Kia Breaux, Missouri School of Journalism alum, receives Black Alumni Trailblazer Award

Kia Breaux

By Austin Fitzgerald

COLUMBIA, Mo. (Oct. 20, 2023) — Kia Breaux, BJ ’96, the Midwest regional sales director for the Associated Press, will accept the Mizzou Black Alumni Network’s Trailblazer Award this evening at a 6:30 p.m. ceremony in the Reynolds Alumni Center. The award recognizes Mizzou alums who stand out as role models for their groundbreaking achievements.

The honor from the Black Alumni Network — an affiliate of the Mizzou Alumni Association — is the latest prestigious recognition for Breaux, a veteran journalist, editor and manager who was inducted into the Missouri Press Association’s Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2020 and earned the Alumni Association’s Faculty-Alumni Award last year.

“Kia has shown throughout her career what it means to be a responsible and ethical journalist who shines a light on important issues,” said David Kurpius, dean of the Missouri School of Journalism. “As a graduate of the School of Journalism, her work, mentorship and volunteerism embody the commitment to community outreach that the School holds dear.”

Breaux has spent nearly 27 years at the AP and has served in a variety of roles in that time. She started as a reporter in 1997 before working her way up to become the first Black bureau chief for the AP’s Missouri and Kansas operation in 2010. But while she has been recognized many times for her accomplishments, she is grateful for the Trailblazer Award’s acknowledgment of her work to forge a path forward for others to follow.

“To me, it’s special to be considered a trailblazer — to know that I’m being recognized as someone who inspires others to pursue their dreams,” Breaux said.

To me, it’s special to be considered a trailblazer — to know that I’m being recognized as someone who inspires others to pursue their dreams.

Kia Breaux

Indeed, a defining aspect of her time at the School was the mentorship and support she received from Earnest Perry, then a city editor at the Columbia Missourian, the School’s digital-first community newspaper.

“The most influential figure during my time on campus was Earnest Perry,” she said. “I was able to go into his office and share my feelings with him, and as a Black man, he was able to relate to me and share his story. He has a lot of wisdom, and he’s very generous in sharing that wisdom with his students.”

Perry, now the associate dean for graduate studies and research at the school, said that dynamic went both ways.

“I gained just as much from her as she did from me,” Perry said. “Kia is one of the most dedicated journalists I’ve had the privilege of knowing. During her time in the J-School, she gained knowledge and confidence that has served her well over the years.”

Accordingly, Breaux credits her time at the Missourian with giving her the opportunity to cut her teeth as a reporter. The talent and passion for news writing that made her choice of profession a no-brainer remains evident today, nearly two decades removed from her days as a general assignment reporter. In April, she wrote a searing commentary for the AP in the aftermath of the death of Ralph Yarl, who was shot in Kansas City after mistakenly ringing the doorbell at the wrong house.

And though she has almost three decades of experience in the industry under her belt, she continues to look for new opportunities that test the boundaries of her skills and experience. In 2019, she spent a week in Antarctica to complete her goal of visiting each of the planet’s seven continents, a trip that, in her words, can only be described as “indescribable.” But whether she is in her office or trekking across the globe, the instincts of a trailblazer keep her pushing her forward.

“The sky’s the limit,” she said.

Updated: October 20, 2023

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