Barnes, Kay

Year Inducted: 
Kay Barnes
  • 1999: Elected Kansas City’s first woman mayor (reelected in 2003)
  • Distinguished Professor for Public Leadership and founding Director of Center for Leadership at Park University
  • Led initiatives producing over $4.5billion in public and private investment in downtown Kansas City
  • Co-author of book About Time! A Woman’s Guide to Time Management
  • Co-founder of Central Exchange, Kansas City’s premier women’s organization for personal and professional development opportunities
  • 2007: Received Central Exchange Visionary of the Year Award

Mayor Kay Barnes was elected as Kansas City’s first woman mayor in 1999, and reelected to a second term in 2003. Mayor Barnes received her Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from the University of Kansas, and Master’s in Secondary Education and Public Administration from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. She became interested in public service in the late 1960’s when she worked for the Cross-Line Cooperative Council in the urban core. She helped found the Women’s Resource Service at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and also formed multicultural women’s speaking panels throughout the western United States. She is currently working as a distinguished professor for Public Leadership, and is the Founding Director, for the Center for Leadership at Park University at the Hauptmann School for Public Affairs. 

“People throughout the city praise Mayor Barnes for her bipartisan leadership and her creative solutions to long-standing programs,” said Kala Stroup, president of American Humanics, Inc. “Those who have known her since she was a student at the University of Kansas are not surprised. Since her graduation from KU in 1960, she has made significant contributions to universities, cities, nonprofit organizations, and to quality of life wherever she has chosen to lead.”

Some of her accomplishments include co-authoring a book entitled About Time: A Woman’s Guide to Time Management, co-founding the Central Exchange, Kansas City’s premier women’s organization that provides personal and professional development opportunities, and introducing the ServiceFIRST program that examines the delivery of basic services to Kansas City residents and redesigns them for greater efficiency and effectiveness. Mayor Barnes also gained voter approval for the investment of over $2 billion in Downtown Kansas City as the result of her vision and leadership.

“As Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, Kay Barnes is a recognized political figure and an outstanding civic leader,” said Stewart Smith, president and CEO of Camp Fire USA. “But she is more than that. She is the strategic architect of a new Kansas City, leading a process to revitalize our downtown and galvanizing public and private credibility and resources necessary to ensure that this City is a robust and growing place to live and do business.”

It is also important to note her role as mentor and role model to countless women.  Karen McCarthy, Director, AH AmeriCorps*ProCorps Program, cites Kay’s pioneering commitment to public service as “inspir[ing] individuals, especially women, to serve in elective and appointed positions in record numbers.  I am one who volunteered in her campaigns, and with her encouragement went on to serve as State Legislator (18 years) and Member of the U.S. Congress (10 years).”

“Kay Barnes is a ‘leader among leaders’ with exceptional organization and management skills, gigantic fundraising capacity, and a positive change-agent on public policy development,” said Joanne Collins. “I have observed Kay empowering youth, women, and minorities by interpreting her clear vision for our city and the metropolitan area. Kay takes great pride in her family, KCMO, and the KU experience.”

  • Don't listen to the Naysayers/"Glass Half Empty" folks
  • Focus on the present - Don't linger on the past or future

Signup for our e-Newsletter
Calendar of Events