Eight prominent KC leaders join advisory boards at Olathe campus

Tuesday, March 19, 2018

OLATHE — Kansas State University's Olathe campus is welcoming seven new members to its advisory board and one new member to its board of directors.

The advisory board is a group comprised of faculty, business, industry, government, public education and community leaders. Board members provide feedback and guidance on educational, research and outreach programs, improvement of facilities, expanding the base of support and working toward the goals of the K-State 2025 strategic plan. They also serve as advocates in the community. Board members actively participate in the continual assessment of the campus progress and the development of university-industry partnerships.

"We are delighted to see our advisory board continue to add new members who are committed to the vitality of the Olathe campus," said Debbie Kirchhoff, executive director of strategic initiatives at the Olathe campus. "Our board members have a tremendous wealth of knowledge, ideas and connections that help guide our campus so we can better serve the needs of Greater Kansas City and Kansas State University."

The newest members to join the campus' 22-member advisory board are:

Kate Allen, associate vice president for institutional advancement and government affairs at Johnson County Community College. At the college, she oversees fundraising for scholarships, programs and various capital projects on the campus, and also has oversight of Government Affairs, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art and the Carlsen Center Performing Arts venue.

Robert Casillas, director of nonclinical consulting at Latham Biopharm Group. He has 26 years of professional biochemical toxicology research experience, much of which involves managing laboratories and staff to conduct medical defense projects aimed at combatting the harmful or deadly effects of chemical and biological agents.

Steve Curran, plant manager at General Mills Inc. He is responsible for the safety and well-being of 140 team members who make, pack and ship more than 3 million pounds of product each day.

David "Guilley" Guilfoyle, group manager of bakery and fats and oils groups at DuPont Nutrition and Health. He leads an innovation team that uses deep technical expertise to solve some of the biggest challenges in the baking industry.

Richard Merkel, president and chief operating officer of True North Hotel Group. He built a handful of hotels into a 24-property company with national reach that makes a positive impact on two generations of employees, guests, investors and colleagues.

Dennis Ridenour, president and CEO of BioNexus KC. He oversees the strategic development of the region's life science initiatives through stakeholder relationships and research-based collaborations that lead to new knowledge and commercialization that grow Kansas City industry.

Christy Ziegler, assistant superintendent of personalized learning and interim director of special education at Shawnee Mission School District. She oversees strategies that support and enhance students' knowledge in science, technology, education and mathematics, as well as oversees curriculum, instruction, assessment, special education, innovation and performance for the district.

In addition to the seven new advisory board members, David Warm, executive director of the Mid-America Regional Council, or MARC, recently joined the campus' board of directors, bringing that board's membership to eight. He is helping guide the Olathe campus and ensure that it meets fundamental benchmarks and milestones in order to achieve its strategic goals and objectives.

At MARC, Warm leads key regional planning and community development initiatives. He also oversees a broad range of regional functions that have become widely regarded for innovation and effectiveness in areas that include transportation, environmental protection, emergency management, gaining services, early education and local government cooperative services.

The Olathe campus thanks outgoing board members whose terms have ended. Outcoming members are Wayne Carter, formerly of BioNexus KC; John Breeden of DuPont; Joe Sopchich of Johnson County Community College; and Tim Petty of U.S. Bank.