City of Shawnee

Women's History Month Spotlight

Meet Mayor Michelle Distler, our Women's History Month Spotlight
Posted on 03/06/2023
Mayor Michelle Distler at the State of the City, 2023

March is Women's History Month everywhere, but especially in Shawnee where we have the City's first female Mayor! Mayor Michelle Distler was sworn in in 2015 and has spent her tenure championing all City staff and residents. We sat down with Mayor Distler and discussed all things Women's History Month, who inspires her, and what her daily life is really like. 

Mayor Michelle Distler standing outside the Aztec Shawnee Theater at her 2023 State of the City address

Q: What is your position at the City and how long have you held it?

A: I have been Mayor since 2015 and a member of the Governing Body since 2006.

Q: Tell me about the most rewarding part of your job? What gets you excited to walk into City Hall?
A: What gets me excited is talking to folks about all of the amazing things about our City that I love. This includes everything from our history to our present day hometown with heart. I love recognizing and celebrating our residents and businesses for their milestones whether that be an accomplishment of an Eagle Scout, a 100th birthday, an anniversary, something great they have done for someone else, or handwriting notes welcoming all of our new businesses and being present at their ribbon cuttings to celebrate with them. I enjoy the opportunity to spend days with staff striping streets and other Public Works type fun as well as roleplaying for Police and Fire training. It also excites me to volunteer alongside our residents and staff including our annual Flags for Freedom, our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) with the Fire Department, and our Citizen's Police Academy alumni. I love doing the things that excite our community members about their city! 

Q: It's Women's History Month. What does being the first female Mayor of Shawnee mean to you?
A: In the 21st century, it is amazing that there is still a "first female" in any position, but it does mean a lot to me because so many little girls have told me over the years how much it means to them. Additionally, it also means a lot to me because inside the City's time capsule, the third graders in the City were asked what they saw for the future of Shawnee and my then 9-year-old daughter had written that her mom would be the "first girl Mayor". She was 7-months-old when I was first elected to the Council and will be 18 this year, so it fills my heart she has grown up serving her community alongside me.

Q: What is your life like outside of your duties as Mayor?
Ha! Just as busy! I work a full-time job in technology as a program manager and I spend a lot of evenings and weekends at volleyball and basketball games cheering on my girl. She is involved in multiple activities (her list of successes is long).

Q: What advice would you give to a woman running for office or applying for a job in a male-dominated field?
A: The only limits we have in this life are the ones we place on ourselves. Don't limit yourself. 

Q: Tell me about a couple women that inspire you and why.
A: First would be my grandma Mary Distler. She was the one who taught me not to limit myself and always lovingly encouraged me in any dream I could dream. Her pride in me would give me pride in myself. And my daughter Jeydan inspires me to be better. She is a straight A honor roll student, an MVP athlete (Taekwondo, volleyball, basketball), a musician (piano, saxophone, voice), an award-winning artist (painting), writer (short stories), poet, an actress, and a volunteer for her community. I can't wait to see where life takes her.

To learn more about Mayor Michelle Distler and the rest of the governing body, head to