Julia studied women’s studies, history and political science at the University of Missouri. She was heavily involved in local politics, community organizing and activism as an undergraduate and managed a political campaign for a state representative during her senior year. After graduation she was hired as a case manager at a local domestic violence shelter where she had volunteered. This experience launched her career in social work and advocacy, which has included coordinating services for people with disabilities, direct care for children in emergency shelters, case management for juvenile offenders, and a year volunteering at a shelter for immigrants and refugees on the border in El Paso.
Julia earned her master’s in social work with an emphasis on nonprofit administration and advocacy from the University of Kansas in 2008. As a student she had the opportunity to study comparative social welfare systems in India. She also worked as a graduate research assistant for the Office of Aging and Long Term Care and published research on hospital discharge planning and the impact of the workforce enhancement grants. Since graduation she has managed two domestic violence shelters in Kansas City and is currently the manager of the Girl Scout Outreach Program, which serves over 1,200 girls in the urban core each week during the school year.
Julia has been a member of Oasis since it began in April 2014 and was the president of the founding board of directors. She has watched Oasis change the lives of people in the community and wants to see more people benefit from a community based in shared values instead of religious beliefs. Julia loves hiking with her dog, getting crafty and playing board games with friends and family. She also loves traveling (18 countries and counting!) and is a host for international guests through Global Ties KC.
Melissa grew up in the Air Force and lived overseas for part of her childhood. She and her husband, Michael, a retired Army veteran currently working his master’s degree, raised three children together. They joined Oasis shortly after its inception in 2014. A few months after joining, they lost one of their children. Melissa was moved by all of the people from Oasis who showed up for her family during that time and experienced the power of a supportive community firsthand. Since then, she has been an active volunteer and community leader.
Because of her experience raising a child with multiple severe disabilities (both mental and physical), Melissa is a passionate about accessibility and creating a community that is fully inclusive. She would like to see the community continue to make improvements in this area.
Melissa has over 25 years of experience as a certified professional pet stylist and pet stylist instructor. She has owned a mobile pet grooming salon in the past and now owns and manages a pet grooming studio in Leavenworth. There are many similarities between running a small business and running a small nonprofit. Her expertise has been instrumental in helping Oasis grow and thrive over the past few years.
Autumn Winegar is a graduate student at UMKC working toward her master’s in social work. Her interests are in nonprofit program administration, community building and working with youth. She has six years of experience as a paralegal, working with legal documents and proofreading with her red pen of doom.
Autumn enjoys spending time with her close friends and family, playing board games, going on walks, karaoke nights, and spending way too much time on Facebook. Her two cats, Tiger and Lily, seem to put up with her, for the most part.
Autumn has been a member of Kansas City Oasis since its inception in 2014. She has served on the board of directors as the treasurer since March 2017, as a member of the board since September 2016, and was the volunteer events coordinator for two years prior to that. She has enjoyed watching Kansas City Oasis grow and wants to ensure that it is always a place where people will find acceptance, love and support.
Jay holds a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering with a minor in political science from the University of Tennessee. He moved to Overland Park in 2012, and currently works on design modifications and procedures to ensure nuclear power plants provide safe, reliable and carbon-free energy.
Jay has served as president and vice-president of the Overland Park chapter of North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN), and previously participated in Model United Nations events in college. He enjoys sports, video games, books and movies and recently got his open water scuba diving certification.
Jay and his wife, Amanda Kauer, have been coming to Oasis since mid 2014. He looks forward to helping formalize the procedures and policies for Oasis to keep provide a welcoming secular community for the KC metro area.
Sara began attending Oasis events after reading about it in the KC Star in 2015. Sara holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in criminal justice administration. She has been employed at Missouri Probation and Parole for 25 years, working as an officer supervising a variety of caseloads, including a violent offender caseload and several infamous cases, in the Greater Kansas City metro area, Independence, and Belton. She currently supervises seven to 12 probation/parole officers in Kansas City, Missouri.
Sara’s interests include reading, especially historical fiction, traveling, performing arts and festivals. Her father was a chef and she grew up in a kitchen, so she’s also a foodie. She mentors children through the school district, and since joining Oasis has become more involved in community service activities.
Sara was not brought up with formal religion and therefore did not experience “community” until pledging a sorority in college. Now, as a part of Oasis, she realizes this was missing in her life. She looks forward to bringing her communication, planning and problem-solving skills to the Oasis board. She thinks that Oasis is an amazing organization, with the potential to do great things for members and the communities encompassing them.
Before Oasis was established, Dennis envisioned the possibility of communities based not on religion on the worldview of scientific method and reason. In 2013 he learned that such a community was being proposed in Kansas City, Missouri, based on a working model already established in Houston, Texas. He made the decision to support this effort, and has worked with passion and dedication to ensure its success. He is a founding member of the Kansas City Oasis board of directors and has been an active member of the community from the beginning.
Dennis worked for 18 years as a carpenter specializing in housing framing before he returned to school to become a nurse. He graduated from Rockhurst College and Research College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in nursing. He then went on to provide clinical nursing care as an emergency nurse in various emergency rooms around the greater Kansas City area for 21 years. He has been retired since December 2014, although he still maintains his license to practice. Dennis brings to Oasis his experience as a registered nurse, which includes emergency management, critical thinking and caring for patients and their families during crisis and the high emotions it can precipitate.
Dennis enjoys online gaming and has been an avid World of Warcraft player since 2007. Throughout his life he has enjoyed such activities as golf, fishing and hunting. He also enjoys watching British detective shows. He has been married to Teresa over 18 years, has three adult children, and three adult stepchildren (one stepson is deceased). Dennis and Teresa, between them, have 13 grandchildren.
Julie Samuel Whistman has been a member of Kansas City Oasis since early 2016. Julie manages the facilities and administration for a software company in the education sector. Her responsibilities include writing policies and procedures, event planning and building office culture. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Missouri – Kansas City with a focus on enterprise management. Before joining her current company, she held the position of administrative officer for the Cancer Biology department at University of Kansas Medical Center, and was responsible for budgeting and use of state, grant and foundation funding.
Julie is a native of Washington state, but loves her adopted home of Kansas City, where she lives with her son Joseph and two fur persons, Mister and Mister Baby. Julie loves to travel, get dirty in her garden and wander around in the woods. She has a passion for community outreach and charitable giving, and has served as volunteer events coordinator for KC Oasis and for a program she created at her workplace. In addition to her continuing efforts in support of our values of “human hands solve human problems” and “meaning comes from making a difference,” she would like to work toward encouraging more diversity and inclusion that fully reflects our society.