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Tanner Willbanks spent the first 14 years of his life in rural Western Kansas among a family of extremely conservative Republicans. It was not until he moved to Hays, Kansas, at the beginning of high school, that he began to question a political ideology that left those that needed help the most out in the cold. Ever since, Tanner’s been on a one-way trip to the progressive side of the political spectrum. He hasn’t looked back.

After taking some time off from school, Tanner is now pursuing his degree from the University of Kansas in political science, while also participating in multiple activist organizations on the campus.

He was elected president of his college’s chapter of Amnesty International. Tanner has served as the social outreach and service chair for KU’s Young Democrats and as the male outreach coordinator and sexual assault awareness coordinator for KU’s Commission on the Status of Women.

In these roles, Tanner has found a unique opportunity to help the 1100 Torches campaign, started in honor of his dear friend, Jana Mackey, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in the summer of 2008. Also in her honor, Tanner has served on the planning committee for the Jana Mackey Distinguished Lecture Series at KU.

In his spare time, Tanner enjoys engaging in activism at every opportunity and relaxing with friends discussing politics, policy, and movies. He strives to exemplify his ideals in every aspect of his life.

He also writes at Kansas Free Press. We’re honored that this passionate and smart activist writes with us here.