Kim’s beloved, late mother, Dietra L. Ford was a lifelong public servant who taught Kim to serve her community from an early age. “The most important people you’ll meet in this life,” she’d say, “are the people you have the opportunity to help and to serve.”
Anyone who knows Kim will tell you she tries her best to honor her mother’s memory every single day by giving life to their shared belief in public service.
Kim grew up at a time—not unlike today— when public education in DC was facing a variety of challenges. Kim began her schooling at Shepherd Elementary in Northwest DC, but when her mother became concerned that Kim was not getting the education she would need to succeed, she enrolled Kim in private school. That decision ensured that Kim had an opportunity to follow her dreams—to work in the automotive industry, and then transition to public service.
Kim has never forgotten that she is where she is today because of the education she received. She also understands that too many in the District of Columbia never had a fair shot at pursuing their dreams. This is what fuels Kim’s passion for public service. Kim believes that everyone deserves a level playing field, and that every DC resident should have a chance at the opportunities she had. That’s why she’s dedicated her adult life to serving institutions that align people with success.
Kim was honored to serve in the Obama Administration, where she helped lead the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, distributing more than $350 billion in recovery funds to get the economy moving.
But while she had national responsibilities, Kim was always looking out for DC. She could be heard in halls of the White House saying to anyone who would listen, “Put me on a DC project!” Her persistence paid off: Kim was asked to lead the neighborhood revitalization work for the Department of Homeland Security’s new headquarters at St Elizabeths.
Like so many DC residents, Kim was frustrated by the federal bureaucracy’s inability to truly support the economically disadvantaged neighborhood, its people, and its businesses. She was determined to have a real impact on her community, and left the Federal Government, which led to a position at the UDC Community College.
At UDC, Kim launched the College Access and Readiness for Everyone program, setting up dual enrollment and college assessment/remediation programs in District high schools. Because of Kim’s success in this role, she was named Dean of Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning. In this role Kim took a personal stake in the lives and academic careers of more than 10,000 students from every ward of the city. In just 3 years, she doubled enrollment, increased completion rates, and secured millions of dollars from federal, local, and private sources to invest in student success.
“We may be measured by the number of students who earn certificates or enter the job market or transition to degree programs, but it’s all about the people, and making sure they have what they need to get ahead. When they leave UDC, their lives are changed. They leave with renewed hope and confidence.”
Kim’s experience at UDC showed her how to have the individual impact at the Federal level. She took her success to the U.S. Department of Education where she was asked to lead the Department’s national efforts as Deputy Assistant Secretary for adult education, career and technical education, correctional and re-entry education, and community colleges.
Today, Kim is concerned about the city she’s known and loved since childhood. For a select few, things are great, and getting better by the day. But for too many, the challenges of daily life are only getting harder. Not enough jobs, not enough of the services that make city life livable, and not enough leadership willing to stand up and make a difference.
What once belonged to all of us, the places we called home, the neighborhoods where we worked, shopped, worshipped, and played, are being cordoned off as the divides that have always existed in DC become even more pronounced.
Kim would sit in her office, which looked out over the development of the Wharf, along the Southwest DC Waterfront and watched as the historic landmarks were torn down to make room for yet another set of shiny, flashy high-rent buildings. An “economic velvet rope” fell across the Wharf, as it has the entire District. While people talked in anticipation of new restaurants and retail, Kim’s thoughts were with the neighboring communities like Greenleaf Gardens and James Creek, wondering if this development would help or hurt them – fearing the latter. Kim knew it was time. Time to directly serve the residents of DC again. And with a great deal of reflection, Kim realized that her career had brought her to a place where her experience, skills, and successes at the federal and local level could make a real difference for the betterment of all DC residents.
Kim looks at the Delegate’s seat through the eyes of the people she hopes to help and serve. She doesn’t see it for what it can’t do, she sees what it could be. Kim has the courage to be a voice for all the District’s residents, and to make a difference for a city that deserves more.
Kim sees a delegate’s office that works in and alongside the community it represents, and an office that introduces Congress—and America to the living, thriving community that is DC, while proudly representing and fiercely defending the interests of the District’s residents.