State Rep. Barbara Sykes (D-Akron) has dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of all Ohioans. She is a strong advocate for working families and for the rights of women and others are who often are overlooked.
She was the first African-American woman to serve on the Akron City Council. She was elected in November 2002 to a second term in the Ohio House of Representatives. Rep. Sykes was also elected to a two-year term as president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus in January 2003.
Rep. Sykes served on a variety of committees both local and national. In the House of Representatives, she was the highest ranking Democrat on the Human Services Subcommittee of Finance and Appropriations. She also served as a member of Public Utilities and Energy, State Government, Ways and Means and Commission on Minority Health. On the national level, Rep. Sykes served as vice-chair, Telecommunications Committee for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, co-chair of the Council of State Government Midwest-Canada Relations Electricity Subcommittee and National Council of State Legislators Human Services and Welfare Committee member.
Rep. Sykes also showed this kind of progressive commitment throughout the 1980s as an Akron City councilwoman. She sponsored, for example, the first legislation in Akrons history establishing preferences for minority businesses.
She is a former deputy auditor of administration for Summit County. She served as the director of Police Community Dialogue, an agency that provides leadership in fostering a better, more open relationship between police officers and residents.
Beyond her service in city hall and the statehouse, Rep. Sykes also has been active in statewide politics. She ran for state treasurer in 1994 and served as the Ohio political director for the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign.
Rep. Sykes earned both her undergraduate degree in social work and her master's degree in public administration from the University of Akron. Rep. Sykes and her husband, former state Rep. Vernon Sykes, have two daughters, Stancy and Emilia, and one grandson, Hugh.