Board of Trustees & Officers

Raul Brito – Wichita

Raul F. Brito is president of Wichita-based Brito Oil Company, Inc., a company he founded in 1985. Brito Oil operates wells in Kansas, Colorado, and Texas and remains very active in oil and gas exploration. He previously operated six Burger King franchises in Kansas and currently partners in the running of 11 Applebees locations in three Canadian provinces. A 1985 geology graduate from the University of Kansas, Mr. Brito is on the board of directors of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the Kansas Independent Oil & Gas Association, the University of Kansas Geology Associates Advisory Board, and the Wichita Collegiate School Alumni Association.

Neil Douthat - Prairie Village

Neil attended the University of Denver before receiving his M.B.A. from the University of Missouri-Columbia. His career in financial services began as a management trainee at First National Bank of Kansas City before transitioning to Piper, Jaffray, and Hopwood. In April 2009, The Douthat Group joined the Kansas City office of UBS Financial Services. Neil currently holds the designation of Certified Private Wealth Advisor. The CPWA® designation is the only advanced credential designed specifically for wealth advisors working with Ultra-High Net Worth clients and is held by less than 1% of US financial advisors. At UBS Neil holds the titles of Senior Vice President – Wealth Management and Senior Portfolio Manager – Portfolio Management Group. Neil has served in multiple board positions over 14 years for the Truman Medical Center, including as a member of the Finance Committee of TMC and as Past Chairman of Truman Medical Center Charitable Foundation. For many years, Neil has served as an Advisory Director for Harvester's. Neil is a member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and has served as a Stephen Minister. In recent years Neil has also served as a tutor in the Citizenship Training for refugees in Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program.

Martin K. Eby, Jr., Member Emeritus – Wichita

Mr. Eby is the past president and chief executive officer of Martin K. Eby Construction Co., one of Kansas’ oldest and largest construction firms. A life-long Kansan, Mr. Eby attended Wichita public schools and graduated from Kansas State University in 1956 with a degree in Civil Engineering. He married his wife Melodee in 1955 and together they have three children and 12 grandchildren. He has also served on the Board of numerous organizations including AT&T Communications Inc., Intrust Bank, Southwest Federal Savings and Loan, United Savings and Loans, YMCA, Youth Entrepreneurs of Kansas, Students in Free Enterprise, Kansas Economic Education Foundation, United Way, his church, and many others.

David Gibson, Chairman – 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 a former member of the Board of Directors of the Saint Luke’s Health System. Mr. Gibson is a current board member of the BJC Health System in St. Louis.

Chuck Mackey – Overland Park

Chuck Mackey is President of Capital Management, Inc. (CMI), which he co-founded in 1993. CMI is a real estate/business developement and management company based in Overland Park, Kansas. CMI primarily develops and manages Marriott/Starwood branded hotel properties. Mackey and CMI have founded or developed over 15 companies ranging from start ups to national franchises.

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.

Priscilla O’Shaughnessy – Wichita

Mrs. O’Shaughnessy is a native Ohioan who has lived for the past 40 years in Wichita. She graduated from St. Mary’s College Notre Dame, with a degree in political science. Raising six children has been the centerpiece of her life. Priscilla has served for over 20 years as a board member of the Wichita Center for the Arts (now Mark Arts), and has recently been named as a lifetime honorary trustee. She has served as a leader in development at the Wichita Collegiate School. Priscilla and her husband have been active in YPO (Young President’s Organization), particularly in the Intercontinental Chapter, where they led the group through Central Asia. She has also served as an advisor to Kansas gubenatorial administrations and is on the board of the American Conservative Union.

George Pearson, Founder – Wichita

Mr. Pearson is a Co-Founder of KPI, and 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. Mr. Pearson is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Atlas Network. He is involved in real estate development and investment as an individual investor and as a principal in Industrial Development Investors, LLC.

Nick Powell, Vice Chair – Mission Hills

Mr. Powell is the majority shareholder and president of Colt Energy, Inc., a Kansas oil and gas exploration and production company. Prior to forming Colt in the early 80’s, Mr. Powell was involved in the management of Overland Energy, Inc. This company was a wholly owned subsidiary of YRC Corporation (formerly Yellow Freight System, Inc.) and engaged in investment in oil and gas exploration and production. Mr. Powell is currently chairman of the Kansas Independent Oil & Gas Association. He is past president of the Eastern Kansas Oil and Gas Association and currently serves on its board of directors and is a member of the executive board of the National Stripper Well Association. Mr. Powell also serves on the boards of Country Club Bank and the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Missouri and is past Chairman and currently serves on the board of Powell Gardens, a public botanical garden 30 miles east of Kansas City. Mr. Powell received his B.A. in Economics from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1975.

Jon Schulte – Shawnee

Mr. Schulte has over 35 years of experience in investment real estate, specializing in apartments. He is currently a developer of affordable housing in Kansas and Missouri. The focus is on acquisition and rehabilitation to preserve affordable housing projects. Mr. Schulte also has national experience as a provider of real estate consulting service to clients of Ernst & Young, L.L.P. Previous work experience includes the acquisition of investment real estate for REITs and public & private partnerships. Mr. Schulte is a Dean’s List graduate of the University of Missouri – Columbia’s Trulaske College of Business.

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 headshot

Nestor Weigand, in memoriam

Mr. Weigand was the 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 served as the president of both the Wichita Area Association of Realtors and the Kansas Association of Realtors. Beyond the state level, Mr. Weigand was a director of the National Association of Realtors since 1978 and was active with the International Real Estate Federation, of which he was the president in 2000-2001. He was 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. His community and business involvements extended to serving as the chairman of Wesley Medical Center and as a director of Regal Entertainment. Mr. Weigand earned his BBA in Finance from the University of Notre Dame.

Dave Trabert, CEO

Dave Trabert is Chief Executive Officer of Kansas Policy Institute. He also does research and writes on fiscal policy and education issues and is the lead author of two books: Giving Kids a Fighting Chance with School Choice and What Was Really the Matter with the Kansas Tax Plan. His other published work includes “A Five-Year Budget Plan for the State of Kansas,” “Student-Focused Funding Solutions for Public Education,” and “Removing Barriers to Better Public Education.” Trabert was an appointed member of the Kansas K-12 Student Achievement and Efficiency Commission. He serves on the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force and co-chairs the Education Finance Joint Working Group for the American Legislative Exchange Council. His commentaries have been published by The Wall Street Journal, National Review, Investor’s Business Daily,, The Washington Times, The Washington Examiner, RealClearPolicy,, and The Daily Caller. His guest editorials have also been published in many Kansas newspapers. He graduated cum laude from West Liberty University with a degree in Business Administration.

James Franko, President

James Franko is the President of Kansas Policy Institute, assuming this role after serving in multiple roles with KPI since starting in 2010. In this role, he is responsible for the day-to-day operations of an organization helping each Kansan pursue life, liberty, and happiness. The team has achieved multiple legislative accomplishments during James’ time at KPI including the passage and expansion of Kansas’ only private school choice program. Experience across the free-market movement and time on Capitol Hill help James understand that the challenges facing society are best solved when individuals and local communities are left to find solutions without undue interference from Topeka or Washington, DC. James has published opinion pieces in both national and Kansas-based media outlets, has appeared on radio and TV programs, and regularly speaks to groups around The Sunflower State. A native of Stilwell, James is graduate of Kansas State University where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and minored in economics. E-mail James here.