Rev. Jennifer Bryan was a youngster when news splashed across TV screens nightly, showing racial turmoil in Birmingham, AL. Theophilus Eugene Connor, Commissioner of Public Safety in that city, sent out patrolmen with their vicious German Shepherds, snarling relentlessly at fellow Americans who didn’t share his white skin color. Better known as “Bull Connor,” his given name Theophilus is Greek for “lover of God,” an ironic connotation for one who orders non-violent citizens to be beat down to the ground by forceful, torrential amounts of water through hydrant hoses used to shoot distances to put out blazing fires. To a teenager growing up in a homogeneous, rural, white community, this left an indelible memory of how not to live.
A former public-school teacher, and then a corporate communications production director and editor of a magazine distributed globally, Rev. Bryan believes in the inherent dignity, value, and worth of every person; we are one humanity. She thinks we accomplish more together, become stronger individually, as well as within communities, when we celebrate our diversity and strive to understand each other. She is motivated by the idea that everyone benefits when we recognize that valuing differences is the beginning of living harmoniously. Her vision for Better Together is one of mutual strengthening, of fostering urban hope and shared joy within a diverse community.
Board of Directors
Founder & CEO | Rev. Jennifer Bryan
Bruce is the Pastor at Bristol Hill UMC and Roeland Park UMC where Bruce leads worship, education, and mission initiatives with the community. This includes partnering with: New Stanley Elementary to help students and community through Caring for Kids; Better Together for health care and for elimination of poverty and racial barriers; and community wide religious groups for unity in the Argentine community and Wyandotte County. Pastor Bruce, church members, and friends provide a free clothing closet, free pre-screening clinic, free basic computer classes, food pantry, community VBS, and ESL classes at the Metropolitan Ave. location. Pastor Bruce enjoys umpiring Middle School/High School baseball at 3&2 and enjoys RV camping with his wife Pam and dogs Tigger and Kirby.
Patricia is the Consumer Banking Surveillance Analyst at Synchrony. As a leader of a Synchrony diversity group and part of the management team, Patricia has been involved in many community service events over the years with the company. Some of the annual events include gathering filled backpacks for local schools; collecting canned goods for Harvesters; adopting families for Christmas and collecting toiletries for Hope House, a local woman’s shelter, among others. Patricia is very proud of the community service she and her team does at Synchrony, and it has encouraged her to help others whenever she can.
Dee Ann Heptas
Dee Ann Heptas is a United Methodist Deacon, retired, who has served local churches in the Great Plains Conference and in West Virginia as a Church and Community Worker. She has also served through Volunteers in Mission with Angel House in Tanzania, where she continues as a board member. Her current work is with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties, supporting volunteers who serve children in the Child in Need of Care system. Because Jesus promises us to show up in the faces and stories of those brothers and sisters who are marginalized, refugees, immigrants, those considered the least, it’s a blessing to be a part.
Susana Marcos, JD, MBA
Susana Marcos was born and raised in Parana, Argentina. She received a JD from the Universidad del Litoral and an MBA from the Universidad del CEMA in Buenos Aires.
She moved to the United States in 2003, and very soon got deeply involved with the Hispanic community in the Kansas City area. Since 2012 Susana has become a trusted Medicare insurance agent, helping hundreds of immigrant seniors who need information and support to understand the system and get the benefits they are eligible for.
For over 14 years she was the host of a weekly radio show in Spanish entitled HISPANOS EN ACCION, sponsored by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Kansas City.
Bio coming soon!
Taylor Penrod is a Community Development Pastor at the OP Church. She lives and works in Wyandotte County to bring holistic care to those in urban areas. She is the CEO of Barefoot Mission that is proud to collaborate with Better Together. She is thankful to serve on the Better Together board as they are relentless in helping the community and making positive change
Tom’s career spanned 37 years focused on both international and domestic work in the area of bulk storage facilities - first in concrete grain elevators then in bolted steel tanks for the storage and processing of both liquid and dry bulk products.
The first 10 years of this was domestic market related, with the following 27 years in the international markets with varying responsibilities for sales, marketing, operations and business management. The final decade was focused on municipal and industrial applications in the global water and wastewater treatment markets.
His subsequent responsibilities included serving as Vice President of International, Managing Director and Director of International Marketing for several firms.
Tom left corporate life in 2011 and formed JATO Services LLC as a consulting services business and works in support of numerous international and domestic corporations. Current activities include consulting in international business (marketing focus), for InterMark3, in the bolted steel storage tank industry, and in the water/wastewater markets. He also acts as the US agent for numerous international trade publications, including IBNewsmag, Asian Water, WaterHQ and Smart Water & Waste World.
A longer-term interest is developing low cost potable water treatment package systems for remote, rural, economically trailing international markets based on slow sand filtration technology.
Among his many achievements, he has served as Board Member of the Mid-America District Export Council (DEC), International Trade Council of Greater Kansas City, Kansas World Trade Center and the Kansas International Trade Coordinating Council, among others.
Tom is a graduate of Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management (now integrated into Arizona State University) and Kansas Wesleyan University (Salina, KS).
Bio coming soon!