House Speaker Jody Richards, who began his career as a teacher at Western Kentucky University , first ran for office on 1976, when he won the 20th District seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives, a position he holds today. While still in his first term, Speaker Richards was called upon to Chair the House’s Education Committee. He later played an instrumental part in engineering Kentucky ’s sweeping education reforms by chairing one of the committees that helped draft the Kentucky Education Reform Act, and he has shown the same commitment in the leadership roles in the Southern Legislative Conference’s Education Committee and Legislative Advisory Council of the Southern Regional Education Board.
In 1987, Mr. Richards was chosen by his Democratic colleagues in the House to serve as their Majority Caucus Chairman, one of the body’s five leadership positions. In that role, he was responsible for informing caucus members about important measures and issues confronting the General Assembly and dealing with intricate procedural matters, such as the rules by which the House and Committees operate. In 1995, Mr. Richards reached the culmination of his nearly two decades of legislative service and leadership by being chosen Speaker of the House.
Jody remains active in his home community of Bowling Green and Warren County . The Speaker has held local, state, and national leadership positions with the civic minded Jaycees. He has served as President of the Southern Kentucky Fair Board and Bowling Green Girl’s Club, has held seats on the boards of directors of the United Way and Warren County Chamber of Commerce, the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club, the Advisory Board of Directors of Republic Bank, and numerous other organizations. He also was a member of the US Army reserves from 1962 to 1968.
He was elected as Chairman of the Southern Legislative Conference in 1999-2000 and serves on the Executive Committee of both the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Southern Legislative Conference, as well as the Governing Board of the Council of State Governments. In addition, Speaker Richards serves on the Southern Regional Educational Board and has taken part in the Administrative Office of the Courts Task Force on Family Court. He is the recipient of the William H. Nathcer Award for Government Service, and he was awarded the Hero Award for shepherding funding for Children’s Advocacy Centers through the 2000 Kentucky General Assembly. In 2002, he was honored by the Kentucky chapter of AARP for his leadership in getting the anti-telemarketing legislation through the 2002 Regular Session; and he was also recognized by the Lexington chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police for his legislative efforts in helping police officers in Fayette County.
Speaker Richards is the owner of Superior Books, Inc., a wholesale book sales and distribution company in Bowling Green , and is a long-time member of Greenwood Park Church of Christ. He has a son, Roger, a daughter-in-law, Ellen, and a granddaughter, Holly Beth. Jody and his wife Neva , live in Bowling Green , Kentucky.
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