Roxanne Qualls

Born:March 3, 1953 (age 71)
Career:Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio 1993 - 1999
Cincinnati City Council 2007 - 2013

Roxanne Qualls served three terms as mayor of Cincinnati, first elected in 1993 and reelected in 1995 and 1997.

Qualls was born March 3, 1953, in Tacoma, Washington. She attended Thomas More College, majoring in history, and then attended the University of Cincinnati in the Department of Urban Planning and Design at the College of Design, Architecture, and Art. Prior to serving in elective office, Roxanne served as the first director of the Northern Kentucky Rape Crisis Center (1975-1977, now known as the Women's Crisis Center), the executive director of Women Helping Women (1977-1979, now known as the Hamilton County Rape Crisis and Abuse Center), owned a small business specializing in house painting and renovation, and an associate director (1983-1985) and then director (1985-1991) of the Cincinnati office of Ohio Citizen Action (formerly known as Ohio Public Interest Campaign).

Qualls was elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 1991. In her first term on the council, Roxanne served as chair of the Intergovernmental Affairs and Environment Committee, where she promoted employee health and safety.

As mayor, Roxanne emphasized openness and accessibility, collaborative public-private partnerships, and community and economic development. Upon taking the office of mayor in 1993, Qualls established Mayor's Night In, where every Tuesday evening, for two hours anyone could come and see her about any issue or concern. She established the Mayor's Business Expansion and Retention Program and the Mayor's Business Breakfasts. She also emphasized partnerships with the communities and the private sector to achieve shared goals. As mayor, a member of the Executive Committee and later as president of the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana-Regional Council of Governments, she oversaw the Major Investment Study that resulted in the significant redesign and reconfiguration of Fort Washington Way; and she successfully lobbied for federal dollars to fund the region's light rail major investment study. With then County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus and members of City Council, she helped form the joint City-County Planning Committee to develop the Master Plan for Cincinnati's Central Riverfront and to determine the location of the two stadiums.

On August 8, 2007, she was appointed to fill the unexpired term of a Cincinnati City Council member, and was then elected to three subsequent terms. During her tenure, she served as vice mayor, the chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, chair of the Livable Communities Committee and chair of the Subcommittee on Major Transportation and Infrastructure Projects. She was an unsuccessful candidate for Cincinnati mayor in 2013.


Harvard Kennedy School (n.d.). Roxanne Qualls. Retrieved on November 21 2022, from