T, W, and S are three letters which are sometimes used to precede the title of a project in southeast Kansas. What does TWS stand for? The Weather System? Toward West and South? Some company? No, in this case, it stands for “Together We Succeed,” which is an apt description of the mindset which drives Project 17 in southeast Kansas.

Heather Morgan is the executive director of Project 17. She grew up in Pratt, did undergraduate work at Kansas Wesleyan and then got her master’s in public administration at K-State while working with the women’s basketball team and K-State Athletics.
After graduation, Heather worked in the governor’s budget office in Topeka. She joined the state Juvenile Justice Authority where she became assistant commissioner and also served for a time as a county manager.

In 2011, four senators went to the governor and to K-State’s Advanced Manufacturing Institute, or AMI, to express their concerns about the 17-county region of southeast Kansas which they represented in the legislature. AMI became the backbone organization to organize the project, gather lots of grassroots input, and seek grant support to make things happen.

The initiative became known as Project 17. Heather Morgan became executive director of Project 17 in 2013.

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