Kristine Hart | YWCA Women of Excellence
Learning in the Community at Washburn University
Kristine is the Associate Director of Learning in the Community (LinC) at Washburn University where she serves as the coordinator of the LinC Bonner Scholars. Ms. Hart is also responsible for the placement of all theCommunity Based Federal Work Study. In addition Ms Hart hold the faculty position as a lecturer and teaches in the Poverty Studies Minor and the First Year Experience.
Kristine has been influential in developing a strong commitment to community engagement at Washburn University. Since 2002 she has directed the Bonner Scholars at Washburn to be a major influential community engagement group in the Topeka Community. Additionally she has published numerous article related to the work she has done at the University.
TK: What inspires you?
KRISTINE: I am constantly inspired by the college students I have the opportunity to work with at Washburn University. Each year I get to work with amazing students who care deeply about this community and the world they live in and want to make it a better place for all. They are able to have conversations across difference and still remain friends and support each other when times get tough...even in this time when it feels like people are disconnected from each other. They are advocates and activists who are committed to the issues they care about and they push me to want to be the best version of myself every day.
TK: What advice do you have for others?
KRISTINE: Take time in your life to hear the story of others as told by them...and never rely on what author Chimamanda Adichie so eloquently describes as the danger of a single story: "it is impossible to engage properly with a place or a person without engaging with all the stories of that place or person. The consequences of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar."
TK: What is the greatest lesson you have learned on your journey?
KRISTINE: One of the lessons that I have learned is that identity is a powerful thing and how we see ourselves and what we project to others makes a difference. For example, if I identify as someone who is kind, but I only show kindness to those who are like me, what is my true identity? Likewise, the identity we place on others without their consent can make a difference in whether that person soars or falls. Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative talks about how he truly believes that "each of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done. I believe that for every person on the planet." When we as a society label or stereotype or discriminate, it can create a class of "others" who we can come to believe do not deserve to share in our humanity.
The YWCA is on a mission to empower women at all stages in their careers. Diversity in leadership is particularly vital to our vibrant business community in the Greater Topeka Area.
The YWCA is celebrating 31 years of recognizing Women of Excellence in our community with the theme “Dare to be Powerful.” We dare to be powerful, despite whatever obstacles may present themselves along the way.
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
- Audre Lorde