Current Members of the Advisory Board
The Buchanan Initiative is governed by an advisory board of Avila University stakeholders and local community leaders. A steering committee oversees the day-to-day operations of the program. Current members of the steering committee are Arica Maurer, Carol Coburn, and Ken Parsons.
Mrs. Buchanan is an alumna of Avila University (’76), and she is the namesake of the Buchanan Initiative. Through her generosity, we are able to be a voice for peace and nonviolent action. Jean has been an advocate for social justice throughout her life, beginning in the 1960s with her door-to-door campaign against redlining in Kansas City, especially in Johnson County. Jean believes the path to peace in our communities begins with finding peace within oneself. In addition to her advocacy, she is a regular participant in run/walks for charity as well as a member of the Johnson County Chorus. Jean and her husband Bill split their time between Kansas City and Dallas.
Ken Parsons, PhD
Dr. Parsons is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and the Director for the Center for Global Studies and Social Justice. He joined Avila University in August 2008, having previously taught at Central Michigan University (2007-08) and SUNY-Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY (2005-07). His research currently focuses on the philosophical problems of how we represent phenomena of violence and how we exercise moral judgments about it, in particular as these problems relate to mass violence and genocide. He has presented his research in South Korea, Hungary, Canada and Italy. Previously he taught courses within the areas of Value Theory (Social-Political Philosophy, Ethics), Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Technology and Critical Reasoning. He continues to co-teach interdisciplinary courses which integrate philosophy and other academic perspectives.
Carol Coburn, PhD
Dr. Coburn is the Director of the CSJ Center for Heritage, Spirituality, and Service as well as a Professor of Religious Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies. Dr. Coburn received her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1988 where she worked as a Research Assistant and Teaching Assistant in the History Department and as teaching faculty in the Women’s Studies Department. Since coming to Avila University in 1989, she has taught courses in education, history, psychology, religious studies and women’s studies. Dr. Coburn has published two books on American religious history and women’s history, including Life at Four Corners: Religion, Gender and Education in a German Lutheran Community, 1868-1945 (University Press of Kansas, 1992) and Spirited Lives: How Nuns Shaped Catholic Culture and American Life, 1836-1920 (University of North Carolina Press, 1999).
Arica Maurer, MA
Ms. Maurer has an Master of Arts in international peace and conflict resolution from American University’s School of International Service and a B.A. in political science and international studies from the University of Kansas. Arica began her career at the U.S. Department of State as a grants management specialist in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. She later served as a grants officer in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs where she managed the countering violent extremism (CVE) portfolio. Arica has also lived, studied, and conducted research in conflict prone areas such as Lebanon and Colombia. In addition to her experience abroad, Arica also worked in a volunteer capacity with Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services in Kansas City and Washington, DC. She is fluent in Spanish and speaks Arabic at the intermediate level.
Alice Kitchen, LSCSW, MPA
Ms. Kitchen began her social justice work as a Sister of Social Service from 1960 to 1969 and retired as Director of Social Work and Community Services for Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics. She earned her MSW from the University of California at Los Angeles and MPA from University of Missouri at Kansas City. She is a founding member of Amethyst Place for women and families recovering from drugs and alcohol and the Child Protection Center in Jackson County, Missouri. Alice has served as President of the National Society of Social Work Leadership in Health Care, Chief Probation Officer for the City of Kansas City, and Executive Director of UCS of Johnson County, KS. She has been an instructor on the faculty of KU’s School of Social Welfare, and the UMKC School of Social Work. Alice is also a board member of many advocacy organizations to include NETWORK, the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, WDC, Worker Rights Board. She has been a Co Member of Loretto since 2005. She serves as a Trustee on the Allocations Committee of the Jackson County Mental Health Tax Fund. In 2015, Alice was named Citizen of the Year by the United Nations Association, Kansas City Chapter.
Sr. Rose McLarney, CSJ, MSN
Sr. Rose has been a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet for over 50 years. She began her professional life in health care, ultimately working for systematic change. Early exposure to social justice and opportunities for participation in justice issues grew through the years. Currently Sister is active with restorative justice both locally and nationally. Sister lives in a residence with 15 women released directly from prison. Sister is on the Board of Directors of: Journey to New Life, Inc., St. Teresa’s Academy, Missouri Restorative Justice Coalition, Center for Conflict Resolution, and Jerusalem Farm.
Deanna Nelson, MPA
Ms. Nelson is a Senior Director of Development for Avila University, and holds a Master’s of Public Administration in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Missouri – Kansas City and is currently working on completing her PhD in philanthropic psychology from the University of Plymouth in the U.K. Deanna is passionate about the power of philanthropy to change the world, and is honored to be a part of the Buchanan Initiative for Peace and Nonviolence. As a first-generation college student, Deanna understands the importance of a higher education and believes in teaching future generations of community leaders about the importance of peace and nonviolence, starting with a peaceful relationship with oneself.
Diane Burkholder, MA
Ms. Burkholder is a cisgender, queer, mixed race, Black feminist community organizer who has lived in Kansas City since 2011, via South Dakota and California. Her education is in sociology (CSU-Long Beach) and Ethnic Studies (San Francisco State University). She’s a co-founder of One-Struggle KC, a coalition of Kansas City activists seeking to connect the struggles of oppressed Black communities, locally and globally. Diane is the founder and lead consultant for The DB Approach, providing anti-oppression and social justice coaching and training. She co-moderates the Kansas City Freethinkers of Color, for non-religious people of color, Kansas City Mixed Roots, for mixed race individuals and families, and serves on the Board Member of Kansas City's Uzazi Village, which centers the experiences of Black and Brown people, while working to reduce infant mortality rates.