Since the first years of the college’s conception, women have served an important role on the board of trustees. Maxine B. Allen and Ellen Laner served on the college’s first board in 1967, and since then there have been eighteen members of the board. To cap off Women’s History month we’re taking a closer look at the lives and careers of the female members of the board of trustees.
Trustee Nancy Ingram
Trustee Nancy Ingram was elected to the board of trustees in April of 2015 and was sworn in the following July. Previously, Ingram had worked in a number of medical institutions after earning a degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from Kansas State University. She believes her experience as the volunteer services manager at Olathe Medical Center prepared her for the board of trustees.
“You just kind of have this one pot of money at Olathe Med, and surgery wants this much, the pharmacy needs this much to operate,” Ingram said. “All these little different departments were very similar and equated very well into the institution at Johnson County Community College.”
The proud partner of a teacher, public education has always been important to Ingram, who cocreated the Olathe Public Schools Foundation in 1996 and served as executive director for five years. While serving on that board Ingram met former trustee John Stewart. According to Ingram, Stewart recognized her passion and recommended she run for the board.
As she serves on the college’s board of trustees, Ingram also holds seats on the Olathe Public Schools Foundation Board and the Johnson County Mental Health Center Advisory Board. Ingram hopes she’ll be able to continue supporting students into the coming years.
There’s a lot of challenges that students have no matter what they do after they go to school, or continue to work after high school,” Ingram said. “I think those conversations have always been there, but I’m a part of them so I see now how important it is to continue to talk and to act and to respond.
Trustee Angeliina Lawson
Trustee Angeliina Lawson was elected to the board of trustees in 2018 and was sworn in Jan. 2019. Lawson previously worked in the clinical psychology before deciding to become a full-time mother.
“I chose to stay at home, and to devote time to making sure my child succeeded,” Lawson said. “I’m happy with what I do now for a career, but I am thankful for all the time I had with my child.”
Having attended Moorpark Community College, Lawson ran for election after having seen the transformative power of community colleges firsthand. Since being appointed, Lawson was surprised to learn how many people had thoughts about the board.
“One of the largest surprises were how many issues that students and the community brought forward directly to me in email and phone calls and just asked me to ‘ask their question’ or find out the answer because they had felt stifled in getting an answer,” Lawson said. “I really didn’t grasp how many people in our community, of all political alignment, wanted someone to talk to them and to get questions answered.”
Lawson recently announced she would not be seeking re-election. Reflecting on her time as a trustee, Lawson is proud of her role in passing DEI policies, hiring Andrew Bowne and in bringing forward student issues to the board.
“Personally, I think every day about the commitment I made from the very beginning to help students who struggle with poverty and have needs that are too often unmet,” Lawson said. “I helped provide for students and encouraged other trustees and community members to do so.
Trustee Laura Smith-Everett
Trustee Laura Smith-Everett was elected to the board of trustees in 2019 and was sworn in Jan. 2020. Smith-Everett still works as an educator in the Shawnee Mission School District. Her passion for education led to her running for the board.
“Education is really important to me and I see it as a critical tool for improving equitable outcomes for our community,” Smith-Everett said. “My dad served as a chef in the JCCC culinary department for 17-18 years which taught me how important this school is to our community. I wanted to run for office to be part of the positive change I wanted for our community.”
Smith-Everett is happy with her position on the board but has wished she could oversee more of the college’s operations.
“The role of the board is one of oversight, it’s hard to know everything that is going on, which is the nature of the position,” Smith-Everett said. “We have so many incredible things happening by students, faculty and staff and I wish there was a way to keep tabs on all of the moving parts, but that’s probably not reasonable.”
Smith-Everett hopes the college will continue to expand DEI programs under the new president into the future.
“We have a critical role in leading our county in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion measures,” Smith-Everett said. “Our board has made this a priority since welcoming Dr. Bowne last year. I have been thrilled to be part of a board that sees this as an important next step for JCCC and Johnson County as a whole.”
By Jason Yearout