Joan Vitt, Executive Director
Joan was born in Hutchinson and raised in Independence, Kansas. After graduating from Independence High School, she immediately left to work at Yellowstone National Park for two years. She came back to Southeast Kansas and attended Independence Community College and Pitt State. A yearning for travel led Joan to a career in the hospitality field for Sheraton Hotels and for a private investor building new hotels in the Southwest part of the US. An opportunity became available to move back to Southeast Kansas when she read that a nonprofit shelter in Parsons was seeking an Executive Director. She got the position and promptly moved from Dallas to run the Parsons Youth Crisis Shelter. After 12 years, it was time to open a new chapter. Joan took a position with a biometrics company, AFIX Technologies, as the Director of Marketing. Within 5 years, she was appointed by the Board of Directors as President and CEO, a position she held for 15 years. That position helped quench her thirst for travel – allowing Joan to see all 50 states and 14 countries.
Ms. Vitt is a current Trustee for the local Elks Lodge #527, as well as a member of its House, Veterans and St Patrick’s Day committees. She is also a past president of the Parsons Chamber of Commerce. Joan enjoys gardening, cooking all types of cuisine, listening to live music and of course traveling! She shares her time with her partner, Brian Collins, her son Dylan Vitt and his partner Krista Jackson. She recently celebrated the arrival of her first grandbaby in February 2019!
Frances Gorman Graves, Assistant to the Director
Frances grew up in Shawnee, Kansas and moved to Lawrence to attend KU, where she collected a degree in Psychology with a minor in Art History and a graduate degree in Journalism. During her 11 years in Lawrence, she worked in politics and state government in Topeka and at the KU School of Business. She also married a Southeast Kansas native, Kris Graves of Bartlett. Following a strong desire to live closer to family after the birth of their first daughter, Frances and Kris moved to Parsons in 2009. They later renovated the Graves family homestead in Bartlett where they currently live with their three daughters as proud fifth-generation farmers and ranchers.
Frances has taught business communications and jewelry classes through Labette Community College, telecommuted as a media analyst and volunteered extensively in her community. She’s the proud founder and organizer of the annual Bartlett Harvest Festival, as well as an after-school Art Club at Bartlett Grade School. Frances graduated from the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership (KARL) Program and is an active board member of Labette County Farm Bureau. She loves traveling, spending time outdoors and finding joy in new experiences through the eyes of her children.