Joseph will be the only openly bisexual elected official in Kansas
Many people born in poverty and hardship have a hard time overcoming it.
Joseph Shepard took a difficult childhood to change the trajectory of his life. Born into a military family and raised near San Diego, California, he recalls sleeping in his mother’s car, living in several homeless shelters, and struggling with self-confidence and awareness. Those experiences, coupled with other hardships, had a profound impact on his education. Even with all the adversity he faced, his determination and resilience brought him to Wichita, Kansas in 2011 after being recruited to Wichita State University.
During his time as an undergraduate, Joseph served two years as Student Body President. In this role, he oversaw a 9.1-million-dollar student fee budget while implementing policies and initiatives that sparked sustainable change for the student body. Joseph advocated for all students and created the Wichita State Inspire Program, an initiative with USD 259 schools that encouraged students to seek post-secondary education through interactive activities and mentorship. The program reached 1,000 students in the first six months. In May 2016, Joseph graduated with his bachelor’s degree. Thereafter, he graduated in May 2018 with his master’s degree in Public Administration from the Hugo Wall School of Public Affairs. Joseph took his skillset to the Kansas Leadership Center where he worked with the team to champion the critical leadership challenges facing citizens from all over the state of Kansas. Joseph is known among his peers and the Wichita community as passionate, empathetic, courageous, resilient, and a champion for young people. He is hands on in the community and has spent several years advocating for underrepresented populations and working with young people in all arenas of life.
Joseph currently works for Newman University as the first director of Multicultural Engagement and Campus Life. In his role, he focuses on the holistic development of students and mobilizing them to lean into discomfort in order to prepare them for the diverse society that we live in.
At a young age, Joseph is accomplished. Some of his accomplishments include, 2015 Urban Professionals Collegiate Impact Award, 2015 Leadership Kansas Emerging Leader Award, 2016 Community Voice Young Man of Excellence Award, 2017 Wichita Business Journal Emerging Leader, 2018 Wichita Business Journal 40 under 40 recipient, 2018 Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Young Achievers Award, 2018 Interfaith Ministries Light of Faith Award. While his notable accomplishments have left a mark on the Wichita community, he does not believe his work is done. His next goal is to become an at-large member for USD 259 School Board in hopes to advocate for all students and strengthen our public schools.