An experienced attorney, civil rights advocate, and community leader dedicated to improving the lives of Ward 5 residents.
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, the voters of Ward 5 honored him by overwhelmingly re-electing him to his first full four-year term. McDuffie was again re-elected in 2018.
During his tenure 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. In 2020 McDuffie led the District’s efforts to provide immediate relief to small businesses impacted by COVID and passed emergency Business Support Grant legislation which led to a $100m investment in the businesses hardest hit by the impacts of COVID.
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.
During Kenyan’s tenure he has also led efforts to move racial equity and social justice forward in the District. In 2020 he passed the transformative REACH Act (Racial Equity Achieves Results). This legislation established the Office of Racial Equity, led by the District’s new Chief Equity Officer, created a new Racial Equity Impact Assessment for Council legislation and established the Council Office on Racial Equity (CORE), trains all DC government employees on racial equity, creates a Racial Equity Tool to ensure the District government is accountable and establishes a Commission to advance racial equity into the future.
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 Doctorate 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.
Kenyan and his wife, Princess, live in his childhood home in Ward 5 with their two daughters, Kesi and Jozi.
Time on Council
2012 to Present
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 506, Washington, DC 20004