In the diverse landscape of Kansas politics, African American legislators have played a vital role in shaping policies and advocating for our communities. These legislators are a testament to the resilience and dedication of individuals committed to making a positive impact. Let's delve into the achievements and contributions of these esteemed leaders, celebrating their unique journeys in alphabetical order.
Barbara Ballard - Representative, District 44:
Barbara Ballard's extensive career in education and civic engagement makes her a distinguished representative for District 44. With degrees from Webster College and Kansas State University, Ballard's commitment to education is evident in her roles as an elementary school teacher and associate vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of Kansas.
As the senior associate director at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, Ballard has spearheaded various civic engagement programs. Her multifaceted contributions to education and community development reflect a commitment to empowering the next generation.
Ford Carr - Representative, District 84:
Aerospace engineer and community activist, Ford Carr assumed office in 2022, representing central Wichita's 84th House District. Appointed to fill a vacancy in 2022, Carr's subsequent election underscores his resonance with the community and commitment to the late Rep. Gail Finney's legacy.
Carr's professional background in aerospace engineering brings a unique perspective to legislative discussions. His dedication to public service, particularly in the context of succeeding a respected predecessor, showcases his commitment to the well-being of his constituents.
Oletha Faust-Goudeau - Senator, District 29:
Oletha Faust-Goudeau, a Wichita native, holds the distinction of being the first African American woman to serve in the Kansas Senate, a milestone achieved in 2008. Faust-Goudeau's commitment to public service is evident not only through her legislative roles but also in her extensive community involvement. With a degree in pre-law from Wichita State University, she has dedicated her career to advocacy and leadership.
Faust-Goudeau's noteworthy positions include serving as the Senate assistant minority leader and holding key roles on committees such as Transparency and Ethics, Federal and State Affairs, and Local Government. Her advocacy extends beyond legislative chambers, with involvement in organizations like the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, and the Women’s Democratic Club.
David Haley - Senator, District 4:
With a rich educational background from Morehouse College and Howard University, David Haley has been a stalwart in Kansas politics for over two decades. A Kansas City, Kansas native, he has served in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, demonstrating a profound commitment to public service.
Haley's expertise as an attorney shines through in his role as the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee for over a decade. His national involvement, including leadership positions in the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, showcases his dedication to advancing the interests of marginalized communities.
KC Ohaebosim - Representative, District 89:
Hailing from Wichita, KC Ohaebosim is a data analyst with a strong background in management information systems. Elected to the House in 2016, Ohaebosim represents District 89, covering parts of north Wichita and Bel Aire. As a Democrat, he serves as the ranking minority member of the Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications committees and contributes to the Transportation and Social Services Budget committees.
Ohaebosim's diverse career, spanning from client services to tech support, brings a unique perspective to legislative discussions. His dedication to the people of Kansas is evident in his active participation in committees that impact essential services and infrastructure.
Patrick Penn - Representative, District 85:
A Wichita resident, Patrick Penn's journey from the U.S. Army to the Kansas Legislature reflects resilience and commitment. Overcoming a challenging childhood in foster care, Penn earned degrees in criminology and applied information technology. His military service, reaching the rank of captain, speaks to his leadership abilities.
Penn's career as a program manager with Textron Aviation Defense showcases his dedication to public service, further exemplified by his active participation in the legislative process. His journey underscores the transformative power of education and perseverance.
Marvin Robinson - Representative, District 35:
Marvin Robinson II, a recent addition to the Kansas House of Representatives, brings a wealth of experience working with organizations that serve underprivileged minority groups in Wyandotte County. Advocating for the preservation and study of the Quindaro Townsite, Robinson's dedication to historical and community causes is noteworthy.
Having assumed office in 2023, Robinson's early contributions to District 35 reflect a commitment to addressing the needs of the community. His advocacy aligns with the principles of inclusivity and social justice.
Valdenia Winn - Representative, District 34:
Representative Valdenia C. Winn's enduring commitment to Kansas is reflected in her continuous re-election since 2000. With degrees from the University of Kansas and a career as a professor at Kansas City Community College, Winn's contributions to education and her community are profound.
Serving on the Committee on Education and the Joint Committee on Economic Development, Winn's legislative roles align with her academic background, providing her with a comprehensive understanding of the issues affecting her constituents.
Their distinguished backgrounds, commitment to community service, and dedication to addressing critical issues make each of them invaluable representatives. As we celebrate their achievements, let us also recognize the importance of fostering inclusive leadership that represents the diverse voices within the state of Kansas.
Kansas Black Legislative Day at the Capital is the time to engage with experts on critical issues and interact directly with influential legislators (including some of the African American Legislators featured above). The event will include a series of panel presentations and discussions on hot legislative topics of the year, with a specific focus on the potential impact the legislation might have on the state’s Black community.
Learn more about Kansas Black Legislative Day at the Capital: https://www.kansasblc.org/blackagenda