Meet Jeanette Mott Oxford: Advocate For The People

Te ARGUS salutes incredible people dong incredible things to better their community. meet Jeanette Mott Oxford

Out, Proud and Healthy

Jeanette Mott Oxford has been an advocate, educator, writer, and organizer on issues of poverty, health, housing, racism, human rights, criminal justice reform, equality, and campaign finance reform in Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri since 1983. Oxford has been executive director of two statewide anti-poverty not-for-profits and was State Representative for a portion of St. Louis City from 2005-2012. Oxford organized the Coalition Against Public Funding for Stadiums in 2001 which saved taxpayers more than $200 million and contributed significantly to a national trend away from publicly-funded sports projects.

Presently Policy Manager at Paraquad, an independent living center for persons with disabilities, Oxford graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 1986 with a B.A. in Religious Studies and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary (1989).

Oxford has been executive director of two statewide not-for-profits:

  • Reform Organization of Welfare from August 1991 to May 2000 (ROWEL). ROWEL was an anti-poverty organization led by people in poverty with a mission focusing on improving Missouri’s outdated and inadequate social safety net; and
  • Empower Missouri from October 2012 to December 2020 (formerly Missouri Association for Social Welfare. Empower Missouri, founded in 1901 as the Missouri Conference on Charities and Corrections, presently focuses on food and housing security and criminal justice reform. (Oxford moved to a Director of Policy and Organizing role there in 2020.)

In 2021, Oxford was a consultant for the national Clean Slate Initiative to build a statewide movement toward an automated expungement system. Clean Slate provides second chances and improved employment opportunities for persons who have been arrested and/or incarcerated.

Oxford was State Representative for a portion of the City of St. Louis from 2005-12. Ze served as Ranking Member on the Children and Families Committee for most of that time and also as Vice-Chair of Ethics, 2011-12.

An agender individual, preferring the name J-MO (pronounced jay-mo) and the pronouns ze/zir/zirs, Oxford is married to the Rev. Dorothy M. Gannon, a hospice chaplain. The couple has lived in Benton Park since 1996 and are active in the ministries of Epiphany United Church of Christ in that neighborhood. 


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