Wichita resident Kenya Cox has been at the NAACP’s annual convention in Atlantic City, N.J., the past few days — her first as a member of the organization’s national board.
Cox this year became the first adult Kansan to join the national board since Bonner Springs resident Louisa Fletcher was elected in 1977. Every region of the NAACP gets three adult representatives and one youth representative on the board.
“It’s been a very, very long time” since Kansas had national representation, said Cox, who has held almost every position in the local Wichita branch and the Kansas State Conference. She currently holds the position of president of the Kansas State Conference.
Cox has been a member of the NAACP since 2004 and a fully paid life member since 2013.
She has earned the seat, said Larry Burks, president of the Wichita branch.
“She has had a long and storied history with us in Wichita,” Burks said. “She has a skillset that will add to what they’re doing at the national level. That’s going to be very impactful. She’s very deliberate in her actions and very professional.”
Board Structure & Role
The national board represents the organization’s seven regions, youth councils, high school chapters and college chapters. The fourth region that Cox represents includes Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. There are a total of 64 board members.
Membership on the board is voted on by delegates.
“Your delegates are decided by your members,” Cox said. “The Wichita branch has six delegates and six alternates.”
It’s important to have representation at the national level, she said, “that’s where you get your voice heard.”
The board sets all policies for the organization, elects officers, manages properties, sets membership fees and carries out other business for the NAACP. It meets four times a year.
Cox describes herself as someone who finds common ground with others.
“I always tell people that my superpower is that I’m a great connector,” she said.
Her family, she said, instilled in her that “if you’re not at the table, you don’t eat” and that African Americans should be “everywhere in the courtroom, the classroom and the boardroom.”
Being raised in a military family helped Cox learn how to make connections fast.
“We lived all across the United States,” she said. “If I wanted to have a friend, I had to show myself friendly.”
Cox has served in the administration of three Kansas governors, two U.S. congressmen and one U.S. senator. She is currently the 4th District director for U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, a Republican. Outside of politics, she has “always worked in some form of customer service,” she said.
She said she enjoys talking to people with a variety of viewpoints and backgrounds. Too many people, she said, have “drawn a line in the sand,” signaling they’re not open to listening to others’ opinions.
“If we’re going to build a more perfect union, it’s going to take us engaging all the uncommon voices in the conversations,” she said. “I’m always listening for that common ground.”
Cox’s appointment to the board is for two years.
By Deb Gruver | The Community Voice