A Moderated Conversation with Congresswoman Emilia Sykes
About Our Speaker:
Born and raised in Akron, Ohio, Congresswoman Emilia Strong Sykes grew up on the city’s west side and has dedicated her career to strengthening her community. For 8 years, Emilia served as the State Representative for Ohio House District 34, otherwise known as the “Birthplace of Champions.” During that time, she served for four years in Democratic leadership, including three years as the House Minority Leader. In her first year as the leader of the House Democratic caucus, despite serving in the minority, the percentage of bipartisan bills passed in the Ohio House was nearly double each of the previous four years combined.
In 2022, Congresswoman Sykes became the first Black person elected to represent Ohio’s 13th Congressional District, where she has committed to fighting for economic opportunity, safer communities, and affordable healthcare for Northeast Ohioans, bringing along a spirit of bipartisan cooperation to get things done for those she serves.
Congresswoman Sykes has received numerous awards for her advocacy, including the EMILY’s List national Rising Star award, Legislator of the Year from the Ohio Minority Business Enterprise, the Champion for Children award from Summit County Children’s Services, and 30 for the Future award from the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce. Outside of elected office she engages her community as a lifelong member of her church, a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and a life member of the NAACP.
Congresswoman Sykes graduated with high honors from Kent State University with a B.A. in Psychology and later went on to the University of Florida, where she earned a Juris Doctor with a Certificate in Family Law and a Master of Public Health.
Congresswoman Sykes is a newlywed, married to Kevin Boyce and enjoys spending time with family, engaging in the arts, and enjoying the many blessings of life.
About our Moderator:
Doug Oplinger was a reporter and editor at the Akron Beacon Journal for 46 years, worked on three Pulitzers and finished his career there in 2017 after 10 years as managing editor. Afterward, he brought together the largest state media collaborative of more than 50 news outlets in the Your Voice Ohio project, which helped journalists experiment with ways to better represent diverse communities in their reporting and is featured in a new college textbook, News for Us. He recently co-authored the book Reinventing Journalism, to be released this month, is also working with the American Bar Association on a national civility project and facilitating a Methodist task force addressing the direction of the church after its looming split over gender issues.
He studied history, political science and economics at the University of Akron, has a master's in journalism from Northwestern University. He and his wife Diane live in Green. In his spare time Doug helps lead a bed-building mission at his church to provide beds for kids without. They will have built and distributed 100 beds in their first year of operation.
More information at akronrountable.org.