Kent Garlinghouse - Topeka
Mr. Garlinghouse is Chairman of M-C Industries, Inc., a Topeka-based manufacturer with production facilities in three states. He has served on numerous corporate and non-profit boards and chaired Topeka Collegiate School, Heritage Bank, St. Francis Health Center, and Kansas Children's Discovery Center. Mr. Garlinghouse and his wife Susan have five children and 11 grandchildren. Together, they founded Topeka Collegiate School in 1982; at the time it was only the second independent school in Kansas. Mr. Garlinghouse graduated from Wesleyan University (Connecticut) and received him MBA from Harvard.
David Gibson, Vice Chairperson - Mission Hills
Mr. Gibson has been a member of the Kansas City Board of Trade for over forty years where he has served as Chairman and as a member of the Board of Directors several times. He is also a former member of the Chicago Board of Trade. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Grain and Feed Association, the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the National Grain Trade Council, the Board of Directors of the Future’s Industry Association, the Board of Directors of the Commodity Markets Council, and as a member of the National Future’s Association. He has served as Chairman and as a member of the Board of Directors of The Welcome House in Kansas City, MO. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Saint Luke’s Health System.
Lee Harris - Leawood
R. Lee Harris is the president and CEO of Cohen-Esry, LLC, a company he joined in 1975. Mr. Harris has been widely published in real estate journals and periodicals; he is also the author of two books on customer service and entrepreneurial thinking. He has worked with a variety of clients in managing more than 57,000 multifamily units and 25 million square feet of office building, industrial and shopping center space throughout the country. An economics graduate of Kansas State University, Mr. Harris was the chairman of the Kansas State University Foundation Board of Trustees in 2010-2011 and is a member of the Johnson County, Kansas Airport Commission.
Chuck Mackey - Overland Park
Phyllis Nolan - Louisburg
Ms. Nolan brings a career’s worth of business experience and civic leadership to KPI. She served in several executive positions with Hallmark Cards, Inc. until 1997, and subsequently served as the president of a specialty catalog/retail clothing company with production operations in South America and sales operations in the United States and Europe. These experiences allowed Ms. Nolan to witness firsthand how government bureaucracies erect hurdles and prevent entrepreneurs from creating value for their customers. Ms. Nolan brings a strong passion for education as well and served as the Project Director for the Teacher Development Coalition at the University of Kansas and the board chair of the Kansas Board of Regents. She is involved with many other civic and women’s organizations and received her MBA from Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Missouri.
George Pearson, Board Chair - Wichita
Mr. Pearson worked for nearly three decades for the Koch family as manager of various Koch Foundations and for Koch Industries in various corporate positions including Director of Public Affairs. In addition to KPI, he has served as an officer or director of state and national think tanks including the Institute for Humane Studies and the Cato Institute. He has also served on the Boards of numerous Wichita non-profit organizations including the Salvation Army Advisory Council, the Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce and Goodwill Industries. He is involved in real estate development and investment as an individual investor and as a principal in Industrial Development Investors, LLC.
Robert L. Smith, Jr. - Mission Hills
Mr. Smith is a co-founder of C3 Capital, LLC, a Kansas City based private equity firm which manages three funds totaling $450 million. C3 focuses on investing in small businesses throughout the U.S. and has invested in over 50 businesses since its founding in 2002. Prior to co-founding C3 Capital, he worked in a variety of positions at Koch Industries, Inc. over the course of 14 years. Mr. Smith has a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Kansas and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
Nestor Weigand - Eastborough
Mr. Weigand is CEO and Chairman of the Board of J.P. Weigand & Sons, Inc.; a Wichita-based real estate firm he joined in 1961, after retiring from the U.S. Army where he would attain the rank of Captain. He has served as the president of both the Wichita Area Association of Realtors and the Kansas Association of Realtors. Beyond the state level, Mr. Weigand has been a director of the National Association of Realtors since 1978 and is active with the International Real Estate Federation, of which he was the president in 2000-2001. He is also active in his community having served in leadership positions with the Institute of Logopedics (Heartspring), the Kansas Health Foundation, the Kansas Highway Commission, and the Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce. He is presently the chairman of Wesley Medical Center and a director of Regal Entertainment. Mr. Weigand earned his BBA in Finance from the University of Notre Dame.
Dave Trabert, President
Dave Trabert is President of Kansas Policy Institute. He is a frequent speaker to business, legislative and civic groups and also does research and writes on fiscal policy and education issues. His published work includes “Student-Focused Funding Solutions for Public Education,” “Removing Barriers to Better Public Education,” “An Historical Perspective of State Aid, Tuition and Spending for State Universities in Kansas” and “Volume III: Analysis of K-12 Spending in Kansas,” a primer on K-12 finance. Trabert regularly testifies before Kansas House and Senate committees on state budget, tax and education issues and is an appointed member of the Kansas K-12 Student Achievement and Efficiency Commission. He also serves on the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force for the American Legislative Exchange Council and is a member of the Speakers Bureau at The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. His commentaries have been published by The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, The Washington Times and The Daily Caller. His guest editorials have also been published in many Kansas newspapers, including the Wichita Eagle, Topeka Capital-Journal, Hays Daily News, Kansas City Star, Hutchinson News, Manhattan Free Press, Tonganoxie Mirror and the Sabetha Herald. He graduated cum laude from West Liberty State College with a degree in Business Administration.
James Franko, Vice President
In addition to his role as vice president, James serves as KPI's policy director. In this role he is responsible for much of the organization's outreach, policy analysis, and communications efforts. James brings experience from across the free-market movement including time on Capitol Hill and with the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas based think tank. While on Capitol Hill, he handled a variety of policy issues and spent time as a staff member within the Kansas delegation. James has published opinion pieces in such places as The DailyCaller and the Washington Times as well as policy briefs while working for the National Center for Policy Analysis. A Kansas native and Wildcat, James was raised in Stilwell and graduated from Kansas State University in 2005. At K-State, James received his Bachelor of Business Administration while dual majoring in marketing and entrepreneurship and earning a minor in economics.
Robert Young, Secretary & Treasurer
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