Kansas City Mayor Sly James to Receive Rockhurst University Award April 4

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Portrait of Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James

Rockhurst University will award Kansas City Mayor Sly James with its Rashford-Lyon Award for Leadership and Ethics as part of the annual Rockhurst University Leadership Series luncheon, featuring astronaut Scott Kelly, at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 4, in the Marriott Kansas City, Muehlebach Tower, 1213 Wyandotte St. in Kansas City, Missouri.

James, a 1980 graduate of Rockhurst University, has served as mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, since 2011. He leads a city of more than 400,000 residents that serves as the center of a metropolitan area of more than 2 million.

A native of Kansas City’s East Side, James graduated from Bishop Hogan High School before serving as a military police officer during the Vietnam War. Upon his return, James earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from then-Rockhurst College and a law degree from the University of Minnesota in 1983.

Prior to his election to the mayor’s office in 2011, James was a prominent attorney in the Kansas City area, spending more than three decades both with Blackwell, Sanders, Matheny, Weary and Lombardi — where he was named the firm’s first African-American partner in 1990 — and in his own Sly James Firm, founded in 2002.

Recognizing the sacrifices his parents made to ensure he and his brothers received a high-quality education, James made improving Kansas City’s schools one of his top three priorities, along with creating job opportunities and improving municipal efficiency.

His accomplishments include rallying community support behind his Turn the Page KC initiative, which aims to ensure every third-grade child in the city is reading at their grade level; the construction of Kansas City’s initial streetcar line, where ridership has exceeded expectations; moving forward on continued investment in the city’s sewers and streets; and helping the city become one of the pilot sites for high-speed Google Fiber installation. James has used his platform to bolster the city’s image as a rising national innovation and tech hub and to advocate on behalf of common-sense gun solutions to stem violence.

“Mayor James’ leadership of our city has exemplified the Jesuit commitment to values and ethics,” said Rockhurst University President the Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J. “Sly is a tireless advocate for Kansas City who has worked on behalf of all residents to improve our city’s infrastructure, our opportunities and image on the regional and national stage. In our opinion, he rocks.”

The Rashford-Lyon Award is named for two influential leaders in Rockhurst University’s Helzberg School of Management ­—­­ the late Tom Lyon, Ph.D., and the Rev. Nick Rashford, S.J. — and was established in 2014. Last year’s recipient was Jane Chu, ’05 EMBA, the current chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Individual tickets are on sale now for this year's Leadership Series Luncheon; find more information about the luncheon and ticket purchases here.