KWEN Leadership


The Kansas Women’s Environmental Network Leadership Team is open to any member of the network seeking to be more involved with the organization of the group.  The Leadership team meets quarterly to plan and evaluate activities–and Committees meet as needed!  Members all pitch in to make sure things go smoothly for KWEN.  Our Leadership Team Committees are Communications, Events, and Membership. Come and join the fun! Email KWENLeadership at google dot com.

Leadership Team

Jenica Nelson

Jenica Nelson

Jenica Nelson has served on the Leadership Team since October 2013 and is a current Co-Chair of KWEN. She is a native East Tennessean and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Tennessee. While she was a student she had internships with the UT Office of Sustainability, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and created an after school environmental club for local elementary students. Jenica moved to Kansas in the fall of 2012. Currently, she works for the City of Lawrence Solid Waste Division as a Waste Reduction and Recycling Specialist, focusing on Outreach and Education. Being involved with KWEN has been a great way for her to meet other women doing environmental work in the region. Because of this, she has collaborated with women in the group who have similar careers. Jenica is the coordinator for KWEN’s “Green Drinks Lawrence” monthly networking group (for men and women!) and is on the Board of Directors for the Lawrence Farmers’ Market.

Chavis Lickvar-Armstrong

Chavis Lickvar-Armstrong is an assistant researcher for the Center for Public Partnerships and Research at the University of Kansas, and she is a 2016 KWEN Co-Chair.  She writes case studies, conducts needs assessments, develops strategic plans and trains/coaches grantees towards the mission of optimizing the well-being of at risk children, youth and families.  Through her work, she has traveled the state and parts of the nation developing and pushing initiatives that she hopes will better the lives of young people that have already faced too many challenges.  Chavis is passionate about the environment because learning about the Earth’s mechanisms and the creatures that inhabit it served as a bright spot during her youth.  She received her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from KU in 2007.

Sue Kidd

Sue Kidd

Sue Kidd is in her legacy years. She is the Coordinator of the Kansas Character Development Coalition and lead the team in developing and implementing Social, Emotional, and Character Development Standards for Kansas students Birth through High School. She is a Leadership Coach certified by the International Coaching Federation. Sue is the Team Leader for the Prairie Walks at the annual Symphony in the Flint Hills. Sue has a MS in Curriculum and Instruction, Environmental Education plus Gifted Education Certification. She served on the National Revision Team of the Project Learning Tree and is a long-time member of the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education. She has also served in a leadership capacity for a variety of educational and civic organizations. A life-long gardener and animal steward, Sue shares her love of the outdoors with her husband of 53 years, Randy Kidd, three talented, creative, and resilient daughters, eight amazing grandchildren and one perfect great-grandson. KWEN is an example of the unique power and influence that women bring to the table. Women exhibit both the Power of One as well as underscore the quote by Margaret Mead…”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”


Cynthia Annett

Dr. Cynthia Annett is a member of the Google Earth Outreach Network and a research scientist with a lifelong commitment to conserving and restoring aquatic habitats. Combining her passion for maps and water, she works to empower Indigenous and local communities to use counter-mapping, community knowledge sources and Citizen Science to democratize water management. After receiving her doctorate in Zoology from U.C. Berkeley, she helped establish the Arkansas Cooperative Research Unit, acting as the Assistant Fisheries Leader managing the White and Buffalo Rivers. She then began a twenty-five year fascination with the Kansas River. Her interest in prairie rivers led her to join with scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences in the 1990s to survey the upper reaches of the Ob River in the mountains along the Mongolian, Kazakh and Chinese borders. There she was able to experience an unaltered sandy river that was a “mile wide and an inch deep” and dream of the time when our rivers will be reconnected to their wetlands and riparian habitats. Her work includes coordinating multi-campus teaching and research initiatives, including a ten year exchange program for Native American and Indigenous Siberian students; helping local NGOs increase their capacity to use technology and science to further their conservation missions; conducting research on the Kansas River (most notably ); and conducting Indigenous mapping workshops for North American Tribes, South African communities, and Indigenous Peoples worldwide. She is excited about joining the KWEN leadership team, and is very impressed by the many, impressive and energetic women working to improve the Kansas environment.

Olga Khakova

 Olga Khakova is a Program Director at the Climate + Energy Project. In her role she assists with multiple CEP initiatives: A Clean Power Plan Blueprint development, Clean Energy Business Council in Kansas and the KC Metro area, and education and outreach on rate design and the utility of the future; Olga has a Business Administration Degree from Wichita State University. For over 4 years, Olga coordinated events and developed communications strategies in Brazil, Canada, China, and the U.S. for a program within Bombardier Aerospace named Safety Standdown. After moving to Lawrence in 2014, Olga began work on a Masters in Environmental Assessment at the University of Kansas.  Olga was selected for the 2015 and 2016 “Protect your Playground” grant from Copper Mountain Resort. The grant is sponsoring Olga’s initiative to improve the quality of Kansas waters through an educational workshop she has organized. Outside of CEP, Olga sits on the Kansas Women’s Environmental Network Leadership Team and leads the Communications Committee. Olga enjoys outdoor activities: backpacking, yoga, kayaking, and running loves traveling and volunteering with animals. During her latest service trips she helped at a turtle hatchery in Costa Rica and animal rescue operation in Peru. Olga finds purpose in caring for and maintaining beautiful Kansas prairies, eco-diverse rivers, precious farmland, and fresh, clean air.

Dawn Buehler

Dawn Buehler

Dawn Buehler is the Kansas Riverkeeper with Friends of the Kaw and current KWEN Treasurer. In her role as the Riverkeeper, Dawn is a non-governmental public advocate that works to protect and preserve the Kansas River. This is accomplished through holding the community accountable for the health of the river, work to resolve pollution concerns about the river, education the public, and outreach activities to get people involved in the river including educational float trips. Dawn grew up on a 2,000-acre crop farm in the DeSoto river bottoms along the Kansas River in the Kaw River Valley. Dawn continued to help on the farm and also went on to college after high school and earned both a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife Conservation from Oregon State University and a Bachelor in Business Administration from Baker University. Dawn has spent her career working as a conservationist, accountant and farmer. Dawn’s passion is watershed management and finding ways we can all work together to improve our watershed and the quality of the Kansas River. As a Kansas native, she has a vested interest and passion for the river. Dawn is happiest when she is outdoors and you can often find her fishing, hiking, kayaking, reading and exploring. Dawn is the 2016 KWEN Treasurer.

Heather pic2

Heather Cook

Heather Cook is a 2015 graduate of the University of Denver, where she received her BA in Geography and International Studies. Her passion for the environment was sparked as a child, when she and her best friend founded their very own “Earth Club” and volunteered at the local state park. Today, Heather is fascinated by how the food we eat gets to the plate, and she has spent time learning about and working on local, sustainable food projects in a number of cities, including Kansas City, Denver, Atlanta, and Salina. From Kansas originally but new to Lawrence, Heather just began her term serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer with Community Village Lawrence, a grassroots, volunteer-run non-profit that provides support for older adults who wish to age in their homes. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling, gardening, cooking, and eating. Heather is new to the KWEN team and excited to get to know this wonderful network of women!

Durand Reiber is currently Camp Manager of Lawrence Hidden Valley Camp, and loves her job! She graduated from KU with a degree in Environmental Studies (emphasis in field ecology and biology) and is an alumni of the Student Conservation Association. She worked as a wildlife biologist intern in Utah, followed by contract work with EPA as an Environmental Scientist-primarily site assessments and cleanup monitoring of Superfund sites. Durand has participated in several Sierra Club work trips in National Parks working on trails and campsite renovations, and is a mother of two teenage girls. As a Girl Scout growing up, she was introduced to the natural world early on and grew to love the outdoors through numerous camping and canoeing trips. Durand likes to garden, hike, bike, canoe, camp, travel and is open to other outdoor adventures that come along. Her main interest these days is natural history…focusing on the importance of native plants.

Julie Coleman received her BS and MS in Biology from Wichita State University. Her focus on evolutionary ecology led her to study the promiscuous mating behaviors of mosquitofish and the reproductive adaptations of mountainous lizards in Mexico. Fascinating stuff (really)! While writing her MS thesis, she accepted a research associate position in KU’s school of Systematics and Ecology, researching the feeding strategies of white crappie in turbid waters. After a one year internship with the Illinois Legislative Research Unit conducting research to support policy-making, she accepted her first job with KDHE. She has been with KDHE for over 25 years. She is currently the District Environmental Administrator for KDHE’s Northeast District Office in Lawrence where she gets to work with a broad variety of environmental topics, but her first love is water. Julie has one daughter, Marlee, and never tires of attending her volleyball tournaments and track meets. Julie also enjoys hiking, native gardening, reading, baking, and music. Julie is the 2016 KWEN Secretary.


Sofía Galarza Liu

Sofía Galarza Liu is a Collection Manager at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas where she also serves as the department’s Sustainability Ambassador. When she’s not at the museum she can be found caring for her backyard chickens, cooking local and/or organic foods, swimming, running, or biking. She is on the board of the Lawrence Mountain Bike Club, a 501c3 dedicated to promoting mountain biking through the maintenance and advocacy of local trails. Sofía enjoys encouraging others to reduce the use of Earth’s finite resources and to recycle whenever possible. She is a founding member of the St. John Earth Care Committee. She believes in the positive impact a small group of empowered people can have on the environment. Sofía has a BFA in Art History and a MA in Museum Studies from the University of Kansas. 


Ann Root

Ann Root is a volunteer for the Kansas Association of Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE). She is currently serving on the Branding and Marketing Team for KACEE and has been involved in promoting their annual conferences, creating a branding strategy, a marketing plan and has worked on their fundraising campaigns.  Ann has a lifelong love of nature and a passionate curiosity about the interactions of the natural world. Although she has no traditional education in ecology, she has spent many years learning about ecology, hiking, exploring, camping and getting dirty in the mountains and the plains.  She feels nature is a place for all people and hopes her volunteer work will create positive change in the world. Ann holds a B.A. in Mass Communications from Kansas State University.


Renée Whaley

Renée Whaley is a Utilities Specialist with the City of Lawrence Utilities Department and is certified by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment as both a Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator. She is passionate about educating the public about water treatment and has given several public presentations on wastewater treatment along with tours of Lawrence’s treatment plants. Even though she graduated with her B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Kansas, Renée has been interested in water quality and microbiology since she was in middle school thanks to a very enthusiastic biology teacher. In her spare time, she can be found gathering water samples for microphotography, making new fermented food stuffs, and painting scenes from rural Kansas. Renée enjoys the opportunities and connections that KWEN provides and thankful for all the friendships she’s made through KWEN.

Advisory Team

Kim Bellemere

Kim Bellemere

Kim Bellemere is the Membership and Education Coordinator for the Grassland Heritage Foundation and a co-founder of the Kansas Women’s Environmental Network.  She was also one of the first co-chairs of the KWEN Leadership Team (through April 2015) and she is a co-founder and a current co-chair of the Kaw Valley Native Plant Coalition.  Kim came to GHF after a career in health education and non-profit management. Although always concerned about environmental issues, she made the move to environmental education after starting a family and realizing she wanted to do more to protect Kansas’ natural resources. She has been involved in several volunteer projects in Lawrence, including founding an environmental education group for parents, co-founding and chairing the Monarch Waystation program at an area school, and serving as a board member for the Kansas Natural Resource Council.  In 2016 she received the award for Excellence in Environmental Education for Community and Non-profit work from the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE).  A lifelong Kansan, Kim truly understands the crucial role the native environment plays in our cultural and environmental heritage and the importance of preserving it for future generations.

Rachel Myslivy

Rachel Myslivy

Rachel Myslivy  is a Program Director for the Climate + Energy Project where she directs the Water + Energy Progress initiative. Rachel is a co-founder of the KWEN and was the first co-chair of the KWEN Leadership Team (through April 2015), co-chair of the St. John School Green Team (2013 Green School of the Year), an active member of LETUS and a recipient of the 2013 KU Sustainability Leadership Award. Rachel holds an MA in Religious Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Studies from KU. Her research focuses on the intersection of religion and ecology as seen in religious communities in Kansas. Rachel lives with her family on a diversified farm in Jefferson county. As a proud mother of two strong young women, Rachel is personally driven by the goal of leaving the world a better place for her daughters and all future generations. Rachel explains, “KWEN inspires and excites me.  So many women are doing great things for our Earth. Making connections, building community, and working together are essential to our collective future.”

Jenny OBrien

Jenny O’Brien

Jenny O’Brien is working to shift our transportation paradigm away from driving alone and into sharing our cars.  She created the first ever Roadside Ridesharing project ( and is working to bring shared use mobility to small towns and rural areas.  In August of 2014, She gave a TED talk at the TEDxKC event.  Jenny works for the Mid-America Regional Council in Kansas City, MO in their Transportation & Environment Division as the Air Quality Employer Outreach Specialist. Jenny was on the KWEN Leadership Team for its first three years, and was a 2015 Co-Chair. She finds encouragement, empowerment, advice and opportunities in the KWEN network.

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