Commissioner Sandy Praeger has had a significant role in promoting equity and inclusion in the Lawrence community since graduating from the University of Kansas. She served as mayor of Lawrence from 1986-87, and served on the Lawrence City Commission from 1985-89. Praeger has been a role model for women in her profession as Commissioner of Insurance in the State of Kansas for 12 years. Previously, she was elected to the state legislature, one term in the Kansas House of Representatives and three terms as a Kansas State Senator in 1992, 1996, and 2000. While in the legislature, she worked to gain passage of patient protection laws, external review of health plans and insurance, and the Kansas expansion of children’s health insurance.
The importance of Praeger’s leadership in promoting good-quality, accessible healthcare to Kansans has been widely recognized. Praeger is a two-time recipient of the prestigious Dr. Nathan B. Davis Award, bestowed annually by the American Medical Association to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the public health through elected and career government service. Additionally, Praeger received the Distinguished Health Care Advocate Award from the Kansas Hospital Association and the State Impact Award from the Kansas Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
During her time in the Kansas Legislature, American Association of Retired People (AARP) and the Kansas Wildlife Federation recognized Praeger as “legislator of the year” for her work on issues important to their organizations. In 1997, the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved recognized her leadership on health care access issues. She was also recognized by the Center for Populations Options for legislation she sponsored in 1994 to create teen pregnancy prevention programs in Kansas. In 2014, Praeger received the Kansas Advocates for Better Care (KABC) Caring Award. Said Linda Carlsen, KABC president. “In her various elected roles, she has made it a priority to advocate for government accountability in fulfilling its oversight and enforcement roles for long-term care, support quality standards for the long-term care workforce, and promote greater access to healthcare and support services for elders living at home.” In addition, last year Praeger received the Athena Award, which is a national award that honors women who excel in their chosen field and who have devoted time and energy to their community in a meaningful way by opening paths so others may follow.
Praeger’s community involvement includes the United Way of Douglas County Board of Directors, and she is a founding member of three local boards: Health Care Access, the Haskell Indian Nations University Foundation, and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) which continue to be important to the community in serving those of significant need.
One of her nominators described Praeger’s influence: "Her impact as an advocate, champion, and role model is significant. Her work and achievements inspire students as well as peers. She has been extremely successful in all she has accomplished with humor, grace, and grit.”