Joan Finney

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Joan Finney
42nd Governor of Kansas
In office
January 14, 1991 – January 9, 1995
LieutenantJim Francisco
Preceded byMike Hayden
Succeeded byBill Graves
33rd Treasurer of Kansas
In office
January 6, 1975 – January 14, 1991
GovernorRobert Bennett
John Carlin
Mike Hayden
Preceded byTom Van Sickle
Succeeded bySally Thompson
Personal details
Born(1925-02-12)February 12, 1925
Topeka, Kansas, U.S.
DiedJuly 28, 2001(2001-07-28) (aged 76)
Topeka, Kansas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (Before 1974)
Democratic (1974–2001)
Spouse(s)Spencer Finney
EducationWashburn University (BA)

Joan Finney (February 12, 1925 – July 28, 2001) was an American politician who served as the 42nd Governor of Kansas from 1991 to 1995, the first woman to hold that office. She had previously served four terms as the Kansas State Treasurer from 1975 to 1991, the first woman to hold that office as well.[1]

Early life[edit]

She was born Joan Marie McInroy in Topeka, Kansas, the daughter of Leonard and Mary Sands McInroy. Her father abandoned the family shortly after her birth.[2] She graduated from high school in Manhattan, Kansas in 1942. In 1957, she married Spencer Finney, Jr. and had three children, Sarah "Sally" Finney Timm, Richard Finney, and Mary Finney Holladay. In 1978, she graduated from Washburn University with a degree in economic history.

Early political career[edit]

From 1953 to 1969, Finney served on the staff of Republican U.S. Senator Frank Carlson. From 1970 to 1972, she served as Commissioner of Elections for Shawnee County, Kansas. In 1972, running as a Republican, she was an unsuccessful candidate for a U.S. House seat in Kansas's 2nd congressional district. She also served as a Special Assistant to Topeka Mayor Bill McCormick.[3]

After switching her political affiliation from Republican to Democrat, she served as the first female Kansas State Treasurer from 1975 to 1991. Her staff her first term as treasurer included Nancy Claggett and Kathleen Boston Cole McCune as deputies.


After upsetting former Governor John W. Carlin in the 1990 Democratic primary for governor, Finney defeated incumbent Republican Mike Hayden in the general election becoming the first woman to defeat an incumbent governor in a general election in the United States.

In addition to being the State of Kansas's first female governor, Finney was Kansas' first Roman Catholic governor, and also one of the few pro-life Democratic governors of her time.[4] Taking office at age 65, she was also Kansas' oldest governor until Laura Kelly was inaugurated at age 68 in 2019.


Following her term as governor, in 1996, Finney ran for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Bob Dole, but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Jill Docking, who gained 74% of the primary vote, and subsequently lost the general election to Sam Brownback.

Finney died in 2001 from complications of liver cancer at St. Francis Hospital in Topeka, and is buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Topeka.[3]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Joan Finney". Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  2. ^ "Joan Finney". Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  3. ^ a b Myers, By Roger. "Trailblazer did it her way |". Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  4. ^ "Feminists for Life Celebrates Pro-Life Women". Retrieved April 18, 2017.
Political offices
Preceded by
Tom Van Sickle
Treasurer of Kansas
Succeeded by
Sally Thompson
Preceded by
Mike Hayden
Governor of Kansas
Succeeded by
Bill Graves
Party political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Docking
Democratic nominee for Governor of Kansas
Succeeded by
Jim Slattery