Past Presidents Unite for 40th Anniversary of MO-KAN-NE

Picture courtesy of Ce Merrigan
Pictured left to right (front row) are Linda Todoroff, Melanie Bailey, Kathleen Greene, Deltha Q. Colvin, Starlyn Gipson, Jimmi Smith, Ruby Stewart, Celerstine Johnson, Lora Boyer; (back row) Trent Ball, Corinne Nilsen, Valdis Zalite, Kaye Monk-Morgan, Mike Conley, Lloyd Beasley, Stephen Colbert, Brian Moore, Vaughn Robertson, Mario Ramos, Denise Lloyd-McDowell, Jan Rosenblum, Ce Merrigan.

May 7, 2018

On April 4-6, 2018, the MO-KAN-NE (Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska) Chapter of the Educational Opportunity Association (EOA) celebrated its 40th Anniversary at their Annual Conference. The theme of the conference was "Inspiring Educational Excellence, Honoring a Devoted Legacy." In honor of the conference theme, 23 past presidents attended and MO-KAN-NE held a Past Presidents’ Luncheon to acknowledge and thank them for their part in building a great legacy. A panel discussion of past presidents gave insight into challenges and successes during their leadership, what they thought were important attributes of a good leader, and pertinent issues at the time. The panelists also spoke about how others supported and guided them as they excelled in leadership. It was a unique and memorable experience marked with gratitude.

Current MO-KAN-NE President Julie Cayton, Associate Director of Student Support Services at Emporia State University, shared that this event demonstrated that the one’s legacy is genuinely grounded in offering yourself and making a meaningful, lasting and energizing contribution to humanity by serving a cause greater than your own. "The legacy of the MO-KAN-NE Chapter’s 40-year history comes from the contributions of many dedicated individuals demonstrating their passionate mission," Cayton said. "Our Chapter is strong, focused, and leads in its ability to harness the collective strengths of its members in moving forward the work of educational opportunity programs and protecting the precious opportunities necessary to our students reaching their greatest potential."

Here is what some of the other Past Presidents had to say about the event.

"Remembering the past is important—the continuing growth of an organization and the members understanding why MO-KAN-NE must continue to develop and grow is critical. We must continue to build on the past or we will fail." — Deltha Q. Colvin, 1980-1981

"I was deeply moved by the opportunity to reunite with MO-KAN-NE past presidents and be among the current leadership. My heart was full of gratitude to be in the company of professionals committed to advocacy for low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities. In the words of Marian Wright-Edelman, ‘We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make, which overtime, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.’ What I experienced at the 2018 Conference was an accumulation of small daily differences that over time made a big difference in the lives of TRIO professionals and students. #LongLiveTRIO. Thank you for adding to the treasure chest of my heart." — Denise Lloyd-McDowell, 1995-1996

"You need to know your past history to know your future history." — Jan Rosenblum, 1996-1997

"The Past Presidents' Luncheon was an awesome event! Being among many of our Chapter's past presidents is an experience that I will always treasure!" — Kathleen Greene, 1999-2000

"Toward the end of the luncheon, Jimmi Smith commented on the iconic [EOA] conference venue, The Abby. He said, ‘We had a secret weapon to get people involved; it was Vaughn Robertson.’ I never knew that Jimmi, my boss at the time, felt that way about my involvement with TRIO. I have always said all I want to do is work. That kind statement from my mentor to the MO-KAN-NE family reinforced all I have tried to do during my career in higher education." — Vaughn Robertson, 2001-2002

"I struggled with attending MO-KAN-NE this year because of other obligations, both at home and professionally, but I came at the request of a couple of past presidents and I am so glad that I did. It was truly an honor to stand among some of the greats of our community—the originals! It was both affirming and challenging. I am one of them… yet I have so much more to do." — Kaye Monk-Morgan, 2004-2005

"It was truly an honor to be recognized for my past service to the Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska Association during the 40th annual professional development conference. I had a wonderful time reconnecting and reminiscing with my former colleagues and friends, while meeting new people as well." — Ruby C. Stewart, 2005-2006

"This was one of the most meaningful events I've ever attended at a MO-KAN-NE conference. It was so wonderful to see camaraderie, friendship, and respect each past president had for the others. I was delighted to see and be able to thank those venerable past presidents who encouraged, supported and guided me when I took the helm." — Ce Merrigan, 2006-2007

"I felt honored to participate in the Past Presidents’ Luncheon. My take away was: here are the people whose strong shoulders I stood on to serve our chapter, now I offer my shoulders and my hand to support the upcoming leaders and legends." — Trent Ball, 2009-2010

"Seeing all of the past presidents I have looked up to for so long reminded me of the rich history and experience MO-KAN-NE has to offer!" — Corinne Nilsen, 2016-2017