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.
“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.
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.
Community Development Director
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.
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.
Student Initiative Coordinator
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.
Lauren C. Weinhold
Director of Development
As a bridge builder, story teller and advocate, Lauren marries her love of people with her passion for APS’s mission in her work as the Director of Development. With a decades-long year career in Kansas City’s non-profit sector, Lauren is an experienced leader, motivator and communicator. Lauren believes that what you focus on grows, so she’s focused on making our community more aware, engaged and maybe even a little kinder.
Ruth Baum Bigus
Ruth Baum Bigus joined the APS team in 2020 handling media and public relations responsibilities. Ruth brings to APS 30-plus years’ experience sharing the stories of nonprofits and their important impact on the Kansas City community and beyond. Ruth’s professional background includes working as a professional journalist, communications director for several nonprofit organizations and as a free-lance writer for several publications.
Board of Directors
Board Chair–Ambassador Allan Katz
Secretary of the Board, Senior Counsel at Bryan Cave
Treasurer, Retired investment advisor
Founding Member & Mayor of Leawood
Program Officer at Hall Family Foundation
Real Estate Investor
DeBruce Companies, Chancellor of UMKC 2008-2018
Editorial Page Editor and Vice President of Kansas City Star
Businessman, Entrepreneur, U.S. Political Reformer
Chairman of ej4
Co-founder of Wickham James Strategies
Former United States Representative
Ret. Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Hollman Schiavone, LLC
Ret. DST Systems
Kansas City Art Institute
APS Advisory Board
- Mike McShane, Co-Chair – EdChoice
- Jerry White, Co-Chair – Colliers International
- Manny Abarca – Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver’s Office
- Mohammad Azim – Kansas Software Technologies
- Maggie Collins – Howe Street Group
- Monica Curls – Terracon
- SuEllen Fried – Reaching Out from Within
- Wallace Hartsfield – Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church
- Justice Horn – Community Activist
- Jenny Isenberg – Eclectics Gallery
- Mary Jorgenson – Community Volunteer
- Martha Jalali – University of Kansas
- Sofia Khan – KC for Refugees
- Janet Mark – Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
- Kaylee Piele – KC Social Innovation Center
- Jeanette Prenger – ECCO Select
- Dan Rosenfield – Outfront Media
- Cindy Spaeth – Community Volunteer
- Stuart Swetland – Donnelly College
- Marvin S. Szneler – Community Volunteer
- Ursula Terrasi – Terrasi Living & Scandia Home
- Wim van Klinken – Community of Christ
- Greg Vonnahme – University of Missouri Kansas City
- David Westbrook – Children’s Mercy
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