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Crystal Rhoades

Nebraska Public Service Commission

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Before Crystal Rhoades became the second woman ever to sit on the Nebraska Public Service Commission, she defied another historical precedent by becoming the first person in her family to graduate from college. Rhoades earned her degree while raising a child as a single mom. She had her parents’ support and even some scholarships, but “it was hard for me,” she says. “When I graduated from college, what I really wanted to do was make it easier for the people who followed me, the people who found themselves in very similar circumstances, but with even fewer resources than what I had.” 

That underlying philosophy led Rhoades to run a neighborhood nonprofit, join the board of a local community college and run for a spot on the Nebraska Public Service Commission. Since becoming a commissioner in 2015, she has helped oversee state regulation of all sorts of activities, from making sure grain elevators are safe, to ensuring access to telemedicine services, to regulating ride-hailing companies so that everyone can get an affordable ride from a taxi or one of its competitors. “We do a lot of consumer protection,” she says. “It is incredibly important policy work and it does impact people’s lives.”

Read about the Women in Government program and the rest of the honorees.

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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