Kelly appoints executive director of African-American commission

    Stacey Knoell, who ran for a Kansas Senate seat in 2020, was appointed by Gov. Laura Kelly to serve as executive director of the Kansas African American Affairs Commission. (Submitted/Kansas Reflector)
    Stacey Knoell, who ran for a Kansas Senate seat in 2020, was appointed by Gov. Laura Kelly to serve as executive director of the Kansas African American Affairs Commission. (Submitted/Kansas Reflector)

    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%.

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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.