Born and raised in Akron, House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes was elected to represent her hometown (OH-34) in November 2014. With a strong sense of responsibility for the well-being of those that she serves, Sykes has tackled the challenges of her district with unmatched passion and dedication. Sykes serves as Democratic leader of the House minority caucus, a position to which she was elected by her colleagues.
As a representative, Leader Sykes has pushed an aggressive job creation plan, fighting to keep local jobs for local workers and expand opportunities for middle and working class families in Akron. Leader Sykes understands the importance of a quality education and job training for people to get ahead. She has supported young leadership and mentorship programs to inspire young people to reach their goals.
Rep. Sykes has also worked with healthcare professionals and colleagues to improve public health, increase access to care, and combat Ohio’s high infant mortality rate. Her passion for social justice extends to issues such as voter rights, criminal justice reform, a more efficient social safety net for struggling Ohioans, and an end to domestic violence. Sykes’ work on domestic violence issues has earned bipartisan praise and resulted in her legislation to protect people in dating relationships, House Bill 1, becoming law.
Sykes previously served as Administrative Staff Advisor at the Summit County Fiscal Office, where she worked to establish a county land bank to repurpose vacant and abandoned properties. At Community Legal Services in Akron, Sykes offered access to quality health and legal services to people in need. She also served as Law Clerk to the Chief Judge of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Georgia.
Sykes attended Kent State University, graduating magna cum laude with a B.A. in Psychology. She later attended the University of Florida, where she earned a Juris Doctor with a Certificate in Family Law from the Levin College of Law and a Masters of Public Health from the College of Public Health and Health Professions.
As a student, Sykes began her studies on women’s access to healthcare and investigated major issues at crisis pregnancy centers here in Ohio. In law school, she volunteered with the Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Clinic to educate women and girls about domestic violence and how to form positive relationships. From these experiences, Leader Sykes continues to place issues affecting girls and woman at the forefront of her policy agenda.