Sunflower Foundation > Who We Are > Our People > Staff
Sunflower Foundation staff members are passionate about our work. Whether it’s talking through a possible project or finding creative ways to provide technical assistance, we believe in trusting our partners’ knowledge and perspective. Relationships are important to us and we strive to foster a culture of grantee-centric service. Trust, fairness, responsiveness, and respect are the principles we use to guide our daily work and grantmaking decisions.
President and Chief Executive Officer
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Billie Hall is the corporation’s chief executive officer and works in partnership with the Board of Trustees and staff to provide leadership, vision, and direction for the organization. She is responsible for policies, programs, practices, and procedures to accomplish the foundation’s functions including grantmaking, investments, operations, and communications. Hall’s career has focused on many aspects of health care and public health, including school health education, women’s health, community health planning and health policy. She was Vice President for Public Affairs for the Kansas Health Institute. Previously, she led the development of the first specialty women’s health center in Topeka, where she served as Executive Director for nearly 10 years. She began her career as a public health educator for the Kansas Department of Health & Environment. She is a native of Topeka.
Education: Master of Science degree in Public Health, University of Missouri; Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, Washburn University.
Chief Financial & Operating Officer
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Cheryl Bean oversees both the finance and grants management operations of the foundation. Her responsibilities include the management of all grants, including grant contracts, payments, reporting requirements and maintenance of the grants database and software. Her financial management duties include oversight of all financial accounting activities, budget preparation, payroll and working with chief executive officer, finance committee, Board of Trustees concerning the foundation’s investment policy and management and annual audit. She also is responsible for human resources, maintaining personnel records, administrating benefits and personnel policies. Since 2013, she has been a board member of the Grants Managers Network. Previously, Cheryl was an office coordinator, staffing consultant and accounting manager for Key Staffing, a personnel firm in Topeka, Kansas. In that position, she performed all accounting functions for four divisions of the privately owned corporation, including payroll preparation, management and oversight of employee benefit plans, and accounts payable, receivable and collections. She is a native of Claflin, Kansas.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Management, Washburn University.
Elizabeth Stewart Burger
Senior Program Officer
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Elizabeth Stewart Burger, PhD, MBA, oversees the foundation’s Healthy Living & Active Communities program area. This program area focuses on the built environment: the systems, structures and surroundings that make “the healthy choice, the easy choice” around physical activity and healthy food access. Burger began her career as a TV news producer but later transitioned to health and wellness. While completing her graduate degrees, she owned a personal training business, managed hospital-based wellness programs, and taught health education at the collegiate and community level. Most recently, she served as the evaluation director of practice-based research for the American Academy of Family Physicians. Burger loves running, hiking and biking whenever and wherever she can, but her favorite spot is near her log cabin home in rural northwest Douglas County.
Education: PhD and Master of Science degrees in Health and Human Performance, Oklahoma State University; Master of Business Administration from Rockhurst University; post-doctoral fellowship, University of Kansas; and Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications/Journalism, University of Tulsa.
Director of Communications
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Phil Cauthon oversees external and internal communications for Sunflower Foundation. This primarily includes messaging that furthers the mission of the foundation and advancing the goals of key programs and initiatives. Communications are aimed at amplifying the work of Sunflower grantees and other stakeholders and its effect on their communities, particularly successful initiatives that can serve as models for others. The primary modes of communication are Sunflower’s website, email newsletter, annual reports, traditional media, social media, and nonprofit journalism grantmaking.
Education: Master of Science degree in Journalism and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Spanish and International Politics & Economics — all from the University of Kansas.
Director of Business Development for Sunflower Foundation’s Nonprofit Center
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Jason Fizell is the Director of Business Development for Sunflower Foundation’s Nonprofit Center. He will oversee fundraising and grant development for the Nonprofit Center, as well as tenant recruitment for its shared office space and marketing of the conference center. Previously, Jason served for five years as Development Manager for St. Francis Health Foundation in Topeka. He has also served as Executive Director for the Kansas Land Trust in Lawrence, District Director for U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, and Proposal Development Manager for Health Systems Research, Inc. in Washington, D.C.
Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in History focusing on history of science and environmental history, University of Kansas.
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Brandon Skidmore oversees the foundation’s health care portfolio, including the Integrated Care Initiative. The focus of this program is on attainable and sustainable integration of primary and behavioral health care at the community and statewide levels. Previously, he served as Director of the Bureau of Health Promotion at the Kansas Department of Health & Environment, where he worked for more than a decade. He is a Fellow of the Kansas Public Health Leadership Institute and a recipient of the Outstanding Service Award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Brandon is a native Kansan.
Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from the University of Kansas.
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Gayle Smith oversees all corporate responsibilities at Sunflower Foundation, as well as provide executive and governance support, organizational and project management, and event planning. Previously, she served for seven years as Senior Executive Assistant at Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka. Before that, she did similar work at Childcare Aware of Eastern Kansas (a non-profit social service agency) and Security Benefit. Gayle is currently President of the American Business Women’s Association Career Chapter and is an active member of the Washburn University Alumni Association.
Education: Master of Business Administration from Baker University and Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Washburn University.