Meet Heath: Part 4

Posted on Feb 5, 2016 in Alumni News and Career/Life

Jayhawk trailer
KU Alumni Association President Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, was unanimously elected by the national board of directors in November 2015. Get to know President Peterson through this six-part series titled Meet Heath. Enjoy!

How do you spend your time outside of the office?

My time and energy outside of the office is mostly invested in family. My wife and I are raising three little Jayhawks: Beau (8), Presley (4), and Claire (2). We have our hands full keeping them fed, bathed, healthy, on time to various activities and in their own beds at night! I enjoy being involved in my kids activities— school, sports, and otherwise. Carrie and I also enjoy raising them in Lawrence and the KU community.

Do you have any hidden talents?

My trailer backing abilities are off the charts high. My family owned a small trucking company in Hugoton. As a kid,  I backed semi trailers into the shop for maintenance. I also spent six years pulling the Rock Chalk Wagon (the Alumni Association’s cargo trailer, generously provided by Monte and Kay Johnson) around Kansas, as well as in downtown Chicago, Dallas, and numerous other places for KU events. I can drive backwards almost as well as I can drive forward!

Next week, Heath tells us about his most memorable KU sporting event. Have a question or comment to share? Email us at share@kualumni.org.

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Meet Heath: Part 3

Posted on Jan 29, 2016 in Alumni News and Career/Life

Commencement 2015
KU Alumni Association President Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, was unanimously elected by the national board of directors in November 2015. Get to know President Peterson through this six-part series titled Meet Heath. Enjoy!

What is your favorite KU tradition?

It’s hard to beat the Rock Chalk Chant in Allen Field House or waving the wheat in Memorial Stadium, but my favorite KU tradition as a student was easily walking through the Campanile for the very first time on Commencement, followed by the walk down the hill into the stadium to celebrate earning a KU degree and becoming an alumnus.   My pride in KU was off the charts high that day, right along with the temperature.  It was blazing hot,  but well worth the sweat!

Over the years, I have grown to believe our greatest traditions are those of service and giving provided by alumni and friends.   The contributions of time, talents, and resources from alumni and friends are the reason the Jayhawk experience is second to none.

Next week, Heath shares a little about how he spends his time out of the office—and also reveals a unique hidden talent. Have a question or comment to share? Email us at share@kualumni.org.

 

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Meet Heath: Part 2

Posted on Jan 22, 2016 in Alumni News and Career/Life

Adams Alumni Center in winter
KU Alumni Association President Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, was unanimously elected by the national board of directors in November 2015. Get to know President Peterson through this six-part series titled Meet Heath. Last week’s inaugural installment explained how Heath became a Jayhawk, and this week you’ll learn how he began his career at the KU Alumni Association. Enjoy!

How did your career at the KU Alumni Association begin?

During the second semester of my freshman year at KU, my girlfriend (now wife) worked for the Alumni Association as a receptionist on the first floor of the Adams Alumni Center. She secured the job through a connection she made with the director of the Kansas Honors Program, an Association program that annually recognizes the top 10 percent of high school seniors in Kansas. Carrie was a Kansas Honor Scholar and received the Woodward Scholarship from the Alumni Association.

During my second semester at KU, the Association had an opening for a “blue shirt” position. “Blue Shirt” is a term we still use today to describe students who work in banquet services and maintain the appearance and cleanliness of the Alumni Center. Naturally, they wear blue KU alumni polo shirts. My girlfriend put in a good word for me, Bernie Nordling served as a reference, and Mike Wellman hired me.

My first opportunity in a professional position occurred when Bryan Greve, senior vice president for hospitality services, and our interim president at the time, Del Shankel, promoted me to director of the Adams Alumni Center. Later, Kevin Corbett hired me in 2005 for a newly created position focused on developing alumni networks in the state of Kansas. At that point, I made the decision to pursue a career in alumni relations.

It’s bizarre for me to look back and realize how the Alumni Association began to make connections with both my wife and me before we became KU students. If not for the Nordlings, my wife’s brains and the Kansas Honors Program, I would likely be in a different career, and I might have suffered the misfortune of not being a Jayhawk.

Next time, learn about Heath’s favorite KU tradition. Have a question or comment to share? Email us at share@kualumni.org.

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Meet Heath: Part 1

Posted on Jan 15, 2016 in Alumni News and Career/Life

KU Alumni Association President Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, was unanimously elected by the national board of directors in November 2015. Get to know President Peterson through this six-part series titled Meet Heath. Enjoy!

How did you become a Jayhawk?

Heath PetersonI am a first-generation Jayhawk. Outside of KU basketball, I had very little exposure to the University of Kansas growing up, particularly six hours away in Hugoton. Ironically, my first meaningful encounter with the University occurred through a KU alumni event.  In the late ’90s,  I was invited to a KU summer picnic at the home of Barbara and the late Bernie Nordling, two very dedicated Jayhawks who lived in Hugoton at the time. The purpose of the event was to welcome incoming freshmen from southwest Kansas to KU and also to connect with students interested in attending KU. I had a great conversation with Bernie about his KU experience and how his KU degree prepared him for his career and leadership in his community.

I remember being struck by the passion he showed for his alma mater and how KU was still a significant part of his life many years removed from being a student. It also wasn’t lost on me that I did not receive an invite from alumni of any other institution. The experience motivated me to take a visit during the fall of my senior year in high school. I remember driving over the crest of Daisy Hill on 15th Street, seeing campus for the very first time.  At that moment, I knew I wanted be a Jayhawk. Holding two degrees from KU and now having the opportunity to interact with thousands of alumni, I now understand why Bernie went out of his way to serve his alma mater! It’s also one of many great examples of the immeasurable ways the KU Alumni Association impacts KU. I’ve remained friends with many  Nordling family members, who continue to do a great deal for KU.

Next time, Heath talks about how he began his career at the KU Alumni Association, in Meet Heath: Part 2. Have a question or comment to share? Email us at share@kualumni.org.

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Early education in jazz leads to lifetime of music for alumnus

Posted on Nov 21, 2015 in Alumni News and Career/Life

Nathan Davis was among 12 alumni honored honored with the Mike and Joyce Shinn African-American Leaders & Innovators award at the Black Alumni Network‘s reunion, held on campus Sept. 25-27. The award recognizes leaders from the KU community for their impact on society.

Davis, d’60, is a multi-instrumental jazz performer and educator. Growing up in Kansas City, near Charlie Parker’s childhood home, he got an early education in local jazz from bandleader Jay McShann before coming to KU. After earning his degree in music education, Davis joined the military, studying at the Naval School of Music and playing in military bands throughout Europe. After his service, he became a stalwart of the lively Paris jazz scene, recording his first studio albums and building his performance career as a bandleader and a sideman to Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey and other jazz greats.

In 1969, Davis returned to the U.S. to found one of the nation’s first jazz studies programs, at the University of Pittsburgh. He launched the Annual Jazz Seminar, started an academic journal devoted to the scholarly study of jazz, and established the International Academy of Jazz-Hall of Fame, which preserves jazz artifacts in the Sonny Rollins International Jazz Archives. Davis received the BNY Mellon Jazz 2013 Living Legacy Award at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., for his contribution to jazz education and performance. He retired in 2013 to devote more time to composing and performing.

 

Learn about other honorees of the African-American Leaders & Innovators Project here. These talented and sometimes controversial African-Americans helped shape the University as well as the cities, states and nations their work touched.

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Alumna honored for achievements in public health

Posted on Nov 14, 2015 in Alumni News and Career/Life

Cynthia Harris was among 12 alumni honored with the Mike and Joyce Shinn African-American Leaders & Innovators award at the Black Alumni Network‘s reunion, held on campus Sept. 25-27. The award recognizes leaders from the KU community for their impact on society.

Harris, c’78, g’82, directs the Institute for Public Health at Florida A&M University. A Kansas City native, she earned degrees in biology and genetics from KU and completed her doctorate in biomedical sciences at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, she became the first African-American to serve as branch chief for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a coordinating agency of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

She created the first doctoral program in public health in Florida, and she designed the online master’s degree program, a first for the university and among all historically black colleges and universities. Harris chairs the board of the Florida Public Health Association and the editorial board of the Harvard Journal of Public Health. She also serves as vice president of the Trust for America’s Health, and she serves on the Florida Sickle Cell Task Force and the National Science Advisory Board on Exposure and Human Health.

 
Learn about other honorees of the African-American Leaders & Innovators Project here. These talented and sometimes controversial African-Americans helped shape the University as well as the cities, states and nations their work touched.

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Career shifts lead alumna from journalism to law to theology

Posted on Nov 3, 2015 in Alumni News and Career/Life

Julie Johnson Staples was among 12 alumni honored with the Mike and Joyce Shinn African-American Leaders & Innovators award at the Black Alumni Network‘s reunion, held on campus Sept. 25-27. The award recognizes leaders from the KU community for their impact on society.

Staples, a graduate of the KU School of Journalism, has pursued varied careers in journalism, finance and the ministry. She is currently interim senior minister of the 116-year-old Flatbush-Tompkins Congregational Church. As a KU student, she was the first African-American editor of the University Daily Kansan.

Staples, j’78, eventually became the White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun and The New York Times. In 1994, she earned her law degree from Georgetown University and went on to serve as the Justice Department correspondent for ABC News. She later began a career in international investing at Warburg Pincus and became the firm’s first African-American partner. Her career shifted again when she returned to graduate school to study theology and became ordained in the Congregational and American Baptist Church. She serves on the board of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches.


Learn about other honorees of the African-American Leaders & Innovators Project here. These talented and sometimes controversial African-Americans helped shape the University as well as the cities, states and nations their work touched.

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Arts champion honored by Black Alumni Network

Posted on Oct 21, 2015 in Alumni News and Career/Life

Erica Hawthorne-Manon was among 12 alumni honored with the Mike and Joyce Shinn African-American Leaders & Innovators award at the Black Alumni Network‘s reunion, held on campus Sept. 25-27. The award recognizes leaders from the KU community for their impact on society.

Hawthorne-Manon, j’02, has championed the arts in her community. As a poet and actor, she is popularly known as RhapsodE. She co-founded Spoken Soul 215, a collective of young artists, singers and poets who produce the Harvest Open Mic & Showcase Experience, a monthly event.

The proud Jayhawk also mentors aspiring artists in Campus Philly Open Arts program. In 2012, she received a Knight Foundation Challenge Grant and founded Small but Mighty Arts, a program that provides micro-grants to local artists. For her work, she received a Philadelphia DoGooder Award in 2013.

 
Learn about other honorees of the African-American Leaders & Innovators Project here. These talented and sometimes controversial African-Americans helped shape the University as well as the cities, states and nations their work touched.

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Journalist-turned-lawyer honored with award

Posted on Oct 17, 2015 in Alumni News and Career/Life

Audrey Lee was among 12 alumni honored with the Mike and Joyce Shinn African-American Leaders & Innovators award at the Black Alumni Network‘s reunion, held on campus Sept. 25-27. The award recognizes leaders from the KU community for their impact on society.

Lee earned two degrees from KU’s School of Journalism: an undergraduate degree in news information followed by a Master’s of Science degree. She is also a member of the Delta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, KU’s first historically black sorority, and reflected on the organization’s centennial celebration held earlier this year.

As a journalist, Lee worked on international media campaigns for Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pope John Paul II and U.S. ambassadors. She also served on the faculty of the University of Louisville, Sullivan College and Paducah Community College. After earning her law degree from the University of Kentucky, she now works as a senior criminal defense attorney in the Paducah Trial Office for the Department of Public Advocacy. In 2012, she was recognized as the Woman of the Year by the Kentucky Federation of Business and Professional Women, and she received the Mayor’s Award of Merit.

Watch our video below to learn more about Lee.

 

Learn about other honorees of the African-American Leaders & Innovators Project here. These talented and sometimes controversial African-Americans helped shape the University as well as the cities, states and nations their work touched.

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Alumna puts her KU experience to work in Kansas City

Posted on Oct 14, 2015 in Alumni News and Career/Life

Jessica Nelson knew from a young age that she would go to KU.

With two parents who attended the University, Nelson was born and bred a Jayhawk. “The experience that I had at the University of Kansas, I want others to experience,” she says, explaining that while the level of education and learning opportunities at the university are incredibly useful in day-to-day life, “you also have that tradition and that legacy and that camaraderie…and I think that’s something you can’t find everywhere.”

Nelson, j’11, leads Team KC Life+Talent for the Kansas City Area Development Council, a regional economic development organization tasked with promoting Kansas City as a top lifestyle and business destination. Her role includes working with a variety of people—including college student interns and corporate level executives. Finding common ground as a Jayhawk often helps break the ice.

“My job is to tell the Kansas City story, and so much of the great talent in Kansas City comes from great individuals from KU,” she says.

Watch our video below to learn why this outstanding leader, who earlier this year was recognized as one of KC Magazine’s most influential women, is a Proud Member of the KU Alumni Association.

 

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