On August 29, Joanne Collins, the grande dame of local Kansas City politics, will turn 89 and the city has proclaimed the day Joanne Collins Day in recognition of Collins previous and ongoing contributions to the city. 

Collins served on the Kansas City Missouri council beginning in 1974 and retired in 1991.  She was the first African-American female elected to the City Council and was the first Black woman to serve as mayor pro tem.  She also served as acting mayor during the mayor’s absence. 

Her position as the first Black female mayor pro tem was overlooked recently when current Mayor Quinton Lucas appointed Ryana Parks-Shaw as mayor pro tem and sent out a release announcing Parks-shaw’s appointment as a historic first.  

It was a mistake that ruffled a few feathers, but not Collins’.

“It was an honest mistake, you know.  Maybe he didn’t have the information and the clerk didn’t do the research on it.  So, it’s okay,”

said the always gracious Collins

Collins isn’t one to play up her previous service even though she estimates she’s volunteered her time to more than 50 different organizations, some of which she still gives her time to. Almost every day of the week, Collins is busy with meetings, webinars, exercise classes and mentoring. 

Although she turns 89 on her birthday, Collins does not plan on resting anytime soon.  Collins said she was born with her drive and motivation and good news for Kansas City, her energy level remains high and she still has a desire to give back.  

“Doing for others has always made me feel better and I know when I get up in the morning, I’m going to do something for somebody else, but I’m also going to do something for myself that I enjoy,” said Collins  “It’s just a one foot in front of the other, going forward, and taking care of yourself.

Since 1996, Bonita has served as as Editor-in-Chief of The Community Voice newspaper. As the owner, she has guided the Wichita-based publication’s growth in reach across the state of Kansas and into...