J. Kenneth Blackwell has a distinguished record of achievement as an educator, diplomat and finance executive. As Ohio’s 51st Secretary of State, he is the state’s constitutional officer chiefly responsible for elections, the management of business records, and the protection of intellectual property and corporate identities.
Mr. Blackwell’s public service includes terms as Mayor of Cincinnati, an undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. In 1994, he became the first African American elected to a statewide executive office in Ohio when he was elected Treasurer of State. Mr. Blackwell is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. He is a member of the board of directors of the Campaign Finance Institute in Washington, D.C., a member of the Advisory Panel of the Federal Elections Commission, and a member of the Harvard Policy Group on Network-Enabled Services and Government. Mr. Blackwell is a member of the national advisory boards of the Princeton Review, Youth for Christ and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.
In 2002, he received meritorious recognition from the Center for Digital Government, delivered the keynote address at Governing Magazine’s National Conference on “Managing Technology”, and was recognized by Government Technology Magazine as one of the top 25 public sector leaders in information technology. He is a past president of the National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council. Over 20 years ago, he began his work in using technology to help government fulfill its mission and commitment to citizens as a member of the board of directors of Public Technology, Inc., located in Washington, D.C. He currently serves on the board of directors of the International City Management Association/Retirement Corporation and has served as president of the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments.
A certified government finance manager, Mr. Blackwell was a 1999 recipient of the Government Finance Officers Association’s Excellence in Government Award. He is on the board of directors of the National Taxpayers Union, the John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs (Ashland University), and was formerly a domestic policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He has served on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans. Mr. Blackwell was a delegate to the National Summit on Retirement Savings in both 1998 and 2002. During the 1990’s he served on the National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform, and in 1998, he co-edited a book with Jack Kemp, entitled, IRS v. The People: Time for Real Tax Reform.
Mr. Blackwell has also served on the boards of directors of Physicians for Human Rights, the International Republican Institute, the American Council of Young Political Leaders, and the Congressional Human Rights Foundation. He was a scholar-in-residence at the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. As United States Representative to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, he led the U.S. delegation to all four of the preparatory meetings for the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the National Council of the United Nations Association of the USA. He presently serves on the Board of Governors of the International League for Human Rights and the National Council of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.
His international activities have taken him to 53 countries and strengthened his understanding of emerging international markets and the growth of democracy worldwide. Mr. Blackwell has held the nation’s highest security clearance, and has twice received the U.S. Department of State’s Superior Honor Award for his work in the field of human rights from the Administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush and William Jefferson Clinton.
He holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees from Xavier University (OH) where he later served as a vice-president and member of its faculty. In 1992, he received Xavier’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. He has been a Fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, the Aspen Institute, the Salzburg Seminar in Austria and the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University (British-American Project). His continuing education has included executive programs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.
Among his awards are honorary doctoral degrees from several institutions of higher education in Ohio, including Ashland University, Cincinnati Technical College, Urbana University, Wilberforce University, and Wilmington College, as well as from Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire. He is a recipient of the Veritas Award from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut.
In 1998, Mr. Blackwell delivered the Beckett Lecture on Religious Liberty at Oxford University. He has also lectured at Harvard, the University of Newcastle in England, the Moscow State Institute for International Relations in Russia, and the International Academy of Public Administration in Paris. Several of his speeches and lectures have been published in “Vital Speeches of the Day.”
His commentaries have been carried in major newspapers across the United States, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as well as all major newspapers in Ohio. He has been a frequent guest on network and broadcast news and public affairs programs, including The O’Reilly Factor, Crossfire, Inside Politics, The Jim Lehrer Newshour, and Hardball with Chris Matthews.
Mr. Blackwell is a lifelong resident of Cincinnati. He and his wife of thirty-four years, Rosa, have three children, Kimberly, Rahshann, and Kristin. In 1994, the Blackwells were honored as one of The National Council of Negro Women’s Families of the Year, and, in 1996, Mr. and Mrs. Blackwell together received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Dreamkeeper Award.