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President of Harvesters in Kansas City Steps Down

President of Harvesters in Kansas City Steps Down



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Karen Haren retires after a 27-year career with the food bank

Karen Haren, the executive president and CEO of Harvesters in Kansas City is stepping down, the Kansas City Star reports. After 14 years in this position and a 27-year career with the group, she is retiring, but leaving behind a legacy of helping the community.

Harvesters collects food and distributes it to over 600 agencies in 26 countries. Based in Kansas City, the program was named food bank of the year in . Haren’s dedication to the program helped the company to thrive and serve the community.

Haren also helped start the BackSnack program, which gives children food to take home over the weekend. Haren had found that many children were only getting enough food during the school week.

Haren plans to continue her commitment to the mission of the program through donations. She will be succeeded by Valerie Nicholson-Watson, who has stepped down from her role as president and CEO at the Niles Home for Children to accept the position.


Pandemic Forces Food Chain Reaction By Small Farmers

Above image credit: Paradise Locker Meats in Trimble, Missouri, has scrambled to find new distribution channels for its product in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Contributed | Paradise Locker Meats)

Paradise Locker Meats in Trimble, Missouri, may not be a household name. Even so, the family owned meat processing plant had carved out an enviable niche in the chef-driven restaurant supply chain with their custom heritage-breed pork and high-end steaks.

But as restaurants across the country shuttered and New York City-based partner Heritage Foods cut its usual order of 200 Missouri- and Kansas-raised hogs a week to a mere handful, the mood flipped from wary to grim.

Louis Fantasma, whose father Mario founded the business in 1995, worried he would have to lay off most of the 40 employees at the 20,000-square-foot facility. He also began to contemplate closing the adjacent retail space.

“Obviously, we couldn’t cut beef carcasses or be making sausage from home,” says Fantasma, as he ticks off a myriad of safety procedures implemented within days of the region’s stay-at-home order.

Steps to flatten the COVID-19 disease curve have included the use of sanitizer, gloves, masks and a Biomist machine to wipe down keyboards and other equipment that can’t get wet. The business has staggered employee lunch breaks, eliminated plant tours, limited the number of customers allowed in the retail shop and socially distanced wherever possible.

“It’s been a real challenge,” Fantasma says. “There’s no book, and I’m not an infectious disease doctor.”

While crowded conditions appear to be the root cause of illness at larger meatpacking plants across the region, leading to shortages of meat at grocery stores and fast food franchises, workers at Paradise continue to be healthy.

After heightening personal protection equipment protocols, Fantasma got to work finding new channels of distribution for himself and his farmers, creating ties with online sales outlets and home delivery partners like Shatto Home Delivery.


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President of Harvesters in Kansas City Steps Down - Recipes

By admin | Posted March 18th, 2020 | Tweet

Don Bosco staff hand out meals in the front lobby of the senior center.

By Barbara Shelly
TheBeacon

As stores and restaurants shut down and workers head home to socially isolate themselves and their families, people in Missouri and Kansas continue to look outward. They are finding ways to help others — even as needs among the elderly, homeless and most vulnerable grow more severe.

Social media sites are filled with offers to run errands and even pay for groceries for neighbors in need.

Kenzie Borland, a Wichita State University student who lives with her grandparents, said she understands why the elderly and immunocompromised, who are more at risk for COVID-19, can’t leave home right now. After posting on a neighborhood Facebook group, several people said they intended to take her up on the offer.

“We all have to step it up for our loved ones,” said Borland, who is also volunteering this week for the local Meals on Wheels.

The Rieger, a restaurant in downtown Kansas City, shut down normal operations on Monday and announced it was converting to a community kitchen for the foreseeable future.

The staff will prepare take out meals, which will be served on a pay-as-you’re-able basis from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, said Whitney Coleman, the maître d’. Money that is donated will be used to pay the restaurant’s hourly staff and keep the community kitchen operating, she said. The Reiger will donate anything extra to charity, and it is also collecting canned goods and sanitary supplies to hand out to people in need.

A Don Bosco staff bags up meals for area seniors. The senior center has closed it’s doors to events but is still operating their meal service.

The restaurant announced the community kitchen Monday afternoon on its Facebook page, and served 22 meals a couple of hours later, Coleman said. And people started dropping by to donate items on Tuesday.

“We are making the best of things,” Coleman said.

In that spirit, others shared tips on how to help while staying home.

    while shelters are closed to the public and operating with reduced staff. Cats and dogs are also a great antidote against loneliness.
  • Go online and purchase gift cards from local businesses. “For these small businesses it’s their only income,” said Katie Mabry Van Dieren, who runs Strawberry Swing indie craft fairs in Kansas City. “They’re really scared and nervous about the future. Just a little from each of us is super helpful.”
  • If your own family income is not disrupted, keep paying fees for services such as children’s music lessons. It may help studios and independent contractors stay in business.

A major way people can assist is with cash and other donations to the groups that specialize in helping people in normal times.

Kar Woo assists homeless, mentally ill and substance-impaired individuals through his nonprofit, Artists Helping the Homeless. Among other roles, he works with hospitals to find alternative shelter for people who take refuge in emergency rooms for problems that aren’t necessarily medical.

But this week, shelters are full and hospitals aren’t letting people stick around, Woo said.

“I had two ladies discharged (from the hospital) and literally no one wants them,” he said. “I had to put them in hotel rooms. I may have to book several more hotel rooms to address this issue, but where does the money come from? The best thing people can do is donate to people like us on the front lines.”

The Don Bosco Senior Center has suspended midday meals and social activities for older people at its drop-in center in northeast Kansas City. But its staffers will box up lunches and deliver them to seniors, said Ann Van Zee, director of development. The center already operates a Meals-on-Wheels program for homebound seniors, and serves a total of about 750 meals each weekday through its site-based and mobile programs.

Although clients will continue to receive meals, the center will lose funds it receives for providing recreational activities, and reimbursement rates for meals don’t cover the entire cost, Van Zee said. So, like other nonprofits, Don Bosco is hoping donors will continue or increase giving.

Care Beyond the Boulevard, a nonprofit, recruits doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to take health care to people on the streets, in camps and under bridges. Beginning this week, the group’s mobile van will be stocked with kits that include tissues, hand sanitizer, protein bars and bottled water, and also printed information about the COVID-19 virus and precautions that homeless people can take.

Jaynell “KK” Assmann, the group’s founder and president, said she feared it was a matter of time before the virus strikes hard at the region’s homeless population.

Harvesters Community Food Network is curtailing participation by volunteers and spending extra time on deep cleaning, said communications manager Gene Hallinan.

And instead of encouraging donations of canned and boxed goods, Harvesters is asking for cash at this time.

“With monetary donations we can leverage our buying power and we can purchase pallets of food that don’t have to be sorted,” Hallinan said.

While dealing with a pandemic is new, Harvesters has vast experience in responding to floods, droughts and other disasters, she added. “We remain committed to our mission to provide nutritious food to anyone who needs it.”


100 Years Ago in Kansas

In the mid-1950s the Kansas State Historical Society published The Annals of Kansas, 1886-1925. It appeared in two volumes, with the first published in 1954, the second two years later in 1956.

The Annals are an almost daily account of life in the State of Kansas. Most entries are only a sentence or two and deal with organizations meeting somewhere within the state, special events, crimes, and more. For the World War I years, they provide snippets of life on the home front.

The following was compiled by Kansas WWI Committee Member and Kansas State Historical Society Museum Curator, Blair Tarr.

February 19, 1917

  • “Maj. Gen. Frederick Funston died at San Antonio, Tex. He was born November 9, 1865, at New Carlisle, Ohio, and came to Allen county with his parents in 1867. He lived in Iola for many years and attended the University of Kansas. He became a botanist and worked as a special agent for the Department of Agriculture in 1891, He took part in the Death Valley expedition of 1891, was later sent to Alaska where he paddled a canoe 1,500 miles down the Yukon river, and wrote a paper entitled, “Botany of Yakutat Bay, Alaska.” Funston fought for 18 months with Cuban insurgents, 1896-1897, and rose from captain to lieutenant colonel. When the Spanish-American War broke out he was made colonel of the Twentieth Kansas Regiment, which distinguished itself in the Philippine insurrection. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for action at the battle of Calumpit on April 27, 1899. In 1901 Funston planned and carried out the capture of Aguinaldo, Philippine guerilla leader. This won him the rank of brigadier general in the regular army. He was stationed at San Francisco during the earthquake of 1906 and was given much credit for handling the emergency. General Funston was in command of the U.S. force that was sent to hold the city of Vera Cruz during the United States intervention in Mexico. Shortly before his death he was sent to Texas in charge of soldiers on the border.”

February 24, 1917

March 10, 1917

  • Capt. Phil Billard of Topeka, was given a $3,000 appropriation by the Legislature to establish an aviation school at Topeka. See the earlier post on Billard: https://www.kansasww1.org/aviators-philip-billard/

March 14, 1917

When the Legislature adjourned four days later, this is what they had accomplished:

  • Required approval of the Public Utilities Commission to build bridges or dams across navigable streams or rivers.
  • Required approval of the State Board of Health for building vaults or mausoleums.
  • Provided for the adoption and regulation of the city manager form of government by cities wanting it.
  • Regulation of streetcar traffic.
  • Provided for condemnation and appropriation of land by oil and pipeline companies.
  • Authorized counties to levy taxes to pay for extermination of grasshoppers.
  • Prohibited the sale, giving away or advertisement of cigarettes or cigarette papers.
  • Provided for a Kansas Water Commission to investigate and control flood prevention, drainage, water power, and irrigation.
  • Set the minority age of both men and women at 21.
  • Created the office of State Fire Marshal.
  • Provided for the protection of game birds.
  • Authorized the State Board of Health to make regulations for control of diseases.
  • Made it unlawful for any person to have intoxicating liquor in his possession and prohibited the transportation of liquor, except for medicinal uses.
  • Provided for compensation for injures workmen.
  • Provided for an eight-hour day in lead and zinc mines.
  • Created a State Highway Commission and prescribed its duties.
  • Provided for distribution of federal funds for vocation education.
  • Established a State board of Administration to manage state institutions.
  • Established a State Industrial Farm for women.

March 27, 1917

  • Anna Folkland, fourth grade pupil at Wichita, was suspended from school for refusing to salute the flag.

March 28, 1917

March 31, 1917

  • Governor Capper appealed to the people of Kansas to mobilize every possible source of food supply and, in addition, to observe the greatest economy in food consumption. With the nation nearing war, Kansas faced a food shortage, and wheat prospects were poor. The Governor urged a vegetable garden in every back yard, a potato patch in every vacant lot, and an extra half-acre of potatoes on every farm.

April 2, 1917

  • President Wilson asked Congress to declare that a state of war existed between the United States and Germany.
  • Telegraph offices in many Kansas cities and towns were deluged with messages against war, addressed to the President and congressmen.

April 3, 1917

  • Armed guards were placed around the pumping station of the Wichita Water Co. following advice from federal agents that German spies were in the city. This was an example of the wave of spy-hunting which swept the country.
  • At KU, 150 girls enrolled in Red Cross training classes.

April 5, 1917

  • Missouri troops were guarding railroad bridges as far west as Manhattan on the Union Pacific and southwest to Hutchinson on the Santa Fe.

April 6, 1917

  • Congress formally declared that a state of war existed with Germany.
  • Loyalty day was observed by parades, pageants, and patriotic speeches. Governor Capper spoke at Topeka a fife and drum corps of Civil War veterans paraded at Dodge City ten thousand children marched in a parade at Wichita, and at Neodesha employees of the Frisco railroad sent up a large flag attached to a kite.

April 7, 1917

  • The State Board of Agriculture urged immediate mobilization of 70,000 school boys, age 15 to 20 years, to get maximum food production in the state.

April 9, 1917

  • Food prices soared. Sugar at Topeka went to $9.50 per 100 pounds and flour to $3.00. Prices of lard, butter, eggs and soap advanced. Potatoes went up 25 cents a bushel.
  • President Henry Jackson Waters, K.S.A.C. (Kansas State Agricultural College), said the country’s visible food supply would be gone before another harvest. He urged that grain used for liquors should be held back as feed for livestock.
  • Because of the national emergency the State Board of Administration urged state schools to hold simple, dignified commencement services.

April 11, 1917

  • The Kansas State Bankers Assn. met at Kansas City. Members agreed to handle government war loans without interest.

April 12, 1917

  • Compulsory military training for every able-bodied male student at Washburn College was adopted by the faculty after a petition by 200 students asked that military training be made part of the college course. Intercollegiate athletics were abolished.

April 13, 1917

  • Governor Capper began a nation-wide fight for prohibition during the war. He wired President Wilson, urging the use of food materials in manufacturing liquor be prohibited. He asked Governors of all states to take similar action.
  • Dr. Henry J. Waters, K.S.A.C. president, was named chairman of the State Council of Defense, composed of prominent Kansans appointed by the Governor.
  • The Blue Goose, a Bennington club and smokehouse where recruiting officers gathered, was dynamited by fanatics who believed Europe’s war was “not our business.”
  • Towns, schools, clubs, churches, lodges, and individuals adopted French orphans. It cost $36.50 to support an orphan for a year.

April 16, 1917

  • Four thousand acres at seven state institutions were being put under cultivation in line with the governor’s “food drive.”
  • Washburn college offered three courses in Red Cross training.
  • The price of wheat went to $2.74 on the Topeka Board of Trade.

April 17, 1917

  • The State Council of Defense met at Topeka and declared war on extravagance, luxury, unused land, gophers, chinch bugs, Hessian flies, hog cholera, bad marketing facilities, market gambling and grasshoppers, and urged that a census be taken on resources and needs of every county.

April 18, 1917

  • Public school students who enlisted or who were recruited for food production or defense work would be given credit for a year’s work, the Superintendent of Public Instruction announced.

April 19, 1917

  • Many tractors in the state were equipped with headlights and operated on a 24-hour schedule as part of the increased food program.

April 20, 1917

April 23, 1917

    wired President Wilson asking that the federal government regulate the price of foodstuffs, seize the seed held by speculators and guarantee the farmers a minimum price for his products as well as fix a maximum price for the consumer.
  • The U.S. Marshal for Kansas was directed to order enemy aliens to turn in firearms and to arrest violators.

April 25, 1917

April 26, 1917

  • Governor Capper asked 300,000 school children to help the war effort by growing garden crops, raising chickens, feeding pigs and increasing dairy products.
  • J.P. Carey, division superintendent of the Union Pacific, was appointed military supervisor of Kansas railways.

May 12, 1917

May 15, 1917

May 19, 1917

  • Dr. H.A. Dykes, Lebanon, secretary of the State Board of Medical Registration and Examination, was seriously injured by a bomb received in the mail.

May 21, 1917

  • Enlistment of hundreds of men and the federal literacy law, which stopped immigration from Mexico, had caused a serious labor shortage affecting the railroads and the increased crop production program, the State Labor Commissioner announced.

May 22, 1917

  • The Thirteenth U.S. Cavalry, after four years’ service on the Mexican border, returned to Fort Riley.

May 25, 1917

  • An army medical school was established at Fort Riley.
  • William G. McAdoo, Secretary of the Treasury, spoke at Topeka for the Liberty Loan drive.
  • The State School Fund Commission voted to buy $50,000 in Liberty bonds.

May 27, 1917

May 31, 1917

  • One hundred tractors were plowing in Scott County in an effort to increase the wheat acreage one third.
  • Four Topekans were arrested by federal authorities, charged with being ringleaders in a plot to hinder draft registration. Two persons from Kansas City, one from Lawrence, and one from Olathe were also arrested. (See Thom’s previous post: https://www.kansasww1.org/the-topeka-anti-draft-conspiracy-the-arrests/ )

June 4, 1917

  • Joseph L. Bristow, editor of the Salina Journal and chairman of the Public Utilities Commission, refused to retract his charges of “grab and plunder” and said he would not keep quiet about excessive contract prices for munitions and cantonments. Bristow had written in the Journal on May 26 that there were “hundreds of contractors, salesmen, manufacturers and railway officials . . . out to get their share of the $7,000,000,000 authorized by Congress for financing the war.” In answer to a statement that “this is no time to be knocking the government,” Bristow retorted: “This is no time to be robbing the people.” Later the Kansas City Star said of him: “Bristow made life hard for those who believed public funds were legitimate plunder.”

June 5, 1917

  • Registration day for male citizens born between June 6, 1886, and June 5, 1896, inclusive, was marked by parades and patriotic speeches.

June 6, 1917

  • Frank A. Werner, editor of the Axtell Standard, was forced to apologize for alleged unpatriotic remarks and to kiss the American flag while the band played the Star Spangled Banner.

June 8, 1917

June 12, 1917

  • Kansas State institutions faced a serious food problem. Appropriations did not cover rising food prices. Potatoes were eliminated from the bill of fare. All delicacies and many necessities had to go.

June 14, 1917

  • The Military Sisterhood of Kansas was chartered. Its purpose was to aid families of service men and to send the men articles not considered necessities by the government. (Note: Papers of the organization can be found in the Archives of the Kansas Historical Society [ http://www.kshs.org/archives/40619 ] and some letters and papers can be found at the National World War I Museum and Memorial [ http://theworldwar.pastperfectonline.com/bysearchterm?keyword=National+Military+Sisterhood+of+America ] )

June 15, 1917

June 19, 1917

June 18, 1918

  • Topeka business and professional men organized a twilight harvest crew and shocked 20 acres of wheat which belonged to a farmer – soldier in France.

June 19, 1918

  • Pvt. Louis Kopelin, former editor of the Appeal to Reason, Girard, was one of a commission of seven Socialists sent from Camp Funston to allied countries to counteract German influence among laboring classes.

June 21, 1917

  • Company A, Topeka’s national guard unit of the Kansas Engineers, was ordered to active duty.
  • Topekans gave diamonds, pianos–anything which could be converted into money–to the Red Cross drive.
  • Charles I. Martin was appointed brigadier general of the Kansas National Guard.

June 25, 1917

  • Ogden Flats, east of Fort Riley on the Kansas river, was chosen as a site for a U.S. Army cantonment.

June 26, 1917

June 22, 1918

June 27, 1918

  • At Aulne, a German settlement near Peabody, the Aulne Telephone Co. prohibited the speaking of German over the phone.
  • Schoolhouse meetings were held over the state to launch the war savings stamp sale. Kansas had oversubscribed every war fund drive.

June 28, 1917

  • Kansas Mennonites told the War Department they would serve but not fight and asked assignment to agricultural work.

June 29, 1918

  • Vernon L. Kellogg, native of Emporia, was made a knight of the French Legion of Honor in recognition of his work in Belgium on the U.S. Relief Commission.

June 30, 1918

  • Dr. S.S. Estey, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Topeka, declared it was time “no public school and no private school . . . shall instruct its pupils in any but the English tongue.”

July 1, 1918

  • Dr. Charles M. Sheldon advocated planting tobacco land to potatoes. He said the change would furnish each family of four with four bushels.
  • Sugar rationing was extended to housewives who were pledged to use only three pounds per month per person.

July 4, 1918

  • Many Kansas cities held community sings with patriotic songs as the theme. The State Fire Marshal requested that no fireworks be used and offered the slogan: “Send the Powder to Pershing.

July 3, 1917

  • The Holton municipal band enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps and was designated as the Second Regimental Marine Band. See previous post: https://www.kansasww1.org/the-holton-marine-band/

July 7, 1918

July 11, 1918

  • As a war measure the State Council of Defense ordered all stores to be open only ten hours a day.

July 13, 1917

  • Phil Billard, Topeka aviator, went to San Diego, Calif., to become a civilian instructor for army aviation. See the previous post about Phil Billard: https://www.kansasww1.org/aviators-philip-billard/

July 18, 1917

July 20, 1917

  • Allen, Chase, Ford, Douglas, Kearny, Montgomery, Ottawa, Woodson and Wyandotte counties escaped the draft because they exceeded enlistment quotas.
  • Winning With Wheat, a film produced for the Kansas Council of Defense, was being shown at all theaters in the state, It was a modern version of the Biblical parable of the sower.
  • The Belgian Mission visited Topeka.

July 24, 1918

  • Lt. Phil Billard, Topeka, one of the first flyers in Kansas, was killed in an airplane accident in France. See previous post: https://www.kansasww1.org/aviators-philip-billard/

July 25, 1917

July 26, 1918

  • Germantown, a Brown county Catholic community, changed its name to Mercier, after Cardinal Mercier of Belgium.

July 28, 1917

August 2, 2017

  • Army City, a town for soldiers, was being built near Junction City.
  • Milk infection was responsible for typhoid fever epidemics in many towns. The State Board of Health ordered vaccinations in Harper county, Herington, Leavenworth, Winfield, Coffeyville, and Augusta. Leavenworth reported 12 deaths.
  • Henry J. Allen and William Allen White went to France in the service of the American Red Cross. See the previous post: https://www.kansasww1.org/kansans-of-the-great-war-era-william-allen-white/
  • The Washburn College Ambulance Co., the 347th, which was organized soon after the declaration of war, was sworn into service. Most of the 120 members were native Kansans. Dr. C.H. Lerrigo, Topeka, was captain. See the previous post: https://www.kansasww1.org/washburn-college-ambulance-company/

August 3, 1917

  • Ten carloads of seed wheat valued at $30,000 were shipped over the state by the State Council of Defense.
  • The Kansas State Historical Society was assembling a library for Kansas soldiers. The books were collected by private donation.

August 4, 1917

August 5, 1917

  • The 35th Division, composed of the organized National Guard of Kansas and Missouri and 12,000 draftees, was mustered into federal service.

August 9, 1917

  • A remount station for 10,000 horses and a bakery to provide bread for 50,000 men were planned at Fort Riley.

August 10, 1917

  • The War Department announced that the regular army was at full war strength and that Kansas had filled its quota.
  • Congress passed the food and fuel control act. Farmers were urged to plant more wheat and were called slackers if they refused. The government did not advise as to soil requirements. An increase of 1,000,000 acres was Kansas’ quota. Wheat was selling at $2.10 a bushel.

August 11, 1917

  • Because of failure of feed crops, farmers in the Utica vicinity were filling their silos with Russian thistles. Thistles had been cured for hay quite successfully.
  • Kansas dairy herds had increased 76 percent since 1910. Over a million milk cows were registered.

August 15, 1917

August 17, 1917

August 20, 1917

  • Coal operators, called to Topeka by Governor Capper to explain the abnormal price of coal, refused to show production costs. They claimed a cost of $2.43 a ton, which he regarded as “exaggerated.” It was revealed that the railroads bought coal for about $2 a ton while the public paid over $5.

August 21, 1917

  • A dispatch from Washington said bituminous coal prices were fixed by President Wilson for every mine in the country. Prices for run-of-the-mine coal were $2.55 in Kansas. Dealers in Atchison, Topeka, Hutchinson, and Fort Scott declared they were “on the brink of ruin.”

August 23, 1917

  • KU (University of Kansas) offered a five-hour training course in the fundamentals of aviation.
  • Kansas, a chestnut-sorrel war horse, was presented to Gen. Charles I. Martin when he left Topeka for Fort Sill. (If you didn’t know who Gen. Martin was, he was the Adjutant General of Kansas from April 1, 1909 to September 30, 1917, and again from January 27, 1919 to January 11, 1923.)

August 24, 1917

  • Dr. H.J. Waters, K.S.A.C. (Kansas State Agricultural College) president, was appointed federal food administrator for Kansas.

August 27, 1917

  • The Kansas Grange and the Farmers’ Union asked for special consideration of exemption claims by farm workers.
  • Women went to work in the upholstery department of the Santa Fe shops, Topeka, taking the places of men who had gone to war.

August 31, 1917

  • A drive to rid army camps of vice was being made by the Department of Justice and city, county, and state officials.
  • The Union Pacific was spending $2,000,000 on roundhouses, tracks, and shops in the Junction City – Manhattan area.
  • A coal combine of Kansas City dealers was exposed, and their records were seized.

September 2, 1917

  • The 117th Ammunition Train left Topeka for a “Rainbow Division” mobilization point. It had been organized during the summer by Lt. Col. Frank L. Travis, Iola. The companies were from Kansas City, Rosedale, Chanute, Parsons, Manhattan, and Pratt. For more info, read:

September 3, 1917

  • Librarians from Kansas and surrounding states met at Kansas City, Mo., to discuss plans for raising their $1,000,000 quota for books and magazines for soldiers in France.

September 4, 1917

  • Lt. William T. Fitzsimons, graduate of St. Mary’s College and a physician from K.U., was the first American officer to die in battle in France in World War I after the United State entry. He was killed by an airplane bomb. (Correct date of his death appears to be September 7th). For more info, read:

September 5, 1917

  • Kansas women signed war service cards to show the government what work each was doing, whether at home or away.
  • The first five percent of men called under Selective Service reported to the 89th Division at Fort Riley. They had either previous military training or experience in cooking. men from eight states formed the division, and Kansans for the most part were assigned to the 353rd Infantry, which became known as the All-Kansas regiment. Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood was the division commander.

September 6, 1917

  • Osage county coal operators told the Governor that they could not operate at prices fixed by the government.

September 7, 1917

  • The nine-hour-day law for women workers was held constitutional by the Reno county district court. For more info, read: http://www.kshs.org/publicat/history/2006autumn_reddish.pdf

September 15, 1917

  • A.K. Longren, a pioneer airplane builder and aviator of Kansas, went to Denver to be associated with the Buck Aircraft and Munitions Co.

September 22, 1917

September 27, 1917

  • C.G. Stevenson, Pratt, was appointed trainmaster of the division of railroad men the government was sending to Russia.

October 5, 1917

  • The W.C.T.U. (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) had made 2,000 comfort bags for U.S. Navy men during the summer.

October 6, 1917

  • A contract for ten cars of rabbits for the government was being filled by Koon Beck, Hutchinson.

October 12, 1917

  • A federal grand jury at Leavenworth returned an indictment against four persons for participating in an illegal anti-draft meeting at Topeka. An Ellsworth county farmer was indicted for telling his hired men not to register. See previous posts: https://www.kansasww1.org/topeka-conspiracy-meeting/
    https://www.kansasww1.org/the-trial-of-the-topeka-conspirators/
  • At the request of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, K.S.A.C. instituted a course in wireless telegraphy.

October 13, 1917

October 17, 1917

October 18, 1917

  • Kansas had 525 cases of typhoid fever in September. The State Board of Health had given 9,000 free shots.

October 19, 1917

  • The federal food administration ordered Topeka, Wichita, Salina and Hutchinson mills to requisition their wheat from government headquarters at Kansas City, Mo. The government said it would have to take control of wheat at country points because of a shortage. The Kansas Grain Dealers Assn. opposed the move and believed many independent mills would have to shut down.
  • Scarlet fever epidemics were reported from Cowley, Butler, Dickinson and Leavenworth counties.

October 23, 1917

October 27, 1917

  • Fifty thousand Kansans launched a food conservation campaign and secured pledges from 1,200,000 persons.

October 30, 1917

  • Public presentation of side-arms to 626 Negro commissioned officers was made by Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood at Topeka.
  • An acute coal shortage caused many towns to close power plants and deny service to all but essential businesses. Topeka sales were limited to two tons per customer.

October 31, 1917

  • Nine hundred Negroes arrived at Fort Riley for training. Not a single request for exemption was made by Kansas Negroes. At Manhattan plans were made for a social center after General Wood said: “Manhattan will not have done her full duty until quarters are also provided for colored troops.”

November 4, 1917

  • Kansans were asked to contribute to the recreation building fund of the 353rd Infantry, the all-Kansas regiment at Camp Funston.

November 5, 1917

November 7, 1917

  • Camp Funston had 30 cases of spinal meningitis, with six deaths.
  • Junction City’s waterworks capacity was doubled. The town had been included in the sanitary zone surrounding Fort Riley.
  • Mother – daughter canning clubs had put up 424,000 quarts of fruit and vegetables 128 clubs in the state had 8,094 members.
  • Kansas joined the national movement for meatless Tuesdays and wheatless Wednesdays.

November 9, 1917

November 10, 1917

  • Rye bread, brown bread, nut bread and oatmeal gems were being served at the Pittsburg Manual cafeteria on wheatless days. Pie crust was made from a rye flour and corn starch.

November 29, 1917

December 2, 1917

  • An army balloon, dragging a 6,000-foot steel cable, broke away in a high wind at Fort Omaha and made a path through Kansas, breaking telegraph and telephone wires. Damage was reported at Newton, Herington, Fort Riley, Wamego and Council Grove. The balloon was grounded at Meade.

December 3, 1917

  • The Kansas Peace Officers Assn. met at Independence to discuss methods of handling I. W. W.’s (Note: Industrial Workers of the World) and German spies.

December 9, 1917

  • More than 10,000 books and ten tons of old magazines were gathered for soldiers at Topeka. (Note: One might guess that doctor’s offices were not the same for years.)

December 15, 1917

  • Kansas oil refineries had more than doubled in number in the past year. They were located at Neodesha, Cherryvale, Erie, Chanute, Coffeyville, Moran, Humboldt, Arkansas City, Caney, Augusta, El Dorado, Kansas City, Hutchinson, Niotaze, Gordon, Independence, and Wichita.

December 16, 1917

  • Kansas led the nation in the percentage of families enrolled in accordance with the plans of the U.S. food administration for food conservation.

December 18, 1917

  • The United States, as a war measure, seized the old Fort Leavenworth bridge across the Missouri river. It was to be repaired and used by the government.

December 22, 1917

  • Maj. Gen. Joseph E. Kuhn, Meade, was appointed representative of the United States at the Allied War Council.

December 25, 1917

  • Shipping rabbit meat to large Eastern cities was becoming an industry. A Cedar Point grocery man sent regular express shipments to New York which sometimes contained 1,500 rabbits.

December 28, 1917

  • The Non-Partisan League, organized by farmers to “war against profiteers,” established headquarters in Topeka.
  • The United States took control of the railroads.

January 1, 1918

  • The Topeka food price board set prices to stop overcharging. some items were: sugar, 9 cents a pound flour, 24 pounds for $1.45 cornmeal, 4 pounds for 25 cents potatoes, 2 3/4 cents a pound lard, 33 cents a pound.
  • The national draft board ruled that marriage after May 18, 1917, would not exempt men from the draft.

January 3, 1918

  • Flour-hoarding was reported from all parts of the state. Orders were issued to limit sales in cities to 48-pound sacks and in rural districts to 96-pound sacks. Names of hoarders and grocers were reported.

January 5, 1918

January 7, 1918

January 8, 1918

  • The Kansas Educational Council met at Topeka to study problems brought on by the war. Intramural rather than intercollegiate athletics, abandonment of special functions, and shortening of the school term were suggested.

January 9, 1918

January 10, 1918

  • Three carloads of jackrabbits were shipped from Garden City to New York in two weeks. Shippers paid a dollar a dozen.

January 11, 1918

  • Four bank clerks were killed at Camp Funston in a hold-up by Capt. Lewis Whisler who got $62,826. He later killed himself, and the money was recovered.
  • Farmers were asked to grow castor beans for oil to lubricate airplane engines.
  • Temperatures were the lowest since the weather bureau was established in 1887. Smith Center reported -23 degrees. Snow was from 4 to 11 inches deep, and a coal shortage threatened.
  • The Kansas Women’s Farm and Garden Club was organized at Topeka to encourage women to help the war effort by increasing food production.

January 22, 1918

  • “Kickless Thursday” was added to the weekly schedule by the State Food Administrator to make Kansans “forget to grumble about meatless, wheatless, sugarless days, save footpower, and help whip the Kaiser.”

January 24, 1918

January 27, 1918

  • The Topeka Committee for the Fatherless Children of France had cared for 189 orphans in the past nine months, and over $5.000 had been raised.

January 28, 1918

  • Dr. Adolph Koerber, Hutchinson, was arrested on a federal indictment charging violation of the espionage act. He allegedly objected to anti-German lectures.
  • Victory loaf, a bread containing five percent substitute for wheat flour, went on the market. Grocers would sell wheat flour only when buyers bought an equal amount of some other cereal. Another wheatless day had been ordered also a ten percent reduction in sugar rations.

January 29, 1918 — Kansas Day

  • Uniform rules for saving coal were issued by Emerson Carey, State Fuel Administrator. He fixed the hours during which various stores would be open curtailed street lighting and banned dancing. Drugs could be sold any time.
  • The Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas met at Topeka for the first joint annual meeting of the two societies.

January 30, 1918

  • Madame Schumann-Heink and the St. Louis Symphony orchestra performed at Camp Funston for the 353rd Infantry.
  • The Woman’s Kansas Day club and the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas asked the War Department to demand that Great Britain refuse to sell liquor to United States servicemen.

January 31, 1918

  • January was the coldest month in Topeka in 31 years.
  • The fuel situation was critical. Thirty-five towns appealed for help. The penalty for violating the fuel conservation order was $5,000.

February 2, 1918

  • Labor trouble in the Pittsburg coal mines reduced production by 1,500 tons daily.
  • “Kansas Day is the saddest of our fixed orgies,” Jay House declared in the Topeka Daily Capital. “What should be an evening of gentle constructive criticism — a brief three hours of stock-taking — becomes a gully-washing flow of platitudinous ptyalin, a funnel-fed flow of gruesome goo.”

February 3, 1918

  • A six-day-week school plan was approved by Governor Capper. It would shorten the school year and release 3,000 men teachers and 35,000 boys for spring work in gardens and fields. Many schools adopted the plan.

February 4, 1918

  • Registration of German aliens began. Names and addresses were to be published. Chiefs of police and postmasters were in charge. Failure to register meant internment during the war.

February 7, 1918

  • The State Fuel Administrator lifted the state-wide restriction on the use of coal, imposed a week previously.

February 15, 1918

  • Women students at K.U. collected tinfoil, toothpaste tubes, cold cream jars and other scrap materials as part of the war effort.
  • Winfield made hoarding or failure to observe meatless or wheatless days a misdemeanor penalty, $50.
  • War Savings societies were organized in Kansas schools.

February 22, 1918

  • Ness City held a county-wide Red Cross fair. Poultry, livestock, fruit, vegetables, wearing apparel, works off art, farm implements , farm and garden seeds, gold coins, and other articles of value were sold at big premiums for a total of $3,000.

February 23, 1918

  • Miss Johanna Pirscher, a native German, resigned at Ottawa University after being accused of making unpatriotic statements. She had been a language teacher there for 11 years

February 25, 1918

  • Mrs. George Philip of Hays had knitted 37 sweaters for the Navy since the declaration of war.
  • All bakers were required to use 20 percent substitutes for wheat in bread and rolls.

February 26, 1918

  • The War Department warned Topeka that unless steps were taken to “eradicate the vice evil,” it would order soldiers at Camp Funston to stay away. Dr. S.J. Crumbine said Topeka had become a “dumping ground for women of the underworld.”

February 28, 1918

  • Governor Capper asked the federal government for cars to move the broomcorn crop, which had been classified as “unessential.”
  • At Topeka military police from Camp Funston picked up 14 women who arrived on a train from Kansas City and sent them home.

March 1, 1918

March 2, 1918

  • Mayor Jay House denied that immoral houses existed in Topeka. He said that the police were arresting immoral women when they came to town, but that the Topeka jail and the detention home at Lansing were crowded, limiting the number of arrests. He threatened to bar soldiers from Topeka.

March 5, 1918

  • Dr. Frederick Krueger, professor of modern languages at Midland College, Atchison, was arrested following a federal investigation. He was charged with spreading pro-German propaganda and ordered interned for the duration.
  • The State Public Housekeeping Board ruled that restaurants and hotels should not permit minors to work over eight hours a day, six days a week. Women employees were not to work over 54 hours a week.

March 6, 1918

  • Capt. Donald C. Thompson, Topeka, was the author of Donald Thompson in Russia, published by Century, New York. Thompson was a war photographer for Leslie’s, the New York World, and London and Paris newspapers. (See the previous entry: https://www.kansasww1.org/kansans-of-the-great-war-era-donald-c-thompson/ )

March 7, 1918

  • A war conference at Colby, one of a series in the state, stressed the need for increased production. Eighty thousand school boys were needed for farm work.

March 9, 1918

  • Winds up to 60 miles an hour leveled 12 smokestacks at Camp Funston, did $25,000 damage to the United Telephone Co. lines at Salina, ripped the roof off Fraser Hall at K.U. and caused heavy loss elsewhere.
  • The bakery at Camp Funston turned out 36,888 pounds of bread in 24 hours with day and night shifts of 26 men each.

March 14, 1918

March 15, 1918

  • Thirty-five members of the I.W.W. were indicted by a federal grand jury at Wichita for seditious activity.

March 19, 1918

  • Hay was being shipped out of Coffey County at the rate of 40 carloads a day. It sold at $18.50 a ton, and there were ten tons in a carload.

March 21, 1918

  • John M. Hoover, Harvey County, sold his 400-acre ranch for $32,000 and invested it in Liberty bonds. He said he did not need the money and was glad to “lend it to Uncle Sam.” Hoover, a Civil War veteran, had settled on the land in 1872.

March 22, 1918

  • Farm hands were getting finicky, the Alma Enterprise complained. One asked for $50 a month and the use of the farmer’s car. Another wanted $45, Saturday afternoon and Sunday off, and the use of the farmer’s horse and buggy.

March 30, 1918

  • Five students at Haskell Institute had died and 457 were ill with a disease called “strepo-grip.”
  • The Department of Justice moved to dislodge large stocks of wheat and flour held on farms. A secret service agent had put 7,000 pounds of flour and over 10,000 bushels of wheat from Pawnee county on the market.
  • Daylight-saving time went into effect. Clocks were set an hour ahead to give more daytime for gardening and to save fuel used for electric lighting.
  • Meatless day regulations were suspended for 30 days because of an oversupply of meat.
  • At K.S.A.C. (Kansas State Agricultural College) 300 men were learning to be tank drivers.

March 31, 1918

April 3, 1918

  • An “eat potatoes” campaign was initiated. Grocers sold potatoes without profit and recipes were publicized. Sales for a week were 400 percent above normal.

April 4, 1918

April 7, 1918

  • The Zone at Camp Funston, built by Capt. Dick Foster without cost to the government, was said to be the only city within an army camp. There were 55 businesses the civic center included a Y.M.C.A., Knights of Columbus hall, Jewish center, library, officers club and amusement hall.

April 8, 1918

  • The Marysville Turnverein, a German society which bought $50,000 in bonds during the first Liberty loan drive, resolved to buy $25,000 more in the third drive. Mennonite churches in Reno county also voted to buy bonds.

April 12, 1918

  • Eight Kansans, arrest May 31, 1917, for alleged anti-draft conspiracy, were freed by the U.S. District Court in Topeka. See the previous posts: https://www.kansasww1.org/the-topeka-anti-draft-conspiracy-the-arrests/ and https://www.kansasww1.org/the-trial-of-the-topeka-conspirators/

April 15, 1918

  • Ellsworth, despite a 20 percent German population, substituted Spanish for German in the high school.

April 18, 1918

  • The Night Riders, a secret organization, circulated printed warnings in Barton county neighborhoods suspected of pro-Germanism. See the previous post: https://www.kansasww1.org/home-front-night-riders/
  • Five “Paul Reveres” who rode in motor cars instead of horseback, made a relay run across Kansas in behalf of the third Liberty Loan campaign.

April 22, 1918

  • The War Department authorized a new Kansas National Guard. Two regiments, the Fourth and Fifth, were organized immediately.

April 30, 1918

  • The Martial Adventures ofHenry and Me, by William Allen White, was published by the Macmillan Co., New York. See the previous post: https://www.kansasww1.org/kansans-of-the-great-war-era-william-allen-white/
  • In response to a government request, over 1,800,000 pounds of flour had been put on the market by farmers since March 20. Unmarketed wheat was requisitioned at the expense of the owner.
  • The Kansas City Star said Mrs. James Farrell, Effingham, was the knitting champion of Atchison county. She had knitted 100 pairs of socks for the Red Cross since August, 1917.
  • Among women who were running newspapers while the men were at war were Mrs. W.E. Payton, Colony Free Press Mrs. Charles H. Browne, Horton Headlight-Commercial Miss Dora Adriance, Seneca Courier-Democrat and Miss Martha Ryan, Wathena Times.
  • The Kansas Children’s Home Society met at Topeka. The society had placed 164 orphans during the year and voted to adopt seven French orphans.

May 10, 1918

  • Governor Capper asked 60,000 Kansas men and boys to enlist in the “Harvest Army.”
  • The Topeka Daily Capital said that gas tractors were “tearing the whole country upside down” in southwestern Kansas and that the famous shortgrass pasturage of that section would soon be gone. Trainloads of tractors had been shipped in. Three thousand acres were being broken on one ranch in Morton county. Another had 11 outfits plowing. In Rice county 20 tractors were plowing on the Sherman ranch. Ten tractor outfits were unloaded at Satanta within two days and five at Montezuma in five days.
  • The 35th Division reached Le Havre, France.

May 14, 1918

  • Farmers from 13 counties met at Kinsley and adopted the following wage scale for harvesters: pitchers and headermen, 50 cents an hour stackers, 57 1/2 cents an hour cooks, $3 a day.

May 23, 1918

  • Manhattan school children won a $100 prize offered by the Kansas Fraternal Aid Assn. for the best garden.

May 30, 1918

  • Kansas had raised $2,5888,577 for the Red Cross the quota was $1,000,000.
  • Three carloads of surplus flour were found in Franklin county. Names of the hoarders were sent to the State Food Administrator.

June 2, 1918

  • The Kansas City Veterinary College, founded in 1891, closed for the duration of the war. In normal times enrollment was about 650.

June 4, 1918:

  • Louis B. Leach, president of the Wamego State Bank, was removed by the State Bank commissioner, charged with declining subscriptions to Liberty Loan and Red Cross drives and encouraging his son-in-law to evade the draft.
  • The 89th Division, trained at Camp Funston under Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, sailed from New York to join the A. E. F. in France. General Wood was relieved of his command on the eve of embarkation.

June 5, 1918:

  • Over 600 conscientious objectors were moved to Fort Leavenworth where they could either work under military discipline or be treated as military convicts.

June 8, 1918:

  • Eastern Kansas threshermen agreed to charge ten cents a bushel for wheat and six cents for oats, an advance of 20 to 25 percent over 1917.

June 9, 1918

  • The Pan-Hellenic Assn. at K.U. placed a ban on corsages, late hours and refreshments, news which the Topeka Daily Capital headlined as: “No cakes, no flowers, no wee sma’ hours.”

June 10, 1918

  • A “yellow-paint squad” at Potter daubed all buildings in which one of its residents had an interest. Included were an elevator, residence, garage and bank. The owner was charged with hoarding flour, retarding Liberty bond and Red Cross drives, and consorting with “off-colored persons.”

June 11, 1918

  • Kansas towns passed vagrancy ordinances, following a proclamation by the Governor. men from 18 to 60 years were ordered to register for work.

June 12, 1918

  • A special court was held at Junction City to naturalize 275 alien soldiers from Fort Riley and Camp Funston.

June 13, 1918

  • The iced-tea season had doubled the use of sugar in restaurants. Patrons were urged to “Stir! Stir like hell!”
  • Hundreds of men at Camp Funston were granted 15-day furloughs to help with the wheat harvest.

July 1, 1918

  • Dr. Charles M. Sheldon advocated planting tobacco land to potatoes. He said the change would furnish each family of four with four bushels.
  • Sugar rationing was extended to housewives who were pledged to use only three pounds per month per person.

July 4, 1918

  • Many Kansas cities held community sings with patriotic songs as the theme. The State Fire Marshal requested that no fireworks be used and offered the slogan: “Send the Powder to Pershing.”

July 7, 1918

July 11, 1918

  • As a war measure the State Council of Defense ordered all stores to be open only ten hours a day.

July 24, 1918

  • Lt. Phil Billard, Topeka, one of the first flyers in Kansas, was killed in an airplane accident in France. See previous post: https://www.kansasww1.org/aviators-philip-billard/

July 26, 1918

  • Germantown, a Brown county Catholic community, changed its name to Mercier, after Cardinal Mercier of Belgium.

August 6, 1918

  • The Rev. Manasse Bontrager, Dodge City, was fined $500 for writing an article criticizing the Liberty bond campaign. The Mennonite Weekly, Sugar Creek, Ohio, was fined the same amount for publishing the article.

August 12, 1918

August 14, 1918

  • At K.S.A.C. over 100 agricultural experts began a week-long course in methods of increasing production.

August 16, 1918

  • The Attorney General said that enemy aliens should not be permitted to vote and filed two suits to test the matter.
  • Kansas sales of war savings stamps totaled $7,420,305.

August 20, 1918

  • Kansas was allotted $1,250,000 for seed wheat loans, limited to $3 an acre and $300 to any one farmer.

August 23, 1918

  • The Federal Food Administrator asked farmers not to burn strawstacks as straw was needed for feed.

August 24, 1918

  • Lt. Donald Hudson, native Topekan, became the Air Corps’ fifth ace when he shot down his sixth German plane. (See the previous story: https://www.kansasww1.org/aviators-donald-hudson/ )

August 28, 1918

  • Due to sugar rationing, Kansans were making sorghum molasses again. In 1918 over 869,000 acres of cane were planted.

August 31, 1918

  • Fred Burns, general manager of the Consolidated Flour Mills Co., Hutchinson, was fined $1,000 for violation of flour-saving rules.

September 6, 1918

  • Glenn L. Martin, former Salinan, had invented a war plane which was being manufactured at Cleveland. It had a 75-foot wingspread, two 400-horsepower engines, and a capacity of 2,400 pounds.
  • Student Army Training Corps units were being set up at K.U., K.S.A.C., Emporia Normal, Fort Hays Normal, McPherson, St. Mary’s, Baker, Cooper, Ottawa, Midland and Washburn.

September 8, 1918

  • Miss Day Monroe, Topekan, with the New York Food Commission, was managing forty canning centers in New York City.
  • The Kansas Library Assn. met at Oklahoma City. It was reported that 2,500,000 books had been placed in army camp libraries.

September 9, 1918

  • Ninety-three I.W.W.’s (International Workers of the World, or “Wobblies”) were admitted to the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth.

September 12, 1918

  • The Washburn College Ambulance Corps, a part of the 87 th Division, had landed in France. (See the previous story: https://www.kansasww1.org/washburn-college-ambulance-company/ )

September 17, 1918

  • A Lyon county farmer paid a $25 fine for failing to rake his wheat field and for feeding wheat left under the separator to his hogs.

September 18, 1918

September 20, 1918

  • A Hutchinson baker who violated flour-saving rules waived trial and closed his shop for the duration.
  • A government order brought all building under federal control.

September 22, 1918

  • Topeka was the “chicken center” of the United States. Seven thousand birds were dressed daily and shipped to Eastern cities and to England. Chicken-pickers received about three cents a fowl and could earn $30 a week.

September 26, 1918

  • The Battle of the Argonne, “greatest in military history,” began. The 35 th Division formed the left flank of the First Army Corps.

September 27, 1918

September 28, 1918

October 2, 1918

  • Three hundred cases of influenza had been reported over the state. Hays was hardest hit with 200 cases and several deaths.

October 8, 1918

  • Atchison theaters, churches and schools were closed because of the influenza epidemic. Lawrence closed schools and theaters and order university students not to leave town. At Winfield schools and public gatherings were cancelled. K.S.A.C. had 78 cases of flu in the Student Army Training Corps. A total of 1,255 cases were reported for the week ending October 5.

October 12, 1918

  • Governor Capper issued a state-wide closing order, effective for one week, in an effort to halt the flu epidemic. Over 7,000 cases had been reported. Camp Funston had 500 cases.

October 16, 1918

  • The State Board of Health appealed to Washington for physicians to help fight the flu epidemic.

October 17, 1918

  • The First National Bank of Newton was robbed of $10,000 in cash and an unknown amount of Liberty bonds.

October 18, 1918

  • The order banning public gatherings was extended another week. Two thousand new cases of the flu had been reported.

October 19, 1918

  • An estimated 7,000,000 bushels of wheat, valued at $14,000,000, had been saved in Kansas by cutting g back swaths and raking shock rows.

October 22, 1918

  • Twenty thousand influenza cases, “only half the story,” had been reported to the State Board of Health.

October 25, 1918

  • The homes of two wealthy English-born Clay county citizens were streaked with yellow paint reportedly because they had not bought enough Liberty bonds.

October 29, 1918

  • Harry Muir, a K.S.A.C. graduate, was in charge of a 1,500-acre farm in France which he cultivated for the army with 150 men and 15 tractors.

October 30, 1918

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower, Abilene, was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He was in command of 25,000 men at Camp Colt, Gettysburg, Pa.

November 1, 1918

  • The State Industrial Welfare Commission approved recommendations that women workers be given a minimum weekly wage of $11 for an eight-hour day.

November 2, 1918

  • The State Board of health lifted the influenza closing order, but left the matter up to local authorities in affected communities.

November 7, 1918

  • A false peace rumor turned Kansas people into “howling mobs.” Thousands jammed streets yelling, shooting, waving flags, believing the war had ended. At Kensington a German Lutheran church and two other buildings were burned.

November 9, 1918

  • Governor Capper proclaimed Gas Mask day. Everyone was asked to collect fruit seed pits and nut shells which were used in making masks.

November 11, 1918

Approximately 83,000 Kansans served in the war, including those in the Army, Navy, and Marines, and in the armies of Great Britain, France and Canada. Many enlisted in the early years of the war, and several distinguished themselves in foreign service. Kansas had little trouble filling her quotas. The bulk of the men were in the Thirty-fifth, Eighty-ninth, and Forty-second Divisions. The Thirty-fifth was a Kansas-Missouri organization composed of National Guard units. It was trained at Camp Doniphan, Okla., and took part in the Battles of St. Mihiel and the Argonne. The Eighty-ninth was organized and trained at Camp Funston by Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood and also participated in the St. Mihiel and Argonne battles. The 117 th Ammunition Train, sometimes called the Kansas Ammunition Train, was part of the Forty-second, known as the Rainbow Division. Ten thousand Kansans served in the Navy, and Kansas was the first state to fill its quota in that branch. One of the largest military camps was established at Camp Funston near Fort Riley. It had a training capacity of 70,000 men. Among the outstanding generals in the A.E.F. were Brig. Gen. Harry Smith, Atchison Brig. Gen. Wilder S. Metcalf, Lawrence, and Maj. Gen. James G. Harbord, Manhattan, who was chief of staff to General Pershing.

Two Kansans, George S. Robb, Salina, and Erwin R. Bleckley, Wichita, received the Congressional (sic) Medal of Honor, Bleckley’s being posthumously awarded. The number of Kansans killed or wounded was about 2,680.


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Even in a Thriving Economy, Cause for Concern

We’re all in this together. That message came across loud and clear Dec. 13 at Ingram’s 2019 Philanthropy Industry Outlook assembly held at the Hilton President Kansas City Hotel. The forum drew a diverse array of nearly two dozen non-profit executives, funders and volunteers, including some of the 2019 Corporate Champions and Local Heroes, offering varied perspectives of the current state of affairs in regional philanthropy. With Brent Stewart, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Kansas City, and Joe Sweeney of Ingram’s serving as co-chairs, the participants briskly filled a two-hour window with insightful assessments on a range of key developments in the non-profit sector. Not the least among them, even in a time of comparative prosperity and wealth creation, were massive changes being wrought by technology and shifting demographics, disruptions caused by high levels of turnover within the ranks of non-profits, changing patterns in strategic giving with funders, the effects of federal tax changes on levels of individual giving, and the potential impact of a looming presidential election year. But a shared concern of all is where this region will find the next generation of philanthropists who will drive forward the famed Kansas City spirit of giving.

Philanthropy’s Two Worlds

Brent Stewart said the longtime model used by the United Way must change as legacy corporations lose their capacity to continue supporting at previous levels.

United Way’s Brent Stewart, in his best rendition of Charles Dickens, opened Ingram’s Philanthropy Industry Outlook roundtable with an observation that “these are great times and these are challenging times” when it comes to giving.

A strong economy has been driving prosperity that spills into non-profit causes, yet there are considerable factors keeping people in that world awake at night, said Stewart, United Way of Greater Kansas City’s president and CEO and the panel’s co-chair.

Nicole Stuke, a philanthropic adviser with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, said its fourth-quarter activity with donors was especially robust this year. “A lot of people putting plans in place philanthropically,” she said, and actively supporting charities through their donor-advised funds.

At UMB Bank, Philanthropy Director Alicia Beck noted that with the federal income-tax reforms of late 2017, a considerable number of taxpayers were no longer itemizing deductions. “There are certainly a lot of donors experiencing an impact on their budget,” she said. That has compelled non-profits to get creative with fund-raising, she added, but she also noted that corporations and foundations had stepped up to offset a decline in individual contributions.

Shirley Helzberg talked about efforts to both recruit new entrepreneurs into philanthropy, and encourage giving among her grandchildren.

Bryan Meyer, CEO and co-founder of the Veterans Community Project, said his organization and its mission of building tiny homes for veterans have seen things leveling off in terms of financial support, but as a three-year-old entity, it’s still getting its fund-raising legs under it. “We’re figuring things out as we go,” he said.

Lisa Mizell, executive director of the Child Protection Center, said she has not seen a substantial drop in donations. One of her volunteers, Catherine Kelly, linked the region’s well-established sense of philanthropy as a probable cause to why donations are remaining high. Organizations, as well, are making more impactful grants, she said.

Sarah Hale of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, raised a pair of points that others at the table shared, significant staff turnover and who will move in as the museum’s top donor’s. “Our biggest challenge now is although we have really generous donors at the top of our donor pyramid, we’re looking at what’s next? Who’s going to be there in the next 30 years,” she said.

Speaking from the prospective of a volunteer, Michelle Horst, who has logged more than 5,000 hours of volunteer time at the Rose Brooks Center, talked about how her experience has motivated her to develop a Web site that will help those who want to give find organization’s that need the donations. “My goal is to have a site where if somebody has furniture, clothing, whatever they can go to this site (givkc.org), do a search and it will pull organizations that need those specific items,” said Horst, who has volunteered for more than 9 years at the Rose Brooks Center.

Janet Baker, recently engaged as executive director for Shepherd’s Center Central, addressed how philanthropy in Kansas City differs from other parts of the country. Seven years in Oregon, before returning to Kansas City, showed her some stark differences in the way communities support non-profits and finds the greater Kansas City area to be particularly giving. She too, though, cited staff turnover, particularly in development and grant-writing, as major challenges.

The seven years she and her husband spent in Oregon were a vivid reminder that not all communities embrace giving the way Kansas city does, Janet Baker said.

Michael Van Derhoef is the executive director of the Saint Luke’s Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the health system. Saint Luke’s manages about $200 million in funds. It is also involved with Westport Today, a real-estate wing redeveloping homes around the Midtown medical complex. “Right now is a good moment the market is up, people are feeling more flush than they did in the previous half-dozen years,” he said. “The confidence has come back and that’s good for philanthropy. It feels like it is one of those moments we ought to be making hay,” especially with a presidential election year looming.

Chris Harris, who has spent more than 25 years creating an urban park and recreation complex at 40th and Wayne where he grew up, said his journey has helped him learn how to make things work when funding is down. But “when funding is good, I can get a lot more help,” he said.

Mike Kanaley, managing director of operations at marketing firm Global Prairie, brought the perspective from a B-Corp., or benefit corporation, which has a unique structure built around supporting the communities where the firm has employees. That mission is a nice complement to a region known for philanthropy, he said. “I do think we need to be creating people, building on the great legacy of Shirley and Barnett Helzberg and that pipeline,” he said of Ingram’s Philanthropists of Year.

Michael Van Derhoef addressed changes in the way younger generations give, but sees that tech-driven philanthropy as just another mechanism to make a difference.

Joanna Sebelien, chief resource officer for Harvesters-The Community Food Net-work, said the organization was seeing “a slight drop-off from smaller donors, from the traditional methodologies like direct mail.” Adding that one of Harvesters challenges is keeping up with technology and using it to solicit donations effectively from the younger generations. Despite that, Harvesters is still on track to meet its high goals. “People are still hungry,” she said.

Also adding to the conversation was Harvesters’ Director of Fund Development Kim Gasper. She also addressed turnover as a challenge, especially in fund development, where consistent staff is a force multiplier. “Direct mail was one really good channel, but now you need 10,” she said of the emergence of new communications platforms.

The new CEO of City Union Mission, Terry Megli, also echoed the need for his non-profit to keep up with technology. The big challenge now, he said, “is developing a comprehensive digital strategy.” Direct mail today only accounts for about 4 percent of fund-raising, he added. Halfway through a major fund-raising campaign, City Union Mission is on track to make its goal. The Mission serves 300 men, women and children providing emergency shelter, services and a youth camp in Warsaw, Mo.

At Starlight Theater, Development Director Lindsey Rood-Clifford addressed significant growth that came in part from tenured staff. “We’ve yet to see a donor saying why they’re giving less,” she said, but she has heard more from donors interested in capacity-building and long-term focus.

Union Station’s chief executive, George Guastello, noted that its $20 million budget was program-driven the remainder came from sponsorship and donor dollars. An infusion from the Kauffman Foundation was allowing Union Station to expand its efforts to increase membership and build the capital needed to run a massive facility all day, every day, he added.

Chris Harris said his years of bootstrapping efforts to build a park for urban youth had taught him how to get things done in times of lean funding.

Panel co-chair Brent Stewart also noted that the venerable United Way was also being pulled toward a new operating model. Corporate philanthropy, traditionally driven by employee campaigns, long underpinned United Way, but this model is changing as the work force does. Funding has declined for at least five years. “A lot of it has to do with our legacy companies that have been very supportive—they don’t have the capacity they once had to support United Way,” Stewart said.

A secondary concern for Stewart is the retiring Baby Boomer population. Many have contributed throughout their careers, and they retire with a mind-set that they have done their part. “Folks who are coming in are obviously not at their peak earning years, so they cannot offset the losses we’re seeing from those who are retiring,” Stewart said.

While the community is healthy, said Shirley Helzberg, “my concern is the next generation of philanthropists. I think all of us who care about the community and care about our organizations and making sure they’re healthy, we have a responsibility with these successful younger companies and people to really work with them.” She has identified several entrepreneurs who fit that model “and we have to expose them to areas they’re interested in,” Shirley Helzberg said. “Whether it’s education, the arts and how they can make a difference by making significant gifts.”

Turning the discussion to technology, Brent Stewart asked about specific applications that are changing the way non-profits operate.

Harvesters must work through all the noise confronting potential donors, said Joanna Sebelien, because “people are still hungry.”

Terry Megli said City Union Mission had benefitted from in-kind contributions of roughly $40,000 from a supportive company in that space, but was looking to a deeper assessment of Web-site functionality, data-gathering and analysis to determine the organization’s next steps. “We want to know how much is coming from Facebook, LinkedIn and our site,” he said.

A great deal of that noise, said her colleague Kim Gasper, is generated by the multiple communications channels bombarding potential donors.

Kim Gasper said Harvesters, too, was testing new means of gathering information. But Harvesters’ Joanna Sebelien noted that technology—though extraordinarily important—was extraordinarily expensive. At a logistics-driven organization like Harvesters, “we run on technology. If the computers are down, if the infrastructure goes down, we might as well send people home.”

Michael Van Derhoef said Saint Luke’s is using new tech tools to better understand the nature of relationships with everyone who touches the system, either as in-patient, out-patient, clinic visitor, donor, volunteer or another role. “Just in the near term, we’ve seen a better uptick in that first conversation” with potential donors, he said.

“The emerging trend of immediate gratification that Millennials find in being able to make impulse donations,” said Catherine Kelly, “was becoming more prevalent.”

For Janet Baker the challenge is limited resources. Being understaffed, she said, has fragmented efforts to reach donors through digital channels. “How do I leverage the staff I have, with the technology I have,” she said. “We’re building the bicycle as we ride it—and it’s on fire.”

That same conversation, regarding capacity-building, is prevalent throughout the foundation world, said Brent Stewart. “You need capacity to really grow your non-profit.”

A major data conversation at the Nelson-Atkins, said Sarah Hale, has allowed the museum to identify donors with greater ability to give.

George Guastello noted that technology was the primary means of communication with Union Station’s customer base. Days of direct marketing have given way to real-time interactions with a hugely segmented customer base, compelling the organization to deliver diverse messages to different contacts at the times they are most receptive to seeing or hearing that message.

“I think of technology as an enabling strategy, it’s not in a separate silo. It has to be integrated across all aspects of the organization: marketing, communications, fund-raising and development,” said Janet Baker.

Tech has been, Brent Stewart said, “a major disruptor to the United Way model.” Digitally based companies have been able to take away some funding lines but are not providing a “strategic mapping of the community” a picture of “where the needs are, and the best resources to meet those needs,” he said. The organization is partnering with new vendors for the evolution of its own engagement practices and data analytics.

Asked about the insights that technology is delivering, Michael Van Derhoef said Saint Luke’s has learned that, based on behaviors, the tone of messaging must change based on whether someone is a pure donor philanthropist, a solve-world-hunger humanitarian, or some other stripe of giver. “What drives the person’s interest,” he said, “helps us better understand how we might open the door to conversations more effectively.” That requires staff members who can speak the language of those disparate interests.

Terry Megli said City Union Mission is elevating its digital presence to reach donors more effectively.

Effective donor communications are also grounded in having data built to serve that function. Sarah Hale pointed out how a database conversion at the Nelson-Atkins had unified separate silos of people who had contact with the museum. “Previously, if you were a member, you were in one database, if you bought a ticket you were in another, if you purchased garage parking, you were in another,” she said. Having all 17,000-plus members and other contacts merged into a single data structure has allowed the museum to identify those within its largest group, the $70 donor members, “so we can see the people who at $70 have a higher capacity and engage them and move them higher up so it becomes less of a pancake and more of a donor pyramid.”

The ability to use tech and connect with donors and others in new ways—as with geofencing, the ability to trigger a message to someone’s device when they enter a specific geographic zone—allows you “to engage with them in a way that’s not just about “ ‘give me some money,’ ” said George Guastello. He adds that it also opens pathways to better understand the outcome of Union Station’s engagement efforts.

“We base it upon the return on investment and the ad-to-sales ratio,” Guastello said. “In today’s world, direct mail, if I see one more piece in my mailbox at home… I already know, no matter if there is a sick puppy image on it or not, I know they’re going to ask me for money. That’s not compelling, and I won’t open it up.”

George Guastello emphasized the need to better understand the return on investment of marketing efforts at a time when direct mail is proving less effective.

Donor-Advised Funds

The explosion in donor-advised funds has fundamentally transformed the nature of giving, leading to a discussion of the challenges in educating people about how they can be used—and can’t.

“My concern is that, unlike foundations that have to give a set percentage away each year, there are not those same kinds of criteria for donor-advised funds,” said Joanna Sebelien. “There is some education that has to be done with donors, and even with professional development folk as to how to work with that.”

Educational efforts, though, go deeper than that. Nicole Stuke said that at the Community Foundation they see a lot of people coming to charitable giving knowing what they want to do, but they also see a lot looking for guidance. “It’s individualizing, educating, making sure the conversation is not just happening with the donor, but also with the non-profits, because we would not exist without the non-profits,” Stuke said. Within that construct, donors operating through the Community Foundation are giving out between 14 and 18 percent of their fund balances a year, multiples of the 5-percent threshold required of private foundations, she said.

Working in philanthropy from a seat in the for-profit world, Alicia Beck said many of UMB’s high-net-worth clients come to us and want to have charitable giving as part of their legacy. “We will walk through that analysis with them, giving a direct gift,” she said. “But a lot of times, it’s establishing a donor-advised fund and a lot of times it’s with a private foundation. With each of those there are pros and cons.” Hence the need for continuing educational efforts.

The evolution of tech in the hands of donors has also effected change. George Guastello noted that Millennials and members of Generation Z often seem to give on impulse when they see an opportunity. This characteristic is tied to the broader issue of where philanthropy will find its next generation of givers. “Everything has to be on the phone they want to press the button and that’s all they want to do,” he said.

But using the phone to make a donation, said Michael Van Derhoef, “is just another mechanism.” Saint Luke’s still relies on the relationship with the donor, the conversation and finding what the individual wants to have an impact on, he said. “It has less to do with how they think about us as a charitable organization, and it’s really just another way they can manage their money. Whether they write a check out of their checkbook or I get a check out of their donor-advised fund, they’re still making a commitment to my organization to make an impact in a certain way.”

When Shirley Helzberg asked whether the use of donor-advised funds was changing the nature of planned giving itself, Nicole Stuke said that “the number one reason somebody has a donor-advised fund with the foundation is legacy. We’ve researched that, we know that. That’s the mechanism to do your planned giving.”

More donors are inquiring about capacity-building and long-term focus at Starlight Theater, said Lindsey Rood-Clifford.

Raising Philanthropists

The donor-advised mechanism has also created new opportunities to foster giving with younger generations. Michael Kanaley said that since the inception of Global Prairie, “we provided team members, whether they are fresh out of school, 22 years old, or 55, we set up a donor-advised fund for them at the Community Foundation, and what I think is key is the education around it. We want to create people who want to give. We want to create philanthropists.”

Shirley Helzberg said that she and Barnett had created funds through the Jewish Community Foundation on behalf of their grandchildren, now ages 8-17, and use that to enable discussions with them about how they would like to see the money used. “A lot of it was for pets and for shoes—they have a lot of interest in shoes, providing shoes for young people. This is a way that everybody can benefit,” she said. “I think it’s really important to influence them about the joy of giving and how to do it.”

To encourage giving in her own family, Lindsey Rood-Clifford said, “we gave our kids giving cards in their stockings last year from the Community Foundation, and we say, yes, it’s Christmas, but here’s something you need to think about.” She sees the same thing around town in how discussions of giving are becoming less a dynamic between couples and more of a whole-family activity.

Nicole Stuke said people using the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation were giving at rates substantially higher than required for private foundations.

Nicole Stuke said her Community Foundation colleagues include experts in multi-generational giving, especially focused on those at ages 21 and 64. These are two key stages of life for individual donors: those who are establishing a lifelong framework for giving, and those who are wrapping up their earning years and looking to make an impact. But with people living longer, “we now have four generations of givers in a family,” she said. Thus, a new importance on aligning those generations behind a giving mission.

Alicia Beck said many of UMB’s high-net-worth donors are motivated by a desire to create a giving legacy.

Catherine Kelly, with the Child Protection Center and OneKC for Women Alliance, has seen the downside of generational shifts when a donor’s children grow up and move out of the community. “If their families don’t live here any more, that truly is a concern,” she said. “If their kids aren’t engaged and their kids aren’t engaged, it’s tough.”

It’s important from the non-profit side, said Lindsey Rood-Clifford, to understand “the personal goals of your donors, not assuming the kids are going to care about the same things their parents cared about or live in the same spot their whole lives. It’s going through that hard work of acquisition, which takes time and attention to create that connection, and earlier, because so much information is available for people.”

Chris Harris brought the session to a close with his comments about the power of youngsters to help effect change on behalf of favored causes. “Everything I do as far as marketing is through kids ages 12-15,” he said. “If you tell these kids you need something done on social media, they know exactly how to do it. What I have learned is, I listen to the kids. They will tell me exactly what the trend is, then I bring it to you all. But when the kids get involved, the newspaper picks it up, and the TV news all pick this up and donors start calling me, but all the messages came from the kids. I just go outside and cut grass and pick up trash, but I just did a big marketing campaign.”


Tony's Kansas City

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Planning Successful Successions

program for young people in Queens, N.Y., that was founded by his wife, a former ballerina.

At age 58, Mr. Aubel says he is eager to move into a new role and allow a new executive director to take over the day-to-day business operations. That would free him to do what he cares about most: teaching kids with the talent and drive to become professional dancers.

“It takes a minimum of eight years, six days a week, 52 weeks a year to make a dancer,” says Mr. Aubel.

Unfortunately, it may take just as long for Once Upon a Time to find his successor.

Mr. Aubel’s organization has a budget of $750,000 as a result, he says the group cannot afford to provide health or retirement benefits to its workers.

Recognizing how difficult the tight budget and lack of benefits could make finding his replacement, Mr. Aubel has asked his board to draft a succession plan that will enable the charity to find a qualified leader. “I want the organization to continue beyond us,” he says.

Mr. Aubel’s focus on the future is unusual. Even though leadership transitions are expected to become commonplace in the next few years, most groups have made no formal effort to prepare for one of the most important changes a nonprofit organization faces.

“Succession planning is so important, but no one is doing it,” says Donna Stark, director of leadership development at the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

A national survey of 2,200 executive directors at charities commissioned by Casey found that more than half of their organizations have no succession plan, even though nearly two-thirds of the executives plan to leave their jobs by 2009. Other studies suggest that the number of charities without succession plans is much higher: 86 percent of groups in the Kansas City, Mo., area lack such plans, according to the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.

Wave of Retirements Expected

The reason so many nonprofit leaders are leaving their jobs has a lot to do with demographics. People born in the post-World War II boom founded many charities in the 1960s and 70s, and the oldest of the 78 million people who make up that generation turned 60 this month.

Far fewer people are available to fill those slots as the boomers retire. Generation X — mostly people now in their 30s — numbers only 38 million.

What’s more, few groups expect to find new chief executives from within their ranks.

Only about a third of charity leaders say they now have senior officials on staff who are capable of taking over the top job, according to preliminary results from a study of nearly 2,000 nonprofit leaders to be released this winter. The study, commissioned by the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, found that 68 percent of the organizations are led by a management team, and do not just depend on the executive director.

“The vast majority of nonprofit organizations are relatively small, and it is rare that the natural successor is waiting in the wings,” says Peter Berns, executive director of the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations.

Concerned about how charities will deal with a shortage of leaders, the association recently began offering a Leadership Succession and Executive Transition Clinic to local groups.

Tough Job

Even senior officials who are qualified for the top job often don’t want it. The growing complexity of managing nonprofit organizations and the long hours that many, if not most, executives are required to put in turn off many staff members who otherwise might be recruited to the position.

At the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, which provides mediation services in San Mateo, Calif., Patricia Brown, the group’s executive director, will leave her job later this year at age 62 after nearly 20 years at the organization. To get ready for the transition, she hired an associate director she was grooming as a potential successor.

“But as we got more serious about what the job was,” says Ms. Brown, “she decided she wasn’t interested and left.

“This was a telling experience,” she says. “These jobs are difficult. Our jobs are under-resourced, and executive directors take on more than they should.”

Ms. Brown says she has now begun work on a succession plan, has expanded the activities of her board to better promote the organization after she leaves, and will seek a grant from a local foundation to help manage her departure and recruit a successor.

Consultants who assist charities that have lost a chief executive say that such planning can prevent or greatly lessen the many problems that nonprofit groups often face when the executive leaves: decreased contributions, program cuts, confusion over the direction of the organization, flagging employee morale, and other challenges.

Longtime charity officials and grant makers agree that sucession planning can avoid many other hassles. “The reason to do this is to prevent panic,” says Betsy Nelson, executive director of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. “If you have a board that is inexperienced in recruiting, this gives them marching orders.”

Planning for an Emergency

Succession plans have two components:

  • An emergency succession plan details which steps a charity will take after an abrupt departure, such as the sudden death of a CEO. It outlines who will alert the press, communicate with donors, and secure important documents, for example.
  • A planned succession policy outlines the steps needed to make sure a transition is as orderly as possible, including details on how much notice the departing leader must give, if and how that person will be involved in the search for a successor, and how much overlap the outgoing and incoming leaders should have.

But adopting such plans makes charity officials uncomfortable for many reasons, says Denice Rothman Hinden, president of Managance Consulting, a Silver Spring, Md., company that works with charities.

Founders of charities are especially likely to be threatened by succession planning, which could feel as if they are planning their own funeral, she notes. Some chief executives fear that they will lose power and become a lame-duck leader once they adopt a succession plan — especially if it names the next leader, as some do.

“Others worry that if they talk to their board about leadership change, the board will think they’re leaving,” she says. “And boards don’t want to talk about it because they don’t want to put it in the director’s head that they’ve lost confidence in him or her.”

But recently, some board members have started to ask charities for succession plans.

Leadell Ediger, executive director of the Kansas Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, in Salina, says that two of the three candidates recruited to join her board last year asked whether the organization has a succession plan.

One of those candidates, a businessman, had recently served on another charity board that had to scramble when the executive director left, and he was not eager to repeat the experience, says Ms. Ediger. Her organization has responded by coming up with an emergency succession plan to be presented to the board next month.

Another sign that interest in succession planning is growing: Over the last five years, grant makers such as the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, and the San Francisco Foundation have joined the Casey Foundation in helping charities with leader departures and succession planning.

In Hutchinson, Kan., the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund began offering workshops on planned and unplanned leader changes to about 20 of its grantees last year.

“The thoughtful foundations are happy to pay for succession planning, especially when they have invested a lot in an organization, because it is in their own self-interest,” says Tim Wolfred, director of leadership services at CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, a San Francisco group that helps charities undergoing executive changes. “The problem is getting nonprofits to realize they need succession planning and getting them to ask for it.”

Charities that do take the time to create a succession plan say the process is difficult but worthwhile.

The Community Association for Rehabilitation, a Palo Alto, Calif., charity that helps people with disabilities, spent a year coming up with its plan, which includes emergency contingencies, as well as policies on how to manage operations and the search for a new leader when its executive director, Lynda Steele, 57, eventually steps down.

“Some board members thought I might be leaving soon,” she says. “This led to insecurity, but trying to exert some control over the inevitable makes me feel better.”

Organizations Change

Many nonprofit groups want their next executive director to be as much like the outgoing leader as possible, but experts say that is usually the wrong approach to identifying a new leader, namely because organizations and the people they serve change.

That’s what officials realized at Bethel New Life, a religious group that provides low-cost housing and other services in Chicago. As the organization approached its 25th anniversary, the board and staff began thinking about the inevitable retirement of Mary Nelson, who, after 26 years with the organization, left last year.

“I came out of the church that founded the organization, but I am white and the community had changed,” says Ms. Nelson. More than 90 percent of the people who now live in the neighborhood served by the charity, officials say, are members of minority groups.

At a board retreat, Bethel came up with a two-year succession plan that mapped out practices the organization needed to revise. It also surveyed staff and board members to determine what skills and attributes their new leader should have, hired a consultant to help conduct the search, appointed a committee of board members to screen both internal and outside candidates for the job, and named another committee to work with the new executive director for the first six months on the job.

“It took persistence, it was heavy-duty work,” says Ms. Nelson.

Steven McCullough, who had spent four years as Bethel’s chief operating officer, was selected to succeed Ms. Nelson. He is black and grew up in the neighborhood the charity serves, two factors that gave him an edge beyond the skills he had learned on the job, she says. Still, Mr. McCullough says, the succession plan and ensuing search was especially trying for him.

“If you are evaluating internal and external candidates, the internal candidates feel like they have everything on the line,” he says, noting that he might have left the organization altogether if he hadn’t been chosen. “It was stressful, everyone knowing my hat was in the ring.”

Detailed Transition

While succession planning can be uncomfortable, it is also liberating to some outgoing executives like Jan Kreamer, 58, who stepped down last month after 20 years as head of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.

Ms. Kreamer spent three years carrying out her succession plan, which was far more than just a piece of paper. In her final months at the foundation, Ms. Kreamer gave the keys to her corner office to her successor and moved into a cubicle, coming in three or four days a week. “How does that feel, honestly? It feels great,” she says. “I am finally beginning to see the balance I want in my life.”

Ms. Kreamer began her succession plan by meeting with her board and discussing strengths of potential successors among senior staff members, as well as areas where those people needed more training.

The board agreed to provide the three staff members with executive coaches, and Ms. Kreamer began to give them responsibilities she would normally handle, such as meeting with the press, working with leaders of other community funds, and attending board meetings.

“We wanted to signal depth in the organization, that our foundation is not about just one leader, it is about talent throughout the board and staff,” Ms. Kreamer says.

Eventually one of the senior staff members, Laura McKnight, 38, was chosen to succeed Ms. Kreamer, and the two women worked side by side for one year, following a detailed month-by-month plan that allowed Ms. McKnight to gradually take over all the duties Ms. Kreamer handled. The foundation board’s executive committee reviewed the succession plan every three months.

“We didn’t just wing it,” Ms. Kreamer says. “Having the plan gave us accountability and made us see that an orderly transition must be a priority.”

Strengthening Skills

Like Ms. Kreamer, other charity leaders say that succession planning leads them to work on improving the abilities of multiple staff members, not just those of the next CEO.

Karen Haren, executive director of Harvesters, a Kansas City, Mo., food bank with a $5-million budget and 50-member staff, is planning to draft a formal succession plan, but she says that her charity already has an informal plan, because she has been sharing information so that others could do her job if necessary.

“A lot of succession planning is about training our staff to be eligible for another position,” she says. “We have a plan in which several people would be qualified to step into my job if I left. The same is true with other key positions.”

But some executives, especially those at smaller organizations, fear Ms. Haren’s approach, according to a study of nearly 900 local charities by New York City’s United Way. Six in 10 executives at small charities believe that offering professional-development opportunities would cause employees to leave for better jobs elsewhere.

Those concerns are not groundless, says Ms. Nelson of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, which worked with a consultant to adopt a formal succession plan a year ago. “We have made a real effort to grow staff, but we are small so there is not a big career ladder here,” Ms. Nelson says. “Some have moved on. We see this as success in that we are populating the field with qualified people.”

Troy Chapman, director of executive transition and leadership at the Support Center for Nonprofit Management, in New York, has been promoting the use of an emergency succession plan to get executive directors to focus on training people.

He asks executive directors and board members to list three people who could take over the executive’s job in a crisis. That simple exercise, he says, often makes them see the need to train those individuals, make them privy to relations with donors and other key constituents, and share important information.

“What we are trying to do with succession planning is to get them thinking about spreading the information, not holding it in one or two people,” says Mr. Chapman. “They have to disseminate all this information so when they walk out the door, the organization doesn’t fold.”


Awaiting the new normal

Price Chopper store owners meet weekly to discuss issues and trends and how they can make improvements. Haaraoja said everyone is waiting to find out what the new normal will be.

A locally owned chain, Price Chopper comprises four owners operating different numbers of stores under the Price Chopper banner. Haaraoja said part of what makes the company successful is that each owner promotes strong cultures. However, there is not blanket approach to the operation of all 51 stores.

&ldquoSometimes it&rsquos hard to do one thing the same in all the stores,&rdquo Haaraoja said. &ldquoBut they are all offering incentives to team members during this crisis. It&rsquos not a one-size-fits-all for the different cultures that have been developed. Each ownership group has worked out different plans for their teammates.&rdquo

Price Chopper has increased its aid to Harvesters, a large food bank in the Kansas City area, making a group donation of $250,000, which equals 750,000 meals. Harvester is struggling, Haaraoja said, because they depend on food manufacturers to supply them and with demand from retail grocery stores rising, that supply has slowed.

Haaraoja said employees are taking great pride in their work, which has taken on a new importance during these trying times. Customers are appreciative.

&ldquoWith every crisis that happens in our country, Americans rally and you will see the good come out in people,&rdquo he said. &ldquoI&rsquove seen it in the stores, and it is amazing to me how many people thank our associates for doing what they do, to help people be able to feed their families. Our customers are grateful and supportive. They seem to understand the risks the grocery associates are taking to provide the service.&rdquo


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