Joan Leavens joins Urban Water Institute at Kansas State University Olathe

Monday, March 4, 2013

by Kristi Northcutt

The Urban Water Institute at Kansas State University Olathe has a new program coordinator. Campus CEO Dan Richardson has named Joan Leavens to the position. She will begin Monday, March 4.

Leavens has most recently been the integration/outreach leader for One Health Kansas, a program through Kansas State University which educates Kansans about the interconnections among animal, human and environmental health.

Leavens also served as the education director for the Blue River Watershed Association, supported school gardens with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, and established business partnerships to connect students and teachers to current careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, through YouthFriends' UpLink project. She currently serves on the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce's Energy, Environment and Sustainability Initiative and the Kansas City Kansas Chamber of Commerce's Bioscience Committee. She has a background in early childhood and elementary education, and is earning her master's degree from Kansas State University in curriculum and instruction.

"The Urban Water Institute at K-State Olathe is an integral part of our mission in animal health and food safety and it exemplifies a major strength of Kansas State University," Richardson said. "Joan's broad range of experience in education, water issues and local government will help advance the institute and position it as part of the university's 2025 plan to be a Top 50 public research institution."

The institute was founded by Alok Bhandari in fall 2011. Bhandari, a professor of civil engineering at Kansas State University, brought the university, government and municipalities together to address the important issue of water, one of the world's most precious resources. When Bhandari died earlier this year, Stacy Hutchinson, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering, became the institute's interim director.

"The Urban Water Institute is very excited to have Joan join our team," Hutchinson said. "She has a wealth of experience with water issues in the Kansas City area that will greatly enhance our ability to connect with a variety of partners across the metro area."

Leavens can be contacted at 913-307-7311 or Learn more information about the Urban Water Institute.