ReadMHK Podcast

About ReadMHK Podcast

ReadMHK is a community-wide reading program aimed at building connections through books and sharing experiences with each other. Each month we will speak with a local community member, talk about books based on the theme, and offer reading suggestions.

Listen below, or check out our Anchor FM podcast page to find more places to subscribe to our podcast.

Current Episode Guest

A photo of Caela Simmons Wood

Caela Simmons Wood

The focus of this episode is exploring beliefs. Join us as we speak with Reverend Caela Simmons Wood. Caela has a B.A. in History from Kansas State University, a Masters in Theological Studies at Perkins School of Theology at Dallas, and a Masters in Divinity at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. She became ordained in the United Church of Christ in 2010 and became the first female pastor of Manhattan’s First Congregational United Church of Christ in 2014.

Caela is passionate about understanding and confronting systemic injustices, especially related to race, sexuality and gender, economic inequality, and environmental stewardship.

Listen to this episode, Exploring Beliefs with Caela Simmons Wood, below.

Previous Episodes

Chad Moreau

The focus of this episode is military life. Join us as we speak with Chad Moreau, a husband and father to four children, and a recently retired Air Force veteran. A native of New Orleans, Chad joined the Air Force following the September 11, 2001 attacks, with assignments in four states, and deployments to six countries.

Listen to this episode, Military Life with Chad Moreau, below.

Rohina and Zohra Safa with Fatima Jaghoori and Sarah Inskeep

The focus of this episode is the immigrant experience. Join us as we speak with Rohina and Zohra Safa, two sisters from Ghazni province in Afghanistan. They recently resettled here in Manhattan, Kansas with the help of the Manhattan Afghan Resettlement Team (MART) after they were forced to flee their home when the Taliban took over their country. We also speak with two volunteers from MART, Fatima Jaghoori and Sarah Inskeep, who were both instrumental in helping immigrants from Afghanistan resettle here in Manhattan.

You can learn more about MART by visiting their website,, or the Manhattan Afghan Resettlement Team on Facebook.

Listen to this episode, Immigrant Experience with Rohina and Zohra Safa, below.

Annie Spence

Annie Spence is a personal trainer who offers client-centered coaching, based on her years of experience, her degree in Kinesiology, and her broad-reaching professional certifications. Thanks to her previous strength training, Annie survived a traumatic crush injury in New Zealand that led to a six-month hospital stay, left her with 29 screws and three plates in her pelvis and spine, and she eventually had a complete hip replacement. This left Annie with an even greater gratitude for movement, health, and strength.

Listen to this episode, Surviving Disasters with Annie Spence, below.

Season 1

Tara Coleman

Tara Coleman

Tara Coleman is an Associate Professor at Kansas State University Libraries, as well as the Programming Services Coordinator for their new Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab. Tara is the Coordinator for the K-State First Book program, which features The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline as the 2021 selection.

Listen to this episode, Dystopian Fiction with Tara Coleman, below. Click here for a list of books featured in this episode.

Elsa Valarezo

Elsa Valarezo is an instructor for the Adult Education program at Manhattan Area Technical College. She is a full-time language instructor, interpreter, and translator with 20 years of professional experience teaching students English as a Second Language. Elsa holds a Bachelor of Arts in Languages and Linguistics from Universidad de Guayaquil, in Ecuador and a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction in English from Kansas Sate University.

Listen to this episode, Hispanic and Latinx authors with Elsa Valarezo, below.

Dr. Debra Bolton

Dr. Debra Bolton directs intercultural learning and development and is faculty in geography at Kansas State University. In her work, she collaborates with academic and student life colleagues to advance equitable representation of historically excluded or underrepresented identities in higher education. In addition, Bolton, a National Geographic Society Explorer, continues her research in displaced populations having recently published a book chapter on the African diaspora in Southwest Kansas and a recent article in a financial magazine focusing on historical currencies of Indigenous populations.

Listen to this episode, Native authors with Dr. Debra Bolton, below.

Linda Knupp and Marcy Allen

Linda Knupp has worked in libraries of various types and sizes across the state of Kansas. Her very first library job was at Manhattan Public Library and after exploring other options, she returned in 2001 to work as the Assistant Director and became the Director in 2011.

Marcy Allen is a native of Manhattan, Kansas, and earned both her bachelors and masters degrees in English at Kansas State University. She taught English to middle school and high school students for a number of years before coming to work at Manhattan Public Library over 20 years ago, and eventually became the Collection Services Manager.

Both Linda and Marcy will be retiring at the end of 2021, so we’re glad we got the chance to sit down and speak with them about books.

Listen to this episode, New & Shiny books with Linda Knupp and Marcy Allen, below.

Jayme Morris-Hardeman

Jayme Morris-Hardeman came to Manhattan in 1991 to attend K-State and never left. Wanting a career where she could make a more direct impact on people, Jayme began working for the Sunflower CASA Project in 1998, and became the Executive Director in 2003. She left that position in 2017 to help start Thrive!, a local non-profit poverty reduction program, where she continues to serve as the Executive Director. Jayme returned to Sunflower CASA Project part-time in 2020 as an Advocate Supervisor, and is able to work directly with CASA volunteers once again.

Listen to this episode, Helping Others with Jayme Morris-Hardeman, below.

Marcus Kidd

Marcus was born and raised in the local area and has been in Manhattan for all of us life.  Growing up, he went through the USD 383 public school system.  In high school, we got involved with a number of student organizations and started working at the local movie theater.  After graduating from high school, he attended K-State and earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology.  During his undergraduate years, he joined the Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity.  It was an amazing experience for him and he now serves the organization as the Lead Chapter Advisor.  Following his bachelor’s degree, he earned his Master’s in Counseling & Student Development from K-State.  Now, Marcus is working on his doctorate in Counseling & Student Development.  As for his professional work, he’s been the General Manager of the local movie theater, an assistant director of student programs for the K-State Alumni Association, and is now the assistant director for enrollment management and institutional partnerships for the K-State College of Education.  Marcus is a person that truly values involvement and its ability to impact one’s character.

Listen to this episode, Black Authors with Marcus Kidd, below.

Allana Parker

Originally from Augusta, Kansas, Allana Parker received a B.S. in History along with a minor in Leadership Studies from Kansas State University and an M.A. in Museum Studies from the University of Kansas. She has served as Curator of Design with the Riley County Historical Museum since 2012, and is currently serving in the role as Director. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Manhattan/Riley County Preservation Alliance, Kansas State Historical Society Foundation, Wonder Workshop Children’s Museum, and Treasurer for the Kansas Museums Association. Allana lives with her husband, Daren, and new baby, Hattie, near Wamego, Kansas.

This episode features a lot of local history. Here are several links to a diary, the writing of Minnie Howell Champe, a coloring book, and a presentation about the women in the coloring book mentioned in the episode:

Julia Hardy Lovejoy’s Diary

Selected writing of Minnie Howell Champe from the Ionian Oracle

Coloring the Past: Twenty Riley County Women Who Made History

Women Who made History in Riley County [YouTube]

Listen to this episode, Female Authors with Allana Parker, below.

Dr. Traci Brimhall

Dr. Traci Brimhall is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod from Copper Canyon Press in 2020. Her poems have appeared widely, including The New YorkerThe NationPoetry MagazineThe New York Times, and Best American Poetry. She directs the creative writing program at Kansas State University and this summer will begin directing the Young Writers Workshop, a free summer program for students entering 8th – 10th grade in Fall 2022. Born in Little Falls, Minnesota, Dr. Brimhall now resides in Manhattan, KS with son Elliot and dog Zeno.

Listen to this episode, Poetry with Dr. Traci Brimhall, below.

Fanny Fang

Fanny Fang is a proud first-generation Chinese Kansan. Her pronouns are she/her, and she has lived in both the Little Apple and Big Apple.

Upon graduating from New York University with a degree in sports management, Fanny returned home to Manhattan, KS, to help operate her family’s ethnic grocery store. It was recently renamed after her mom, Mama Fang’s, to honor her unwavering dedication to family and community.

Today Fanny serves as the Chief People Officer of Mama Fang’s. Her focus is on carrying out its mission to cultivate nourished communities by feeding the human mind, body, and soul.

Listen to this episode, Asian American and Pacific Islander Authors with Fanny Fang, below.