In the century since women gained the vote with the ratification of the 19th amendment, the role of women in the political sphere has increased dramatically in some ways with little advancement in others. This panel of women elected officials will share their experiences as women in politics and the importance of women in public service and the political realm.
Dr. Barbara W. Ballard is the Senior Associate Director at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, University of Kansas and has served as an Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Associate Dean for Student Life and the Director of the Emily Taylor Women’s Resource Center. Ballard also teaches for the School of Education and Department of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. Ballard is a member of the Kansas Legislature. She was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1992. Ballard serves on the House Leadership Team as the Democratic Caucus Chair and is the first African American to do so, serving over fifteen years. She is a past President of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and is the President of the NBCSL Foundation. Ballard is a past officer of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women.
Representative Susan Concannon is serving her 4th term in the Kansas State House of Representatives, where she serves on Appropriations, Taxation and Chairman of Children and Seniors Committee. She also serves on the Bob Bethel KanCare Oversight Committee, which is charged with overseeing the state’s Medicaid managed care system. Concannon is a graduate of Bethany College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She is also an alum of Leadership Mitchell County and Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership. Since moving with her husband to Beloit in 1987, Concannon has dedicated much of her time to community service in the Beloit area. Prior to her election to the legislature, she helped start the Mitchell County Regional Medical Foundation and served as the Executive Director.
Vicki Schmidt is the current Kansas Insurance Commissioner. Previously, she spent 40 years serving Kansans as a pharmacist, oftentimes speaking out against flaws in healthcare and Medicaid. Schmidt was then elected to public office, serving as the Chair of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee. As a state senator, she actively worked on insurance-related issues that faced families who had children with autism. Schmidt graduated from KU’s School of Pharmacy.
Representative Ponka-We Victors has served in the Kansas House of Representatives since 2010 and represents the 103rd district of Wichita, Kansas. She is the first Native American woman to serve in the Kansas Legislature and is the daughter of Juan and Sandra Victors, both alumni of Haskell Indian Nations University. Victors is a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation of Arizona and Ponca tribe of Oklahoma. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Wichita State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Newman University.
This event is co-sponsored by the Political Science Department of KU.
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