Janet Vaughan (M.A. ’81)
College of Arts and Sciences
An elective World Civilization class was the undoing of Janet Vaughan’s plans in psychology and social work. “I loved it,” she says, “and immediately switched my major. I loved seeing how things fit together, how decisions made in the past continue to impact us today.” With faculty help, Vaughan completed her advanced degree at UMKC with special emphasis on museum studies. Today, she serves as senior director of membership services for the American Association of Museums, and as the organization’s representative to the Heritage Emergency National Task Force. Vaughan also served as director of the Johnson County (Kan.) Museums, as executive director of the Jackson County (Mo.) Historical Society, as chair of the Missouri Humanities Counsel and on the board of directors for the Kansas State Historical Society and the Missouri Museum Associates. In addition to several journal and magazine publications, Vaughn’s award winning 1985 book, The Kansas City Monarchs: Champions of Black Baseball, led to her term on the board of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum from 1992-00.
James Jordan (B.F.A. ’00)
Conservatory of Music and Dance
When ballet legend Todd Bolender put his first Kansas City dance company together in 1981, he brought some of his best from the North Carolina School of the Arts, and James Jordan was one of them. Today, Jordan serves as ballet master of the Kansas City Ballet and is an official repetiteur for The Antony Tudor Ballet Trust. He has performed numerous principal roles with the Kansas City Ballet, Dances Patrelle (New York City), the New Jersey Ballet and the Berkshire Ballet among others.
In addition to teaching at the Kansas City Ballet and the Conservatory, Jordan has taught at Washington University, the University of Alabama, and Dance St. Louis at Webster University. Jordan is also committed to the community, having served as president of the Conservatory’s Alumni Association Board of Directors, and volunteering with The Charlotte Street Foundation’s Urban Culture Project, an organization dedicated to fostering economic development in Kansas City’s urban core by creating opportunities for artists of all disciplines.
Caren Barnes (M.S. ’74)
Division of Dental Hygiene
Caren Barnes was a senior in the dental hygiene program at Texas Women’s University when she spoke with the only person holding a master’s degree in Dental Hygiene in the state of Texas. That conversation inspired Barnes to come to UMKC to earn the same master’s degree. Now a professor and coordinator of clinical research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry, Barnes was also a full professor at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, where she helped develop its dental hygiene program. Among her many honors, Barnes was named the Lincoln Dental Hygienists’ Association Dental Hygienist of the Year, and she was presented the Just Phenomenal Hygienist Award from the Journal of Practical Hygiene and Johnson and Johnson Oral Health.
Barnes serves on the editorial reviews boards of several industry publications, and her work has appeared in many dental care and hygiene publications, including several invited manuscripts in Dental Clinics of North America, Wilkin’s Clinical Practice. She also serves the community, volunteering and speaking at dental health events around the country.
Brian D. Birdwell (M.P.A. ’96)
Henry W. Bloch School of Business and Public Administration
When American Airlines flight 77 hit the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell was the closest person to the point of impact who survived. Although the attack left him with burns over 60 percent of his body, Birdwell survived and emerged with a mission: he and his wife, Mel, founded Face the Fire Ministries to help critical burn survivors, wounded servicemen and women and their families, and medical facilities that care for them.
Birdwell was awarded the Purple Heart, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star for his service before retiring after 20 years in the U.S. Army. Birdwell and Mel also co-authored the book, Refined by Fire, which is an account of what he went through during the attack on the Pentagon, and how faith and family helped him recover.