Kansas Operation Lifesaver, Inc.
800 SW Jackson
Suite 808
Topeka KS 66612
Coexist spelled using rail-related graphics (used with permission from Coexist Foundation)
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (785) 806-8801
Mission Statement
Operation Lifesaver is a nationwide, non-profit public safety education and outreach program designed to eliminate collisions, deaths and injuries at rail crossings and right-of-way.
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Tara Mays
Board Chair Sgt. Matthew J. Vogt
Board Chair Company Affiliation Kansas Peace Officers' Association
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1974
Volunteer Opportunities
Ways to donate, support, or volunteer Contact Tara Mays, Executive Director:
tmays@kscapitol.com address 800 SW Jackson St, Suite 808 Topeka, KS 66612
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement
Operation Lifesaver is a nationwide, non-profit public safety education and outreach program designed to eliminate collisions, deaths and injuries at rail crossings and right-of-way.
Background Statement
As the third state in the nation to join OL, Kansas Operation Lifesaver began in 1974. In that time, collisions between people and trains have dropped 80% according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Of Kansas’ 105 counties, 100 of them have railroads operating in them- including every county in the Greater Kansas City area. While Missouri also has an OL program, our Kansas volunteers regularly educate in the KC Metro on the Missouri side.
Impact Statement
Kansas Operation Lifesaver speaks to over 60,000 Kansans annually about railroad safety. We are the ONLY public safety charity in Kansas dedicated to railroad safety for pedestrians and motorists. 
Accomplishments for Calendar Year 2016:
  • Completed 1,461 presentations before community groups for a reach of 21,580 audience members
  • Successfully completed a farm safety project
Needs Statement
  1. We need to increase volunteer outreach using modern outreach tactics.
  2. We need to generate enough revenue to maintain incentive programs to keep volunteers engaged.
  3. We need to increase our training, handout materials, Law Enforcement, and Volunteer Materials budgets in order to increase outreach.
  4. Because the presentations are electronic, additional technology is needed: laptop computers and projectors for Volunteer use
Service Categories
Safety Education
Areas of Service
MO - Jackson County
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement
As an advocate that has worked with Kansas' transportation entities for the last 10 years, this is the only program in the state devoted to rail safety.  It's an important organization with so many counties impacted by train incidents annually.  
Kansas Operation Lifesaver has mastered the outcomes based model but we must learn to humanize the program to continue to be successful.  We must learn to build new partnerships and not just rely on our existing support network, which means innovating outside traditional rail audiences.
Our organization has a great reputation and broad recognition but we have an opportunity to learn to modernize our delivery and connectivity with younger audiences who can be particularly vulnerable to rail incidents.
Description K-12 Grade programs, Driver Education, Professional Drivers: Our content and the way it is facilitated is cognitively-based, developed by professional educators and Instructional Designers, and age-appropriate. We give presentations, including handout material to reinforce the message, to students of every age and profession, regardless of location, affiliation, career, or other demographic concerns. Our message is for everyone.
Category Public Safety, Disaster Services, General/Other Safety Education
Population Served General/Unspecified, ,
Short-Term Success Our short-term success is merely having the numbers to show that Kansans are attending our free presentations. As well, we would also like to see at least one year where no one is hurt or killed while trespassing on railroad property, or as a result of a risky decision made operating a motor vehicle.
Long-Term Success Our first goal is to eliminate trespass behavior within all demographics. While we are close, we still have work to do. Recently, in the Lawrence area, two teens were critically injured while trespassing. Countless others are near-miss participants. The Kansas Driver’s Manual produced by KS Dept of Revenue spends only 2 pages discussing rail safety, and only a handful of Professional Driver schools make time for this very important message. We seek to be involved in every Driver Education/Professional Driver/Bus Driver safety education program in the state.
Program Success Monitored By We will know through the collection of data from three sources: Volunteer Activity reports showing the number of participants and where they are located, FRA data on number of casualties, and railroad data on unsafe pedestrian/motorist reports.
Examples of Program Success
  • KSOL has been instrumental in driving Kansas rail-related casualties down by 83% in the last 40 years (source FRA).
  • Educating the public about railroad safety is the best way to reduce accidents. Did you know that according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, most railroad-related vehicle accidents are the result of driver error? People impatiently drive around crossing gates, race to beat a train to the crossing, or are in some way distracted while driving.
  • Operation Lifesaver remains true to its mission of eliminating driver- and pedestrian­ related railroad accidents by working to educate people through advertising, training, social media, safety presentations and other community outreach initiatives.”
Description Positive Enforcement Lanes/Officer on the Train: Through close relationships with state, county, and local law enforcement (LE) all over the state, we actively promote our PEL/OOT programs with gusto. Thousands of travelers are educated in these cooperative efforts, as well as educating LE and other first responders in how to protect their own safety when it involves tracks and trains.
Category Public Safety, Disaster Services, General/Other Safety Education
Population Served General/Unspecified, ,
Short-Term Success In our opinion, we prefer that education be the motivating factor that changes the public’s behavior. However, we realize that enforcement of rail-grade crossing law and trespass law is necessary to also get the point across and save lives. We would like to see an Officer on the Train event in Kansas City, Topeka, Lawrence, and other densely populated Kansas communities where no citations have to be issued- because everyone made the safe and legal decision in the first place.
Long-Term Success Our goal is to maintain kinetic and open relationships with Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Law Enforcement Training Academy, Kansas Sheriff’s Association, Kansas Peace Officers’ Association, and Kansas Chiefs of Police. We seek the continuance of the successful Positive Enforcement Lanes, as well as Officer on the Train events, as annual initiatives.
Program Success Monitored By We will know by comparing data provided by law enforcement: number of PELs conducted and contacts made (desired tend is upward), number of citations/warnings issued during OOT events (desired trend is downward).
Examples of Program Success
Letter of Support excerpt, Mark Bruce, Superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol:
“One of the worst parts of our job is when we have to notify someone that their loved one has been killed in a crash…We work hand in hand with [KS OL] to educate and inform the public on the dangers associated with trains. They organize enforcement opportunities with officers and troopers to enforce laws around the railroad tracks. With their assistance and support we also conduct positive enforcement lanes to encourage their important safety messages… [KS OL] and their presenters dedicate much of their time to keeping our citizens safe. Their materials provide valuable safety messages to the motoring public…they are working continuously to help save lives around the rails. The Kansas Highway Patrol is a proud supporter of [KS OL’s] dedication to protecting the citizens of Kansas.”
CEO Comments Our safety education efforts for new drivers (age 14-18) include hundreds of presentations to thousands of new drivers. Safety presentations also include robust pedestrian safety and trespass prevention messages, as railroad trespassing kills more people than motorist/train collisions. Find out more about our audiences at http://www.ksoli.org/newsletters.html
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Ms. Tara Mays
Term Start May 2017
Experience Tara Mays has more than a decade of experience working on transportation safety issues in the State of Kansas.  Her experience working with partners in state agencies, local elected officials, and other private companies interested in transportation safety make her a passionate advocate for Kansas Operation Lifesaver.
Former CEOs
Ms. Julie LaCombe Apr 2012 - June 2017
Darlene Osterhaus Feb 2001 - Apr 2012
Paid Full-Time Staff 1
Volunteers 57
Retention Rate 100%
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Under Development
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Yes
Management Succession Plan Yes
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Union Pacific, BNSF Railway, Georgia Pacific, Watco Companies, Kansas City Southern Railway, Operation Lifesaver Inc, Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Peace Officers' Association, Kansas Law Enforcement Training Academy, Dickinson County Emergency Management, Crisis City, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Kansas Sheriff's Association, Kansas Department of Transportation, Sonic Drive-In
Proclamation of Kansas Operation Lifesaver Railroad Safety DaysGovernor of Kansas2016
CEO Comments While we enjoy strong partnerships with federal, state, local, and private organizations, we face challenges of diminishing resources paired with increasing safety lapses. It will be critical in the years moving forward to close the gap on resource scarcity so we may continue our lifesaving work in Kansas and Missouri.
Board Chair
Board Chair Sgt. Matthew Vogt
Company Affiliation Kansas Peace Officers' Association
Term Aug 2012 to Dec 2018
Email mvogt@valleycenterks.org
Board Members
Ms. Lynn Aldrich
Mr. Norbert Angell Community Volunteer
Mr. Mike Foster Topeka Rescue Mission
Mr. Adrian Hertog BNSF Railway
Mr. John Simpson Union Pacific
Mr. Mitch Sothers Kansas Department of Transportation
Lt Tony Stewart Kansas Highway Patrol
Mr. Gary Vaughn Watco Companies
Sgt. Matthew J. Vogt Kansas Peace Officers' Association
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 9
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 9
Female 0
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 100%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 20%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Standing Committees
Advisory Board Members
Howard Gillespie Federal Railroad Administration advisor
CEO Comments The Kansas OL Board is very strong. Attendance is nearly 100% at all meetings throughout the year, and concerns submitted electronically are immediately addressed. Board members bring incredible knowledge bases to the program, and are very supportive of the Executive Director.
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2017
Projected Revenue $55,581
Projected Expenses $50,636
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2017, 2016, 2015; Financial data reported using IRS Form 990.
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201720162015
Program Expense$40,261$49,153$51,987
Administration Expense$1,526$7,732$16,333
Fundraising Expense$0$0$0
Payments to Affiliates--$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.670.881.06
Program Expense/Total Expenses96%86%76%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%0%0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201720162015
Total Assets$87,991$59,805$66,705
Current Assets$87,991$59,805$66,705
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$0$0$0
Total Net Assets$87,991$59,805$66,705
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201720162015
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount --Union Pacific Railroad $15,190Union Pacific Railroad $15,190
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount --Kansas Department of Transportation $15,000National Highway Traffic Safety Administration $15,000
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount --Burlington Northern Santa Fe $13,130BNSF Railway $12,607
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years Yes
Organization Comments Through active Board Member engagement throughout the year and especially at Budget Committee in the fall of every year, the KS OL Board and Executive Director strive to be the best stewards of limited resources we can possibly be. We enjoy strong relationships with safety partners who continue the 40-year tradition of supporting our efforts financially and through in-kind donations.
Other Documents
3rd Quarter Newsletter2016View
2nd Quarter Newsletter2016View
1st Quarter Newsletter2016View
KS OL in Action2014View
Organization Name Kansas Operation Lifesaver, Inc.
Address 800 SW Jackson
Suite 808
Topeka, KS 66612
Primary Phone (785) 806-8801
Contact Email tmays@kscapitol.com
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Tara Mays
Board Chair Sgt. Matthew J. Vogt
Board Chair Company Affiliation Kansas Peace Officers' Association
Year of Incorporation 1974