Meet Kenyan

An experienced attorney, civil rights advocate, and community leader dedicated to improving the lives of District residents, Kenyan R. McDuffie, was first elected in a 2012 special election to represent Ward 5 on the Council of the District of Columbia. In 2014 Ward 5 voters overwhelmingly re-elected him to serve a full four-year term. He was again re-elected in 2018. In 2022, after ten years of leading significant efforts to help reform public safety and criminal justice laws, advance racial equity in the District’s public schools and healthcare systems, achieve environmental justice, and champion small and local business development, District residents in all eight wards elected Kenyan to serve as Councilmember At-Large.

On the Council, Councilmember McDuffie has established himself as a prudent legislator, coalition builder, and visionary leader. Since 2013, he has been elected to serve as Chairman pro tempore, a role that would require him to preside over the Council in the Chairman’s absence. As a further testament to his legislative prowess and diligent work ethic, the legislation championed by Councilmember McDuffie often passes the Council unanimously.

At-Large Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie

As Chairman of the Committee on Business and Economic Development, Councilmember McDuffie believes all residents deserve to partake in the District’s economic prosperity. He has authored legislation to increase small and local business development; level the playing field for women, minority, and veteran-owned entrepreneurs; and increase government contracting and procurement transparency. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Councilmember McDuffie shepherded the passage of legislation that ushered $100 million in grants to the workers and businesses hit hardest. Councilmember McDuffie also authored the transformational Racial Equity Achieves Results Act (REACH) Act, which subjects all proposed legislation to a Racial Equity Impact Assessment, to achieve greater economic inclusivity and racial equality and improve social justice outcomes.

At-Large Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie speaking on the dais.

As former Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, Councilmember McDuffie oversaw sweeping updates to the District’s criminal justice laws. Among his wins for District residents are

  • Authorship of the landmark Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act, which established an innovative data-driven public health approach to violence prevention;
  • Comprehensive juvenile justice reform legislation that ended the use of solitary confinement, life sentences, and the indiscriminate shackling of juveniles in court; and
  • The passage of legislation to end the unfair use of credit history in hiring.

Councilmember McDuffie also championed “Ban the Box” legislation to end the discriminatory use of criminal background checks in employment and housing applications and helped develop the police body-worn camera program.

Councilmember McDuffie began his career in public service working for the District’s Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, Eleanor Holmes Norton. He attended the University of the District of Columbia, graduated summa cum laude from Howard University, and received his Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland School of Law, where he also served as an editor of the University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class.

Before joining the Council, Councilmember McDuffie worked extensively in the legal and public safety fields. He served as a law clerk for an Associate Judge on the Maryland Circuit Court, Assistant State’s Attorney in Prince George’s County, and trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Councilmember McDuffie also served as a policy advisor to the District’s Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice and was formerly the president of the Stronghold Civic Association.

Councilmember McDuffie and his wife, Princess, live in his childhood home in Ward 5 with their two daughters, Kesi and Jozi.