One on One with Swope Health: Deborah Mann

Swope Health announces a new edition of its podcast, One on One with Swope Health, featuring Deborah Mann, executive director of the Emmanuel Family and Child Development Center, 4736 Prospect Ave., Kansas City.

Eric Wesson, managing editor and publisher of The Call, hosts the show’s conversations with Kansas Citians about issues of importance to the community’s health and wellbeing. In this conversation, Wesson and Deborah discuss her background and the story of the Emmanuel Center. She describes the range of services offered at the Center, which is home to a Swope Health KidsCARE clinic, and hints at her plans for the future.

In the course of the discussion, Deborah describes a tale of perseverance and resilience, and shows herself as a role model for driving positive change for children and families in Kansas City’s East Side communities.

Deborah describes how her mother cared for children in the family home, and how she too came to see childcare as her calling, understanding that quality childcare can impact the entire family. Over the 30-plus years of her career, she has built the Emmanuel Center from a daycare to a one-stop shop for family support. With the Swope Health KidsCARE clinic, the center provides pediatric, dental and behavioral healthcare plus related social support services.

She intends to expand the Emmanuel campus with a much-needed parking lot and then add a science and technology-focused facility for school-age kids as well as a job-readiness center for high school and adult family.

In this conversation, learn more about Deborah’s vision for Emmanuel Center and her drive to bring affordable housing into the area.

Listen now:



Caring for the Women in Your Life

May 14 kicks off National Women’s Health Week, a special focus designated by the Office on Women’s Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Additionally, the National Cervical Cancer Coalition also recognizes each May as Women’s Health Month, as do other organizations focused on maternal and female health.

At this annual Mother’s Day celebration, Swope Health invites you to join us in championing healthier lives for women, starting with the women in your life. 

Swope Health provides whole-person care for girls and women, covering all aspects of a woman’s life.

“Caring for women means caring for the whole woman, remembering that women’s health is more than only reproductive health,” said Dr. Naiomi Jamal, Chief Health Officer at Swope Health. “When we think about comprehensive health care for women, we include mental health, preventive care like mammograms and cervical screening, management of chronic diseases, family planning, healthy nutrition and exercise, well-woman visits, dental care, pre-natal and post-partum care and more.”

She added: “Women’s health care is whole-person health care.”

The whole-person care approach at Swope Health includes checking on each woman’s social well-being – asking about personal safety, access to food and housing, instances of depression and anxiety, for example. These questions can highlight other elements that play a determining factor in a woman’s overall health.

When any of these answers signal a need, Swope Health’s community health workers are engaged to bring resources to assist. The resources could include transportation assistance, support with obtaining medication, help with nutrition and meals, access to counseling or therapy and even help with employment and housing. The list of services and support is long, and Swope Health’s community health workers can help patients find the best resources for each individual’s situation.

And, knowing that women are often tasked with caregiving for others in a family, Swope Health helps make scheduling and planning health care easier, coordinating appointments for family health and dental visits, for example. Swope Health also provides convenient text reminders to help manage busy schedules.

At all of Swope Health’s clinics, we provide care for women in all stages of their life: adolescence, adulthood and senior years.  Services provided are:

  • Pregnancy testing, with walk-in options, no appointment needed
  • Prenatal and postpartum care
  • Minor surgical procedures
  • Comprehensive family planning services
  • Preventive education, management and linkage to care for HIV/AIDSand other sexually transmitted diseases
  • Preventive services including mammograms, colon cancer screening, chronic disease screening and treatment
  • Cervical cancer screening and pap smears
  • Overall health assessment and management

Nationally, the annual observance of Women’s Health brings together a range of organizations focusing attention on special health topics for women:

Heart disease: Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, yet many women don’t recognize the symptoms, which can differ from symptoms in men. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promotes a program called WISEWOMAN to prevent stroke and heart disease through integrated screening and evaluation for women.

Osteoporosis: This is a disease that causes bones to become weak and break easily. Osteoporosis affects mostly older women, but it is a disease that can be prevented with early action. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month in May annually.

Women’s Check-up Day: The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion of the Department of Health and Human Services names May 18 at National Women’s Check-up Day. It’s a reminder for women to schedule an annual well-woman visit.

Menstrual Hygiene Day: Nearly a thousand regional, national, and international organizations have joined forces to end the stigma of periods, using May 28 as a day to make menstruation a normal fact of life. The goal is to raise awareness about menstruation and create a world where no one is ever held back because of menstruation.

World No-Tobacco Day: The National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute champion May 31 as the international day to focus on ending tobacco use. A special focus highlights Smokefree Women, which offers a variety of tools to help women plan ways to end tobacco use with medications, counseling, apps and other resources.

Be a champion for women: encourage the women in your life to schedule an annual check-up with Swope Health for comprehensive whole-person care. Call 816-923-5800 to make an appointment.



One on One with Swope Health: Rev. Darren Edwards

Swope Health announces a new edition of its podcast, One on One with Swope Health, featuring the Rev. Darren Edwards, lead pastor of United Believers Church in Kansas City.

Eric Wesson, managing editor and publisher of The Call, hosts the show’s conversations with Kansas Citians about issues of importance to the community’s health and wellbeing. In this conversation, Wesson and the pastor, a community activist, discuss the city’s homicide rate and efforts to build stronger relations between the community and the Kansas City Police Department, among other topics.

Rev. Edwards is a native of Waxahachie, Texas. He has served on the adjunct faculty at Saint Paul School of Theology and led bible study groups for the Kansas City Chiefs. He has served on the board of trustees for Lifeway Christian Resources and for Word & Way magazine.

In 2020, Rev. Edwards founded an initiative called “Getting to the Heart of the Matter” to prevent violent crime by engaging the faith community to build a bridge between the community and the Kansas City Police Department.

In this conversation, Rev. Edwards says the initiative did not get to the heart of the matter, noting that will take “major surgery.” He describes his effort as one of stepping from the river into the ocean, and then getting bitten by sharks. But, he added, he now feels wiser and has learned from his experience.

He calls for leadership to invite courageous people to the table, people who live in the areas debilitated by crime. The people who live in the community know the issues and the solutions but lack the resources to address the issues.

Agitators in the streets and negotiators in leadership may not be operating from the same agenda, but desire the same things: a safe community, healthy children, jobs and equitable resources. He explains why he wants aligned leadership of the Mayor, the Police Chief and the Prosecutor – and he says he believes they can be aligned.

Rev. Edwards also talks bluntly about systemic oppression that lies at the root of the problems. He offers suggestions for bolstering relationships between the police and the community, and for addressing the issues of affordable housing. He calls on leadership to engage the community for answers.

He notes: “Even a doctor asks ‘Where do you hurt?’ That’s the problem – you’ve got people trying to tell me where I hurt.”


Listen to the full conversation:



Best Seat in the House: Three Lessons from the South Lawn

Editor’s note: the following post was written by guest blogger Bridget Locke, Director of Strategic Communications, Swope Health

It was predicted to be epic, and it lived up to the hype.

The 2023 NFL Draft, hosted in Kansas City, brought in 312,000 attendees over three days, and the energy was palpable from the very beginning. Attendees donned their favorite jerseys and colorful outfits, tossed footballs, played organized games, danced to upbeat deejay sets, and cheered wildly as their favorite teams selected new players for their rosters.

Swope Health’s role, providing free COVID-19 vaccines in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ We Can Do This Public Education Campaign, wouldn’t be the lead story, and we readily accepted it. After all, the draft is about the promise and tenacity of the NFL hopefuls who are dressed in their finest attire, surrounded by friends and family, hoping to hear the announcement that will change their lives. From the main stage of the draft, there were plenty of inspiring stories to be told.

Still, the stories shared under our volunteer tent were inspiring, too.

Swope Health administered the vaccine to almost 150 people who hailed from ten different states and nearly every walk of life: Men. Women. Couples. Friends. Parents and children. Grandparents and grandchildren. Executives. College students. Retirees. Every interaction was unique and meaningful. Some stopped by to ask questions; others sat in our chairs and rolled up their sleeves to ensure they were up-to-date on COVID-19 protection. At least three people received COVID-19 vaccines for the very first time.

While our very efficient clinical team handled the important assignment of administering the vaccine, I stood at the other station under our tent, handing out literature and swag bags to a very steady stream of visitors. People recognized Swope Health. Many stopped to say hello and tell us they know someone who is Swope Health-affiliated, either as a patient, or as a current or former associate.

Volunteering at the 2023 NFL Draft taught me three important lessons:

Mission-supporting activities create powerful team-building moments.
Though I’d never take anything away from team-building experiences that are unrelated to work, bonding over the services you provide is really fulfilling. Each volunteer team worked hard, laughed out loud and knew their role in bringing people to the booth and serving them well once they arrived. I can’t help but feel as though I’ve made new Swope Health friends through volunteering at the NFL Draft Experience and am eager to see how those interactions will enhance my workplace experience.

Challenge your assumptions.
Although we prepared ourselves for scores of visitors, I wasn’t sure how many we’d serve, given the celebratory nature of the event and the reality of COVID-19 fatigue. To my (pleasant!) surprise, there remains a steady stream of people who want to ensure they remain protected against the virus. Lesson for me: Embrace the possibility that people can still surprise you for the better. Because of the devastation that COVID-19 has caused around the world, I felt encouraged to see people remaining vigilant in staying protected against it, even in the midst of a three-day celebration.

Swope Health is a great place to work, and it starts with the people.
It was truly an honor for Swope Health to be the only locally-based non-profit invited to participate in the NFL Draft Experience. I see that as a testament to our reputation in the Kansas City community. Behind Swope Health’s mission, which is purposeful and powerful, there are devoted professionals who come in early, stay late, sacrifice rest and free time, and juggle multiple projects and priorities to achieve the ultimate goal: serving patients and the community. Preparing for the 2023 NFL Draft elevated the true dedication of Swope Health’s people. I witnessed it from the best seat in the house: our volunteer table on the south lawn of the WWI Museum and Memorial. And now, I know in my soul that the effort of our associates is what makes us stand out.

In that spirit, I’d like to personally thank the following associates for making Swope Health’s participation in the draft so successful.
• Tekisha Edwards
• Andrea Franco
• Kenyea Frazier
• Alina Gargesh
• Antonette Gatewood
• Daniel Gilmore
• Emily Glen
• Angela Hawkins
• Bobby Jackson
• Dr. Naiomi Jamal
• Norvel King
• Renee Loenen
• Rachel Melson
• DaRon McGee
• Josette Mitchell
• Christopher Monroe
• John Morris
• Yuzi Mussa
• Stephanie Nickell
• Grace Okonta
• Samantha Pierre
• Jeron Ravin, JD
• Tamika Reliford
• Shannon Robertson
• Alejandra Rodela Salcedo
• Dr. Kenneth Thomas
• Debra Simpson
• Helston Singleton
• Angela Smart
• Tyson Sullivan
• Melanie Traynham
• Shaquwanda Walker
• Wendy White
• Kim Wood
• Raytosha Wright


Swope Health presents at Mental Health KC Conference

In support of Mental Health Awareness Month, Swope Health will deliver a presentation at the Mental Health KC Conference on May 11 and 12. The conference’s theme is “Improving Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace.”


Swope Health’s Terri Cooley-Bennett, Intake Clinician, and Grace Okonta, Community Support Supervisor, will speak on the intersection of behavioral health and tobacco addiction, including treatment services.


This workshop will examine the importance of providing access to tobacco treatment services for individuals with mental health disorders.  Research shows that people with a diagnosed mental illness smoke at higher rates and studies show that completing suicide is correlated with daily smoking.


Terri and Grace will review best practices, ethical considerations, and treatments when when integrating tobacco treatment services into behavioral healthcare.  They will discuss the use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy and Medication-Assisted Treatment, along with behavioral healthcare like individual counseling and groups that address mental illness and tobacco use.


Coordinated by the Metropolitan Council of Community Mental Health Centers, this annual event features dozens of speakers on multiple topics related to behavioral health including anxiety, resiliency, substance use, DEI, trauma, suicide, recovery and more. It is developed by a local team for the metro area, and is geared toward an audience of local school districts, persons with mental illness and their family members, or anyone wanting additional resources.

Grace has been a member of the Metro Council’s Conference Committee for many years and has supported the conference planning in years past. Terri has presented at the conference in past years and has been a member of the committee for planning for about a year. In addition to her role with Swope Health, Terri is a Doctoral Candidate with the Tulane University School of Social Work.


The purpose of the event is to offer community education and to create awareness about mental health in our community – with a special focus on meeting the need for education in wellness, mental health in the workplace and suicide awareness and prevention. The annual conference is timed to align with mental health awareness month.


This conference is designed for anyone concerned about mental health and its impact on our community, such as community health leaders, practitioners, social workers, corporate employers and employees, non-profit organizations, chief executives, human resources professionals, benefits managers, workplace occupational health, safety, and wellness, industry leaders, benefits consultants, wellness specialists and health and social services providers.


Terri and Grace draw upon their extensive experience in delivering the presentation:

Terri is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker, a Co-occurring Disorders Professional-Diplomate, and a Tobacco Treatment Specialist.  She is experienced with the Kansas City unhoused/homeless population and has more than20 years of experience as a presenter, workshop leader, and educator; speaking for groups such as the Missouri Coalition for Behavioral Healthcare, the Missouri National Association of Social Workers, the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare Continuing Education Program, and others. She taught as an Adjunct Professor for the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare and provides field instruction for social work students.


Grace has more than 15 years’ experience in working with diverse populations coping with mental health. She has worked with clients with tobacco use since 2017 with emphasis on harm reduction toward abstinence, a spectrum of strategies that includes managed use as a first step toward abstaining from use. Grace is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Certified Reciprocal Advanced Alcohol Drug Counselor, and holds a national certificate as a Tobacco Treatment Specialist.


See the presentation by Terri and Grace at 12:45 pm Thursday, May 11, 2023, at the Cerner Innovation Campus, 8779 Hillcrest Road, Kansas City MO 64138. The topic is: Tobacco Treatment Services, Ethics, and Behavioral Health.


Swope Health to Provide COVID-19 Vaccine at 2023 NFL Draft

Swope Health, in partnership with the  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) We Can Do This COVID-19 Public Education Campaign, will provide free COVID-19 vaccinations on Thursday, April 27, through Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., at the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City, Mo.


Swope Health’s medical mobile unit will be located on the south lawn of the National WWI Museum and Memorial (2 Memorial Drive, KCMO), and clinical staff will be onsite all three days to administer the COVID-19 bivalent booster to interested attendees, age 12 and above.


According to HHS, more than three-quarters of American adults and two-thirds of all Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19.


With 300,000 people predicted to attend the NFL Draft in Kansas City, Swope Health’s mobile medical unit offers a unique opportunity to help a large national crowd of people to ensure they stay current with recommended COVID-19 vaccine protection.


“The COVID-19 vaccine enables us to keep infection rates low, prevent the transmission of the virus, and protect the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Naiomi Jamal, M.D., M.P.H., C.M.Q., Chief Health Officer of Swope Health.

“It also allows us the chance to have in-person community events, such as the one we’re eagerly anticipating in Kansas City,” she said. “We are excited to take part in this historic moment, while serving the public in the ongoing effort to keep everyone safe against the virus.”


This vaccination effort is brought to the NFL Draft as part of HHS’ We Can Do This COVID-19 Public Education Campaign, which is a national initiative to increase public confidence in and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.

Learn more about COVID-19 and vaccines.

Swope Health supports Minority Health Month

Every April is National Minority Health Month, as proclaimed by the federal government’s Health and Human Services agency.  The recognition is designed to highlight the importance of improving the health of racial and ethnic minorities, and to focus on combatting health injustices.

Swope Health works to address health injustices daily, actively breaking down barriers to healthcare. Swope Health is an advocate for quality healthcare for all.

The theme for this year’s celebration is Better Health Through Better Understanding.

This celebration has its roots with Booker T. Washington, educator, civil rights advocate and author, who called for a National Negro Health Week in 1915. His campaign to bring awareness to health disparities lasted until 1951.

The federal government in 2002 launched the current designation of National Minority Health Month,  to promote “educational efforts on the health problems currently facing minorities and other health disparity populations.”

Today, the National Institutes of Health’s Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities works to lead scientific research to improve minority health and reduce health disparities.

Why a national focus? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes a growing body of evidence that racial and ethnic minority groups experience higher rates of illness and death across a wide range of health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, and heart disease, when compared to their White counterparts.

The life expectancy of non-Hispanic/Black Americans is four years lower than that of White Americans. Additionally, in the COVID-19 pandemic, research showed members of racial and ethnic minority groups had higher rates of COVID-19 and more severe cases than White populations. These disproportionate impacts are examples of health disparities.

These disparities are preventable.

What’s the cause? According to the NIH, “Achieving health equity for all in the U.S. will require dismantling this country’s historical legacy of structural racism.”

The CDC offers a suggestion: “Communities can prevent health disparities when community- and faith-based organizations, employers, healthcare systems and providers, public health agencies, and policymakers work together to develop policies, programs, and systems based on a health equity framework and community needs.”

This is why Swope Health works to address social drivers of healthcare. Some examples of our work:

  • Removing barriers to care for children, with clinics in schools and community centers
  • A wide range of behavioral health services, counseling, therapy, medication-assisted treatment, coping skills and more
  • Health insurance marketplace and Medicaid enrollments
  • Providing transportation
  • Offering residential services
  • Culturally proficient nutrition counseling, meal-planning and education
  • Health Equity focused innovative diabetes management with nurse-care managers to support patients and reduce health disparities in diabetes care
  • Food and family essential giveaways
  • Hosting educational programs, podcasts and community town hall events
  • Speeding access to pharmacy services, including a drive-through option
  • Homeless outreach program
  • Training opportunities for multiple health care delivery roles in our environment as a federally qualified health center (FQHC)
  • And much more.

For examples beyond the healthcare and related services, Swope Health advocates with legislators and policy makers, civic organizations, non-profits, and others in healthcare and community services to build collaborative impact. For instance, Swope Health participates in the Health Equity Task Force, the Health Equity Learning Action Network, committees with the Public Health department and state agencies and more. Our work touches education, policy development, funding, training and more, all in addition to our daily work in our clinics and the community.

Swope Health is working toward a day when race, ethnicity, income, or ZIP code do not determine your health status.

For more information on Minority Health Month, explore:


Childhood Immunizations Should Be a Top Priority

The annual observance of National Infant Immunization Week this year takes place April 24 to 30, as designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Swope Health supports this effort and encourages all families with infants to learn of the importance of routine childhood immunizations to give your baby a strong and healthy start. Swope Health follows the guidance of the American Academy of Pediatrics in providing access for well-child appointments and routine vaccinations to prevent disease.

“Vaccinations play a critical role in protecting the health of babies and children,” said Dr. Kenneth Thomas, Executive Vice President of Children’s Services, Swope Health. “Childhood vaccinations prevent illness, disabilities and death from more than a dozen diseases.”

Swope Health makes it easy for parents to stay up to date on all recommended vaccines for their children, with immunizations offered at seven Swope Health family Medicine satellite clinics and three KidsCARE (Pediatric) clinics. Swope Health KidsCARE Pediatric School-Based Services program offers vaccination opportunities at partnering schools and centers throughout the metro area via our pediatric mobile unit. Influenza and COVID-19 vaccination is an important component of our vaccination efforts.

“We know COVID-19 made it challenging for families to keep up with health care visits,” Dr. Thomas said. “It’s never too late to begin or catch up on routine vaccinations. As a pediatrician, we do not want any child falling ill from a preventable illnesses like measles and polio – or worse, experience a long-term disability or even death.”

He added: “COVID also reminded us all of the importance of vaccinations as a public health issue. Vaccinations protect the entire community.”

Even if you missed routine check-up visits for your children, you can get back on track. Immunizations usually happen at routine Well Child visits. A call to Swope Health can get your children back on a routine or catch-up schedule to help keep them healthy.  Regular checkups are also important for other reasons – checking developmental milestones, conducting screenings for hearing and vision, checking vital signs and routine lab tests, for example.


What’s recommended?

The American Association of Pediatricians has a schedule of recommended vaccinations for children, from birth to two years; and for kids and teens, from age seven to 18. The CDC summarizes the recommendations in a chart:

Download chart for children

Download chart for kids and teens

One on One with Swope Health: Ryana Parks-Shaw

Swope Health announces a new edition of its podcast, One on One with Swope Health, featuring Kansas City Councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw, representing the city’s Fifth District.

Eric Wesson, managing editor and publisher of The Call, hosts the show’s conversations with Kansas Citians about issues of importance to the community’s health and wellbeing. In this conversation, Wesson and the councilwoman discuss the city’s new $30 million allocation to address crime prevention over the next five years.

Councilwoman Parks-Shaw began serving her first term in August 2019. She has lived in the 5th district with her family for over 22 years.

In this conversation, she reviews her history and education, and her experience as an “Avon lady” and small-business owner. She describes the Avon business as preparation for her city council work – getting her ready for knocking on doors and talking and listening to people.

She describes her reasons for running for office: to make a difference across the community, especially in violence prevention. She is an advocate for the KC 360 program to bring the community together – all walks – to address violence.  She also serves on the finance committee for Kansas City, and spearheaded the drive to allocate funding to invest in neighborhoods, youth, and crime prevention.

Parks-Shaw wants to see special attention to youth programs. The program will open May 1 with requests for proposals, a review process, and then distribution via the City’s Public Health Department.

She describes her Municipal Academy proposal, a kind of boot camp to provide internships for youth to introduce them to careers within the city. She envisions it growing into a year-round program.

Parks-Shaw has also been deeply involved in the city’s housing issues. She describes a program – Zero KC – to prevent homelessness and improve housing and job opportunities. The goal is zero functional homelessness, defined when no more people enter homelessness than leave it, a steady state. The discussion encompasses homeless camps, re-entry of formerly incarcerated persons, and the reluctance of some homeless people to seek shelter.

Parks-Shaw draws upon prior experience in hospice care and Point-in-Time counts to inform her work. She intends to continue her work listening to the community and implementing community-based solutions to preventing violence and homelessness.

In City Council, she serves on the  Finance, Governance and Public Safety Committee, and the Special Committee on Housing Policy. She also serves as the Vice Chair of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Commission, Co- Chair of the Health Commission and Chair of the Mayor’s Houseless Task Force. She also serves as a member of the Kansas City Zoo Board of Directors and the Starlight Board of Directors.

She is a long-time healthcare executive. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Missouri State University and a Master of Science degree from Southwest Baptist University.

Parks-Shaw is an alumni of Ruskin High School in the Hickman Mills School District. Motivated by her membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the Links, Inc., she has a deep passion for community service and improving access to healthcare and healthy lifestyles. She has attended St. James United Methodist Church, also in the 5th district, for over 35 years.

Listen to the full conversation:




Join us: Town Hall on Violence Prevention

Kansas City has one of the highest murder rates in the nation, currently ranked with the seventh highest homicide rate in the US. In 2022, the city had 171 homicides, the second highest in the city’s history. As of mid-March, Kansas City has recorded 41 murders.

Swope Health calls this a public health crisis. This impacts everyone in the city.

To bring focus to the issue, Swope Health will convene a community town hall, starting at 6:30 pm Wednesday April 5 at the Kansas City Public Library – Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St., Kansas City.

The town hall will offer an open discussion between the Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves, the Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Collier, and longtime Kansas City activist Alvin Brooks.

The discussion will be led by Swope Health President and CEO Jeron Ravin, J.D.

The evening begins with a reception 5:30 to 6:30 pm outside the Plaza Library Auditorium. The Town Hall begins promptly at 6:30 pm.

The event is co-sponsored by Swope Health and KC Common Good. Please join us.

Program participants:

Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves: Graves is a 25-year veteran of the department who began her career as a civilian records clerk in 1997. She becomes the first woman in KCPD’s 148-year history to be named the permanent police chief.

As a major, Graves managed the Shoal Creek Patrol Division (109,213 residents and over 74.6 miles, with 78 personnel). She led the Human Resources Division during KCPD’s pandemic response. She was the Patrol Bureau’s Executive Officer before being named the Acting Deputy Chief. Other assignments include the Drug Enforcement Unit, The Media Unit, and Internal Affairs.

Graves has an Executive Master of Business Administration from Benedictine College and earned a B.A. in Administration of Justice from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.


Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Collier: Collier has served as an educator in Kansas City Public Schools for 22 years. She’s been a teacher, assistant principal, principal, Chief Human Resource Officer and Deputy Superintendent.

Dr. Collier earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, a Master’s of Arts in education from Avila University and an Educational Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She received her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from UMKC in 2018.

A life-long learner, Dr. Collier has completed the National Institute of School Leaders (NISL) program and is a certified NISL trainer. In this role, she has provided training for educators and school leaders across the state of Missouri. She also received a certificate from the Harvard University School Turnaround Leaders Institute in 2019. Additionally, Dr. Collier is Professional of Human Resources (PHR) certified.

Alvin Brooks: Political and civic leader Alvin L. Brooks is grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and attended public schools here. He began his career with the Kansas City Police Department, serving as an officer and detective, from 1954-1964. He then joined the Kansas City Public Schools, and in 1968 was appointed to organize the city of Kansas City’s first Human Relations department. He was the first Black department director in Kansas City government, where he served until 1972 when he was appointed assistant city manager.

In 1977, he founded the AdHoc Group Against Crime in response to violent crime in the community. He served two terms on Kansas City City Council and was appointed Mayor Pro-Tem. He has also served as a member of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners and was its president for two years. He has served in numerous local, state and national positions, including a three-year term on the President’s National Drug Advisory Council.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and government, and a master’s degree in sociology, from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He has received dozens of awards and accolades for his life of activism and service.

Jeron L. Ravin, J.D. Before joining Swope Health as its president and CEO, Ravin served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Community Health Center Association of Mississippi. In this role, he worked to strengthen Mississippi community health centers by overseeing policy, marketing & branding, workforce development, clinical quality improvement, outreach and enrollment, and health information technology. He also provided training and technical assistance.

Ravin is a former political staffer, with experience in policy making and consensus building at the local, state, and federal government levels.

He is a Fellow of the Latino Center for Leadership Development, a leadership training program for those with a desire to serve their community through positions of impact. He holds a Juris Doctor from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law and a BA in Journalism from the Cathy Hughes School of Communications at Howard University.