Meet the Judges

Read about the judges for the 2022 Preliminary Heats

Brad Allen has served as Executive Director of Lawrence Public Library since 2012. He majored in American Studies and Psychology at KU, received his Master's in Library and Information Science from University of Illinois as well as Master's degree in Afro-American Studies from University of Wisconsin. He has twenty years of public library experience, previously working for Los Angeles Public Library, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, and Everett (Washington) Public Library. 


Sheri Gonzales joined the University of Kansas in July 2022. In her role as vice provost of strategic initiatives and community relations she provides leadership and support for strategic priorities of the Jayhawks Rising strategic plan for KU Lawrence and Edwards campuses and works to build relationships and connections between KU scholars and people of the region and the State of Kansas. Sheri's career has focused on economic and community development in local, state, and international contexts. Prior to the position at KU, she served as vice president of the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City and executive director of KC Rising, and as Community, Economic and Workforce Development Director at the Mid-America Regional Council. With early career experiences in public broadcasting, international relief, and community development, she also served on the staff of two healthcare foundations in Virginia. She holds a BA in Communications and Journalism from the University of New Mexico and a Master's of Public Administration from the University of Kansas.

Jen Humphrey is associate director for external affairs at the KU Life Span Institute, where she connects a variety of audiences to stories that show the impact of KU research.  A strategic communicator, she has helped researchers strengthen and hone their public engagement skills. Humphrey holds a master of fine arts in creative writing and undergraduate degrees in journalism and women's studies from the University of Kansas.

Anne C. Kretsinger-Harries is an Assistant Specialist and Online Program Director for the KU Communication Studies Department, coordinating the online major, overseeing online course instruction, and teaching courses on public speaking, rhetoric, and persuasion. She was previously the Director of Public Speaking at Iowa State University, directing curriculum and instruction of the general education public speaking course. She has taught public speaking in the university setting for thirteen years and has coached numerous graduate students and faculty on public speaking in teaching and professional contexts.


Gustavo Restrepo, originally from Colombia, is a professional health care interpreter and professional real estate agent licensed in both Kansas and Missouri. He is a very active member in his community and volunteers for different organizations. Staying true to his roots, Restrepo is a member of the musical group Cafetal, currently holds the Vice Presidency of the Colombian Cultural Association, and is a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Kansas City, Missouri.

Peter Ukpokodu is a Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas in the Department of African & African-American Studies with a courtesy appointment in the Department of Theatre and Dance. He teaches Graduate Research Methods, African Theatre and Drama, African Film, and African Traditional Religion and Philosophy. Ukpokodu is the recipient of the W. T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence; the "Excellence in Teaching" Award of the Center for Teaching Excellence; the Golden Poet Award of World of Poetry; the "APA Award of Merit", among others.

His published scholarship is related to theatre theory and criticism. Ukpokodu is the co-editor of African Literatures at the Millennium and the author of African Political Plays; It Happened to the Blind Beggar, and Socio-Political Theatre in Nigeria. His extensive publications have appeared in Oxford, Cambridge, NYU/MIT, and Harvard journals. He is also a playwright and a theatre director. 

Read about the judges for the 2022 Finals

Bailey holds a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Kansas and a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Iowa. She joined Cavallo Ventures in 2022 investing in sustainable biotechnology solutions for agriculture, food, and nutrition. Prior to Cavallo, Bailey published research on translational protein engineering for precision medicines and stem cell tissue engineering for clinical applications.  During her graduate career Bailey supported several early-stage life science startups as an intern analyst for the University Venture Fund Crossroads in Kansas City, and helped raise pre-seed funding as a strategist for an emerging biotech company spun out of a KU academic research lab.  Bailey won first place in KU's 2019 3MT for her speech "The World's Smallest Game of Chess: Engineering Antibody Proteins."

Sharon Billings works across diverse scales to understand mechanisms governing fluxes of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and water in terrestrial ecosystems, and how they are influenced by environmental change. She focuses on global-scale perturbations like our changing climate and land use change to help project how Earth's biogeochemical cycles and their interactions will function in the future.  

As the Economic Development Director for the City of Lawrence, Crum-Cano drives the development and implementation of the City of Lawrence’s economic development efforts and initiatives in alignment with the goals and strategies of the Community Economic Development Strategic Plan and the City’s Strategic Plan.

Crum-Cano holds a Masters of Urban Planning degree from the University of Kansas in Lawrence and a bachelor’s degree in business from Regis University in Denver, Colorado. She has earned professional designation as a LEED AP (accredited professional in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) through the U.S. Green Building Council, is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional from the National Development Council and is a graduate of Leadership Lawrence and Leadership Kansas.