Board of Trustees

John R. Dietrick, Board Chair, is CEO and General Counsel for HR Partners, LLC.  John received his Bachelor of Arts from Washburn University and Juris Doctorate from Washburn University School of Law.  He also received his Master of Public Administration from the University of Kansas. John has extensive corporate, insurance, employment law and labor relations experience spanning over 35 years, and offers legal services through John R. Dietrick, P.A.  John is admitted to practice law in Kansas and Louisiana and is a member of the American Bar Association, the Kansas Bar Association, and the Louisiana State Bar Association. John is also a veteran who served two tours in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot.

"The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center provides a very important and unique service to the Topeka community and surrounding areas by offering a modern, safe, accessible, child-friendly museum where children can explore, create and learn through play… something that all children should have the opportunity to engage in. The Center is truly one-of-a-kind and the Topeka community and surrounding areas are extremely fortunate to have this inspiring and positive learning environment available to our children and future leaders."

Janelle Brazington, Board Treasurer is the Vice President of Administration and CFO of Kansas Action for Children. She provides leadership in finances, human resources, grant management, planning, and advocacy evaluation. Janelle also leads KAC’s work around decreasing infant mortality with a focus on dismantling systemic racism. Janelle grew up in Leonidas, Mich., and earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Union College. Janelle is a certified professional in human resources and a member of the local and national Society of Human Resources Management. Janelle volunteers for the Brown v. Board National Historic Site, is an alumnus of the Rockwood Leadership Institute’s Art of Leadership, and is a member of the Leadership Greater Topeka Class of 2008.

"Our community needs KCDC because we need high-quality STEAM learning activities not just for the kids whose families can afford museum admission or access the museum, but for the kids who cannot. For the kids who aren’t living in a home right now. For the kids who are stranded in a hospital. For the kids who aren’t able to play with their peers because of the risk of infection. For the kids who can’t get to the museum, so the museum comes to them. KCDC will expose these children to possibility, help them explore their potential, introduce new ideas, and allow them to just be kids—no matter their present circumstances. We all benefit when kids can be kids."

Melody Devlin, Board Secretary, was born and raised in Colorado and found her way to Kansas State University. She moved to Topeka in 2002 and earned bachelor's and master’s in nursing.  She is currently a Family Practice Nurse Practitioner at Cotton O’Neil Clinic. Melody has a 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter who fill her life with love and joy. She also enjoys running, crafting, camping and boating.

"KCDC is a vital part of the community of Topeka.  From the moment you walk into the doors of KCDC you feel the energy and spirit of childhood.  Parents, grandparents and kids of all ages can be seen playing together. The environment provides the structure for families to learn in the best possible way, play. This passion for fun and learning is not limited to the brick and mortar of the center, it extends its arms into the community. Specifically parts of the community that may not have the opportunity to pay for admission.  Through its outreach programs it provides priceless opportunities to those underserved populations. KCDC also adds another reason for families to move to or visit Topeka. It enriches the community in many ways, and makes Topeka a fun place to play and grow."

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Kaley Anderson works as a human resource professional. She is a native Topekan who enjoys time with family and friends, including her three-year-old son and identical twin girls.

“I am passionate about providing a safe and educational place for our children to learn and grow. KCDC is a place that advocates for our children to be who they want to be and guides them to be excited about learning and exploring! Growing up in this community, I know what it’s like to not have this place as a child, and I now have seen the power that it provides. It must be sustained for our future generations."

Kevin Dobski is the owner and operator of McDonald’s of Lawrence and Topeka. Kevin moved back to Lawrence, Kansas recently from Los Angeles, where he had spent nearly a decade working in the entertainment industry as a music and talent manager. Kevin managed the careers of several bands, actors, stand-up comedians and musicians before returning to McDonald’s system. Kevin lives in Lawrence with his wife Mary Kate and their children, Kendall Mae and Hadley and Easton. They enjoy spending time together outdoors, playing and watching sports (especially cheering on the Jayhawks and Horned Frogs), school and church activities.

Kristina Figuerres joins the KCDC Board with over ten years of experience working in education.  She worked in the Chicago area as an Elementary School Assistant Principal, Middle School Dean of Students and an Orchestra Teacher at the elementary and middle school levels.  She earned her Bachelor of Music Education from Northwestern University and her Masters Degree in School Administration from Loyola University. She is a graduate of Topeka West High School.  She is currently a stay-at-home mom who enjoys being involved in the community.  When she is not busy running after her two young children, Kristina works as a member of the Topeka Symphony Board and she volunteers her time on the committee for the American Cancer Society’s Couture for Cancer.  In addition, Kristina is Treasurer for the Prince of Peace Preschool Board and spends various days helping the teachers at her son’s elementary school.

"KCDC has been a wonderful learning space for the Figuerres family.  With two young children, we have spent many hours of play at KCDC! It is a place to go as a family or to meet other friends for playdates.  The kids love the interactive activities and the chance to explore, build and experiment in a safe environment. Our community is lucky to have a facility of this caliber where kids get excited about learning.  As part of the KCDC Board, I hope to continue to explore new opportunities while building on the great KCDC foundation the has already been established for Topeka."

Jane P. Gannaway is currently the Principle for JPG Consulting, LLC, based in Kansas and working with clients in food service and retail worldwide with a focus on the Americas and Asia. Jane has recently moved to Kansas from Shanghai, China to be closer to family and to enjoy the United States once again.  Jane has always been engaged with community service in the communities she has lived in around the world. She is the mother of two adult sons, and is the the Nai Nai (paternal grandmother) of four grandchildren.

“I believe that play is a learned behavior through interaction and experimentation. KCDC provides a fantastic indoor and outdoor experience for children to play, interact, explore and learn. Children can move at their own pace and with their interests. But beyond that, the creative and talented KCDC staff reach out into the community, with science and math programs in community centers and parks, through kindergarten preparedness classes, and with the Medical Warriors program that provides opportunities for children with health issues to play with their families. My grandchildren think KCDC 'is the best children’s museum in the world.' I have to agree!”

Susan Garlinghouse is one of the founders of the Kansas Children's Discovery Center, envisioning the museum as an environment for creativity and learning and as a place for parents to further bond with their children and together engage in lifelong learning. The Discovery Center is a part of her extensive work as an advocate for children. For more than 25 years, Susan volunteered at Topeka High School, leading many initiatives, particularly those encouraging youth activism around environmentalism and gender equality. Together with other community leaders, Susan and husband Kent cofounded Topeka Collegiate School, where she continues to serve on the board.  She is a recipient of the Jefferson Award from the American Institute for Public Service, was named a Woman of Distinction by the Career Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association and has served on many boards.

"KCDC offers an opportunity for an education that enlightens, encourages and keeps the bright star of learning and critical thinking alive and well.  This is the most important gift a child can ever receive. KCDC helps make it so. Our extended community thrives as a result of Kansas Children’s Discovery Center.  We all thrive when we are part of something bigger than ourselves. We thrive when we acknowledge the importance of children, when we commit to their well being knowing full well that they are the future of our city and nation and world."

Kimberly Gibson is a middle school math teacher at an independent school in Topeka. Prior to teaching, she spent over two decades as a technology professional beginning her career with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from MIT and working in various software roles for companies such as Motorola and Sprint. Kimberly homeschooled her two daughters through elementary and middle school, and wishes the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center would have been around a few years earlier to enrich her children’s education.

"Topeka and northeast Kansas needs Kansas Children’s Discovery Center to bring creative and stimulating science and engineering play experiences to our children. Having seen a team of first grade girls creatively engineer rubber tracks for wooden balls, I know the experiences that Dené and her team are bringing to our school children are different than what our schools can provide on their own. There is much talk of STEM education these days, but KCDC is putting STEM into action for each child that walks through their doors."

Jake Huyett is the executive vice president and founder of jhP and a three decade veteran of the advertising industry. Jake primarily serves as an account supervisor for jhP, using a rigorous analysis of brands, audiences and position in the marketplace to discover unique opportunities to create messaging that is distinctive and relevant. He has managed brands on both the client and agency side of the business. Since 1987, jones huyett Partners has provided clients highly creative work that is strategically sound, founded in research and results focused.

"I am a grandparent. Helping our grandsons develop a lifelong love of learning is one of my highest priorities. I selfishly agreed to serve on the KCDC Board of Trustees to support all the center does that benefits our grandsons. That focus has changed as I have come to understand to the breadth of services KCDC provides our community. Programs like Medical Warriors, Puzzle Pieces and the Mobile Museum offer opportunities to children who otherwise might not receive them. I believe KCDC helps make our community a better place, and a better place for my grandchildren."

Dr. Jackie Hyland, The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus

Kevin Kongs is the Assistant Controller and Executive Director Accounting Services of Westar Energy, Inc. During his 29-year tenure, Kevin has served in various positions in the finance organization including Vice President, Controller of Westar Energy, Inc. prior to its merger with Great Plains Energy. Kevin holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Accounting from Washburn University and a Master of Business Administration from Washburn University. In addition, Kevin is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Management Accountant. Kevin also serves on the board of the LifeHouse Child Advocacy Center. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys spending time with his family and friends and watching football, basketball and golf.

"KCDC is a unique asset to the Topeka community. It provides outreach to all children in Topeka and surrounding communities allowing them to learn core educational values in a safe, fun environment. KCDC also helps children and families with special needs allowing them access to the museum and all the various programs it offers. KCDC’s staff are dedicated to making sure children of all backgrounds are provided the opportunity to learn in a fun environment."

Marta Marina Morales-Kennedy is a nurse and advocate for equality and justice. Marta was born in Guatemala and moved to Topeka in 1981. She attended Washburn University and later graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Sciences in Nursing degree. She has worked at Stormont-Vail Health for 29 years, serving families and babies where she says there is an immense opportunity to "grow and give." Marta has been married to Brandan Paul Kennedy for thirty years and is the mother of four children.

"A community is defined by the commitment it shows to each and every one of its members. KCDC is a clear example of this commitment. In its mission KCDC reflects the importance of providing tools for discovery and healthy learning for all children and their families. The vision is to contribute in the formation of great minds with the belief that the future will bring greatness. Every family can find a safe and encouraging environment at KCDC. It is important for the community to grow and KCDC is where many of the seeds are kept. KCDC provides the opportunity for our community to show pride, joy, and love of who we are."

Ford Ross is a retired executive from M-C Industries, now Polo Custom Products, and manufacturer of custom medical and industrial equipment. A native of St. Louis, Ford graduated from Westminster College in 1962 with a degree in business administration. After two years as an army officer in Germany he joined M-C Industries, then headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as an administrative marketing manager. He rose through the ranks at M-C Industries, and relocated in Topeka in 1972 with the company headquarters. Ford and wife Catherine were early supporters of the museum, and regular visitors alongside their three granddaughters.

"We’re enhancing children’s lives, children who would otherwise not be exposed to places like this. It makes a big difference when children are exposed at an early age. It’s showing them what life can be." - Catherine Ross

Stephanie Valley has a passion for design that led her to a Fine Arts degree in Textile Design from the University of Kansas. For twelve years she worked as an interior designer at Linda Lee Interiors in Topeka, Kansas and also as the production director of The Sewing Workshop Pattern Collection. She is the author of two sewing books by Taunton Press and is currently a realtor with Valley Inc. Realtors. Stephanie and her husband John have two sons and own Valley Self Storage.

"The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center embodies my belief that creative play is an essential element to forming a healthy and fully developed child and community."

Errol V. Williams, retired

Founding Board Leadership

B. Kent Garlinghouse, Board Chair

Bill Anderson, D.M.A., Vice-Chair

Michael Orozco, Treasurer

Stewart Entz, Secretary

Joanne Harrison

Missy Hiestand

Albert Lei

Jason Newell

Beverly Thompson

Lambert Wu, M.D.

Craig Yorke, M.D.