BELONGING

Use your voice: Neighbor spotlight on Representative Emily Weber

By

Alicia Briggs

– VOL. 5

Emily Weber is a foodie, activist, plant fanatic and Kansas City resident. She’s also a House Representative, representing Missouri’s District 24. Below Emily talks family, politics and building a better community by using your voice.

It’s not every day that a graphic designer becomes a House Representative, but that’s exactly what Emily Weber did. 

Born in a small rural Kansas town, Emily moved to Kansas City to attend the Kansas City Art Institute. It was there that she fell in love with the city and decided to stay. 

Whether it’s dining at one of the many locally-owned restaurants, going out and connecting with her friends, or volunteering with numerous organizations, Emily loves everything her city has to offer. When you understand Emily’s passion for Kansas City, her career change into politics seems like a no-brainer.

Image of Emily Weber Midtown KC volunteering with neighbors

Emily’s dedication to giving back is one of her defining characteristics. Here, she is pictured volunteering with Neighbors at the Don Bosco Senior Center on the 20th anniversary of September 11.

“I was always very active in the community, I would do anything from neighborhood things to volunteering with organizations that I aligned with. 

I just volunteered my time and spent it trying to help them and get more people involved.” Emily explains. 

It wasn’t until the 2016 election however, that she was inspired to start getting involved in politics. She began volunteering for candidates she believed in and worked on as many campaigns as she could. 

Even after years of campaign work, Emily still didn’t consider running for office herself. It wasn’t until she found out that her state representative was leaving that she realized there was more work for her to do. “I selfishly wanted to make sure we had another progressive woman in her place. So I was looking around to see who was running, who I could help campaign for, but no one was really running. So I was getting worried.” 

Once her community began asking her to run, she finally considered the idea. She was worried that without a policy background, she wouldn’t be the ideal candidate, but then it clicked.  

“I started realizing that I had all these lived experiences…I graduated from a private school when the market tanked and there were no jobs for my career. I’ve worked retail for my entire life to put myself through college. I’ve also been without healthcare multiple times so I can understand ‘do I pay the bills or do I pay healthcare?’ I have an understanding of what everybody’s going through.” 

“I was always very active in the community, I would do anything from neighborhood things to volunteering with organizations that I aligned with.”

She certainly did understand her community, and she was elected as a State Representative in 2020. For Emily, the most important part of her work as a Representative is being available to help her constituents. She wants to ensure that the voices of the people are being brought to the table. 

A big part of this is ensuring that Kansas City residents are registered to vote so that their voices can be heard. Connecting with voters, and understanding their needs, is what drew Emily to Venn. It also inspired her to host a Voter Registration Initiative event with Venn at the Monthly Neighborhood Social on September 29th.  

Image of Emily Weber Midtown KC

Emily is a familar face in the community, often participating in small local gatherings and grassroots events, like painting a vibrant mural in a parking lot last summer.

For Emily, civic responsibility and community are intertwined. “It’s up to us to start helping our community and to make sure our community is the place we want to live in.” 

She credits her parents for teaching her the importance of community involvement. “The more you give back to your community, the better the outcome will be. Also, If you want to have a voice, make sure you get involved…make sure you’re included at the table too.” 

To know your community however is what really helps you grow and change your community. And the best way to get to know your community? To get to know your neighbor. 

As a resident of MAC properties, Emily was able to meet her neighbors through Venn and offer herself as a resource. “I love that Venn and MAC are really trying to build this as a community and really get the renters involved with each other.” 

Another reason she joined Venn? For the plants. “You guys do a lot of plant things which I love. Love the plant swaps, not gonna lie.” She laughs. 

For those looking to create change within their community, just like Emily, “Just jump in,” she advises. As you get more involved, you can ultimately dive deeper into the issues within your community and figure out how to fix them. As she says, “We can’t wait for someone else. It’s up to us.”

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