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Former Kansas City Mayor Sly James, Joni Wickham launch new consulting firm


For former Kansas City Mayor Sly James and his chief of staff Joni Wickham, launching a consulting firm was a “natural next step” in their careers. 

The pair will particularly focus on education, climate change, economic development, and women’s leadership with the firm, Wickham James Strategies & Solutions, which already has clients. 

“We had to find something that would allow us to follow up on the issues that we had grown attached to while in office, and this was the best way to do it and the best person to work with,” James told The Missouri Times. “It was a natural next step we saw as an opportunity to still have an impact on the things we cared about while we’re not in elected office.” 

Wickham noted the two tackled a large variety of issues in the mayor’s office. They wanted to continue having an “intellectual variety” in their work lives after leaving the office, she said. 

“In the mayor’s office, juggling 15 hot potatoes under the watchful eye of the media and the public, it really sets you up to handle just about anything after going through that dynamic together for eight years,” Wickham told The Missouri Times. 

“Our primary goal is to serve the clients we’ve already acquired and to continue to build the business and to do it in such a way that we still leave time for life,” James said. “We want to continue to look at and acquire business that stimulates us intellectually — and certainly financially — but particularly we want to do things that matter, work on things that matter.”

Wendy Doyle, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation based in Kansas City, called the two “an incredible team who bring a uniquely inclusive and collaborative approach to getting things done.” 

“Their diverse perspective and the personal attention they give to projects make them wonderful partners for any organization working for change,” Doyle said. 

James, a Democrat, served as Kansas City’s mayor from 2011 to 2019.

Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, Wickham has worked with the American Federation of Teachers, the Missouri Department of Transportation, and the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office aside from her time with James.