Former State Senator Angela Monson is being honored for her distinguished service in the Oklahoma Legislature. On Thursday, January 26, the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women will present Monson with the Kate Barnard Award. The award is given annually to an outstanding woman in public service.
In 1907, Barnard became the first woman to win a statewide elected office in the United States. Although she was elected at a time when women were still barred from voting, Barnard held the office of Commissioner of Charities and Corrections for two terms. Barnard is best known for her efforts to protect Oklahoma’s children with compulsory education requirements and a constitutional ban on child labor. Commission Chair and Oklahoma County Court Clerk Patricia Presley said the Kate Barnard Award was established in 1998. Previous recipients include U.S. Federal Judge and former State Senator Vicki Miles LaGrange as well as former State Senator Penny Williams.
“In every way, Angela Monson epitomizes the very qualities we seek in bestowing the Kate Barnard Award. Senator Monson was the very first black woman and the only Oklahoman ever elected to serve as president of the National Conference of State Legislatures,” said Presley. “She was also the first woman to rise to the position of Assistant Majority Leader of the State Senate. Through those positions she worked tirelessly on behalf of Oklahoma women, children and families. This is truly a better state because of her service.”
State Senator Debbe Leftwich is past chair of the Commission. She said that like Kate Barnard, Angela Monson was responsible for landmark legislation that will continue to shape the state’s future for years to come.
“It is easy to speak on behalf of the powerful, but much more difficult to speak out on behalf of those who would otherwise have no voice in government. Senator Monson did that on a consistent basis. She spoke out for the working poor, for the mentally ill and for women and children. She carried legislation on public health issues, including legislation addressing the need for a statewide trauma care system, mental health parity for insurance coverage, as well as helping to raise public awareness about deadly diseases such as Hepatitis C,” said Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City. “Just this past session, she carried the legislation to let counties vote on a fee to upgrade their 911 services which will enable emergency workers to find the location of cell phone users. Without a doubt, that’s going to save lives.”
Monson, who left the Senate following the 2005 session due to term limits, said she was both honored and humbled to be named this year’s recipient of the Kate Barnard Award.
“Serving in the State Senate was an honor and a privilege—and I considered it a privilege to be able to enact legislation to help others. I am truly humbled by this award and very, very grateful for the wonderful experiences I have had through this public service,” said Monson. “I am appreciative to all of the people who have been a part of all that I have done.”
The award presentation will take place during a luncheon attended by the members of the Commission on the Status of Women and state legislators on January 26, 12:00 noon at the State Capitol, Room 412-C.