Gov. Kelly launches Commission on Racial Equity and Justice

Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 2:18 PM CDT
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Governor Laura Kelly has officially announced the Commission on Racial Equity and Justice.

Governor Laura Kelly says she has signed Executive Order No. 20-48 which has created the Governor’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice.

Governor Kelly says the Commission has been created to study the issues of racial equity and justice in the state of Kansas and will begin by focusing on law enforcement-community relations.

“As Governor, I am committed to ensuring this latest tragedy does not fade into the next news cycle. Communities of color do not have the luxury of time for leaders to address these issues,” says Governor Laura Kelly. “I have convened a diverse and qualified group of Kansas stakeholders, including members of law enforcement and advocacy groups, to form the Commission on Racial Equity and Justice. Their purpose is to find and present policy actions the state can take on issues of racial equity and justice in Kansas.”

Kelly says the Commission will hold listening sessions with Kansans that have experience and expertise in the topic. The Commission will be making recommendations to the Governor, Legislature and local governments on steps to be taken to increase racial equity and justice throughout the state.

The Commission is co-chaired by Dr. Tiffany Anderson, Superintendent of Topeka Public Schools USD 501 and Dr. Shannon Portillo, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs KU Edwards Campus & School of Professional Studies, according to the Governor.

The remaining members on the taskforce are as follows:

• Secretary DeAngela Burns-Wallace, Topeka – Kansas Department of Administration

• Dr. Brandon Davis, Lawrence, Assistant Professor – University of Kansas

• Ernestor De La Rosa, Dodge City, Assistant City Manager – City of Dodge City

• Mark Dupree, Wyandotte, District Attorney – Wyandotte County

• David Jordan, Hutchinson, President & CEO – United Methodist Health Ministry Fund

• Dr. Anthony Lewis, Lawrence, Superintendent – USD 497 Lawrence

• Mark McCormick, Johnson County, Director of Strategic Communications – Kansas ACLU

• John Nave, Topeka, Executive Vice President – Kansas AFL-CIO

• Chief Gordon Ramsay, Wichita, Chief of Police – Wichita Police Department

• Catalina Velarde, Overland Park, Attorney and Adjunct Professor – UMKC School of Law, Johnson County

• Jackson Winsett, Kansas City, Assistant Vice President – Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

• A representative of the Native American tribes of Kansas, to be selected by tribal leadership

“Governor Kelly’s commitment to equity for all Kansans is clear as she empowers a diverse group to bring additional voices and recommendations to the Legislature, local and state government,” says co-chair Dr. Tiffany Anderson. “The Governor’s courageous step to address equity through this Commission is a step that further defines Kansas as a leader and turns a moment of national unrest into a movement of progress for us all. It is a privilege as the superintendent of Topeka Public Schools to co-chair the Commission with Dr. Portillo, and I look forward to listening, learning, and working with others to ensure we have more equitable systems in place, serving all Kansas families well.”

Kelly says the Commission will meet according to public health guidance and make its initial report to the Governor by Dec. 1, 2020.

“We are seeing a call for systemic change across the country, and I am thrilled that Governor Kelly has been clear in her response,” says co-chair Dr. Shannon Portillo. “Here in Kansas, we’re going to make real change. I’m honored to work beside the diverse group of experts the Governor has brought together, and I look forward to getting to work, holding listening sessions across our state, and making policy and practice recommendations that address inequities in Kansas.”

“This is not an issue I feel comfortable sitting on and waiting for changes to happen,” says Governor Kelly. “We must be proactive in the way we approach these issues, as they impact the lives of Kansans every day. By focusing this Commission initially on policing and law enforcement, we aim to make changes that will improve the safety of both citizens and police officers.”

To learn more about the Commission on Racial Equity and Justice


To view the full Executive order