When Gracia Backer’s state representative — someone whom she liked — decided not to run again, she openly wondered who would replace him. Her husband Mike Backer, uttered three words to her that put her on a path to serving in the Missouri House for nearly two decades: “What about you?” This is a question asked of many of our alumnae and cohort members. Few get asked it with as much gusto as Mike asked of Gracia.

Backer, who was the first female floor leader, remembers her time in the legislature as one that was “exciting” as women were given the opportunity to serve on and lead committees that weren’t necessarily geared toward so-called “women’s issues.” She said the women she served with, in particular, were dedicated to learning the House rules “to make sure we could participate and become politically savvy.”

We are saddened to note the passing of Gracia’s most steadfast supporter, partner, friend, and community servant. He was an advocate of our work to empower women leaders in Missouri. RIP Mike. We offer our condolences to Gracia, her family, and many friends.