Olivia Brien is a citizen of and the Director of Communications for the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska. She grew up in Kansas and attended Oklahoma City University, where she earned a BFA in Acting and a BA in Music. After school, she lived for five years in sunny Long Beach, California, with her wife, Ashley, before returning to Kansas to be near their families and be more involved with Olivia’s tribe.
Olivia serves in leadership positions for the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska’s Arts & Culture Committee and Powwow Committee, and is assisting in the development of a tribal education department. Additionally, Olivia owns and operates Opal Wax, an eco-friendly candle company, and dreams of one day opening a brick and mortar in Lawrence. In her free time, Olivia enjoys traditional beading, attending Kansas City Current games, and tap dancing. Most of all, she loves spending time with her wife and their two tuxedo kitties, Mildred and Imogen.
Fallon Farokhi was raised in Lawrence, Kansas and attended the University of Kansas for her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She continued her studies at Indiana University in a master’s degree in Library and Information Science. Her career as an educator has taken her from Lawrence, to Shawnee Mission, Turner (KCK), University School in Bloomington (IN), Edith Bowen Laboratory School at Utah State University, Maria Montessori Academy (N. Ogden, Utah), Junction City Middle School (Kansas), and back to Shawnee Mission schools. She has been a classroom teacher in grades 4-9, taught an undergraduate education course in classroom management at Utah State, and she has been a school library media specialist in Kansas for 7 years in both elementary and middle school settings.
She is an advocate for literacy, intellectual freedom, community connections and inquiry-based learning. You can find her blogging at The Story Spectator
and contributing to educational conversations worldwide on her social media accounts (Twitter @ffarokhi, Instagram @thestoryspectator).
Karen A. Jorgensen
Karen A. Jorgensen joined the Lawrence community and the KU School of Education and Human Sciences faculty in August, 2005. As a constructivist, student-centered educator, Karen has taught all elementary grade levels in multi-grade classrooms at an inquiry-based elementary school in Minnesota. Karen is also a language educator and staff member for 17 summers with the Concordia Language Villages. Karen’s areas of advocacy and passion include equity- and social justice-based education, identifying and supporting areas of strength and those for instruction and practice in literacy, and using research and pedagogy together to inform instructional decision-making.
Karen A. Jorgensen earned her B.A. in Elementary Education and Scandinavian Studies from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Karen’s master’s degree work was completed at Høgskolen i Hamar (Norway) in the areas of Norwegian linguistics, literature and language. Her Ph.D. in the dual program areas of literacy education and second languages and cultures education was conferred by the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. As a Teaching Professor at KU, Karen prepares undergraduate elementary preservice teachers to teach literacy and instructs online master’s degree courses for reading specialists in grades PK – 12+.
Kate Lorenz is the Senior Director of Events & Audience Services at the Lied Center of Kansas. She is passionate about the arts, communication, climate activism, and social justice. Kate grew up in Lawrence and holds a BA in French from the University of Kansas, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama. In addition to serving on the Limestone Community School board, she is a member of Lawrence’s Public Incentives Review Committee, and she previously served as the parent board president at Stepping Stones Early Learning Center.