Our Team

Dawn Buehler, Kansas Riverkeeper

Dawn Buehler, Kansas Riverkeeper® & Executive Director


Dawn Buehler is the Kansas Riverkeeper® & Executive Director of Friends of the Kaw.  She can be reach at riverkeeper@kansasriver.org.  In addition to managing the daily activities of FOK, she monitors, responds and mediates suspected pollution incidents to Kansas River; facilitates our educational paddle trips; and manages our advocacy efforts to protect and preserve the Kansas River.

Growing up on a farm on the plains of Kansas, Dawn knew at young age how much she loved the land, water and nature.  Dawn was born and raised in the Kaw River Valley in DeSoto on a 2,000 acre crop farm.  The family farm ran along the Kansas River in DeSoto. She spent her childhood riding alongside her father learning about the importance of taking care of the soil, water and providing for the family. She also spent many hours on the beautiful Kansas River fishing, camping, canoeing and riding in her Dad’s airboat.  Her love for the river began at this early age when she would sit and watch the sunset on the river at the end of each farm day.

Dawn continued to help on the farm and also went on to college after high school and earned both a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife Conservation from Oregon State University and a Bachelor in Business Administration from Baker University.  Dawn has spent her career working as a conservationist, accountant and farmer.  Dawn’s passion is watershed management and finding ways we can all work together to improve our watershed and the quality of the Kansas River.  As a Kansas native, Dawn has a vested interest and passion for the river.

Dawn is happiest when she is outdoors.  You can often find her fishing, hiking, kayaking, reading and exploring. Dawn lives with her family, including two chocolate labrador retrievers, on their farm south of Eudora.

Dawn is the Chair of the Kansas Water Authority and the Governor’s Appointee for the Oil & Gas Advisory Committee.  Dawn is also certified in Wilderness First Aid and General First Aid/CPR.

Jane Liebert, Director of Major Gifts & Planned Giving


Jane Liebert is the Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving. She can be reached at jane.liebert@kansasriver.org.

Serving as our front-line fundraiser, Jane believes in creating a culture of philanthropy that nurtures a shared responsibility and belief in the power of giving. She oversees our annual giving program, advocates for gifts to the endowment, and facilitates planned and estate gifts. She has over 20 years of fundraising experience. No stranger to the water, Jane is an avid swimmer, Lifeguard, Lifeguard Trainer, Water Safety Instructor, and Water Safety Instructor Trainer. She also enjoys kayaking and fishing. In search of kayaking companions, she discovered FOK while attending the FOK 30th anniversary celebration at Kaw State Park in Topeka. The rest is history. She became a member of FOK, participated in our public paddles, is a proud Kaw River Guide, and volunteered for fundraising efforts.

“My years of fundraising combined with a love for the Kansas River makes working for FOK a perfect match. When a fundraiser can tap into their passions…well…it makes all the difference in helping donors visualize how they can give in a way that’s meaningful for them.”

She received a Master’s degree in English from Pittsburg State University, and an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Saint Mary where she served nearly 15 years as Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving, Director of Development, and Alumni Director. She also worked 10 years as Director of Development at St. John Church and School in Lawrence.

Jane is a member of National Association of Charitable Gift Planners, Charitable Gift Planners of Kansas, Mid-America Charitable Gift Planners of Missouri, and Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).


Kim Mahanna-Bellemere, Director of Programming & Outreach

Kim Mahanna-Bellemere is the Director of Programming & Outreach for Friends of the Kaw and can be reached at kim.bellemere@kansasriver.org.  Kim manages our  programs including grant projects, River Cleanups, Educational Paddle Trips, Adopt-A-Boat Ramp, and Ecosystem Restoration Projects.  Kim comes to us with a strong non-profit background, recently serving as the Director of Outreach for the Grassland Heritage Foundation (GHF) where she oversaw GHF’s education activities for children and adults focusing on the tallgrass prairie ecosystem.  Kim came to environmental work after a career in health education and non-profit management. Although always concerned about environmental issues, she made the move to environmental education after starting a family and realizing she wanted to do more to protect Kansas’ natural resources. Kim holds a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Kansas with a special focus on Community Health and Microbiology.

In addition to her work with GHF, Kim is a co-founder of the Kansas Women’s Environmental Network, a co-founder of the Kaw Valley Native Plant Coalition, and an active volunteer with a number of community projects.    A lifelong Kansan, Kim truly understands the crucial role the environment plays in our cultural and environmental heritage and the importance of preserving it for future generations.

Kim lives north of Lawrence with her husband and almost adult daughter and son.  When she isn’t stewarding the Kansas River, she can be found gardening, tending the family prairie restoration, and wondering when she can get back on the water. 

Kim is certified in Wilderness First Aid and General First Aid/CPR.

Joey Shondell, Youth Outreach & Programming Coordinator


Joseph (Joey) Shondell is the Youth Outreach and Programming Coordinator. He can be reached at joey.shondell@kansasriver.org. Joey coordinates the K.A.W. (Kids About Water) Program in schools throughout the Kansas River basin, ensuring children have an understanding of water quality and watershed protection. Along with educational responsibilities at FOK, he also helps with cleanups, events and riverbank restorations. 

Born and raised in Roeland Park, KS, Joey spent lots of his free time exploring the suburban streams running through the city. His group of friends caught crayfish, built log bridges, and enjoyed the small woodlands running along the streams of the Brush Creek watershed. These early experiences led Joey to work in protecting the natural ecosystems of his home state. 

Joey took his passion for Kansas’ waterways and ecology to the University of Kansas where he majored in Environmental Studies with a minor in Journalism. He worked with a five person student group to restore a small remnant prairie buried within the West Campus woodlands. During school, he spent a summer in Eugene, OR working with BRING Recycling, rescuing used construction materials from entering the landfill. After receiving his degree, Joey jumped into the world of native plants. working three years at a native plant nursery growing Tallgrass prairie species from seed to full plug. 

An avid long distance runner, kayaker and swimmer, Joey enjoys the outdoors through activity on the vast network of gravel roads and time on our shared river. He is also a hobbyist grower of native species and does native landscaping on the side. When he isn’t growing native plants or out on trails, free time is spent volunteering with area ecosystem restorations or watching soccer.