Women in Jackson County Lead in the Legislature
L-R: 2nd District-At-Large Legislator Crystal Williams, 6th District Legislator and Chairman Theresa Cass Galvin, 5th District Legislator Jeanie Lauer.
Sunday, March 8 is International Women’s Day around the world. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual, which makes an equal world an individual responsibility for everyone. The campaign’s challenge is to recognize stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.
On the Jackson County Legislature, three women legislators lead and serve their community simultaneously, and stand for the spirit of #EachforEqual in very different ways.
6th District Legislator and Chairman of the Jackson County Legislature Theresa Cass Galvin spent three decades in construction management before running for office in 2014. In that male-dominated industry, she didn’t let bias slow her down or curb her determination to succeed. With the respect and dedication of her mostly male employees, they built structures in the community she is proud to point out to family and friends.
Building for future generations is the same reason that Legislator Galvin has for serving Jackson County’s 6th District. She is pleased and proud of the wage study recently completed that identified underpaid positions in Jackson County and worked with the administration to bring associates up to a living wage across the board. Her colleagues on the legislature certainly approve: Galvin was re-elected as Chairman for 2020 after a successful tenure in 2019. She sees herself as a consensus builder, making sure that each legislator has the same information about the issues the county faces that she does, so that everyone can see the bigger picture.
2nd District-At-Large Legislator Crystal Williams has been steeped in public policy since she was very young, and her passion for progressive advocacy has led to successes in Jackson County and statewide. As a legislator, Williams championed Jackson County’s Prescription Drug Monitoring initiative to combat opioid abuse, advocated for increased minority and women-owned business standards to be considered for county contractors, and passed a county ordinance to stop predatory lenders from clustering in low-income neighborhoods. Especially close to her heart is the establishment of the Jackson County Children’s Service Fund, which she sponsored and was passed by voters in 2016. In 2020, the fund will distribute up to $13 million to nonprofits who protect the well-being and safety of Jackson County’s young people and their families.
Williams agrees that recognitions like International Women’s Day are important, but that women leaders influencing policy on every level is core to progress and equality for all. “I’d like to see women in power making decisions that affect people’s lives. For a change.” Her advice to women aspiring to leadership is to “Learn fearlessness. And you can learn it.” By not being afraid, Williams has blazed a path that future leaders can follow.
5th District Legislator Jeanie Lauer was elected in 2018, after serving in the Missouri Legislature and years of civic duty and the city council in her home city of Blue Springs. In her professional career, Lauer started her own company focusing on strategic planning, workforce development and mediation after hitting “the glass ceiling” on the corporate ladder. She credits her father, a farmer, with teaching her to always look forward. “What am I going to do the next day, that will take us farther beyond?”
Her skills are useful in her legislative career, from calling on experts in various fields to finding common ground between opposing viewpoints. Some of Lauer’s significant achievements have been in public safety, passing legislation in Missouri allowing law enforcement to ping the cellphones of missing persons. She also led on getting funding for 911 service through cell service instead of just landline phones, a major victory for all Missouri residents. The legislator values curiosity about the world and a willingness to learn as vital strengths for any leader in business or government. She advises women and all future leaders to find their passion, because it’s passion that is needed to be an effective leader and to bring others along in any field.
Jackson County government has women that lead in all aspects, from Collections to Parks to the Prosecutor’s Office and the Legislature. Our thanks go to these three leaders for their service to the community. Please share stories of women’s achievements in your life with the hashtags #IWD2020 and #EachforEqual on social media this International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8.