Jean Carnahan, Peter Herschend, Lane McConnell, John J. Pershing and Phyllis Washington will be inducted into the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame April 13.
The five inductees were selected as citizens with a connection to the state of Missouri who serve as examples of global citizens by defining the essence of public affairs, and who have acted consistently for the benefit of others. Up to six recipients are honored annually, with each induction class including up to one legacy award, which will be awarded to Pershing this year.
Attend the induction ceremony
The induction ceremony will be held at the White River Conference Center in Springfield. The black-tie optional dinner event will take place from 6-8:30 p.m. April 13. Tickets are $40 and tables are $750. Tickets can be purchased online.
Jean Carnahan was Missouri’s first female U.S. Senator and has been a life-long advocate for children and families.
Jean and her husband, Mel Carnahan, worked side by side during his 40 years of public service. When he became governor of Missouri in 1992, Jean took on the role of Missouri’s first lady. From 1993 to 2000, she worked to improve the lives of Missouri’s children. She was an advocate for on-site daycare centers for working families, for childhood immunization, and for abuse centers, the arts and Habitat for Humanity.
In 2000, Gov. Carnahan was campaigning for the U.S. Senate when he was killed in an airplane crash. Missouri voters elected him posthumously. When Jean agreed to take her husband’s place in Washington, the appointment made her the first woman in Missouri history to serve in the U.S. Senate.
During her two years in Washington, Carnahan was a leading advocate for working families. She served on the Armed Services, Commerce, Governmental Affairs, Aging and Small Business committees.
Carnahan was a member of the first Congressional delegation to Afghanistan after Sept. 11 and conferred with heads of state in Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Oman.
Carnahan resides in St. Louis, where she is a writer, speaker and political activist.
Peter Herschend is co-founder and co-owner of Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation (formerly Silver Dollar City, Inc). He served as executive vice president of the SDC organization for 20 years and then vice chairman of the board until he retired from that position in 2006.
Herschend is well known for his efforts to help set the direction of tourism and education in Missouri. He also contributed to developing roads, improving environmental awareness and extending the annual tourism season in the Branson area by championing community projects such as Ozark Mountain Christmas.
An education champion, Herschend has been instrumental in promoting higher standards for Missouri’s public education system for more than two decades. He served three terms on the Missouri State Board of Education since 1991. He led the board as president for four separate two-year terms. In 2011, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce honored Herschend with its Education Supporter of the Year award.
Herschend has devoted most of his life to his family’s business interests. He and his brother, Jack, successfully developed several major attractions. Founded in the early 1960s, Herschend Enterprises is the largest family-owned attractions corporation in the United States.
Lane McConnell founded the Farmers Market of the Ozarks (FMO) in Springfield with local developer Matt O’Reilly in early 2011. The market is home to more than 110 farmers and ranchers, and is the only market housed within a year-round pavilion in the Ozarks.
She served as the executive director for the market, which was named the number six farmers market in the country in 2015, and was responsible for fundraising, corporate sponsorships, public relations and marketing for the organization.
McConnell has created two franchise farmers markets, which are part of the FMO brand. The market has been placed on the Top 10 List for national news sites such as MSN.com, Food52.com, The Daily Meal and Feast Magazine.
In her previous role at the Missouri Department of Agriculture, she implemented statewide producer workshops, helped communities organize farmers’ markets and developed local food marketing, promotional activities and grant writing.
In 2009, McConnell started Agri-Comm Services where she currently works as an agricultural marketing consultant, focusing on sustainable farming and local food projects.
John J. Pershing
General John J. Pershing led a distinguished military career. He is most recognized for his leadership during World War I, where he commanded the American Expeditionary Force.
His career culminated in the United States creating a new title: General of the Armies.
Pershing grew up in Laclede, Missouri, and later attended Truman State University in Kirskville. Fresh out of West Point, Pershing reported for duty in 1886. He established a reputation for marksmanship, leadership, bravery and stern discipline in battles of the Indian Wars and the Spanish-American War.
In World War I, much of America’s success was credited to Pershing. He had an uncanny ability to focus on the military mission rather than the governmental policy discussions going on behind the lines.
Many great military leaders of World War II, including George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton and Douglas MacArthur, credited Pershing as a mentor.
After the war, he served as the chief of staff of the U.S. Army until 1924, when he retired from active duty. In 1932, he published his memoir, which won a Pulitzer Prize.
Pershing remained active in the veteran community until his death in 1948.
Phyllis Washington began her career as an educator in 1968 in Kansas City. After just a few years as a teacher, she was named principal of E.F. Swinney Applied Learning Magnet.
Swinney was one of the first magnet schools in the Kansas City school district’s court-ordered desegregation plan.
These magnet schools were part of an effort to reintegrate Kansas City schools. The schools attracted students from all backgrounds – pulling students from the city and surrounding suburbs – and provided unique learning opportunities. The school tantalized families away from suburban private schools in order to enrich the lives of students from all walks of life.
Washington designed programming, built a focused team of teachers and made herself accessible to the community so that all families felt safe placing their children in her school. In 1990, the U.S. Department of Education recognized Swinney as one of the top elementary schools in the country.
Washington served as the principal until 1999, when she moved to the Allen Village Charter School. She now serves as the superintendent of Allen Village college and career-preparatory school system, where students receive one of the top educational experiences in the Kansas City metro area.
This year’s inductees will join more than a dozen others who have had positive impacts on the state of Missouri.
Visit the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame website for more information.