By Susie Fagan
May 10, 2016

Annie McKay, executive director of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth since its founding in 2013, has been named the new president and CEO of Kansas Action for Children, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

McKay said in a Monday interview that she is joining KAC after a strong legislative session. She credited the organization with helping to avoid securitizing the tobacco settlement money that finances the Children’s Initiatives Fund.

Securitizing the tobacco money would net the state a substantial upfront payment at the expense of long-term funding for children’s programs.

“I view what Kansas Action for Children did this year as a huge accomplishment, to have protected the Children’s Initiatives Fund,” she said.

McKay said she hopes to use her experience in making economic data understandable to change the conversation surrounding fiscal policy and social services in Kansas. That includes highlighting programs to reduce childhood poverty as an investment in growth and productivity, she said.

“Once the state embraces a strong fiscal path forward, we’ll be able to have those conversations about how to invest,” she said.

McKay was born and raised in Hutchinson. She graduated from Hutchinson High School in 1996.

Most of her life has been spent in Kansas. When she wasn’t in the state, she was a member of the National Civilian Community Core and National Rapid Response Corps or attended graduate school from the University of Chicago.

McKay’s new job came after Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO of Kansas Action for Children, decided to step down after 19 years at the organization.

Cotsoradis is leaving to assume “a leadership role” at the Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative, LLC, according to a KAC news release issued Monday morning. She has served in the top role at KAC for the last six years and recently has been one of the more vocal critics of Gov. Sam Brownback’s social policies.

Kansas Action for Children has received funding from the Kansas Health Foundation, which also is the primary funder of the Kansas Health Institute, the parent organization of the editorially independent KHI News Service.

The release didn’t say who will succeed McKay at KCEG, where former Kansas Budget Director Duane Goossen is a senior fellow.

Susan Fetch, president of the KAC board of directors, said the board was “sad” to see Cotsoradis go and was “deeplygrateful” for her service to the organization.

“But the board has complete confidence in Annie’s ability to advance the mission of KAC in this transition,” Fetch said in the news release. “Her experience navigating the legislative process, her relationships with both Republican and Democratic policymakers, and her in-depth knowledge of state health, budget, and education issues make her the best possible choice to lead KAC into its next chapter.”

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