Meet the 2018 Kansas Participants!

We are so thrilled to welcome this year’s class of Kansas participants to the Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute! This stellar group will work right alongside our international participants this summer for a transformative six weeks. Learn more about each of them below.

Kali Chatmon

Pittsburg State University
Majoring in Political Science with a minor in Women and Gender Studies
Bonner Springs, KS

Hello! My name is Kali Chatmon. I am a sophomore at Pittsburg State University. My major is Political Science with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. Here at Pitt I am the President of Black Student Association and a Resident Assistant in the campus dorms. I am originally from Kansas City, KS but I have spent a majority of my life here in Bonner Springs, KS! Coming from and attending College in a small town has sparked a passion for Diversity inside of me. More specifically, I have a passion for diversity in leadership. I hope to see political offices of all kinds become more diverse and I plan to be at the forefronts of this change! Here at KWLI, I hope to gain insight and knowledge that I can use to strengthen my leadership skills, while passing down to others what I have learned.

Kelli Forrest

Washburn University
Majoring in Respiratory Therapy and Health Administration with a minor in Communication
Manhattan, KS

I am Kelli Forrest I am a committed respiratory therapist majoring at Washburn University. I will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in health administration, an associate degree in respiratory therapy, and minor in communication. I am originally from Manhattan, Ks but that does not restrict me from my enjoyment of traveling and meeting new people. A little bit about me is I am pretty much an open book, and I am very approachable. My passion involves tons of different things such as art, music, communication in health care, volunteering, and women’s rights. I believe in participating in the KWLI will help me improve my leadership skills and expand my knowledge on women’s issues in other economies. Also, words can’t explain how excited I am about this experience of a life time, and I can’t wait to meet my fellow KWLI sisters.

Caroline Hwang

University of Kansas
Majoring in Community Health, Exercise Science, or Interdisciplinary Computing with a minor in Leadership Studies
Manhattan, KS

Hello! My name is Caroline Hwang and I am from Manhattan, Kansas. I lived in Taiwan for 8 years during my elementary school and middle school years, where my experiences contributed to my perspectives and values now. I am a freshman at the University of Kansas, and I am currently still deciding on a major between Community Health, Exercise Science, and Interdisciplinary Computing. I also plan to minor in Leadership and am on the pre-med track. I am most passionate about helping people feel better both physically and mentally, which is why I would like to become a family doctor- so I can turn my passions into actions and help all ages of individuals. I am also very interested in coding, which is the reason I am fascinated by the power of technology and like to imagine how it will transform our future. Furthermore, I love traveling, making new friends, learning new skills, and strive to make positive changes in the world. From participating in the KWLI program, I hope to learn how to be a wonderful leader who is powerful but can also lead people to follow with their hearts. I believe leadership is very important because a good leader can bring positive changes to the world while also influencing many others to use their strengths to create more positive movements. 🙂

Emily Kondziola

Bethel College
Majoring in Communication Arts and Peace and Conflict Studies
Newton, KS

Hello! My name is Emily Kondziola, and I am a junior at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas. North Newton is also my hometown! I am double majoring in Communication Arts and Peace and Conflict Studies.

My entire life I have cared deeply about gender equality and problems faced by women. When I came to Bethel, I realized I also care about peace and nonviolent ideology. My hope is that by participating in the KWLI, I will learn to reconcile these two things through thoughtful and inclusive leadership that strives to make tangible change, while at the same time, meeting some really awesome women from around the world that share a similar passion. I believe women are the best actors to create an environment where other women excel – and I hope being in the KWLI will help me capture the essence of that environment.

In the long term, I hope to be a lawyer, or work for the UN.

Isabel Rosales

Colby Community College
Pre-Med major
Colby, KS

Hi, I am Isabel Rosales and I was born and raised in Colby, KS. I attend Colby Community College where I will be a sophomore in the fall. I am currently a Pre-Med major. I am most passionate about my family and friends. I was raised in a very close family. The reason I would like to become a doctor is that my dad has inspired me. His health is not that great, so with his support I knew that was the calling for me. Being the student government president at C.C.C., the thing I hope to get out of participating in KWLI is the courage and confidence to lead C.C.C. as well as reflect on my community. Living in Colby, KS, being from a small town, the impact that youth brings to the town is huge. I volunteer at many activities around our town and participate in blood drives and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, by experiencing this program, it will help me gain knowledge in how to make a positive impact on our community and school. KWLI will help me find my true self and be able to make my mark on Colby and rural Kansas.

Melissa Tovar

Washburn University
Majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Legal Studies
Wichita, KS

My name is Melissa Tovar and I was born and raised in Wichita Kansas. I am a first-generation college student and I am a proud daughter of an immigrant. I am currently a junior at Washburn University and I am majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in legal studies. In the future, I want to go to law school and become an immigration lawyer, and work at a non-profit clinic to help low-income immigrants. At Washburn University, I hold many leadership positions and I am extremely involved on my campus. Currently I am the president of HALO (Hispanic American Leadership Organization), Founder of Washburn’s first-generation organization, a LINC Bonner scholar, a senator at Washburn Student Government Association, as well as serving on our Diversity council. I also work as a student recruitment, student programmer for Washburn University Diversity and Inclusion Office.

I am extremely passionate about helping at risk children by helping them find a better path and attend college. I come from a single mother of six and I was an at risk kid, and I want to be the role model to those kids showing them that if I can do it, so can they. As a kid, I entered college readiness programs that gave me the opportunity to not only attend college but also receive a full scholarship.

I believe that attending the KWLI, I will not only develop my leadership skills but it will allow me to take what I learned back to my university. I want to develop and become a better leader and advocate for people who look like me. Through KWLI, I want to expand my knowledge, develop my skills, network and educate others. I am so excited to see where this amazing program is going to take me!

Kansas Applications Go Live

We are very excited to begin the application process for our second year of Kansas participants in the KWLI. Our vision has always been to create a world in which women’s leadership is realized to be essential in every thriving community. For the first few years of our grant with the Department of State we had the privilege of working toward that world by elevating the power of women’s voices in communities in other countries. But, we always knew that making that same difference right here at home was ultimately critical to truly fulfilling our vision. What we know from experience is that women from small and rural communities in Kansas face many similar issues as do those in Casablanca, Morocco, New Delhi, India, and even Kabul, Afghanistan. Sure, the context and cultures might differ, but the desire for women to have educational opportunities, access to quality health care (particularly women’s health care), to be free from domestic violence, and free from gender-based discrimination is, in fact, the same. Through the KWLI we provide the opportunity for women in Kansas to unite with women from around the world on the topics that are most important to them. In our program they engage in a curriculum designed to help them tackle those challenges, elevate their voices as women, expand their leadership capacity, develop a powerful and lasting network of support, and change their communities for the better. The application and selection process for Kansas women is designed to mirror the selection of our international participants. Thus, contacts at various Kansas higher education institutions serve as the first round of the process. You can see a listing of our College & University Partners here. You can also find more details, and a copy of the application, at our apply page. Both University Partners and interested applications, can get in touch with our Academic Program Coordinator, Addison Keegan-Harris at (785) 864-8207 or She is the primary contact for the selection process and will be happy to assist you in any way.