JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Kyna Iman, a Missouri lobbyist, has an unusual name, pronounced Ki-na I-mahn. In fact, she once told former state Sen. Chuck Gross that the two could never have gotten married, because her name would have been “Kyna Gross.”
Iman’s particular brand of lobbying has been a staple in Jefferson City for almost 30 years. And since 1993, Kyna has run her own one-person lobbying firm, Kyna Iman LLC. The one person is her, and it’s how she likes it.
“The advantage is that I work one-on-one with all my clients,” Iman said. “There’s no delegating, and a lot more traveling, and it gives me the flexibility to bring in consultants in one area that have expertise that can educate me on the issues.”
Iman didn’t start off alone, though. She grew up with an exposure to politics, a common threat among lobbyists, staffers and politicians alike. Iman’s father, Cleve, was a Sheriff in Chariton County, where the largest town was about 1,500 people. It was her father who gave Iman her namesake. It’s a Hawaiian name, and her father, who spent time in the Army before returning to Missouri to take up law enforcement, was stationed in Pearl Harbor.
In fact, her father was stationed there on December 7, 1941. Luckily for both of them, he wasn’t on Oahu, where the majority of the damage was done.
Iman went to William Woods University in Fulton, Mo., where, unlike some of her colleagues in the Capitol, she did not study political science or law. No, Iman was an English and communications Major, who minored in dance.
“It’s not the background you expect someone in my job to have,” Iman said. “But I got started down this path pretty quickly.”
So quickly, in fact, that before she was 21, Iman was interning with the longtime Missouri lobbyist, John Britton. The two met when Britton lobbied on behalf of the Missouri Sherriff’s Association, of which her father was a longtime member. Iman, at 20, helped pass a liquor control bill, even though she hadn’t purchased her first legal drink yet. She never really stopped lobbying since then.
Her longest client, the Arts Council, has been with her since 1988. In fact, one of her prouder accomplishments of the last session was getting some state funds back in the budget for the arts.
She’s worked for the American Red Cross, the Missouri Nurses Association (MONA), Missouri Southern State University, Missouri Canoe and Floaters Association, among others. Her range is wide, and her passion drives her choice in clients, she says.
“I make a living on the issues I care deeply about,” Iman said. “I see something that needs to be changed and I try to make those changes. It’s hard to lobby on something just because I get paid. I truly believe in the lobbying I do.”
When she isn’t lobbying, she does some duck hunting, though her real passion is the bicycle. Iman has a unique goal as a cyclist. Simply put, she wants to bike in all 50 states before she turns 50.
She has four states left and three months until the big day. She leaves soon for a bike through Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. Her last state will be New Hampshire.
Iman’s interests are as wide-ranging as her clients. But in today’s political scene, she says, every industry and business, no matter how niche or small, has representation in the Capitol. Not doing so would be suicide.
“One of my favorite sayings is ‘if you don’t take an interest in politics, the politics may not take an interest in you,’” Iman said.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.