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Alum Is Olathe's Newest Judge

by Sarah Moser
Judge Jill Kenney is sworn in as Olathe Municipal Judge Feb. 7, 2023
Jill Kenney with her family: husband Corey, children Asher, Amelia, and Alice, and Olathe Mayor John Bacon.

Jill (Bachman ’98) Kenney knew early on she wanted to be an attorney and dreamed of being a judge someday. That someday arrived this week on February 7, when she was sworn in as a full-time municipal judge for the City of Olathe, where she has served as a pro tem judge for seven years while operating Kenney Law Firm since 2011.

“When I was little, I thought it would be cool to be a judge, not knowing as a child what that really meant,” says Jill. “But ever since I started in private practice as an attorney, I realized being a judge would be a good fit for me long-term.”

Jill chose to come to MNU from her home in Rulo, Nebraska, because she and her parents wanted her to attend a Christian university and she was familiar with MNU from the regional church events held on campus.

“I knew when I started in the fall of 1994, I was in the right place,” she says. “I had a great experience at MNU, so much that I didn’t want to graduate and leave.”

Jill was a cheerleader and played softball her freshman year, and then dived headfirst into all things leadership. She was in Associated Student Governement, served as president, and helped start several traditions that still stand, including the Legacy of Leadership banquet. Jill and her husband, Corey (‘99), met at MNU, where she says he was the biggest prankster on campus.

Jill graduated magna cum laude with B.A. in history and English, then attended the University of Kansas School of Law, graduating in 2001. She worked at the Johnson County District Attorney’s office for 11 years, and in 2011, founded the Kenney Law Firm LLC, where she has been until now.

“Throughout this process, I’ve realized the doors I thought would open for me when I started my career, and those I wanted to push open, were not the ones God wanted me to go through,” Jill says. “When you stop trying to find your own way and start following the one God has for you, the outcome is much better than you could ever find for yourself. This became clear to me throughout interviewing for the judgeship role: I felt at peace, knowing that whatever happens, happens. I’m where I’m supposed to be.”

There is a Martin Luther King Jr. quote on the bench in the courtroom that Jill says serves as their guiding philosophy: “the time is always right to do the right thing.”

“I always want to do the right thing, being honest, kind, and respectful to everyone who comes into the court, and letting them know they are listened to,” she says. “Those principles are Christian principles. We always follow the law and can do that with grace and dignity and keeping in mind why we act the way we do.”

Jill and Corey, an assistant attorney general for the state of Kansas and the Kansas traffic safety resource prosecutor, have three children: Asher (17), Amelia (15), and Alice (7).

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