Alumnus of the Year: Jeff Simon

Husch Blackwell’s KC OfFice Leader has also been a CITY’S moral compass on social justice.


Jeff Simon is your textbook example of how the power of love works—on both professional and personal levels. An early 40 Under Forty honoree (Class of 2003), this law-firm litigator and executive is a Saint Louis native who could have happily returned home after earning a degree in English at Mizzou. Instead he stuck around for law school, with good reason.

“Love,” he flatly declares. “I had fallen in love with a girl two years younger than me, so I didn’t want to leave Columbia when I graduated and needed an excuse to stick around. The decent job opportunities were somehow quite sparse for this English major, so I thought, ‘Why not law school?’ True story. Turns out it worked out pretty well, too, after 35 years of marriage and four sons with that same girl.” Thus did Amy become Love No. 1. 

The second iteration is what made him trade in St. Louis barbecue for Kansas City-style after he landed a federal judge clerkship here after earning his J.D.

“The first two people I met when I came to Kansas City were Judge Howard Sachs, for whom I served as a law clerk in my first job out of school, and State Sen. Harry Wiggins, who, by chance, lived across the street from the duplex my wife and I rented,” Simon says.  “They were two of the finest men I have ever known and were a big part of causing me to fall in love with Kansas City.”

Simon finished his work for Sachs, signed on with the Bryan Cave firm for two years, then headed back cross-state after his father’s premature death. “After being there for six months, my wife and I realized that Kansas City had already captured our hearts, so back we came—a decision we have not regretted one time in the 31 years since,” he says.

And in those three decades-plus, he has not only excelled as a litigator and as office administrator for Husch Blackwell, but as a civic champion. Simon is a true social-justice warrior in the most positive sense of that label, throwing himself into civic leadership in public safety, but also into the root causes of crime that mars the city’s reputation.

For all those reasons, Jeff Simon is Ingram’s pick for 40 Under Forty Alumnus of the Year in 2024. He could have settled for personal success and the satisfaction of a job well done in raising a family. He didn’t.

“Here are two quotes that are a pretty good summary of what has prompted me: ‘Much is expected of those to whom much has been given,’” he says, “and ‘The only thing necessary for the progress of evil is for good men to do nothing.’  I have been extraordinarily blessed by the family I was born into, the faith I was brought up in, and the education I have received.” The Jesuits, he says, have been a strong influence on my life, and social justice is at the core of their teaching.  

“As I discerned where I might be most useful in Kansas City, I realized that my experiences and relationships were drawing me toward ‘public safety’ writ large, which goes far beyond law enforcement and includes such things as education, economic opportunity, and, ultimately, love of neighbor,” he says. “In order for our region to prosper, we need to stop being fooled by cancerous and artificial divides like race and partisan politics, which profit the few at a terrible cost to the many.”

To find the true path forward, he says, “we must turn away from the poisonous noise spewed by ‘nattering nabobs of negativism’ and embrace that we are all in this together, no matter who we are or where we live, and that each of us has a common interest in working together for the common good. Imagine a Kansas City in which everyone—everyone—has a legitimate shot at earning a better life and a realistic hope for the future.  Such a world is possible, believe it or not, if we so choose.”  

Simon brings to those endeavors the same passion that allowed him to succeed in law, and he plays off a competitiveness that seems genetic. A friend once told him that trying a lawsuit was the closest you can get to playing in a big game as a kid. “I think that is true,” says Simon. “Responding to the challenges of litigation and the desire to please the client are strong motivation, but this familiar observation is what really drives me:  I hate to lose even more than I love to win.”

Simon is currently engaged with KC Common Good, which takes a more considered approach to public safety. He was a perfect fit for that, having previously served as president of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners, one in a long list of civic engagements. 

“One of the great joys of my service has been that it has allowed me to get to know other Kansas City business, civic, philanthropic and governmental leaders,” says Simon. “We are incredibly fortunate that so many of those positions are held by people of good character and heartfelt concern for our entire community. Experiencing first-hand the sincerity of this commitment and the willingness of those in positions of influence to try to make it happen gives me great pride in this city and great hope for the future. There is a whole lot of work to be done, no doubt, but I honestly believe we are on the way.”