas City created a nonprofit called Turn the Page KC, aimed at ensuring every child in Kansas City has the ability to read proficiently by the end of third grade. Third grade serves as a critical juncture for students. It is at this point that they are transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn. A child’s ability to read proficiently greatly influences the level of success they are able to achieve in the classroom and in life. Each week Mayor James visits Kansas City classrooms and reads to students, impressing upon them the importance of learning to read. He believes in the power of reaching out to students directly and modeling to them a passion for reading. Kansas City is moving the needle on education.Mayor’s supports efforts that address two goals: 1) increasing the number of Kansas City Third Graders reading on grade level and 2) increasing quality seats in Kansas City schools. The Mayor advances these goals by serving as a convener, connector, and champion. The Mayor convenes and connects diverse partners to address important, community-wide issues: like the Word Gap, chronic absences among highly mobility students, and need for family friendly, flexible workplace policies, and closing the opportunity gap for youth. He also champions proven programs like City Year, KC Teacher Residency, Literacy Lab to help them grow in impact.
Mayor Sly James was born and raised in Kansas City on the city’s eastside. He graduated from Bishop Hogan High School in Kansas City in 1969. After serving his country as a military police officer in the Marines from 1971-1975 in California, the Philippines, and Japan during the Vietnam War, Mayor James graduated cum laude from Rockhurst College with a B.A. in English. He then went on to earn his law degree, also cum laude, from the University of Minnesota in 1983. Prior to his election, Mayor James enjoyed a successful legal career which spanned almost three decades. Over the years, Mayor James has served on numerous boards and commissions in leadership positions including The Missouri Board of Law Examiners, President of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, Economic Development Corporation, Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, Jackson County Ethics Commission, Legal Aid of Kansas City, Jackson County Bar Association, Bishop Hogan High School Board, Genesis School Board, and The United Way. Mayor James has been married to Licia Clifton-James since 1981 and is the proud father of four children.
Mayor James was re-elected to a second term on June 23, 2015 with 87% of the vote.