Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

February 24, 2006

Legislator profile: Sen. Yvonne Wilson

Sen. Yvonne Wilson (D-Kansas City) understands the important role of education in a community’s economic development. Wilson continued her education at UM-Kansas City, while also working as an elementary school principal. In her current capacity as a state senator, she serves on the Education Committee and the Economic Development, Tourism and Local Government Committee. “The University of Missouri plays a tremendous and important role in economic development,” Wilson said. “When you talk about economic development, you start by talking about educating a workforce.”

Wilson served 35 years in the Kansas City school district as a teacher, principal and director of elementary education. As a former educator, Wilson also is familiar with one of the Kansas City school district’s long-time problems – recruiting and retaining qualified educators. As a consequence, Wilson has been drawn to UMKC’s new Institute for Urban Education.

“My interest is in education, so I look at the Institute for Urban Education and see great potential,” she said. “The institute has significant potential for the University and the community. Our school district is in need of help, and the institute has the potential to address those problems.”

The Institute for Urban Education focuses on preparing exemplary educators for urban settings. The institute provides financial support to students interested in becoming teachers in exchange for a commitment to teach in a Kansas City urban school upon graduation. 

“We have to do an awful lot to encourage students to come into the profession of teaching, and then of course we need to keep them there,” Wilson said, adding that this program is a step in that direction.

Wilson was elected to the Senate in 2004 to represent District 9, part of Jackson County, and currently is the Minority Caucus Secretary. In addition to her service on the Education and Economic Development, Tourism and Local Government committees, Wilson is a member of the Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee and the Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee. She previously served in the Missouri House of Representatives, where she was first elected in 1999 in a special election.

Wilson received a master’s degree in sociology and an educational specialist degree from UMKC. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and an honorary doctorate of humanities from Lincoln University.

Wilson has a long history of community involvement. She was the first African American to serve as president of the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals. As a member of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislators Education Committee, she co-authored the committee’s nationally published “Closing the Achievement Gap: Improving Education Outcomes for African American Children.”

As a Kansas City native, Wilson has long considered UMKC to be a vital part of the Kansas City community. “This city needs UMKC, and UMKC needs this city,” Wilson said.

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