Meet the Judges

Read about the judges for the 2021 Heats

Sarah Bishop is the founder and CEO of Coneflower Consulting, a non-profit consulting firm empowering mission-driven organizations with strategies for creative growth. Prior to founding Coneflower Consulting, Sarah served as Associate Director of the Hall Center for the Humanities and the Co-Director of the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities, both at the University of Kansas. Sarah has also worked as the Chief Communications and Development Officer for the Lawrence Arts Center, where she oversaw marketing, fundraising, and database operations, and was the Director of the Free State Festival, a seven-day, city-wide celebration of film, music, art, and ideas in 2015 and 2016. Sarah has her B.A. in English literature from Northwestern University, where she graduated with Honors, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and her Ph.D. in 20th Century American Literature and Film from the University of Virginia. She is the chairman of the Paper Plains Literary Festival board, Vice President of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance,  and a board member of KU's Friends of the Theatre and City PlayCorps, Inc.

Vicky Diaz-Camacho is an EMMY-nominated journalist from El Paso, Texas who works in the Kansas City metro area. Her work focuses on cultural dialogue and its impact on public policy, education, health and the arts. She has produced content for broadcast, print and online. Her work has appeared in NPR, KCUR, Kansas City Business Journal, and PBS Newshour’s Arts CANVAS.

Diaz-Camacho is the community reporter and engagement editor at Kansas City PBS' digital magazine, Flatland. There she leads curiousKC, a community-powered reporting effort, co-hosts a culture podcast called The Filter and produces reports on health, education and identity.

Heather Eilers is the Midwest planning and scheduling director for JE Dunn Construction in Kansas City. She has a BS in Construction Engineering from Iowa State, a MS in Architectural Engineering from KU and a PhD in Civil Engineering from KU. Her research interests include client satisfaction, employee engagement, contracting methods, sustainability, Lean, construction education and project controls.

Howard, g’08, PhD’19, joined the KU Alumni Association in 2020 to lead the Jayhawk Career Network. He has worked with KU students in numerous roles on campus, including as the associate director of academic programs in the Office of First-Year Experience and as associate director for academic and career counseling in Kansas Athletics.  Howard holds an M.A. in American Studies and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

A native to Junction City, Kansas, Kendall Schoenrock started his first technology consulting company at the age of 15.  In 2003 he graduated from the Villanova School of Business. Upon graduation, he was the third employee and an angel investor in the anti-spam technology startup TurnTide, which was acquired by Symantec in July of 2004. 

He obtained his MBA from Villanova University the summer of 2006. After completing his MBA work, he returned to Junction City to help fund and raise money for Millennium Bank, where he served as an advisor to the board until it was recently acquired by Intrust Bank.

In 2008 he returned to Philadelphia to start an ecommerce printing company that was acquired in 2012. After exiting, Mr. Schoenrock returned to Kansas with his wife and two daughters.  He is currently working as a commercial real estate developer with a focus on government complexes.

Elizabeth Smith is a unit chief in the Bureau of Water at Kansas Department of Health and Environment, where she has worked for 17 years. She currently oversees Harmful Algal Bloom Response, Compliance Monitoring, Stream Probabilistic Monitoring, Use Attainability Assessment, and the Kansas Surface Water Register. She also serves as general editor of Kansas' biennial Integrated Water Quality Assessment. She holds a B.S. in Biology and a Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Kansas.

Read about the judges for the 2021 Finals

Daniel Folk is the Assistant Director of Career Services with BioKansas and is driven by helping others create a fulfilling professional life. He gets very nerdy for everything career related. He is a twice graduate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with degrees in psychology and mental health counseling. Daniel has now been in the higher education and nonprofit field for 6 years. 

Emily Ryan is the director of The Commons at KU, She works with faculty, staff, and students at KU to launch and explore ideas; address broad challenges; and create opportunities for meeting people across specializations. She works with individuals and groups to create nontraditional programs to achieve unique responses and new questions for consideration.

Karrie A. Shogren, Ph.D. is Director of the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities (a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities), Senior Scientist at the Schiefelbusch Life Span Institute, and Professor in the Department of Special Education all at the University of Kansas. Dr. Shogren’s research focuses on assessment and intervention in self-determination and supported decision making for people with disabilities. Dr. Shogren has led multiple grant-funded projects, including assessment validation and efficacy trials of self-determination interventions in school and community contexts. Dr. Shogren has published over 180 articles in peer-reviewed journals, is the author or co-author of 10 books, and is the lead author of the Self-Determination Inventory (, a recently validated assessment of self-determination and the Supported Decision-Making Inventory System, the first assessment of the supports needed to involve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in decisions about their lives. Dr. Shogren has received grant funding from several sources, including the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). Dr. Shogren is co-Editor of Remedial and Special Education.