Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about Missouri and the people who live here:
• In a looming era of unprecedented need, Missouri researchers are going to help feed the world.
• Scientists in the state are at the forefront of technologies to detect airborne bioterror threats.
• An aerospace supply-chain consultancy in O’Fallon went from start-up to $80 million in revenues in just 10 years.
• The state’s best known champion for tax reform is also an accomplished chess player.
• Fewer than 50 people nationwide have doctoral degrees in sign-language interpretation and instruction, and one of them is based at William Woods University in Fulton.
• An executive with the state’s largest home-grown bank is also a former pro athlete whose first catch in the NFL went 69 yards for a touchdown.
• The president of the University of Missouri system earned his stripes as an IT company executive, not in academia.
• A St. Louis lawyer who graduated first in his journalism class at MU has also helped free a man who served 16 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.
• Only one non-native has ever been elected mayor of Cape Girardeau—and he did it twice.
• The top executive at United Way of Greater St. Louis was also a benefiicary of program fund-ing, growing up in the state’s foster-care system.
Welcome to the world of 50 Missourians You Should Know, Ingram’s annual tribute to the people whose careers, companies and core values are changing not just their communities, but the state—and, in some cases, the world.
Below, you’ll see profiles on those 10 individuals and 40 more who give the Show-Me State its unique flavor as a place to live, raise a family or to work or operate a business. Their individual stories reflect the passion, hard work and integrity that are hallmarks of successful businesses in the state.
Sam Fiorello Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis
For Missouri’s agricultural sector—and for the world—the statistic is both heavy with opportunity and fraught with challenge: “In the next 35 years, the world must create as much food as we’ve done in the past 8,000 years of the history of agriculture, with fewer inputs, less water and less fertile soil—it’s a daunting task,” says Sam Fiorello. But as chief operating officer for the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, he’s focused on the potential for feeding 9 billion people. “The only way to get there is to excel in plant research, and that translates into innovative plants, products, services and technologies. It’s as simple as that.”
Fiorello has been a key to the center’s growth since before it opened its doors in 2001. The Wisconsin native is in the thick of a regional research effort involving plant scientists and researchers in animal and human health, uniquely positioning Missouri for advances on all fronts. With the center’s focus on food, feed, fuel and fiber, he says, “we’ve created a plant and animal corridor that is second to none in the world.”
Dave Alburty AlburtyLab/INNOVAPREP, Drexel
Growing up in suburban St. Louis, Dave Alburty watched as America put a man on the moon in 1969 and felt a swell of family pride in knowing his father’s work at McDonnell Douglas had contributed to that team effort. With a mother who was a teacher, science came naturally to the youngster, as did entrepreneurship. “Dad was always starting some side venture or other, and he always encouraged me to be entrepreneurial,” says Alburty, whose two technology companies are in Drexel, which straddles the Bates-Cass County line. Tech and rural may seem disconnected, but AlburtyLab and InnovaPrep are doing just fine there. The latter performs biological sample collection and analysis; the lab is a contract research organization.
Alburty accured an impressive 276 credit hours from the University of Kanas over 13 years, interspersed with work at Midwest Research Institute, now MRIGlobal. There, he says, “I think I did a little bit of work in almost every department there.” Armed with education, experience and courses in entrepreneurship from Johnson County Community College, he founded AlburtyLab in 2005.
“I think that most small communities are receptive to biotech startups,” he says, but stresses the need for rural employers to be involved in the community “and help in as many ways as possible. … It’s easy to be a little scared of science, if you don’t understand it, so being part of the community allows people to
feel more comfortable about welcoming science-based startups.”
Sam Hamra Hamra Enterprises, Springfield
The son of a Lebanese immigrant who came to Steele, Mo., in 1913, Sam Hamra has been at various times a lawyer, protégé to a presidential confidante, restaurateur, hotelier, art lover, philanthropist and more. Hamra’s father, who operated a small clothing store, hired a young Roy Harper, who would go on to become close friend of Harry Truman, and would repay his employer by advising young Sam to go to law school. Thus began a lifelong series of connections with figures from politics and business that would serve Hamra well in both his law practice and, later, as founder of Hamra Enterprises, the nearly 40-year-old parent of six companies with more than 3,000 employees in four states. A testament to his ability to navigate political divisions, Hamra came to conservative Springfield in the 1960s. “I was almost a lone Democrat,” he says, “but I learned quickly that I could have good friends on both sides.” He’s leveraged those relationships into civic causes that included the electrical distribution system for nearby Nixa, where he served as city attorney, and road projects that included expansion of U.S. 65 from two lanes to four down to Branson. His business success has allowed him to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of art to various universities in southern Missouri. At 82, he isn’t remotely interested in thinking about retirement. “I enjoy working,” he says. “My real pleasure comes from being with peole and watching the organization grow.”
Alaina Macia MTM, Inc., Lake St. Louis
Health-care policy savvy and business sense. That’s what makes Alaina Macia a force for growth as CEO of Medical Transportation Management. Since moving into that role in 2005, annual revenues of this non-emergency transportation services company have surged from $60 million to an anticipated $279 million this year, largely by taking advantage of opportunities created by waves of newly insured following passage of federal health-insurance reforms. The company founded by her father and stepmother has grown from 200 employees to more than 1,500, with plans to keep hiring.
“I grew up with MTM and knew that I would become a part of the company in some capacity,” says Macia, whose husband and sisters hold leadership roles there. After earning a degree in biological engineering, she worked as a research engineer to maintain and program robotic arms used to produce radio pharmaceuticals, then earned an MBA at the Olin School of Business. She also worked in marketing for Maritz, Inc., then rejoined the family business in 2003.
Tim Wolfe University of Missouri system, Columbia
A Missouri native who grew up in Columbia—he even won a state football title at Rock Bridge High, playing quarterback—Tim Wolfe is relishing a different kind of homecoming. “It’s really special to get acquainted with old friends, make new friends, and to be giving back to an institution that gave me so much,” says the president of the University of Missouri system. Since taking the helm in 2012 after years in leadership roles with IT firms like IBM, Novansys and Novell Americas, (he’s the second straight president, succeeding Gary Forsee, to hail from business, not academia) Wolfe is working to weave business innovation and urgency into a system grounded in longstanding traditions and norms.
But he’s starting from a good spot, he says. “The change since I left MU in 1980 is not just one of size, but the beauty on all four campuses and the caliber of students we’re attracting,” Wolfe says. As with all publicly funded higher education, though, Wolfe knows the challenge is keeping sufficient state dollars flowing to ensure relevance. “What we still need are more resources, prioritization and research,” he says. The four-campus system accounts for 90 percent of public-institution research in Missouri, “and we’re solving serious problems like diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer, creating new products to take to market to spawn new companies and jobs.” For the state’s continuing development, he says, “we need investment for research and attracting faculty researchers across the globe.”
Gil Bickel St. Louis Arch Angels
“I am,” Gil Bickel declares, “a St. Louis guy.” What sets him apart from roughly 2.8 million other souls in that metropolitan area is what he does with the hometown inspiration. “I’m in the innovation and entrepreneurship business,” says the founder of the St. Louis Arch Angels, a group of private investors bent on increasing the numbers of promising start-up businesses in their region. “I don’t care where the money comes from, we need to finance these companies.” After earning degrees from both Washington University and Saint Louis University, he’s spent a career in the financial services sector with Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and now Wells Fargo Advisors. Bickel has seen, lived and breathed the concepts of investing and capital formation. He got into startup-financing because his own investing successes was spawning time-killing inquiries from friends who wanted to do the same. “It was affecting my business where I made my living, so five of us got together and decided to formalize the investment process so people who had ideas could go to a central location instead of jumping from angel to angel.” Founded in 2005, the Arch Angels invested close to $20 million in start-ups within five years. Today, Bickel says, the quality of entrepreneurial talent, and of businesses proposals, are higher than ever. “We have some smart people with great ideas,” he says. “All they need is the funding.”
Lisa Nichols Technology Partners, Chesterfield
It didn’t take Lisa Nichols long to figure out the barriers to entry for newcomers to St. Louis. “We did have a bit of a hurdle to overcome,” says the CEO and co-founder of Technology Partners, Inc., the city’s largest IT solutions and staffing company.
“If you’re from St. Louis, the question you get asked all the time is where went to high school.” The girl from Paducah, Ky., didn’t have the right answer to that question, but she sure had the right stuff: The company she started with her husband, Greg, nearly 20 years ago now counts among its corporate clients big-time companies like Monsanto, MasterCard International and Express Scripts, and finished 2013 with nearly $41 million in revenue. The key to that success, she says, is doing right by their consultants, which necessarily means operating on a lower margin. That works if you’re operating at a higher volume, and expanding not just the client roster, but the service lines. Three years ago, the company founded as a staffing agency expanded into a full-service solutions provider, driving current growth. She is deeply engaged in civic and charitable causes, earning a reputation for philanthropy for efforts on behalf of Junior Achievement, Orphan Helpers, the American Heart Association, Toys for Tots and many others: “My motto both in running my business and my personal life is ‘leave every individual I encounter better than I found them.’ ”
Eddie Delahunt Musician, Kansas City
He came here from Ireland in 1989, and by chance had a giddy taste of Kansas City on St. Patrick’s Day. Then he headed back to the east, for New York. What aspiring musician doesn’t? But the Big Apple, he says, “was a bittersweet experience as I had been spoiled by the celebrity reception in Kansas City.” In New York, he was just another guy playing Irish music with gigs starting at 11 p.m. “So back to Kansas City and beyond, where I met my lovely wife Betsy, who helped me carve a little niche starting at two nights, extending to 4-5 nights a week performing Irish music, including weddings, reunions, corporate functions, etc.”
You have to be steeped in the musical lore of Ireland to recognize the names he counts as career influences, but “even though most of this music was written in a previous century, it still resonates as we sing it anew,” Delahunt says. More than just a performance musician, Delahunt is a writer as well, addressing universal topics of longing, loneliness, lust and love, he says, as well as traveling, drinking and debauchery. “I suspect the same influence lies in country and bluegrass as I hear it sung here in Missouri,” he says.
Rick Braun Wood Merchant, Lampe
Meet a man who literally carved a business out of what nature throws away: Rick Braun, whose Lampe-based company, Wood Merchant, salvages old-growth timber and turns it into eye-catching furniture and accessories. “Our niche is taking a tree that’s dead or dying, or has to be taken out for new construction of roads or power lines,” says Braun, a Wisconsin transplant who fell in love with the Ozarks and gave up a postal-service career to live here. “Everything we use is salvaged lumber.” His small company—just Braun, his wife and stepson—seeks out historical wood from venues like national battlefields and old cemeteries.
“Not that we’re looking to harvest it,” he says, “but every old tree at some point dies, whether from lighting, ice or fires. There’s a lot of history in those, and we try to get those with no commercial value to the logging industry.” A welder by training and mail carrier for seven years, he took a job at Dogwood Canyon near Lampe after visiting in 1980, becoming, in his words, “maintenance manager, hillbilly farmer and trout guide,” then came across the idea for harvesting and finding new life for doomed trees after visiting a museum in Colorado Springs. “We live on Table Rock Lake and had access to all kinds of wood washing up on the shorelines—seeing what they could do, I was thinking that’s what I could do,” he says. “I was basically self-taught.”
Rex Sinquefield Show-Me Institute, St. Louis
You may know the name, but do you know the real Rex Sinquefield? The one who has helped thousands of young Missourians develop critical-thinking and strategic skills with the scholastic chess club he founded in St. Louis? The one whose youth in an orphanage instilled the discipline that helped make him a global figure in the investment sector? The one with board service for St. Louis University, the city’s symphony, art museums and botanical garden?
Since retiring from his Texas-based Dimensional Fund Advisors nearly a decade ago and returning to Missouri, Sinquefield has exposed himself to what he calls “the long knives” of those who cringe at his calls for elimination of state individual and corporate income taxes, as well as earnings taxes in St. Louis and Kansas City. “Missouri has had lackluster growth for a very long time,” he says, “and is near the bottom in gross state product for 10 to 12 years.” The personal criticism, he says, “is absolutely unavoidable. Some people just don’t share these views or are just instinctively against free-market solutions.” But the irony, he believes, is that a growth economy fueled by a better tax system would yield the very revenues needed to sustain social programming.
Charles Weiss Bryan Cave, St. Louis
A legal career spanning 46 years will be packed with memorable cases. For Charles Weiss, two stand out: One that saved a multi-billion-dollar company, and one that gave a wronged man his life back.
An MU journalism graduate who earned his law degree at Notre Dame, Weiss was one of only 30 lawyers at Bryan Cave when he started in 1969. Traits he valued as a lawyer—providing informed advice, knowledge of the law, experience and common sense—would come into play during the firm’s 30-year relationship with aircraft builder McDonnell Douglas. He was one of 30 lawyers in a long-running court case that secured MD’s rights to build the F/18 fighter “a bet-the-company-type case,” he remembers.
His dedication to equal justice before the law steered him to the Midwest Innocence Project, which serves people wrongly con-victed of crimes. His work there led to the 2010 release of 33-year-old Josh Kezer, who had served nearly half his life in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.
Dave Hilliard Wyman Center, Eureka
Dave Hilliard found a high school summer job—and a career—when he started as a cabin counselor at the
Wyman Center in 1965, serving youths ages 11–18 from economically dis-advantaged settings in the St. Louis area. He stayed on while earning his degree in psychology from Saint Louis University, and moved up the ranks to camp director, general manager and eventually president/CEO. The magnet that kept him there? Giving “the gifts of hope, horizon-broadening opportunities, and critical social emotional and life skills” to kids who want to pursue their dreams, he says. During his tenure, the center has evolved and formed alliances with other organizations to reach not only the 1,000 students it serves each year, but more than 42,000 teens in 33 states. The key, he says, is an organizational mindset that places its focus “on outcomes, not activities.” A St. Louis native, Hilliard met Tina Shay, the girl he would marry, while working at the center, and they now have three grown sons.
Owen Buckley LANE4 Property Group, Kansas City
Thirty years ago, Owen Buckley collected his MBA from the University of Kansas, a complement to his business degree. He has put both to good use. The Sioux City, Iowa, native worked for two decades at commercial realty companies before founding his own firm in 2006. Since then, LANE4 has been involved in a series of projects to rebuild the face of Kansas City’s inner-ring suburbs. “We believe in infill areas—first- and second-tier suburbs—that have been overlooked for years and years,” he said. The outer rings, where new residential and retail development take place, will continue to grow, but a lot of factors are combining to slow that trend and creating opportunities closer to the core of Kansas City. “We think the infill areas deserve quality projects and they will help them stay strong going forward.” To that end, LANE4 has aligned with the deep-pocketed Kroenke Group to purchase two corners at 95th and Metcalf in Overland Park, including the site of the region’s first indoor mall, Metcalf South. No formal plan is set for the site, but if Buckley’s successes are an indication—with projects like 39Rainbow, near the KU Med Center, or the Corinth Square remodeling in Prairie Village—the Metcalf site will bring new vigor to a high-profile location. “It’s terribly exciting and satisfying to see a building and vision emerge from the ground and evolve into the project that started from an idea, a meeting and a drawing,” Buckley said. “Properties that will endure and have a useful and positive impact in the community are what inspires us.”
Barbara Garrett William Woods University, Fulton
Some people fall in love with places they visit, says Barbara Garrett, but culture and people we meet touch us at the soul level. When she was inspired to learn sign language while working as a volunteer meeting at a state school for the deaf, her soul had found its path in life. Garrett is a professor of American Sign Language interpreting at William Woods University in Fulton, where in two separate stints she’s elevated the program from associate’s degree to full baccalaureate status, then into an on-line program aimed at meeting new national certification standards, one of only about two dozen such programs nationwide.
A native Californian, she grew up in eastern Washington and majored in deaf ministry at a small bible college in Louisiana, then earned a graduate degree in deaf education at Missouri State. She worked in Fulton for five years before leaving to earn her Ph.D. in California, worked in several states, and came back to William Woods in 2010.
“When WWU offered me the opportunity to return, I was thrilled,” Garrett says. She’s doing what she loves to do in a place where she can have an outsized impact, and is one of fewer than 50 people nationwide with her certifications. “I love the “land of the deaf” and am ever so thankful that
deaf people have allowed me to be a part of the community,” Garrett says. My closest friends are deaf people and family members of deaf people.”
Rep. Keith English Missouri House, Florissant
In Missouri politics, he’s the closest thing you’ll find to a Man Without a Country. In May, Rep. Keith English—a union-card-carrying Democrat—was the only member of his party to help override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a package of income-tax cuts that will be phased in for five years. His vote turned out to be decisive: Without it, Nixon’s veto would have stood for a second straight year. The retribution was swift—House leaders immediately stripped English of his committee assignments, and bills he’d sponsored that had made it to the Senate were removed from further consideration. But if anyone thinks English will go away without a fight, they’d best reconsider this mixed martial arts trainer, who was undefeated in a four-year cage-fighting career before hanging up the gloves in 2012. “We have to work across party lines,” says English. “That’s one of the problems in Washington, D.C.; you don’t have people working together. The 1,105 businesses I represent in the 68th District applauded my vote with tons of letters, as almost a savior for common-sense legislation.” An electrician by trade, English is also a single father of three who balances family needs with a call to public service. Before unseating an incumbent Democrat in the 2012 primary, he served six years on the Florrisant City Council.
A pro-labor, pro-gun, pro-life Democrat, he says he was an independent, but couldn’t run as an independent in 2012. But as a businessman, he felt compelled to run: “I look at all my constituents, those 1,105 businesses struggling to stay open. They’re taxed to death.”
Scott Herndon Herndon Products, O’Fallon
Like a lot of young adults, Scott Herndon drifted before his dad helped him find a life rudder. “At the age of 22, my father sat down with me and offered me a chance to work with him in his manufacturers-representative company,” says the founder of Herndon Products. “The only caveat was the requirement for me to attend an intense motivation class, which I did. The class changed my path in life and taught me that ‘anything the mind can conceive, the body must achieve.’”
He spent two years learning the business, then with his brother convinced their father to go into distribution. They launched that operation, grew it into a $20 million concern, then sold to Allied Signal (now Honeywell). Scott stayed on as a vice president and started working on his business degree in organizational studies at St. Louis University, where his studies included entrepreneurship. That’s when “I conceived the idea to launch my new company,” he said, and drew up a business plan for distribution of aerospace hardware to both the Defense Department and the commercial repair and overhaul marketplace. Five months after earning his degree, Herndon Products launched, and now has four distribution centers in Missouri and Pennsylvania, 90 employees, and annual sales of $80 million. The keys? “Quality, Service and Focus,” Herndon says, and a custom information system developed in house, which still requires six full-time programmers to constantly upgrade programs and meet changing needs of customers. And he succeeded, in part, by letting go: “I moved the business acumen in my head to the system and SOPs that enable employees the tools to drive their success.”
Jay Knudtson First Missouri State Bank, Cape Girardeau
For Jay Knudtson, a self-described Yankee hailing from Rochester, Minn., gaining acceptance as a newcomer to Cape Girardeau in 1990 meant full immersion in to community life. “I began by getting actively involved in the Chamber of Commerce, then the Parks and Recreation Board as well as the American Red Cross,” with Cindy Cantrell, the woman he would marry. At that point, this Northerner knew where his roots would grow—and deep. In 2001, just three years after arriving to open a branch for Fleet Mortgage, then taking a role with the former Boatmen’s Bank, “I was encouraged to run for mayor,” he remembers, and won the first of two terms in 2002—the only non-native ever elected to that office in town.
At the same time, he and business partner Steve Taylor scratched an itch to get into community banking, launching First Missouri State of Cape Girardeau County. “Life is funny sometimes,” Knudston muses. “As much as we want to control opportunities, the timing of them is usually out of our control, and while I wouldn’t recommend to anyone to assume the office as mayor in the same year you start a new bank—it’s really cool if you can pull it off!” His biggest contribution as mayor, he said, was healing rifts between City Hall and local developers. “After eight years of service, we were all sitting around board rooms working together instead of fighting it out in courtrooms.”
Patt Lilly St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce
When it comes to economic development vision, Patt Lilly has what you might call 20/20/20: A keen understanding of the way things work at a for-profit business, at a non-profit ED organization, and in the public sector. Formerly the city manager for St. Joseph, and the one-time chief administrative officer for one of the city’s largest employers, Triumph Foods, he’s now president and CEO of the city’s Chamber.
“Having a public, not-for-profit, private management background allows me to understand how each sector works internally and externally,” Lilly says. “From a Chamber and economic development perspective, the private sector background allows me to better understand the needs of business and what they value. My public sector background provides a good foundation to build relationships between the private and public sectors, something that brings real value to both.” And it offers a rare perspective on the proper roles of government and business in promoting a high-functioning regional economy, he says.
The job of promoting business in St. Joseph is made easier in that, with 78,000 people, it has enough critical mass to stand as a full-service city in its own right, yet is compact enough to boast about a small-town quality of life. And it’s closer to Kansas City International Airport than Lee’s Summit, so big-city amenities are readily available. “We try to position ourselves in the Kansas City market as the place business can be successful and where you can enjoy a great quality of life in a smaller community,” says the native Texan. “Most people’s reaction when they visit is “wow I had no idea that all of this was in St. Joseph!’ ”
Cecilia Thomson Mallard Point Resort Lake Ozark
Cecilia Thomson loves the lake life, but not just the summer season so many know. She and her husband of 20 years, Bruce, operate Mallard Point Resort on a 2,400-foot Lake of the Ozarks waterfront. When the summer ranks thin out, she says, “the Lake of the Ozarks is our own little community; everyone knows everyone. This is one of the most giving generous communities I’ve ever lived in.” That generosity is something she saw often in a 21-year career with Central Bank, where she retired as marketing director. There, she helped launch fund-raisers for Easter Seals and United Cerebral Palsy, co-chaired the annual HK Hospital Benefit tournament, and worked with the annual benefit gala for the Ellis Fischel Cancer Benefit. The lake, she says, “has the most caring neighbors you will find anywhere in the world.”
Danny O’Neill The Roasterie, Kansas City
His capitalist moment came amid the shambles of a Soviet economy in the early 1990s, helping Russians transition out of a socialist system. Danny O’Neill was working on both an MBA and working for Weyerhaeuser, drinking in the Russians’ passion for life, “and I thought ‘I used to feel this way.’ But in my mind, the corporate world was beating that out of me.” Result? “I came back, hell-bent on doing something different.” Thus was born The Roasterie, his concept for taking coffee-drinking to a new level, despite the odds. “Today, some people think ‘corporate dropout; that’s cool,’ but in 1992, to quit a good, high-paying corporate job, there was nothing cool about that,” he says. His determination paid off: Not long after he started roasting at home, the company moved to the Southwest Boulevard corridor, where its iconic DC-3 now marks a constantly-expanding presence.
Orvin Kimbrough United Way of Greater St. Louis
“I believe,” Orvin Kimbrough declares, “that grit is forged and revealed through challenges.” This is a man who would know. His mother died when he was eight; he didn’t know his father. School was more about a guaranteed meal than learning, and behavioral issues meant erratic academic performance, as well. So yes, he concedes, “it was a volatile and harsh environment.” But there is that grit factor. “I have always made the choice to look at my life not as a sad story, but as an opportunity to prove to others and myself that I could excel,” says the president and CEO of the United Way of Greater St. Louis. His road to that role was rocky as a young adult, as well, as an academic casualty at Mizzou. But he was sufficiently persuasive to get back into school, and decided that non-profit work was calling him. He promised himself “that I would do what it took to excel in management,” and after starting at United Way in 2007,
he found the home he never had as a youth. “I really was hooked on our aspirations,” Kimbrough says. “Every child will succeed, every adult will be self-sufficient, every family will be strong, every older adult will be independent, every individual will be healthy and every neighborhood will be safe.” The United Way, he says, “is one of the best examples of democracy at a local level.”
Bridget McCandless Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City
She’s seen the positive side of medicine, treating patients who couldn’t afford health insurance. She’s seen the business side of it, an MBA holder who ran Jackson County’s free health clinic for years. Now, Bridget McCandless is tackling the broader issues of policy and prevention as president and CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. “My passion for the last 15 years has been poverty medicine,” says McCandless, a native of Independence who herself is the daughter of a physician. “However, it became clearer to me over time that helping one diabetic at a time was not as effective as working to affect prevention and to improve the environment that influences chronic illness.”
Health policy, she said, was the natural outgrowth of that work when she joined the foundation last year. But that door didn’t open without another one closing. “I will deeply miss direct patient care,” McCandless says. “It is instantly and deeply rewarding. Seeing patients every day puts an important face on the needs of our communities and the effects that poverty has on health and families.” Now, she’s relishing the challenge of putting together the pieces that address health care on a societal level. “The intersection of prevention, mental health and physical health,” she says, “will continue to be the focus of the foundation.”
Larry Lee Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville
If he could be King of Missouri, Larry Lee would dip into the royal treasury to help kids like the high-school junior who drives the 42 miles from St. Joseph to Maryville most every day. That teen arrives at 5 a.m. some days and leaves at midnight some nights, nurturing a dream of business ownership at Northwest Missouri State’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “If anyone thinks this country is in trouble, they should look at him and get hope,” says Lee, director of that business incubator. Local, state and national governments have all been looking at ways to create jobs for years, Lee notes, and business incubation has been part of that debate for nearly half a century. Innovation in the administration of those incubators, he points out, is increasing their effectiveness. Such enterprises are often associated with big cities, but there’s plenty to innovate in rural areas, Lee says. The CIE is home to a company specializing in nanoparticles, as well as a biomass venture working to take sorghum out of the field and turn it into 4×8-foot sheets of material that can replace Chinese bamboo in furniture, paneling or flooring. “We’ve seen some bleeding-edge companies,” Lee says, “and they are doing things that are amazing.”
John Briscoe LAWYER, New London
Growing up in a farm in Ralls County, near the banks of the Mississippi River, John Briscoe saw the kind of hard work involved and decided to take a different career path. So he chose to become a lawyer—as if that didn’t entail lots of hard work. “I suppose I was reluctant to work as hard as my father and grandfather had done for many years,” he says, reflecting on that choice. “I knew I wanted to practice law in rural Missouri because I always enjoyed being around farmers and other country folks. I thought there was an excellent opportunity to practice in Ralls County. So he moved back in 1971 five years after earning his degree from MU’s School of Law. Today, his name is on the letterhead of the New London-based firm where he practices, Briscoe, Rodenbaugh & Branson, splitting time there with the office in nearby Hannibal.
For most of his career, he says, he had a general, diversified law practice. “I finally had the good sense to get out of the family practice about 15 years ago, relieving a great deal of stress.” Changes in technology allow him to get more work done in a shorter time than he could do 40 years ago, even if e-mail isn’t among the ones he’s fully embraced. The law in rural Missouri isn’t much different than the law in St. Louis or Kansas City,
so while there are more state and federal regulations than there once were, he acknowledges, “I suspect that must be the price we have to pay for living in the society we live in.”
David Doctorian MACON
Pushing 80, David Doctorian still rattles off the dates like each is a birthday: Oct. 17, 1954, when he first saw the Statue of Liberty as an young immigrant from Lebanon. July 15, 1958, when religious fighting in Beirut led to his decision to stay here. And, of course, May 27, 1963, “when I said the Pledge of Allegiance and became a citizen,” he says. “I say that was my real birthday.”
A lifetime of chance meetings, generous benefactors and influential mentors has marked Doctorian’s path not just to America, but to Missouri, to his Macon farm, to his family of four children and five grandchildren, to 12 years as an American history and civics teacher, to three terms in the state Senate and 40 years as a church minister, and most recently, to his turn as author with publication of “My Life Journey” in 2011. It took him two years to write that by hand after a health scare prompted his children to ask that he leave them his legacy in print.
For someone who came to this country with $5 in his pocket, Doctorian has indeed lived the American Dream. He and his son operate close to 800 acres on the farm outside Macon, where he built the family home 40 years ago. Patriotic and proud, he declares that “my love for our country has never wavered.”
Brad Belk Joplin MUSEUM COMPLEX
Today, it’s a regional center for commerce in southwest Missouri, but 140 years ago, Joplin was all about lead and zinc. Brad Belk’s job is preserving that heritage and helping the city’s 50,000 residents understand why the past is connected to their present. “Without mining, nobody would have paid any interest in starting a community here,” says the executive director of the Joplin Museum Complex. “There’s no river, no port.”
Nearly three decades into that role, Belk is starting his ninth book and has been involved in nearly two dozen
films, plus script-writing, consultations and appear-ances in other productions. “There are so many ways to tell the story when people aren’t physically coming to your door,” he says. It’s a history, he says, that changed profoundly when the May 22, 2011, tornado ravaged the city, but that deadly event has opened new opportunities for the museum complex itself. “That was a defining moment,” Belk says. “But the way I look at it now is, it’s part of a great history that is yet to be written.”
Terry Spieler Missouri Senate, Jefferson City
The economics of farming in the early 1970s—when many found that working the land wasn’t enough pay the bills—made a big impression on Terry Spieler. “Both of my parents had full-time jobs in addition to farming,” she recalls of her days near Russellville. “Long days, followed by longer nights, prepared me for a career I really knew nothing about back then. I followed politics—the war in Vietnam and 18-year-olds’ receiving the right to vote—but never thought I would work in an environment where such things might be decided.”
And yet, for 32 years, she’s been the Secretary of the Senate, working behind the scenes and out of the headlines to help grease the wheels of the legislative process. “It is really sort of ironic; growing up, I wanted to either teach American history or practice law,” Spieler says. “As it turned out, I’m involved in a little of both.”
She started in the Senate’s print shop in 1975, and began full-time the next year working for the Senate Administrator. When the sitting Senate secretary died in 1982, Spieler was appointed to serve out that term and has been re-elected by members of the majority party ever since. “I’ve been very fortunate,” Spieler says. “Working for the legislature can be stressful and demanding, but at the same time very rewarding. In short, it gets in your blood.”
Brian Fogle Community Foundation of the Ozarks, Springfield
Something about the South appealed to Brian Fogle, who decided on Ole Miss to earn a degree in banking and finance and an MBA. But something about the Ozarks brought him back. “I remember writing to my grandmother, saying I would probably stay down here, and she wrote back and said ‘when you came home at Christmas, you talked about how much you missed the Ozarks, the hills and the lakes—I’m surprised you’d consider staying there.” That got him thinking, Noble remembers, and when the former Boatmen’s Bank made an offer, he came home. His father’s work as a community banker in Aurora led him into that field, but the essence of those services—community development—is what gets the younger Fogle out of bed in the morning. After roles at Boatmen’s, Ozarks Technical Community College and Great Southern Bank, he became executive vice president for the Community Foundation of the Ozarks in 2008. It covers southern Missouri from Kansas to the Mississippi River, and industry surveys show that his foundation, the 63rd-largest in the nation, is No. 8 in terms of funds managed. “That reflects the Ozarks,” Fogle said. “We have a lot of generous people, but not a lot of weatlhy people. That means a lot of transactions, more staff time and administrative needs, with a bunch of smaller gifts vs. a smaller number of very large gifts.”
Mark James Metropolitan Community College, Kansas City
Funding concerns? Enrollment challenges? Academic program updates? All in a day’s work for Mark James as chancellor of Metropolitan Community College, the five-campus system with more than 20,000 students in the Kansas City area.
Unlike most of his peers, though, James has a truly unique view on those challenges—they induce nowhere near the stress of being shot at. A former state and federal law enforcement official, James says that background “does help put things in perspective. In this role, there may be shouting, but there’s no shooting.”
A native of Willow Springs and a fourth-generation Ozarkian, James says public safety “was not something I dreamed of as a kid.” After a spell at Mizzou, he shifted from a business track to criminal justice, and found a nationally recognized program at Central Missouri State in Warrensburg. That led to his first job with the Missouri Highway Patrol, and after nine years—four as a uniformed trooper—he moved to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. He become the Missouri’s Director of Public Safety in 2005, and after the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, James worked on a task force exploring campus security here. The network of academic administrators he tapped into led him to MCC as director of administrative services in 2009, then as chancellor the next year.“This wasn’t a planned outcome,” he says. “Just kind of the way life has worked out.”
Brock Bukowsky Veterans United, Columbia
In their Mizzou dorm room in 1997, Brock Bukowsky and his brother, Brant, conceived an on-line ticket sales company that grew into a $22 million business before they sold it in 2005. By then, Brock had his master’s in math from MU, but neither Bukowsky would leave Columbia, home to their current passion, Veterans United Home Loans. The company’s success is a testament to mid-Missouri’s strengths as a place to do business, Brock says. That location, and that model—focusing on VA loans to members of the military and ex-servicemen—might not have worked pre-Internet, but today, “we are able to leverage our unique expertise by connecting with veteran homebuyers primarily online, so we have the advantage of having our headquarters anywhere we wanted.” The company serves veterans in all 50 states, and to connect with those who still want a storefront presence, it set up a branch network with offices from Norfolk, Va., to Honolulu. Beyond that, a relentless commitment to service has been a foundation for growth.
“It’s the little things—like just being able to get a real person on the other end if you’re stationed overseas and it’s 3 a.m. in the United States—that set us apart,” Bukowsky says.
Mary Hinde Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri, St. Joseph
After a career as an interior designer, Mary Hinde decided to try on retirement. It was not a good fit. “It just wasn’t my deal,” says the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri. “There was so much that needed to be done in Northwest Missouri.” So Hinde went back to work full time, and is relishing the challenge. “There are so many exciting things going on and to be done,” particularly with philanthropic-minded Baby Boomers, an aging group that represents the largest generational transfer of wealth in history.
Setting up a community foundation in 2009, it turned out, had its advantages, chiefly, the opportunity to see how other communities had succeeded, and
where they’d come up short.
The specific challenge for addressing community needs in her hometown, she said, is that the city of nearly 80,000 people is a gateway northwest Missouri, andstrategies must cover the needs. of 18 counties.
Richard Fordyce SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, BETHANY
Richard Fordyce makes a living as a fourth-generation farmer raising corn, soybeans, cat-
tle—and awareness. For as deeply involved as he is in the production side of agriculture, Fordyce is a whirlwind of activity on the policy side, as well. In December, Gov. Jay Nixon named him Missouri’s dir-ector of agriculture, but the row he hoed to get there has involved leadership roles with local, state and national organizations for more than two decades. Fordyce had a 17-year run as president of the Harrison County Farm Bureau through 2010, he’s chaired the state’s Soil & Water Districts Commission since 2008, and has served on various boards and committees for both the Missouri Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation. His commitment to civic life in rural Missouri has led to service on the South Harrison R-II school board, on the Green Hills Regional Planning Commission, and on the Sherman Township board of trustees.
Doyle Privett KENNETT NATIONAL BANK, KENNETT
It’s easy, at times, to forget how far we’ve come, and how fast, with educational attainment. Maybe that’s why, in the bootheel of Missouri, education matters so much to Doyle Privett.
“My father had no education and could not read or write,” says the chief financial officer for the Kennett National Bank for the past eight years. “My mother had gone through the eighth grade.”
Dreams of becoming a chemical engineer inspired the boy from Deering to attend college, but the costs of completing that degree away from nearby Southeast Missouri State University prompted him to change his plans, so accounting it was. He served briefly as a U.S. Treasury auditor, then worked in a CPA firm for 32 years before joining the bank. But his understanding of what education means for rural areas has never ebbed: For a total of 15 years, through appointments by two different governors, Privett has sat on the board of trustees for his alma mater, the past two years as president. “My goal is to ensure that everyone who wants to get a college degree has access to an affordable institution,” Privett says. And to that end, he helped arrange for the university to open a satellite campus in Kennett. As a banker in a town of 11,000 people, he’s living with the financial pressures imposed in an era of increasing financial regulation. “During our last three years, we have seen our compliance costs increase by $100,000. … Good banks in small communities will continue to survive,” he says, “but we will see much smaller returns.”
John Holstein POLSINELLI PC, SPRINGFIELD
As a partner at the Polsinelli law firm, John Holstein spends considerable time in mediation. “I advise litigants that judges are imperfect. I know: I was one.” And not just any judge, but the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court until he retired from the bench in 2002. He cautions clients that the nuance and circumstance of each case can bring new and unexpected results. “But law is not yet a science,” he says, and “all clients are well-served to consider these uncertainties as part of risk management.” As a jurist, Holstein was involved with a number of reforms in the judicial process. He takes little credit and praises those in the system who oversaw the details, but during his tenure, the courts became more transparent, with on-line access and courtroom cameras, embraced uniformity in child-support determinations and disposition standards that infused a measure of judicial accountability, introduced consideration of criminal sentencing guidelines, and centralized the handing of attorney discipline cases. A native of Springfield, he had parents who worked hard to make ends meet, and who set expectations for the same kind of exertion from their two sons. What was the attraction that law held for this Holstein? “In America, principles of economics, government and the rule of law had a sort of seamlessness, each interconnected with the other, that I found both fascinating and frightening,” he says. “Those rules give us the luxury of predictability and stability. Without them, the world is a savage place.”
DeAngela Burns-Wallace University of Missouri, Columbia
From an all-black grade school to a nearly all-white high school, DeAngela Burns-Wallace first became aware of diversity issues. But at a far more diverse Stanford University, she found her calling and a sense of purpose, in part because she no longer felt constrained by labels. “I didn’t have to choose between being black and being academic,” she remembers. Diversity in education has framed her career, which has led her to Columbia as MU’s director of access initiatives in the Division of Enrollment Management. But the foundation for her work has been an impressive commitment to education as the first in her family to attend college.
She has degrees from some of the top institutions in the nation: A bachelor’s in international relations from Stanford, a master’s in public administration from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs, and her doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. She speaks conversational Chinese and is proficient in both verbal and written French.
Just as impressive is what she’s done with that education, working at U.S. embassies in Pretoria, South Africa, and Beijing, and at the consulate in Guangzhou, China; back to Stanford, where her work on diversity took on a sharper focus as assistant dean for diversity outreach, and then closer to home at MU in 2009. “I think of my background as being in public policy,” she says. “Higher education is just a different sector of it.” With her State Department work, “I didn’t feel like I was having a true impact on lives, and that impact is the center of my public policy work and why I got into higher ed and government.”
Fred Parry Inside Columbia, Columbia
Anyone in publishing still trying to figure out where their readership is going should call Fred Parry. The publisher of three successful magazines—Inside Columbia, Prime and CEO—he can tell you what sells: “It’s all about content these days,” he says. “The consumers of our content may choose to engage with us through their smart phone or curl up with one of our magazines on a Sunday afternoon.” Regardless of medium, he says, if the content is compelling, the access is broad and you’re targeting the right audience, publishing is far from dead. A native of Liberty, he attended one of the nation’s top-ranked universities for journalism—MU—but earned a general-studies degree. After a few years in trade publishing in Chicago and at newspapers in Pittsburgh and Washington, he started his own company, publishing magazines aimed at businesses, seniors, parents and homeowners, then sold the lot in 1999.
Columbia, he says, is the perfect venue, with its quality of life, cultural amenities and support for entrepreneurs. Some might be surprised that the fifth-largest city in the state can support a niche product like CEO, but Parry considers it a cornerstone of the company’s work, pulling together thought leaders and influencers from around mid-Missouri. “Our ability to bring these folks into the same room and get them talking about the issues of the day is powerful and can be transformative for the community,” he says. “I’m most proud of our ability to connect people.”
Carlos Ledezma Cable-Dahmer, Independence
No reverse gear. Two bald tires. And a young father with “one on the ground and one on the way.” That’s how Carlos Ledezma describes his introduction to car sales, back in Texas 30 years ago. The Chevrolet dealership would make available a demo car to anyone making sales goals. Ledezma took the job and got the car. Today, he’s president of the Kansas City area’s top-selling Chevrolet dealership, which he acquired in stages after moving here in 1994 as a consultant to local dealerships. It didn’t take long before dealer Jerry Dahmer realized Ledezma had more to offer than consultation, bringing him on board the next year. Two years later, Ledezma made partner, and in 2002, he bought the dealership, and since then, three more.
That success comes via the best of what Kansas City has to offer: “One of the things I really enjoy about Kansas City is its foundation,” he says. “There’s a diversity in business—that’s what keeps our own business very, very stable.
Walter White Commerce Bank, Kansas City
He hailed from the Maryland-Virginia area and played four seasons with the Chiefs in the mid-’70s. Then two things happened that made Walter White a lifer in Kansas City. The first was a chance encounter with Gene Periera at Merchant’s Bank, who on the spot insisted that White take a job at the bank. “I said that’s not my forte, but he said ‘I’m going to teach you,’ ” White recalls. “He kept pushing me and pushing me, and I didn’t even know him.” But Pereira had a solid repution with other Chiefs, and White bit. From the credit department to new accounts, loans, and collections, though acquistion by Boatmen’s, learning trust operations, pension administration and endowments. When NationsBank acquired Boatmen’s, rival Commerce Bank came calling, and White signed on 16 years ago, working in the trust department.
The second anchor keeping him here is the Chiefs Ambassadors program, which he helped launch after Carl Peterson and Marty Schottenheimer came here in 1989. “Once you’re out of the game, you’re pretty much out of the game—there’s not a whole lot of contact,” White says. But encouraged by the team’s leadership, he and nine others teed up a group that has raised tens of thousands in scholarships for hundreds of area youths, funds for Lake Regional Hospital at the Lake of the Ozarks, and even helped start a similar group for the rival Denver Broncos, meeting in Goodland each year for a benefit golf tournament. “We give these guys an opportunity to come into our group, see if they like it, have the time to commit to it and get voted in,” White says. “It’s all volunteer work we do.”
Marilyn Bush Bank of America Merrill Lynch, St. Louis
For 30 years, Marilyn Bush has been a fixture at Bank of America, most recently with its Bank of America Merrill Lynch division. She’s a senior vice president, overseeing public sector banking across six states. In other words, she’s got a full plate at work. But for almost the same span, Bush has been deeply engaged in civic life in St. Louis, particularly with that city’s United Way. She chairs its Women’s Leadership Society, an association of more than 3,200 women from that region who combine to raise more than $6.5 million every year. In addition to serving on committees for various United Way functions, she’s a member of the Tocqueville Society and the executive committee for the United Way’s board of directors.
Bush is also chairs the board of the Hawthorn Foundation, a group of influential business exectives from across the state who raise funds for economic development. Last year, she was named a Leader of Distinction for the YWCA in St. Louis, and she has served on the boards for the state’s lend-ing authority serving college students, and the influential Metro East Levee Issues Alliance.
Peter Hofherr St. James Winery
Producing fine wines may be an art, but make no mistake: A winery is both a business and an agricultural enterprise. Given that, Peter Hofherr has hit the trifecta at St. James Winery, where he’s an MBA-educated CEO, a vintner and a manager well-versed in policy—for six years, he worked in the Department of Agriculture, four of them as Secretary. Since rejoining the winery founded by his parents in 2007, Hofherr has helped build it into the state’s largest, producing 200,000 cases every year and shipping them to 19 states—up considerably from the 3,400 cases that Jim and Pat Hofherr coaxed out of their cellars their first year. And it’s wine with a reputation— in 2009, the Critics Challenge International Wine Competition designated St. James winery of the year in the eastern United States.
It’s a long-established industry in Missouri—the first settlers to set vines in the area started in the 1840s, and the state led the nation in wine production in the 1880s (take that, Napa Valley!). But Prohibition wiped it out, and not until 1965 did commercial pro-duction resume. Today, the state boasts 140 wineries.
Hofherr also serves as chairman of Missouri’s Wine and Grape Board, and he’s wrapping up a Ph.D. in agricultural economics at MU, where he’s assistant director of the McQuinn Center for Entrepreneurship.
Bob Noble Noble Associates +, Springfield
Bob Noble says he’s been in advertising long enough to remember when the “Mad Men” concept wasn’t a novelty—it was a cliché. But since founding a small ad agency with $2,000 in 1969, armed only with a commercial arts degree and an Ozarks work ethic, he’s turned it into a national leader promoting many of the largest names in the food sector. A serial entrepreneur whose other ventures include the Food Channel, on-line content generation and a behavioral research organization, Noble has leveraged all the best that southwest Missouri has to offer—low cost of living, quality of life, terrific schools—to lure the talent that made his agency a national concern. “We’re a study in focus,” he says. “When you concentrate a practice in one practice area, you can go a lot deeper, dealing with companies with common and similar problems.” The one focal lapse in his career involved an attempt to turn his food acumen into a restaurant with no signage, just a three-story stainless steel fork—which now has a new home outside the agency headquarters. “I call that,” Noble says in wistful jest, “my $2 million Ph.D.”
Tom Suntrup Suntrup Automotive Group, St. Louis
When Tom Suntrup talks about being part of a family business, he means a family business: The Suntrup clan in St. Louis includes 10 separate corporations selling vehicles under different manufacturers’ flags, and at least that many children of founder Bill Suntrup, his father, and Don, his uncle.
Tom operates several of those for the third-largest vehicle-sales group in a metropolitan area of 3 million people. A graduate of Mizzou—where, after his transfer from Oklahoma, he joined an exceedingly small fraternity of athletes who played football for two Big Eight programs—Suntrup took his career in another direction at the outset, as travel director for Maritz Travel.
But the family business drew him back in 1984, when he and his father partnered on a Peugot, Alfa-Romeo and Saab dealership. Not long after, he saw the movement of dealerships into the suburbs, and went along for that ride, with acquisitions that, in some cases, came only after years of nurturing relationships with previous owners.
St. Louis, he said, is a stable market that resists sharp upswings and downturns, save for the 2008–2010 period, which spared no dealer. “Those were some really tough years,” he said. “We just had to buckle down and tighten up.”
Ross Summers Branson Chamber of Commerce
Anyone who’s ventured onto U.S. 76, in Branson in recent years can appreciate where Ross Summers is coming from when he says the city is always re-inventing itself. “I grew up here,” says the president and CEO of the Branson Chamber of Commerce & Convention and Visitors Bureau, “and it’s changed remarkably, from a one-lane strip with nothing out there.” That strip—Country Music Boulevard—is the spine running through Missouri’s top tourism destination, and it’s undergoing a review even now to help accommodate the crush of 7 million visitors annually.
After a 12-year-stint in Alabama with a cable television company, Summers came home in the 1990s, then worked for a start-up on-line travel site he’d invested in, eventually selling it to Hotels.com. Semi-retirement wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and when the Chamber position opened up, he jumped.
Branson’s year-round population is around 10,500, but Summers says the city is built to accommodate closer to 80,000, with amenities like the new Branson Landing, a new airport, new theaters and more. Given those, Branson can handle perhaps an additional 3 million visitors a year, he says, and his office is prepared to generate that kind of volume, having seen its marketing budget increase from $2 million a year to $8 million during his 12 years in that role. “We haven’t reached our limits yet,” Summers declares.
Kendra Neely-Martin Astra Zeneca, St. Louis
After earning a degree at Southeast Missouri State University, Kendra Neely-Martin launched her career doing demographic analysis and research for a St. Louis health system. But something was missing. “As an analyst, you spend weeks in the field, time punching in the data, but I was missing the connection to the customer,” she says. Her network of health-care professionals in the region led to a role with AztraZeneca, the global pharmaceutical company, and she’s been there for 11 years, working now as a sales representative, addressing a patient population in St. Louis that may not understand all the health risks it faces. “With diet, exercise and lifestyle issues,” she says, “if you know better, maybe you’ll do better.”
Neely-Martin, who has a master’s in marketing from Webster University, also serves on the board of trustees of her alma mater in Cape Girardeau, and works to teach at-risk girls about how to make the right choices in life.
“As the education-development chair” she says, “I work with African-American females to help them understand the things that put them at risk, number one, but also to build self-esteem” and steer them onto an educational path that leads to college.
Her service in that role, plus other board work, earned her a prestigious Jefferson Award for Public Service.
Robbie Makinen Jackson County Government
Throughout Robbie Makinen’s career in social work for Ozanam and Cornerstones of Care—and even with his part-time job as a casino host—building relationships was a job requisite. After cros-sing paths with Mike Sanders several times, the Jackson County executive brought Makinen on board to help firm up relationships between the county and its 19 separate muncipalies. Mission accomplished: Seven years later, representatives of those cities are meeting monthy, and their mayors are meeting regularly, as well, to forge a unified approach to economic development.In addition, the Independence native and Truman High/Northwest Missouri State grad is also chairman for the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority board. His duties require him to grasp a tremendous volume of information, a task complicated by the loss of his vision last year. But he credits technology, plus the support of Sanders, chief of staff Calivin Williford and David Westbrook of Children’s Mercy Hospital, who is also blind, for helping him adjust to the challenges and keep moving forward. “I always talked to my kids about pushing through; now I need to prove it,” he told himself last year. “You can either be an anchor or a sail. I choose to sail.”
James Nunnelly Kansas City
He came to Kansas City in 1969 to build the former Wayne Miner Health Center. Jim “Grand-Dad” Nunnelly stayed because he found a number of social ills that he wanted to treat. Not as a doctor; “I like to think of myself as a social planner,” he says. For more than 40 years, he did just that, always with an eye to improving the lot of succeeding generations. He’s done so as program founder for COMBAT, created after voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax in 1989 to fight a growing drug-abuse epidemic; with the Jackson County Drug Court, a first-of-its kind approach to adjudicating drug cases that yielded sharply lower rates of recidivism; with mentoring of urban-core students to effectively prepare them for the academic and social rigors of university life; even with a radio show, Generation Rap, which was a No. 1 show on weekends.
“The program I’m most proud of is Fathering Court,” says Nunnelly, who retired from COMBAT last year.
“It supports many fathers who themselves were not paying child support, and now each year, it collects $1 million in child-support payments, where before, there was nothing.”
Peter Herschend Herschend Family Entertainment, Branson
When Hugo and Mary Herschend took out a 99-year lease on the site where Silver Dollar City stands today, they were working with a hole in the ground: Marvel Cave. Hugo Herschend’s death in 1955 left Mary and her sons, Jack and Peter, to build a business around that enterprise;
Jack became CEO, while Peter had a perhaps more daunting challenge—he was responsible for marketing everything built up around the cave. That included the 1960 opening of what would become Silver Dollar City, the Branson theme park known as much for its seasonal festivals as its arts, crafts and thrill rides.
It also included breaking out of southwest Missouri into theme parks and entertainment venues nationwide. Peter and his brother run the nation’s largest family-owned themed attractions company, with more than 10,000 employees working at 26 locations in 10 states, including Dollywood, the theme park in Tennessee that they co-own with country singer Dolly Parton.
Lou Brock St. Louis Cardinals, St. Charles
In the long, sad history of Chicago Cubs baseball, the collective leadership has amassed an impressive track record of misjudgments. One of the biggest came in 1964, when the Cubs gave up on a right fielder by the name of Lou Brock. The kid had lightning speed, but a .260 batting average over his first two seasons made him trade bait. And the St. Louis Cardinals will be forever grateful for what’s considered among the worst trades in baseball history.
After joining the Cards, Brock moved to left field and started hitting (a .348 average for his first season) and perhaps more tantalizingly, stealing bases—38 in the second half of the season. That season ended with the Cardinals surging from behind seven teams—including the Cubs—to capture the National League pennant and then beat the Yankees in the World Series. Riding the bat of Brock, who ended up hitting nearly .300 for his career, they won it again in ’67, and took Detroit into a seventh game before losing the ’68 Series.
Until Ricky Henderson beat his record in the 1990s, Brock was baseball’s all-time stolen-base king, first breaking the record set by Ty Cobb, then topping the all-time mark of Billy Hamilton, who played from 1888 to 1901. After 16 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Brock had more than 3,000 hits, 1,610 runs scored and six All-Star game appearances. He was voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1985, his first year of eligibility and today lives in suburban St. Charles.
Kim Inman Missouri ASSociation of Manufacturers, Springfield
We hear the lament constantly in business circles: The trouble with the U.S. economy is that we don’t make anything anymore. Don’t try telling that to Kim Inman.
Last fall, the longtime Springfield businesswoman succeeded Rita Needham as CEO of the Missouri Association of Manufacturers, who hail from one of the biggest business sectors in the state. While it’s true that manufacturing—like almost every other business sector—was hammered from 2008 to 2010, it has acutally increased its role in the state’s economy during the ensuing rebound. In 2009, near the depths of the downturn, manufacturing accounted $29.4 billion in output, about 12 percent of the state’s total. Just three years later, manufacturing was up more than 10 percent, to $32.3 billion in output, and had actually increased its share of total output to 12.5 percent.
Inman brought to her current role a 17-year track record in business development, sales and marketing. She previously was a vice president of sales/marketing for the Springfield Cardinals, the minor-league affiliate of the St. Louis parent. She was also founder of Springfield’s Cattle Barons Ball, a benefit for the American Cancer Society, and chaired fund-raisers for the March of Dimes, and was on the advisory board for Female Leaders
Hal Higdon Ozarks Technical Community College, Springfield
When Hal Higdon became chancellor of Ozarks Tech in 2006, he immediately set out to do two things: increase the college’s profile with upgraded programming related to key employment sectors, and infuse himself into civic life in the Springfield area. Let the record show that Higdon, the second president in the nearly 25-year history of OTC, gets things done.
On the first score, he aligned the leadership at OTC to focus on work-force training, increasing the college’s reach with on-line offerings, and adding new programs in allied health. As a result, OTC has taken on a new significance for Springfield–area employers, and as a consequence, enrollment has soared by more than 44 percent since the year before he set foot on the campus. He also oversaw physical expansions with new sites in Richwood Valley in 2007, a new Table Rock campus in Hollister, and OTC centers in Lebanon and Waynesville.
As for the civic engagement, the Alabama native has immersed himself in a wide range of philanthropic and community-development initiatives. His service roster includes seats as director or member on boards for the United Way of the Ozarks, the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners, the Missouri Communtiy College Association, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, CoxHealth Systems and the Springfield Business Development Corp.