By Michelle Leidy-Franklin
On Sept. 23, Gov. Laura Kelly appointed Conway Springs native Joan Lowdon as a 1st District Court Judge, covering Leavenworth and Atchison counties. Lowdon replaced retired Judge Michael Gibbens.
“I am humbled, honored, excited, and so much more by the governor’s appointment. I care very much about the communities of the 1st Judicial District and I am thrilled to serve them in this new way,” said Lowdon.
Prior to her appointment, Lowdon served as the deputy county attorney for Leavenworth County. Lowdon received a bachelor of science in philosophy and a bachelor of arts in French from Kansas State University. She went on to graduate from the University of Kansas School of Law in 2010. She served as an assistant county attorney for Leavenworth County from 2011 to 2017 before becoming deputy county attorney in 2017. She also sat on the board of directors for a court-appointed special advocates program for the 1st Judicial District, resigning only after her most recent appointment.
Growing up in Conway Springs, Lowdon was inspired to become an attorney while a junior in high school. She said her English teacher, Kristy Martin, assigned a writing project that included selecting a help wanted ad from the newspaper and sending a cover letter and resume. Students explained they were not actually applying for the position but were asking for a critique of the materials they had sent. Lowdon chose to send her resume to the Wichita Bar Association.
“Someone within the organization took the time to not only critique my cover letter and resume, but to write to me informing me of a summer internship program for high school students,” said Lowdon.
Lowdon applied for the program and was selected, and was placed with Kansas Legal Services for the summer.
“It was there that I was exposed to victims of domestic violence, drug addiction, and child abuse for the first time in my life. After that experience, I knew that I was interested in becoming a lawyer,” said Lowdon.
Lowdon’s experiences inspired her career, and as deputy county attorney she focused on the prosecution of cases involving child victims. She said she also handled an entire range of upper-level crimes. As a judge, she will now be making the decisions on cases presented to her in court.
“Often it is applying the law to certain factual scenarios, but there are times when a judge has to make determinations of fact,” said Lowdon.
Her hometown has expressed pride in having a native appointed to such a prominent position.
“To say I’m proud would be a massive understatement. Such an example to everyone around her, but especially women, mothers, young girls with aspirations, and I admire her so much,” said Conway Springs Mayor Jessica Gerlach.
Gerlach attended both high school and college with Lowdon. Gerlach said Lowdon has always had the ability to consider all perspectives in a situation and had no doubt that Lowdon would continue to excel and serve in her new position as district judge.
“She has always worked hard to achieve her goals. She achieves them and sets new ones, all while pushing and supporting those around her to be the best they can be… So many are going to benefit from her work,” said Gerlach.