Michael Austin is the Director of the Sandlian Center for Entrepreneurial Government at the Kansas Policy Institute. In this role he is responsible for educating public organizations and the public on taxes and budget, using economic research to turn government inefficiencies into effective policy solutions. Before joining the Sandlian Center, Michael served as an economist in various roles of Kansas state government. As an adviser to former Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Michael’s work made him the first to discover the drop in commodity and energy prices that plagued Kansas and the region, later termed “The Rural Recession.” Most recently as Chief Economist in the Kansas Department of Revenue, his research and presentation on the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and its effects on Kansans jumpstarted discussions ensuring it will be a key concern in the upcoming Kansas legislative session.

Michael is a New York City transplant, living with his wife and two children in the Lawrence Area. Michael is a Washburn University School of Business Scholar earning his Bachelor of Business Administration and double majored in management and economics. Michael also graduated from the University of Kansas’s Department of Economics with a Master of Arts with honors. E-mail Michael here.

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 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.

Ellen Hathaway is the Communications Director at Kansas Policy Institute. In this role she is responsible for crafting and delivering the overall messaging to the public, communicating the truth about policy issues affecting Kansans in their every-day. Prior to joining the KPI team, Ellen held various positions in the liberty movement. She recently led the marketing strategies for iVoterGuide where she was responsible for building innovative media platforms and digital assets designed to impact elections by increasing the informed vote in key state primary elections. Ellen oversaw the Political Management Team for a nationally renowned public relations firm in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Ellen also worked for The Leadership Institute, in Arlington, VA where she traveled across America teaching a wide array of political workshops. Ellen has been a consultant and an activist for various political campaigns ranging from small-town judicial races all the way to holding campaign positions in presidential campaigns.

Ellen is a Kansas native – raised in the Wichita area. Ellen attended Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas and graduated from East Texas Baptist University with a Bachelors in secondary education and American Government. E-mail Ellen here.

Hannah Nelson is the Donor Relations Manager at Kansas Policy Institute. In this role, she is responsible for strengthening relationships with generous donors to KPI. Hannah brings with her experience in fundraising and donor relations from her time with various political campaigns in the Midwest and beyond. Hannah is a Nebraska native and a graduate of Creighton University (Go Jays!) in Omaha, NE with a Bachelors in Political Science and Minor in Business.  E-mail Hannah here.

Dave Trabert is Chief Executive Officer 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.  He is the lead author of the tax policy book 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,” “Removing Barriers to Better Public Education,” “A 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 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, Investor’s Business Daily, ForbesThe Washington Times, The Washington Examiner, TheHill.com 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 and the Manhattan Free Press.

He graduated cum laude from West Liberty University with a degree in Business Administration. E-mail Dave here.

Beth Wasko is the Development & Operations Coordinator at Kansas Policy Institute. She is responsible for daily operations in the Overland Park office. She also assists in the maintenance of KPI’s website and publishes KPI’s newsletters and other electronic communications. Born and raised in Overland Park, Beth graduated from K-State with a degree in marketing. Prior to joining KPI, she worked at American Century Investments for 15 years and as a freelance proofreader and editor. Beth enjoys spending time with her husband and five children, and is active in her church community and her children’s school.
E-mail Beth here.