In 1973, a group of communicators, led by John Koepke, set out to advance the cause of public education in Kansas by establishing the Kansas School Public Relations Association (KanSPRA). Koepke, who was the director of publications for the Kansas Association of School Boards at that time, served as state coordinator for the start-up organization. With the help of charter members John Wherry, Barbara Kudlacek Long, Arlin Morgan, Sam Stitt, Charles Stuart, Jim Yonally, M.L. Williams and Murray Harris, KanSPRA was born.
Aligned with the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), KanSPRA is a professional organization dedicated to building support and trust for education through responsible public relations that leads to success for all students.
During its history, KanSPRA members have been actively involved in NSPRA:
· John Wherry, a charter member of the organization, became executive director of NSPRA in 1977 and served until 1989.
· Barbara Long, retired director of communications for Topeka USD 501, served as national vice president of NSPRA.
· Dr. Marsha Chappelow, former Assistant Superintendent of Communications for Blue Valley USD 229, Superintendent of Ladue Public Schools in St. Louis, Missouri, NSPRA South Central Regional Vice President, and President of NSPRA.
· Karen McDermott, APR, former Director of Communications for Maize USD 266 and member of NSPRA's Accreditation Committee.
Throughout the last four decades, KanSPRA has offered guidance and support for its members. As the field of school district communications has evolved through the years, the organization has experienced increased and diversified membership, especially among district administrators. Membership now totals nearly 80 superintendents, administrators and communications professionals, representing school districts from across the state.