Beth Low-Smith, KC Healthy Kids’ vice president for policy and director of the Greater KC Food Policy Coalition, was presented with the InnovateHER Lifetime Achievement award, which was established to recognize women who’ve paved the way for positive change in the Kansas City community.
After completing the Women’s Studies program at MU, Beth moved to Kansas City to receive some on-the-job experience. A few years later her work for the Progressive Vote Coalition helped her grow deep roots in the community and to eventually led her to join KC Healthy Kids.
Since then, Beth has served three terms as Missouri State Representative (2005-2010) serving a district that included Westport, the Country Club Plaza and part of Brookside, working as a domestic violence social worker, and serving as the Jackson County Democratic Committeewoman for Ward 6 since 2012.
At KC Healthy Kids Beth engages stakeholders to shape policies that define our opportunities to eat well and be physically active throughout our lives. Beth also strives to change policies around urban agriculture and public transit and to shift state policies to improve community food security and local foods including SNAP, WIC, and school lunch programs — programs that have made a difference in her own life.
Here are her comments from the awards ceremony:
Thank you for this honor. At the risk of sounding trite, I am humbled to receive a lifetime achievement award. I’ve tried to live up to Teddy Roosevelt’s advice to “work hard at work worth doing,” but I think it is often difficult to know whether you are actually making a difference while you’re in the midst of such efforts. So it is truly an honor to look up from my tasks and find that others admire and respect my efforts.
My career has been quite varied, but the unifying thread has been working with others to change policy. In other words, I’ve specialized in group projects. That means sharing the credit—or occasionally the blame—for any achievement. There’s a long list of people whose love, encouragement, wisdom, grace and generosity contributed to every achievement. They have not only made my work possible, they make the work worth doing.
My parents, Jim and Diane, blessed me with unconditional love and support that gave me the courage and tenacity I’ve needed. They also raised me with a fierce commitment to justice and mutual responsibility.
Over the years, I’ve been blessed to work with people who share that commitment, and who inspire me each day to build the kind of community we all deserve. I’ve learned from brilliant supervisors and coworkers such as John, Gretchen, Sarah, Heather, Miranda, Andrea and many others.
I’ve also found teachers among the countless volunteers and stakeholders involved in campaigns and coalitions with which I’ve worked, such as the Greater KC Food Policy Coalition.
Throughout my career I’ve drawn from these wells to build an extraordinary community of friends and mentors who sustain me: Crystal, Brook, MaryEllen, Alexis, Susan, Judy, Joni, Todd, Amy, Sarah, Amanda, Kirsten and many other BABS. Finally, my husband, Dwight, whose patience and generosity allow me to devote a massive amount of time to my work and our community. These people are both my daily inspiration and reward.
Thank you to InnovateHer for recognizing the merit of our collective efforts.
Buckle up, because we are just getting started.
InnovateHER KC is a 4,600+ member leadership community, serving a diverse, passionate and highly engaged network of women and individuals from marginalized gender communities. They focus on equity, inclusion and low-barrier-to-entry through their five pillars of social connection, professional development, championship, mentorship, and resource sharing.