Theresa Garza Ruiz
Jackson County Legislator
415 E. 12th St., 2nd Floor
Kansas City, MO 64106
It is no surprise to those that know County Legislator Theresa Garza Ruiz that she opted to run for public office in Jackson County. Not only was she born here, but she also attended local schools and graduated college from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. Theresa grew up attending Royals and Chiefs games, spending summer days at Worlds of Fun and Lake Jacomo, visiting the Kansas City Zoo, shopping on the Plaza and Independence Center and enjoying the many attractions that our metropolitan area has to offer. Today, she continues to share her love of our community with her family and friends – residents and visitors.
After graduating from Raytown South High School, Theresa enlisted in the United States Navy. She attributes her strong sense of teamwork, service and volunteerism to her time in the military. During her enlistment, she became actively involved in the communities that she was stationed in by volunteering for organizations such as Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity and Teach for America. Her volunteer participation earned her several letters of accommodation during her enlistment. Upon completion of active duty, she was awarded an Honorable Discharge and shortly thereafter, returned home.
Theresa is the first member in her family to graduate from college. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice and will complete her Masters in Public Administration in May of 2014.
Prior to running for office, Theresa worked as a probation officer in Eastern Jackson County. She worked with adult offenders, supervising and enforcing the court ordered conditions imposed by the various courts throughout Jackson County. Probation is an alternative to a prison sentence and can require the offender to complete community service hours, programs aimed at changing the offenders’ attitudes and behavior such as anger management classes, parenting classes, and alcohol or drug rehabilitation. As a probation officer, she interacted with offenders, victim advocates, social services, police, and a range of independent and voluntary sector partners on a regular basis.
In 2007, Theresa accepted the Regional Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society where she remained until April of 2012. In this position, she worked tirelessly on advocacy efforts that supported evidence-based policies and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. Theresa helped her government relations team plan, develop and conduct comprehensive policy campaigns, including direct lobbying, grassroots organizing, and media advocacy activities at the local, state, and federal levels. During this time, she developed productive, nonpartisan relationships with policymakers and administrative bodies throughout the Western half of Missouri and Eastern half of Kansas.
Currently, Theresa is the Political Director for a local union, Laborers’ Local #264. The members of Local #264 do the hard, dangerous and often dirty work of building our communities. She is proud to work diligently for a diverse and hardworking group of individuals that are on the forefront of the construction industry by fighting to ensure that they earn family-supporting pay, good benefits and the opportunity for advancement and better lives.
It is Theresa’s diligence and broad perspective that she draws from in her elected role when reviewing Budgets and County Services. Yet, it is her love of family and her commitment to her community that fuels her passion for public service. Theresa believes that authentic good government changes—not only include ethical reforms—but laws that protect working families from unnecessary hardships. She also strongly believes in creating tools for local businesses and entrepreneurs to help spurn economic development.
Theresa is an active Board Member of the following organizations:
- The Rainbow Center for Communicative Disorders
- Hospital Hill Economic Development Corporation
- KC Workers’ Rights Board
- Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiatives
- Full-Employment’s Learn to Earn Advisory Board
- Smart Growth America Local Leaders Council
She is also a proud mother and grandmother.
District Map (Effective 2014)
Finance & Audit
Health & Environment
2013 Vice Chair of the County Legislature
First elected to the Jackson County Legislature in 2006.