Johnson County Library’s newest Board member, Jeffrey Mendoza, brings a passion for public service to this position.
Nominated by County Commissioner Janeé Hanzlick, Mendoza was appointed in May. He’s pleased to be part of a crucial community organization.
“I’ve always been a huge supporter and fan of libraries everywhere I’ve lived,” Mendoza said in an interview. “I felt this was a great place to give back and to sustain the high quality of libraries for future generations. I figured this is a place I could make an impact and give back and help Johnson County and Overland Park.”
Mendoza and his wife Elizabeth have a one-year-old son, Julian, and are excited to put down roots in Johnson County. Hanzlick was impressed with his background and commitment.
“As an attorney with the Department of Labor, a Marine Corps Reservist and a representative of the Latino community, Jeffrey brings valuable skills and perspectives to the work of the Library Board,” she said. “I especially appreciate that he is the father of a young child and is looking to build a strong foundation for the Library’s future.”
Mendoza is the son of immigrants (his mother from the Dominican Republic and his father from Peru) and grew up bilingual in New Jersey. He saw how hard his parents worked and the value they placed on education. He was instilled with a great work ethic and desire to succeed in school and professionally.
“I used the library all the time, both public and in school,” he recalled.
He also joined Junior ROTC and had mentors who inspired his patriotic ambition to serve in the military.
He graduated in 2013 from Rutgers University, majoring in Political Science and Spanish. He was commissioned as a Marine Corps Second Lieutenant upon graduating and also started law school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Mendoza had never heard of UMKC, but the law school recruited him aggressively, appreciating his Latino heritage, East Coast upbringing and military commission.
He knew nothing about Kansas City and his family was shocked. But after visiting the campus, meeting faculty and students, he quickly enrolled. It was a great experience, and he met his future wife, also a UMKC law student.
After law school graduation in 2016, Mendoza started active military service, working in Virginia and North Carolina. He was a legal advisor to a base general and then prosecuted special victims’ crimes.
He and Elizabeth married in 2019. When his active duty military contract ended in 2020, he transitioned to the reserves and the couple moved to Overland Park. Julian was born in May 2021.
As a U.S. Department of Labor trial attorney, Mendoza prosecutes labor violations and protects workers’ rights throughout the region.
It’s vital work, but he wanted to serve the community in other ways. So he reached out to Hanzlick, who thought he was a great fit when the District 4 Library Board position came open.
Mendoza and his wife read regularly to their son, both in English and Spanish, and enjoy visiting the Central Resource Library children’s area. They are also both big readers; Mendoza especially likes biographies of military leaders and sports figures.
He is determined to ensure the Library continues to provide exceptional materials, programs and services for all, including children and families, and Spanish-speaking and immigrant populations.
“I want to make sure we maintain the great work of the Library, make sure the Libraries in our community are known as a safe haven,” he said.