Councilmember Melodee Colbert-Kean Elected President of National League of Cities
NASHVILLE, TENN.—Joplin, Mo. Councilmember and former Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean was elected president of the National League of Cities (NLC) today at the organization's annual Congress of Cities and Exposition in Nashville, Tenn. Colbert-Kean, who served as NLC's first vice president in 2015, was elected by the membership to lead the organization for a one-year term and will play a key role in shaping NLC's priorities and directing the organization's advocacy, education, research and membership activities. NLC is the nation's largest and most representative membership and advocacy organization for city officials.
"Cities and the communities they serve are on the front lines of the issues that fuel American success. We are the first adopters of innovation and have been the leaders in economic recovery," said National League of Cities (NLC) President Melodee Colbert-Kean, councilmember and former mayor, Joplin, Mo. "I am honored and thrilled to serve as National League of Cities president. Over the next year, the National League of Cities will work to ensure every local government knows that they have a place within our organization. I look forward to continuing to grow our membership and ensure that the priorities that matter the most to cities are at the forefront of federal policy."
In her inaugural address to the NLC membership, Colbert-Kean announced that this year her priorities will include youth advocacy, increasing the leadership capacity of local elected officials and growing NLC's membership.
Colbert-Kean was first elected in 2006 as a representative of Joplin's Zone 2. A small business owner and community volunteer, Colbert-Kean has made service to her community a priority. Together with her husband William Kean, Jr., she is the owner of MEs Place Soul Food Kitchen.
In 2011, Joplin experienced an EF5 tornado, which claimed the lives of 161 people and devastated homes, businesses and churches in the community. Speaking about the tornado, Colbert-Kean said, "In those hours and days after a disaster you learn exactly what you need to know about the citizens in your community - that everyday people do extraordinary things."
In the wake of the disaster, Colbert-Kean was elected mayor, becoming Missouri's first female African American mayor and the first African American mayor of Joplin. She served as mayor for two years, where she had a central role in helping Joplin's residents to rebuild areas destroyed by the tornado.
A lifelong Joplin resident, Colbert-Kean and her husband have a son in the Marine Corps, two daughters teaching in the Tennessee public school system and a daughter in elementary school. She serves on the Missouri Municipal League's Economic Development & Human Resources Board and is a governor's appointee to the Missouri Women's Council, which is a resource for women interested in starting a business.
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.