School board candidate Elizabeth Stephens wants to give a voice to marginalized groups

photo by: Contributed photo

Elizabeth Stephens

Elizabeth Stephens is passionate about improving equity in public education, she recently told the Journal-World.

As a Hispanic woman who grew up in North Lawrence, she has personally experienced the problems faced by marginalized groups, she said. Through her candidacy for the Lawrence school board, she said she wanted to help change that.

“I just want to give a voice to folks who for a whole host of reasons may feel like they have not been heard,” Stephens said.

Stephens, 40, was one of the five candidates to file to run for the school board just before the deadline on Tuesday. She said she has spent a majority of her career working to help marginalized populations, and that’s something she wants to continue for the school district community.

Stephens currently works as a sales executive for Allen Press. She said she previously worked for nonprofit organizations in Lawrence and the Kansas City, Mo., area.

According to Journal-World archives, she was named Mrs. Kansas in 2013 when she worked for the Lawrence Community Shelter. She has also previously worked for Just Food, a local food bank, according to an Allen Press news release announcing her hiring. During the Mrs. Kansas pageant, Stephens used the platform to raise awareness about poverty and family homelessness.

This past year, Stephens also worked on equity projects related to the coronavirus pandemic for the Douglas County Unified Command, serving as a member for the command’s Equity Impact Advisors.

“Being a school board member is a way to continue that work on a macro level,” Stephens said of her equity work.

She also said she was passionate about technical education and wanted to help empower and educate the community’s incoming workforce.

Stephens has four children, three of whom are currently students in the district. She said her oldest recently graduated from Free State High School and her youngest was entering kindergarten.

Stephens is one of 12 candidates for the school board’s three open seats. Because of the number of candidates, a primary election is required.

The primary election will be Aug. 3, and the general election will be Nov. 2.

Related coverage:

• June 2, 2021 — School board candidate Kay Emerson wants to ask the questions parents need to make important decisions

• June 1, 2021 — 5 more candidates file for Lawrence school board, triggering primary election

• May 28, 2021 — Lawrence school board’s current leader files for reelection; former special education teacher also joins the race

• May 27, 2021 — Fifth candidate files to run for Lawrence school board; RPG owner says he’s passionate about education options, mental health issues

• May 24, 2021 — 3 newcomers file to run for Lawrence school board election

• April 6, 2021 — Ronald ‘G.R.’ Gordon-Ross files to run for reelection to Lawrence school board


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