About Us

Propel at UMKC is a part of the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology. Our offices on campus are located in Cherry Hall on the first floor, south wing of the building.

Propel Team


Kate Duffy, Transition Manager and Faculty Liaison  duffymp@umkc.edu

Kate Duffy, research associate, is Propel’s community organizer, faculty liaison, and year two academic advisor. Through her passion for building community, Kate keeps the multiple pieces of Propel moving forward each day. She enjoys and has years of experience working with faculty on teaching and learning, and serves as a resource for Propel instructors and UMKC faculty who teach Propel students in inclusive higher education courses. Propel is a program about transition, and Ms. Duffy leads transition to college, transition to further education, and transition to employment areas for Propel.

Ms. Duffy has worked as a transition navigator for college-age students with disabilities and as a director of Universal Design for Learning on a UMKC-IHD college pipeline program for students with disabilities.  Ms. Duffy has written four books about employment, including two about employment for people with disabilities. She co-authored her last book, Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism, with Dr. Temple Grandin.

Laura Hurse, Academic Advisor and Student Liaison  hursele@umkc.edu

Laura Hurse serves as Propel’s year one academic advisor. Propel students meet with her regularly for mentoring and for support with their academic pursuits and engaging in campus life. Ms. Hurse also supervises the resident assistants, peer mentors, interns, and service learning students that make the Propel community work.  She earned the Interdisciplinary Leadership in Disability Studies certificate and is a graduate student at UMKC earning theMasters in Higher Education. Laura has undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Sociology.





Dr. Alexis Petri, Principal Investigator and Project Director    petria@umkc.edu

Alexis Petri, EdD, is the principal investigator for the U.S. Department of Education grant that funds Propel and also serves as project director for Propel. Her main responsibilities are in managing the grant, collecting data, managing relationships, and sharing the Propel story.

Dr. Petri is research associate professor in the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences Psychology Department and also serves as the UMKC Higher Learning Commission Lead Assurance Argument Writer for the university’s accreditation reaffirmation. Dr. Petri has extensive experience with transition to college and careers for post-traditional students as well as taking leadership roles in building and directing university-wide high-impact learning programs and the campus-community partnerships that are their foundation. She completed her EdD in higher education administration and public policy, and a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English. She is a long-time neighborhood advocate and serves on the school board of Hogan Preparatory Academy, a public charter school in Kansas City, Missouri. Her research areas are access to postsecondary education, urban education, civic engagement, service-learning, evaluation, data visualization, and cities, and her favorite research methodology is Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping.

Dr. Julie Warm, Co-Principal Investigator and Parent Support Liaison    warmj@umkc.edu

Dr. Warm provides support to parents of participants in areas related to planning for and navigating college. She has extensive experience in higher education and areas of civic engagement and service-learning. She is the parent of a child with IDD.





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