Joni Wickham, Chief of Staff to Kansas City Mayor Sly James, has been named recipient of the 2019 Governor Mel Carnahan Award for Public Service. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions through public service, both paid and volunteer, in the government, education, nonprofit, or legal sectors.
“Joni is essential to our administration, navigating some of the city’s most complex issues – I couldn’t do what I do without her,” said Mayor Sly James. “In a time where true public service is becoming increasingly rare, Joni stands out as selfless and dedicated public servant, committed to improving the lives of those she serves and elevating the visibility of women in leadership.”
Wickham provides counsel to the Mayor on key decisions and leads a diverse and energetic staff. She has played a central role in shaping many of the Mayor’s most transformative initiatives, such as winning voter approval for the streetcar, $800 million of general obligation bonds for city infrastructure, and a new, single terminal airport.
Wickham has worked diligently to advance policies and initiatives that support women and families, and to increase the number of women in positions of leadership in both private and public sectors. She helped launch Mayor James’ Women’s Empowerment initiative, which partners with area organizations to provide women with the mentoring, training, and opportunities necessary to lead in their communities.
Before joining Mayor James’ office, Wickham served on the staff of Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, advocating for working families at the Missouri Federation of Teachers, and moving the mission of the Missouri Department of Transportation forward by building effective public policy coalitions and community partnerships.
Wickham serves on the Women’s Foundation Strategic Planning Committee, the Junior League of Kansas City’s Community Advisory Board, American Public Square Board of Directors, and as a mentor for Turn the Page KC. She was selected to be a part of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Project on Municipal Innovation.