Women in Politics
Laura J. Kelly (24 January 1950) is an American politician currently serving as the 48th Governor of Kansas since 2019. She has represented the 18th district in the Kansas Senate from 2005 to 2019 and ran for governor in the 2018 election.
Kelly was born and raised in New York City, where she grew up in a career military family. She studied at Bradley University, receiving a Bachelor of Science in psychology, and earned her Masters degree in therapeutic recreation at Indiana University.
As a long-time leader of the Kansas Recreation and Park Association, she was a leading voice in promoting healthy families and communities to improve the quality of life in Kansas through top-notch recreation services. She has also fought to improve mental health services and help patients live healthy and more productive lives.
Kelly was elected to the Kansas Senate in 2004, wherein she immediately built a no-nonsense leader reputation who could work with both Republicans and Democrats. After two years, she was asked to serve as the Ranking Minority Member of the Ways and Means Committee.
During the peak of the Great Recession, Kelly and a Republican colleague headed the legislation to establish a state savings account so Kansas could be better prepared for unforeseen emergencies that could impact the state budget. She played a significant role in establishing and funding the Early Childhood Development Block Grants, which have helped several Kansas children enter kindergarten ready to learn.
Kelly has been a strong supporter of traditional engines like public schools, job training, and infrastructure. She believes Kansas leaders need to think more like entrepreneurs than politicians by learning to make creative and strategic investment plans for future jobs.
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