Director of Kansas African American Affairs Commission resigns

    Kenya Cox was appointed in 2016 to serve as executive director of the Kansas African American Affairs Commission. (Submitted)

    TOPEKA — The executive director of the Kansas African American Affairs Commission resigned Tuesday after five years working as the governor’s liaison to Black communities throughout the state.

    Kenya Cox, appointed to the job in 2016 by then-Gov. Sam Brownback, also served under Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer and Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. She was a prominent Republican in the Wichita area, serving in GOP leadership roles in Sedgwick County and the 4th congressional district.

    “I have a love and commitment to Kansas’ African American communities, and I want to thank Governor Kelly for the opportunity to work with this administration on their behalf,” Cox said.

    She said the commission was dedicated to representing “the greater good and to transcend the barriers that divide our communities to help build a better, healthier and more equitable Kansas for all.”

    Kelly, responsible for naming a replacement, said Cox led the commission through multiple administrations and the COVID-19 pandemic. In a joint statement, neither Cox nor Kelly offered an explanation for abrupt departure of Cox.

    “I’m particularly grateful for her and her fellow commission members’ partnership and efforts to provide information, advocacy and support services to Black Kansans through each phase of our COVID-19 response,” Kelly said.

    The commission was authorized in 1997 under a bill signed by Republican Gov. Bill Graves. In 2004, Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed legislation moving the commission from a state agency to the office of the governor.

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    Tim Carpenter
    Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.