Representative Wayne Ford
Wayne Ford was born in Washington, D.C., in 1951 and raised in the northeast and southeast areas of Washington's inner city. He was involved in various juvenile crimes during his teenage years and voted "most likely not to succeed" by his classmates when he graduated from Ballou High School in 1969.
Ford's skill as a football player led him to Rochester Junior College in Minnesota on scholarship. Fortunately for Wayne, the move took him out of a negative lifestyle and saved his life. Soon, Ford was granted another football scholarship to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Excelling both on the football field and in the classroom, Wayne graduated on the President's list in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. Ford has also done postgraduate work in the Master's in Public Administration program at Drake and the Master's in Social Work program at the University of Iowa.
In 1976, Ford founded Concerned Citizens for Minority Affairs, a non-partisan political organization that eventually evolved into the Brown & Black Presidential Forum, one the oldest ongoing minority Presidential debates in America. The 2000 Forum, broadcast on MSNBC, featured Presidential candidates Al Gore and Bill Bradley. The 2004 Forum is expected to be the largest ever.
In 1985, Ford founded Urban Dreams, to serve the needs of Des Moines' inner-city residents. He has served as its executive director of the United Way Agency since its inception.
In 1992, Mr. Ford founded his consulting firm, Wayne Ford & Associates, which helps businesses recruit and retain minority employees, offers professional and collegiate sports teams community consulting and life skills training and also has helped numerous organizations with gang prevention. WF&A has worked with numerous organizations including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Principal Financial Group, MidAmerican Energy, Seabury/Marsh, and the Des Moines YMCA. WF&A has also worked with the Iowa Barnstormers Arena Football League team, the Des Moines' Dragons International Basketball Association basketball team, and the Iowa Cubs Triple-A baseball team.
In 1996, Ford was elected to serve his community as an Iowa State Representative. Ford's district includes some of the most affluent and some of the least affluent areas in Iowa. Ford was only the tenth African-American elected to the Iowa legislature. During his tenure, Ford has introduced, co-sponsored and sponsored numerous bills to improve the lives of disadvantaged Iowans. Because Iowa's rate of incarceration of black males was second highest nationally behind Washington, D.C., in 1999, Ford was appointed by Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack to co-chair a commission to study the issue, report its findings, and make recommendations for actions to be taken to alleviate the situation. This report has become a model for the country. In 2003, Ford was named ranking minority member of the House Economic Growth appropriation subcommittee and was appointed to the Iowa Workforce Development Board by Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack.
In 1999, Ford was named to the Board of Trustees of the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation of Washington, D.C., in recognition of the success of Urban Dreams and his involvement in developing programs for youth and inner city residents in cooperation with other area agencies.
Ford's inspiring rise from Washington, D.C.'s inner city to the Iowa statehouse has been profiled in numerous publications, including The Washington Times, The Washington Post, The Source Magazine, and Parade Magazine. In 2001, CBS News anchor Dan Rather personally selected Ford and his unique life story for his best-selling book, The American Dream because he believed Ford's life exemplified achievement of the American dream. The relationship he has with his son, journalist Ryan Ford, who writes for The Source magazine, was the subject of a feature story in The Des Moines Register in 2002 and the basis for a TV sitcom currently in development with the help of award winning actor Blair Underwood.
From 1990 to 1996 Ford was called "the voice of urban Iowans" as a host of The Wayne Ford Show on Des Moines WHO Radio 1040AM. In addition, from 1990 to 1992, Ford served as President of KUCB, an inner city community radio station in Des Moines.
Ford is currently working on his autobiography, From the Hood to the Hill: An Urban Dream and was recently inducted into Iowa's African-American Hall of Fame.