Creating Space for Important Conversations

Commitment. Character. Action.

More than 9 out of 10 respondents said it’s important for the United States to try to reduce our divisiveness. Figuring out how to have a constructive conversation with folks on the other side would be a good start, most said.

– Public Agenda/USA TODAY/Ipsos poll December 2019

Founded to Make a Difference

With decades of experience in politics and law, Ambassador Allan Katz (Portugal 2010-2013) observed first-hand the increasing polarization of our two-party political system and the tribalization of Americans unwilling to talk to people with whom they did not agree.

Motivated to mitigate the chasm between extremes, Ambassador Katz founded American Public Square (APS) in Kansas City in 2013. Using civil discourse to bridge the partisan divide, APS engages in fact-based conversations about local, regional and national issues.

APS Team

Our Reserve of personal bonds and fellowship – is seriously depleted.

Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone

At American Public Square, we believe we must intentionally

      • re-build our personal bonds and fellowship
      • re-weave the frayed and tattered fabric of our community
      • re-commit to ourselves and our neighbors that we will face society’s most pressing issues together
Amb. Allan Katz
Founder and CEO

Appointed as US Ambassador to Portugal by President Obama in 2013, Allan has dedicated his life to public service, social advocacy and community engagement. A lawyer and political science professor, Allan founded American Public Square in 2013 where he serves as CEO and Chair of the Board of Directors.

Claire Bishop
Executive Director

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An experienced leader and organizational transformation expert, Claire believes in the power of community and advancing the missions of organizations. A proud Kansas City native, Claire has served as a marketing executive and board member in for-profit and nonprofit organizations.  A seasoned communication professional, Claire brings clarity, organization and passion to the APS community.

Alana Muller
Community Development Director

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Committed to relationship-building, entrepreneurship, leadership and community, Alana models respect, empathy and inclusion as tenants of a just society. A business owner, author and board member, Alana is founder of Coffee Lunch Coffee and KC Common Good, a 501(c)3 designed to give Kansas Citians access to hope and opportunity while reducing violence.

Denesha Snell
Program Director

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A native Kansas Citian, Denesha has devoted her career to address community issues including parent advocacy, cultural diversity, causes of health disparities, violence prevention and improving relationships with community and civic partners. Her experience and knowledge in navigating diverse approaches to problem-solving controversial issues brings creativity and professionalism to APS programming.

Allison Koelzer
Student Initiative Coordinator

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As Student Initiative Coordinator, Alison works with high school and college students to develop student-led programs and APS internships. In addition to giving students a voice at APS, Alison hosts our podcast, At the Square, and serves as a Roving Reporter at many of our signature events.

Mary Espinoza
Office Manager

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A business analyst, Mary brings attention to detail and organizational skills to serve APS members, donors and sponsors. Her dedication to excellence shines both professionally and personally, whether as a volunteer for the Jewish Family Services – Brookside Pantry, a certified Master Gardener through the University of Missouri Extension, or in service to APS.

Board of Directors

Board Chair–Ambassador Allan Katz

Irv Belzer
Secretary of the Board, Senior Counsel at Bryan Cave
Bill Kort
Treasurer, Retired investment advisor
Peggy Dunn
Mayor of Leawood
Rebecca Hall
Program Officer at Hall Family Foundation
Ward Katz
Real Estate Investor
Leo Morton
DeBruce Companies, Chancellor of UMKC 2008-2018
Colleen Nelson
Editorial Page Editor and Vice President of Kansas City Star
Greg Orman
Businessman, Entrepreneur, U.S. Political Reformer
Ann Regnier
Community Volunteer
Paul Russell
Chairman of ej4
Joni Wickham
Co-founder of Wickham James Strategies
Kevin Yoder
Former United States Representative

APS Advisory Board

Community Partnerships

William Jewell College

American Public Square at Jewell is proud to be formally affiliated with William Jewell College, a 170-year-old private college and academic institution. We recognize William Jewell as a Founding Sponsor of the organization, and as American Public Square’s academic home. APS at Jewell maintains an office in the Yates-Gill Union on the William Jewell campus.

Because William Jewell is more focused than ever on advancing critical thinking and preparing students to connect their thinking with their purpose, this formal affiliation is a perfect alignment.

APS and William Jewell’s teams partner on a number of key initiatives, including

      • APS Internship Program
      • Student Programming Initiative
      • The 2020 Nuts and Bolts of Democracy Series

KC Common Good

KC Common Good began as an initiative of American Public Square to create programming to address the root causes of violence in our city. Programs have included the role of faith in violence prevention and resource allocation among agencies working to improve safety in Kansas City. Learn more about KC Common Good on our website.