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

Kim Mahanna-Bellemere

Kim Mahanna-Bellemere

Kim Mahanna-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.

RM Accordion headshot

Rachel Mysilvy

Rachel Myslivy  is the co-founder and current co-chair of the Kansas Women’s Environmental Network. She’s the Assistant Director for the Climate + Energy Project, a Kansas-based nonprofit focusing community resilience and a clean energy future. A climate advocate, systems thinker, community organizer and leadership coach, Rachel is committed to building the capacity for diverse leadership to create a better world for all. Rachel and her family steward a small, diversified, organic farm, where she spins yarn from her sheep, communes with all the creatures, and is teaching herself to play the melodeon. It’s never too late to learn something new!


Renée Whaley

Renée Whaley is an Operational Technician Specialist with the City of Lawrence Municipal Services and Operations Department and is a certified Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator and Biosolids Land Applier. 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.


Courtney Masterson

Courtney Masterson studied at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, and later studied at the University of Kansas, where she earned her Master’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Courtney is the Owner-operator and Ecologist of Native Lands LLC, an ecological restoration and native landscaping company. She also teaches Field Botany at KU. She sits on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including Grassland Heritage Foundation, Friends of Konza Prairie, and the Kaw Valley Native Plant Coalition. An important focus of Courtney’s work is community education and outreach, providing connections to native plants, field sciences, and outdoor experiences to groups throughout the region.

Kris Hicks

Kris Hicks

Kristine Hicks received her bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology at the University of Montana and recently completed a Professional Science Masters in Applied Science – Environmental Assessment at the University of Kansas. Kris has been working with the Facilities Services department at Washburn University in Topeka for the last five years. During that time she has managed the energy management project, coordinates with contractors for optimizing building automation systems, and supervises maintenance technicians. She especially enjoys environmental outreach and meeting with students on their projects for sustainability. Previously she worked 13 years at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and 6 years in Quality Assurance. Kris has served on the recycling committee with the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO), completed Leadership Washburn in 2016, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Kansas Organization of Recyclers.

Jessica Wilhelm

Jessica Wilhelm

Jessica Wilhelm is a new PhD student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Kansas (KU). Originally from Ohio, she moved away from home for the first time to go to college in Ithaca, New York, where she got hooked on environmental science and water science research. While in college she began an Ithaca chapter of ‘Take Back the Tap’, a student organization with water conservation aims. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science at Ithaca, she moved to New Hampshire to begin a Master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy focused on aquatic science research. After earning her Master’s degree, she worked for the EPA at their groundwater lab in Oklahoma. Her appreciation of water, and interest in understanding how different watersheds work has driven her career trajectory and lead her to study the Kansas River Watershed while pursuing her PhD at KU. She is excited to learn more about the watershed through data collection and observation, and to also enjoy it during river-shoreline walks with her dog and future paddle trips.

Bri Richards

Bri Richards

Bri Richards developed her passion for wetlands while completing a B.S. in Environmental Resource Management at Penn State University. She gained a deeper understanding of wetland ecology at Indiana University, where she earned an M.S. in Environmental Science and competed a thesis on marsh biochemistry. After working as a wetland delineator and permitting specialist at Burns & McDonnell Engineering for 7 years, Bri has gone back to her laboratory roots. She is now a lab manager at the Kansas Biological Survey where she facilitates research on how nutrients move through aquatic, wetland, and agricultural ecosystems. Her free time is spent sketching, taking nature walks with her dogs, and playing board games with friends.

Advisory Team

Jenny O’Brien

Jenica Nelson

Durand Reiber

Dawn Buehler

Julia Nehring

Megan Rush

Sofía Galarza Liu

Chavis Lickvar-Armstrong

Sue Kidd 

Julie Coleman

Ann Root 

Dr. Cynthia Annett


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