Meet Kenyan

Councilmember McDuffie (D–Ward 5)

Kenyan R. McDuffie, Councilmember for Ward 5, was first elected to the Council of the District of Columbia in a 2012 special election. In November 2014 and again in 2018, the voters of Ward 5 honored him by overwhelmingly electing him to serve four-year terms.

In his seven years on the Council, Kenyan has established himself as a skilled legislator and coalition builder, including having been elected by his colleagues to serve as Chairman Pro Tempore since 2013. As a testament to his diligent work and preparation, more often than not the legislation Kenyan champions passes the Council unanimously.

As of January 2017, Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie serves as the Chairperson of the Committee on Business and Economic Development, which has oversight over 20 agencies and commissions, including the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, Department of Small and Local Business, Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, Public Service Commission and Office of the People’s Counsel. As Chair of the Committee on Business and Economic Development Kenyan will work to ensure that the District economy continues to grow and that small and local businesses have a fair chance to take part in the District’s economic growth.

Previously, Kenyan served as Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary. As Chair Kenyan oversaw sweeping updates to the District’s criminal justice law. Kenyan successfully passed comprehensive juvenile justice reform that ended the use of solitary confinement, life sentences, and indiscriminate shackling of juveniles in court. Kenyan also oversaw the creation of the police body-worn camera program, including ensuring that there was a fair process for the video footage to be made public. Kenyan championed “Ban the Box” legislation that bans the use of criminal background checks in housing as well as passing legislation to end the unfair use of credit history in hiring. Kenyan also passed the innovative Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Act (NEAR Act) which reforms the District’s criminal justice system by incorporating behavioral and mental health professionals to perform tasks that previously fell to law enforcement officers.

Kenyan began his career in public service working for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives shortly after graduating summa cum laude from Howard University. He went on to receive his Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland School of Law, where he served as an editor of the University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class.

Prior to joining the Council, Kenyan worked extensively in the legal and public safety fields. He served as a law clerk for an Associate Judge on the 7th Judicial Circuit of Maryland and worked as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Prince George’s County, where he prosecuted misdemeanor and felony cases in District Court and on appeal in Circuit Court. Kenyan served as a trial attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”), where he conducted investigations and managed complex cases throughout the United States regarding enforcement of key federal civil rights statutes, including defending the rights of the mentally ill. During his tenure at DOJ, he was also an integral team member on cases to reform the policies and procedures of police departments. More recently, he served as a policy advisor to the District of Columbia’s Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice.

Nationally, Kenyan has been featured on NewsOne Now, MSNBC and National Public Radio. Kenyan and his wife, Princess, live in his childhood home in Ward 5 with their two young daughters, Kesi and Jozi.

Councilmember McDuffie also serves on the following committees:

Councilmember McDuffie also serves as a member of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, and Committee on Finance and Revenue.

Transportation and the Environment:

The Committee on Transportation and the Environment is responsible for matters relating to environmental protection regulation and policies; highways, bridges, traffic, vehicles, and other transportation issues; maintenance of public spaces; public parks and recreation; recycling; waste management; and water supply and wastewater treatment; maintenance of public buildings, property management, including the declaration of government property as no longer required for public purposes.

Labor and Workforce Development:

The Committee on Labor and Workforce Development is responsible for labor relations; matters related to workforce-development; and employment and manpower development.

Committee on Recreation and Youth Affairs:

The Committee on Recreation and Youth Affairs is responsible for public parks and recreation and youth affairs (other than juvenile justice).