Kathy Webb served six years as a state representative in the Arkansas legislature and now is executive director of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. An activist all her life, Kathy noticed a shift from working with like-minded activists to the process of compromise she encountered as a legislator.
“We are all a whole package, with the pluses and the minuses.”
I have always believed that you can make a difference. My mom had this little plaque on her bathroom wall and it said, “What you are is God’s gift to you. What you become is your gift to God.”
There are a lot of people, particularly in the South, who would challenge some of my spiritual or faith beliefs because I am a lesbian. I was the first openly gay person elected to office in Arkansas. At this point in my life, I am pretty comfortable with most everything about myself. Always trying to get better, but I am comfortable in my own skin.
That is one difference between being an activist and being a legislator. As an activist, I didn’t have to deal with people that I disagreed with. You do your work, you meet with legislators if you want a certain bill passed, but for the most part, you go have coffee or drinks afterward with people you agree with.
As a legislator, you have to deal with all kinds of people and, if you want to be effective, you have to realize that good people can have different ideas. You may be voting against a bill one day or someone may be voting against a bill that you brought up, but you need their vote the next day on something else. I try not to judge others the way people have judged me. I try to be open to working with all kinds of people.
Kathy Webb short audio clip
Kathy Webb full audio
- Do you believe that you can make a difference? Do you consider yourself an activist?
- When you hear of the word “politicians” what words come to mind? When you hear the word “activist” what words come to mind?
- How often do you judge people the way they’ve judged you? When has that judgment been a constructive force and when has it been a destructive one?
- What does disagreeing in a positive way look like? When is a time you have been able to do that successfully?
- Who have you set an example for in your life? Who’s example do you seek to emulate?