TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly named a former Democratic candidate for Kansas Senate to serve as executive director of the Kansas African American Affairs Commission, the governor’s office said Friday.
Stacey Knoell, of Olathe, was selected to replace Kenya Cox, who resigned Tuesday after working in that role for five years. Cox was appointed by then-Gov. Sam Brownback and worked under Govs. Jeff Colyer and Kelly.
The governor said Knoell would rely on her personal experiences to collaborate with the public as well as agencies, businesses and stakeholders to reduce inequity and disparity that Black Kansans faced daily.
“Stacey has a proven track record of working hard for her community, and I know she will be a great advocate for Black Kansans,” Kelly said.
Knoell co-leads the Kansas Interfaith Action organization in the 3rd congressional district. She previously was employed as a public school teacher in math and as a sign language interpreter.
“I have already spent time talking with the other commissioners and the members of the Black caucus in the statehouse and I am encouraged by the amount of optimism and enthusiasm I hear concerning the future of KAAAC,” Knoell said.
Knoell was the Democratic Party’s nominee for the Senate seat won in November by Sen. Beverly Gossage, a Republican who lives east of Eudora. Gossage won the general election with 52.2% of the vote, compared to Knoell’s 47.8%.