Former Mayor Kay Barnes Named KC Chamber's 2018 Kansas Citian of the Year

Hailed as key to the continuing renaissance of Downtown Kansas City, former Kansas City, Missouri Kay Barnes – the City’s first woman mayor - was presented the “Kansas Citian of the Year” Award at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner tonight in the Kay Barnes Ballroom at the Convention Center.

During Barnes’ two terms in office (1999-2007), Downtown’s revival began with the opening of the new H&R Block World Headquarters, the Sprint Arena and the Power & Light District. Other achievements included the Kauffman Center Parking Garage, improvements in the Crossroads District, the conversion of dozens of buildings into lofts and apartments, with thousands of people moving Downtown. Many say she brought a new momentum to Kansas City which continues today.

She was also a strong advocate for minorities, members of the LBGTQ community, and women – she was one of the founders of the Central Exchange and the University of Missouri Women’s Resource Service Center.

The award was presented to her by Dr. Roy Jensen of the KU Cancer Center – last year’s recipient of the Kansas Citian of the Year Award. The award is always a surprise – after the announcement, Barnes was swamped onstage by her family and close friends (hidden in the back of the giant Kay Barnes Ballroom at the Convention Center).

Other dinner highlights:

Outgoing Chamber Chair Matt Condon, CEO of Bardavon Health Innovations, urged the audience of approximately 1800 attendees to “keep Kansas City’s momentum going.” And he noted that, while the divisive and gridlocked national politics may be “exhausting,” the local arena is where good things can be accomplished.

Incoming Chair Gordon Lansford, III, talked about building the KC brand as well as the importance of workforce development. Key to that development, he said, is quality early childhood education and dealing with the region’s crime problems.

And good news for Chiefs fans – keynote speaker Nate Silver, whose website FiveThirtyEight is known for its analysis of trends in politics, sports, culture, and others, told the audience that his algorithms put the Kansas City Chiefs as #1 in the National Football League.