Human Relations Commission (HRC)

The Topeka Human Relations Commission (THRC) is a nine member Board of Commissioners who are appointed by the Mayor with the consent of the City Council. The mission of the THRC is to conduct outreach and educational activities that promote justice and cultural understanding and improve relationships among all citizens of Topeka.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Human Relations Commission is to conduct outreach and educational activities that promote justice and cultural understanding, and improve relationships among all people of the City of Topeka.

Vision Statement

The Topeka Human Relations Commission is the key educational and services connecting resource for the city to its people to help eradicate inequality, provide cultural education and create a diverse, accepting community that assists, adapts to and upholds every member in its midst with fairness, kindness and a path to a stable and prosperous future.

Meetings

The HRC normally meets on the 1st Monday of each month from 5:30pm to 7:00pm in the 1st floor conference room of City Hall, 215 SE 7th Street. Please check the public calendar for upcoming meetings.

Membership

The Topeka Human Relations Commission shall consist of nine members to be drawn from individuals with disabilities and from diverse gender, racial, ethnic, commercial, and industrial segments of the community. The commissioners shall reside within the corporate limits of the city. The commissioners shall be appointed by the mayor from council nominations, and such appointments shall be confirmed by the council.

Apply to be a commissioner

Assisted governing body on City of Topeka non-discrimination ordinance update – Ordinance 20276

The Topeka HRC promotes community participation in completion of the Public Input forms created by the Public Health & Safety Committee’s Changing our Culture of Property Maintenance series. Input is sought as it pertains to substandard properties, vacant properties, overgrowth, trash, and overall ways for changing the culture of the community as it relates to Property Maintenance. Please select the link for additional information on this initiative.
Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia
The recent United States Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 140 S.Ct. 1731 (2020), held that the broader category of “sex” set out in Title VII includes discrimination based on LGBTQ and all derivatives of “sex.” As such, the Kansas Human Relations Commission (KHRC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are accepting and investigating complaints related to discrimination based on “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” and individuals who wish to file a complaint may do so through the KHRC; the EEOC; or through administrative processes provided by other state and federal laws.

Individuals with a concern or complaint of discrimination based on LGBTQ status should contact the KHRC or EEOC at:
Kansas Human Rights Commission
http://www.khrc.net/complaint.html
(888) 793-6874 (toll free)

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
https://www.eeoc.gov/how-file-charge-employment-discrimination
(800) 669-4000

Current Commissioners

Jennifer Goetz was born and raised in Lecompton, Kansas, is a 2003 graduate of the University of Kansas and a 2013 graduate of Baker University’s MBA program. Jennifer is the Director of Marketing and Communications for Kansas State Treasurer Lynn Rogers. Jennifer is married to Jeff Carson and is mother to her daughter, Jillian.
Jennifer serves the ARTSConnect Board, the Board of Kansas Ballet Academy, is President of the American Advertising Federation Topeka board, as well as the YWCA Governance Committee. She loves to volunteer her time for Meals on Wheels, Topeka South Rotary initiatives, and oversees 20,000+ members as the administrator of The Topeka Experience Facebook page. Jennifer has served as a digital media manager for Michelle De La Isla’s Mayoral seat and congressional campaign and also assisted multiple candidates in the last election cycle as Communications Manager with the Kansas Senate Democrats.
Jennifer excels at networking, communication, design and fundraising and recently spearheaded a self motivated social initiative to provide funds to unemployed service industry workers in Topeka due to COVID-19 through the “Ad Astra” t-shirt project which raised over $1,800 to help affected employees.
Jennifer is committed to Topeka and the state of Kansas and is proud to influence and lead positive social change.
Angelique Brown is a native of Long Island, New York. She is a current student at Washburn University School of Law where she serves as the President of the Black Law Students Association, is a member of the Washburn Student Bar Association, and the host of the podcast, Law Schooled at Washburn. Prior to attending Washburn Law she became a CLEO fellow and CLIC Scholarship recipient. She is also a recipient of the Fred Schaufeld Scholarship Program.
Angelique earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the illustrious Hampton University. While at Hampton,she worked with the Virginia League of Conservation of Voters where she helped restore the voting rights of former felons in the state of Virginia and educated low resourced communities about their voting rights. She was later recognized as the Top College Representative. She plans to use her law degree to give a voice to the voiceless, ensuring that they receive the justice they deserve. She aspires to carry the torch of her ancestors, with the hope of creating a better tomorrow for generations to come.
Nicholas Smith is a Juris Doctor candidate at Washburn University School of Law. Raised in the rural piney hills of north Louisiana, Nicholas understands the unique challenges smaller communities face. He values the dignity of hard work from his years of working on his family’s cattle and poultry farm. Cherishing the values of equity, community-building, and opportunity he learned back home, Nicholas is excited to now call Topeka home and work toward a bright future in Kansas.
Nicholas and his husband, Casey, first moved to Topeka in 2020 to pursue their law degrees. After many neighborhood walks with his husband and dog during the pandemic, Nicholas decided to step up and serve the community who has been so warm and welcoming to his family.
Carol Roberts was born and raised in Topeka. She is a wife, mother to seven children and grandmother to six grandchildren. Carol attended elementary through high school in the Seaman School District. Upon graduation from high school she attended Washburn University where she graduated in 1988 with a degree in court and conference reporting. Carol has been a freelance court reporter, worked in the Johnson County District Courts as an official reporter and now owns a transcription company that serves law enforcement agencies, courts and a variety of other clients. Carol also owns a health and wellness business dedicated to the science and study of nutrition and genetic expression with regard to the prevention or treatment of disease.
Carol has served in various capacities in city and community groups such as the Law Enforcement Partnership Panel established under Police Chief Ron Miller. She has served also in Kansans for Life as well as been involved in radio and newspaper ministries. She is active in her church and serves in several roles there. Carol is involved with Trash Mountain Project which serves people living in trash dump communities worldwide. Carol is passionate about her faith and encouraging others. She believes that all lives are precious and every human should be treated with dignity and respect.
Cynthia Hopp has been a teacher for the Topeka public school system since 2013 and has been teaching for the last ten years. She recently graduated with a Masters of Educational Leadership at Kansas State University.
Cynthia is a member of the Minority Leadership Academy and a Kagan Cooperative Learning instructional coach. After school hours, she serves at the Woman’s Foundation and is also a Human Relations Commissioner for the city of Topeka.
With an evident passion for education and volunteering, Cynthia enjoys helping people achieve their goals.
Cynthia is married to Kevin Hopp and is the mother of two children, Mikaela and Mauricio. In her spare time, she enjoys learning how to play the cello, meditating, and doing yoga.
I am a 48 year old man of Trans experience born and raised in Topeka, Kansas. I was born with 3 strikes against me being assigned female at birth, being Afro-American and born with a disability all of which I have been discriminated against in different areas of my life. I have two degrees in Human Services youth and children emphasis and a BA in Criminal Justice. I wear a few different hats when it comes to activism. I am the current president and one of the founding members of Kansas statewide transgender education project (K.S.T.E.P), current chairperson of Equality Kansas Topeka chapter, and the president of Capital city equality center (The Mott House), the president and founder of the Black Transmen Inc. Kansas chapter (BTMI Kansas). Mr. Black Trans Kansas 2019-2020, ward captain and ward 1 precinct 3 precinct committee Man I am an activist for the LGBT community but my true passion Trans people of color.
This position is currently open. Apply to become a commissioner!

Troy Scroggins Award

The Troy Scroggins Awards are presented to deserving individuals and organizations for their efforts in furthering the HRC’s mission, which is “to ensure fair and equal rights to all citizens of Topeka.” The HRC Troy Scroggins Award recognizes outstanding achievements in ameliorating discrimination and prejudice based on race, sex, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, and sexual orientation and advancing diversity in the city of Topeka.
The first Troy Scroggins Award honoree was the award’s namesake, Troy Scroggins. It is Mr. Scroggins achievements in addressing discrimination and prejudice and advancing diversity that this city should recognize as examples of how to treat all of its citizens and to uphold this city’s commitment to equal rights as exemplified by Brown v. Board of Education.
There are two categories recognized:
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement: Awarded to an individual whose efforts at ameliorating discrimination and prejudice and advancing diversity in Topeka are outstanding, singular and noteworthy. Honorees do not have to be Topeka residents. The honoree may be of any age.
  • Outstanding Organizational Achievement: Awarded to an organization in Topeka or Shawnee County whose efforts at ameliorating discrimination and prejudice and advancing diversity in Topeka are outstanding, singular and noteworthy. Honorees must have business offices in Topeka, but may be headquartered elsewhere.
Presentation of Awards: The awards will be presented at the City of Topeka Governing Body meetings.

Nominations may be made by anyone who lives in the city of Topeka. One person or entity may nominate multiple people or organizations. THRC board members may nominate an entity for which they work or with which they are affiliated, but must recuse themselves from voting on that entity. HRC board and staff members are not eligible to be nominated, nor is the agency eligible to be nominated.

To nominate, please fill out the Troy Scroggins nomination form.
  • 2021
    • Individuals: Carla Pratt
    • Organization: Omni Circle Group
  • 2020
    • Individuals: Marrietta Patterson
    • Organization: New Mount Zion Baptist Church Outreach Ministry
  • 2019
    • Individuals: Chris Omni, Edith Gaines, Larry Robbins
    • Organization: Kansas Children’s Discovery Center
  • 2018
    • Individual: Martinez Hillard
  • 2017
    • Individuals: Annette Hope Billings, Dennis Etzel Jr., Officer Timothy Bell
  • 2015
    • Individual: Dr. Sharon Sullivan
    • Organization: The Green Gals
  • 2014
    • Individual: Jeremy Beard
    • Organization: Topeka Public Schools Equity Council
  • 2013
    • Organization: Girls on the Run Topeka YWCA
  • 2012
    • Individuals: Garry Cushinberry, U.S Attorney Barry Grissom District of Kansas
  • 2011
    • Individuals: Brian Peters, Demarus Kelley, Barry R. Grissom,
    • Organizations: Community First, CASA of Shawnee County, Inc., Boys and Girls Club of Topeka
  • 2010
    • Individual: Eric Johnson
  • 2009
    • Organizations: YWCA R.A.C.E Committee, Living the Dream, Inc.
  • 2008
    • Individuals: CE Sonny Scroggins, Jane Brown

Stephanie Mott Award

The Stephanie Mott Award recognizes people living in Shawnee County who have helped the Topeka Human Relations Commission (THRC) accomplish its mission by exemplifying the work of Stephanie Mott, which is advocating for the disenfranchised and the less fortunate, and giving a voice to the voiceless.
Stephanie was born December 31, 1957, in Lawrence, KS. She graduated from Eudora High School in 1975, earned an Associate Degree of Human Services Management from the University of Phoenix in 2010, a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Washburn University in 2014, a Master of Social Work from Washburn University in 2016, and her certification as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in 2019.

Stephanie was involved in many social justice causes, but most of her life’s work focused on LGBTQ+ advocacy. She founded the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project (KSTEP) in 2010 and later her Transgender Faith Tour, traveling across the nation to tell her story and talk about her faith in churches, large and small. Stephanie was on the advisory board of the local Beacon Youth Group. She served as chair, vice-chair and other positions for Equality Kansas; both the state organization and the local Topeka chapter. At the time she chaired Equality Kansas, she was the only transgender leader of a statewide equality organization in the U.S. She helped revive the Topeka Pride celebration and served as the first president of Topeka Pride, Inc. Stephanie helped create and was the president of the board for Capitol City Equality Center in Topeka. She served on the Topeka Human Relations Commission and was an inaugural member of the Topeka Police Department Citizens Advisory Council. Stephanie also formed the Topeka chapter of the National Organization for Women and was supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Nominations may be made by anyone who lives in Shawnee County. THRC board members may nominate an individual.

Nominations for an individual are due by May 1st each year.

The THRC will review all award nominations and select one person who best exemplifies Stephanie Mott’s legacy. The awards will be presented at the City of Topeka Governing Body meetings and press releases will be issued to media outlets.

To nominate, please fill out the Stephanie Mott nomination form.
  • 2021: Michelle De La Isla