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Becky Ruth named new director of Office of Child Advocate

After nearly seven years in the Missouri Legislature, Rep. Becky Ruth was sworn in as the new director of the Office of Child Advocate Wednesday morning. 

In her first interview after the swearing in, Ruth, a retired educator and former member of the House Committee on Children and Families, said she was looking forward to meeting her new team and looking at ways to make the Office of Child Advocate (OCA) more efficient while prioritizing the needs of children. 

“I’ve always advocated for kids, for the majority of my life,” Ruth told The Missouri Times. “I was a teacher for 25 years, and even when I came into the House, I continued to work on issues that impacted children and advocated for them, especially these kids that are in some of the most vulnerable circumstances.”

Ruth said she is particularly proud of her work expanding newborn screening in Missouri during her tenure in the General Assembly. In 2017, the legislature added multiple diseases, including spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), to the screening process which she said has saved the lives of countless children. 

This past legislative session, Ruth chaired the House Transportation Committee and was credited for pushing through Missouri’s first gas tax increase in over two decades. Beginning in October, the gas tax is incrementally raising 2.5 cents annually until 2025 with the additional funds earmarked to fix the state’s crumbling roads and bridges. 

Ruth, who represented HD 114 in Jefferson County, is a member of the Jefferson County Parents as Teachers Advisory Board and co-chair of the Capital Campaign Committee for a Safe Place Women’s Shelter. 

She was recently recognized by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the 2021 Spirit of Enterprise Award. 

“Throughout my years of service, I have striven to make sure I represented the people of my district with honor and integrity, always keeping their voices in mind when working on or passing legislation,” Ruth said in her House resignation letter submitted earlier this week. “I stood tall and firm on many issues that were important to my district and not necessarily popular but were the right things to do.” 

“I am appreciative of the citizens in my district for having faith in me and supporting me all these years,” Ruth said. “It’s been an absolute pleasure to serve them. I look forward to continuing my service to the state of Missouri and our children.” 

After more than 10 years at its helm, Kelly Schultz stepped down from her role as the OCA director at the end of November. She was named the new director of policy and partnerships for the Missouri State Alliance of YMCAs (MSAY).