Tricia Bushnell, Legal Director
Tricia Bushnell joined the Midwest Innocence Project in December 2013. Prior to coming to Kansas City, she served as clinical faculty at the Frank J. Remington Center’s Wisconsin Innocence Project, University of Wisconsin-Madison. There she supervised students in the investigation and litigation of innocence cases involving both DNA and non-DNA evidence. She also spearheaded a program to bring social work students into the criminal clinics. She speaks about this and her cases at the annual Innocence Network Conference.
Before joining the Wisconsin Innocence Project, Bushnell was a fellow with the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, where she represented indigent clients sentenced to death, juveniles sentenced to life without parole, and sexual offenders challenging the collateral consequences of their convictions. She has written and filed briefs on behalf of defendants and amicus curiae in both state and federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court. Bushnell was previously an associate with the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis in Los Angeles, where she worked in the white-collar criminal defense and litigation departments.
She earned her Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law, where she was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Fellow. She received a Bachelor of Arts in German and Political Science from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.
Oliver Burnette, Executive Director
Oliver Burnette came to the Midwest Innocence Project in June of 2014. Oliver brings a work history which includes many years as a business owner in the Kansas City area along with time at the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s Institute for Human Development administering grants on disability services in the state of Missouri. Oliver works to implement best-business practices to insure that donors’ dollars are used in the most efficient and effective way. Things that keep Oliver up at night are how to structure non-profit organizations in ways that allow them to not only thrive in the present but also exist into the far future.
Oliver received his undergraduate degree and MBA from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.
Penelope Kress, Intake Analyst and Administrative Assistant
Penelope Kress joined the MIP in January 2014 and serves on the front line of our organization. She corresponds via phone and in writing with inmates and their families; sends out applications and reviews them to ensure they meet our criteria; and manages our caseload.
Penelope is dedicated to the cause of social justice and implementing positive change. She’s been a community activist for many years, helping to revive neglected neighborhoods and foster positive interaction among residents. She brings a diverse background that includes operating a small family business restoring and preserving historic buildings; a partnership operating a community supported agriculture endeavor; and honing skills as a Legal Assistant in the areas of intellectual property and immigration.
Rachel Wester, Staff Attorney.
Rachel Wester returned home to Missouri and joined the Midwest Innocence Project in January 2015 after earning her Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law. She received her undergraduate degree from Columbia College in 2010, with majors in Speech Communication and Political Science and a minor in Music. Rachel then spent a year working full-time as an Assistant Events Coordinator and coaching the Columbia College Mock Trial team.
Summer Farrar, Project Manager
Summer Farrar is the former Case Coordinator for the Kansas City Police Crime Lab where she acted as the liaison between the Lab, Kansas City Police Department’s Homicide Unit, and the prosecutor’s office. Her responsibilities covers case-related communication between stakeholders regarding investigative priorities and tracking Laboratory turnaround times on assigned homicide investigations. Before signing on with the police department, Summer was the Assistant Director at Grand Arts, where she was part of a team that produced ambitious contemporary art projects and cultural events in Kansas City.
Tracy Hightower-Henne – Nebraska Legal Coordinator
Tracy is the Executive Director of the Nebraska Innocence Project and serves as the Midwest Innocence Project Nebraska Legal Coordinator. In addition to her work with NEIP and MIP, Tracy is an adjunct professor at Creighton Law School in Omaha, Nebraska teaching Wrongful Convictions as well as a partner at Hightower Reff Law in Omaha, Nebraska. Hightower Reff Law practices in the area of family law and criminal defense.